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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 1:55 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5251
Location: southeastern USA
Dave, it's your backyard - please can you link us to the proposals that demonstrate their desire to run a lot of steam "trains far and wide". Hopefully, it's a market driven combination of elements which will work together to improve visitation and lay out anticipated benefits and an implementation strategy so we can all know what they want to be in the future. There's no sense restoring more locomotives if they don't know how to use them beneficially. The shuttle trips are great - low in customer cost in both time and money. How do they expect to make any long runs as attractive? Crew development also - what are the obstacles inherent in their recruitment and retention structure they will change, and how, to increase their pool of staffing?

The easiest part of the process is the rusty iron work - the hardest part is defining and building the context that makes the rusty iron work worthwhile.

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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 2:52 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:08 am
Posts: 237
Mr. Crosby sums up the situation in Scranton perfectly. The basic issue is poor preservation management coupled with no accountability, extensive siloing, and pervasive CYA.

Dave Crosby wrote:
Steamtown is more concerned about looking bad than addressing the problem.


Mr. Crosby mentions the 3713 restoration as an example of what is wrong in Scranton. The two recent threads on 3713 (part one and part two) cover the technical particulars, including the fact that this twenty year old project is now undertaking work on a third firebox. In benchmarking this effort against other mainline steam operational restorations, one should consider that the group responsible had a non-profit organization in already in place (Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley RHS) prior to commencing the restoration, had access to one of the best and extensive steam shops in North America, and had access (or at least should have had access) to the Park Service's experts in steam technology, preservation, and preservation management.

The lack of public transparency as to the technical, management, and financial issues in this publicly funded program (tax dollars and donated money held in public trust as a 501(c)(3)) is, as Mr. Crosby notes, very disconcerting from a donor standpoint.

The issues in Scranton have been snowballing since the beginning of the Park Service's involvement with the site. On 5-30-15, Afboone posted, "When the Park Service took control of the site from the Steamtown Foundation, it assumed responsibility for three tasks in Scranton: the preservation of an urban industrial ruin; the preservation of a large and diverse collection of late 19th century and early-to-mid 20th century steam-era railroad related artifacts; and the use of the collection to effectively tell the story of the ruin. [Now deceased Superintendent] Kip [Hagen] told us many times that "We are not a railroad museum", yet the Park Service spent a lot of the start up funds building a railroad museum instead of stabilizing and preserving the ruin and stabilizing, preserving, and providing shelter for the collection. An appreciable part of the collection remains, after 25 years of Park Service stewardship, in a deplorable state of disorganization, disrepair, and exposure to the weather and parts thieves. The condition that 565 was in when we started the work in 2008 was a total disgrace. Parts were scattered throughout the site, mixed in with other parts, and even largely buried in the ground. This is all despite the fact that DL&W 565 is one of the few artifacts in the collection that has a direct connection to the urban ruin."

Many of the preservation guidelines used in the US, and in other countries, have as their basis the early preservation work of the National Park Service. Afboone's description of the state of DL&W 565 when he started his work belies an inability of Park Service management to effectively implement the guidelines in a practical manner across an inventory of artifacts that varies in scope (parts, subassemblies, partially complete, and complete equipment) and condition.

Mr. Crosby is right on when he states, "The park has been "open" for 20 years now, and all its done is gone in reverse. Tell me HOW you're going to fix it and I'll be right on the bandwagon with everyone else."


Last edited by Scranton Yard on Mon Nov 30, 2015 11:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 2:53 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 6:17 pm
Posts: 514
Location: Scranton, PA
Re: Ridership & Destinations

The problem, from at least my perspective, is that each of the little towns along the railroad ring up Steamtown and say something along the lines of "Hey, we're having a festival on xyz date, send a train up please, we're SURE you'll get a bunch of riders." Steamtown says "SURE!" and schedules a train. The towns then do little to nothing to promote it. The train runs mostly empty, sometimes not at all, which is actually better in my opinion.

Double Whammy A: If the town is on the Carbondale line, the ride ride itself isn't pretty, unless you like piles of waste coal and abandoned refrigerators. One time we saw a dead horse, that was as about exciting as it gets. Historic, maybe, if presented in the right context (which it hardly ever is). Scenic? Absolutely not. Add to that most of these trips happen in the summer, using low roof former DL&W cars that act like metal ovens on wheels, poking along at 10 mph with nary a breeze to speak of. The public sees little use in these trips. I like trains, I could ride for free and I have never taken one.

Double Whammy B: If the town is on the Pocono Line and is named "Delaware Water Gap" or "East Stroudsburg", the ride pretty much takes all day and most people don't want to spend that much time on a train.

One bright spot is what Steamtown calls the Nay Aug Limited. Its a longer version of the "shuttle" trains and actually takes people to a pretty and remote spot that you'd never know was still within the city limits. It's been somewhat successful and with a little fine tuning of the operation, could be even more so.

Long story short: The need to look at their numbers, find out what their passengers want to do, not what people TELL them their passengers want to do. There's 25 years of market research in the form of ridership numbers ready for evaluation.

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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 3:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
Scranton Yard wrote:
The Park Service, and the L&WVRHS/3713 restoration crew should study McNeil Phramaceuticals' public response to the Tylenol poisonings and implement a full disclosure policy in which the missteps and challenges are fully aired, the sources of those missteps and challenges are identified, and a clear description of the corrective actions taken or to be implemented are completely divulged.


For 3713, or for Steamtown NHS? Because if anyone ever does the latter in a completely honest fashion, it could lead to the shutdown of the site.

On the other hand, someone could be just cynical enough to call the Grand Canyon NP a "jobs program" for northern Arizona, as well..........


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 3:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1733
"one can only imagine how much longer it will take to return a 2-6-4 to service. "

I assure you that no locomotives with a Lionel builders plate will ever be restored by Steamtown personnel.

"Double Whammy B: If the town is on the Pocono Line and is named "Delaware Water Gap" or "East Stroudsburg", the ride pretty much takes all day and most people don't want to spend that much time on a train."

Steamtown's depot is located at MP 133.7, and the East end of DCS is located at Station Sign Gap MP 76.0. That's 57.7 miles. At 30 MPH, that's a shade under two hours. Unfortunately, a present, the railroad has multiple slow orders that lengthen the time. The 261 was running at 40 or 45 in the mid 90's.

As for the people being unwilling to ride a train "all day", well, there were no shortages of riders on the 765 trips, and the weekend I rode the Port Clinton to Jim Thorpe Trips in October, as I recall an all day affair with 9AM departure and 6ish return, there were 1200 riders and I think they take about three hours to go from PC to JT.

The differences:

1.) Steam
2.) Destination-Jim Thorpe is Carbon County's tourist Mecca with the CNJ Station, the LGSR, the Packer Mansion and the old Jail, the Lehigh River, and scheduled annual events with vendors.


Last edited by superheater on Mon Nov 30, 2015 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 3:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
superheater wrote:
"one can only imagine how much longer it will take to return a 2-6-4 to service. "

I assure you that no locomotives with a Lionel builders plate will ever be restored by Steamtown personnel.

Oh, good, I can hold out hope for a LMS or BR Standard Tank, then. Which would actually be a perfect fit operationally....... <;-)

Image


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:01 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 399
I really get tired of these circular conversations on SNHS. I have stated several times in other threads, and this is fact based and not opinion based, that after 20 years the park does or should know their limits; they will only get x number of riders no matter what the motive power, those riders will only pay so much, and they only want to ride so far. This is the reality that is not going to change. The park can either work to maximize those numbers, or will fail to meet expectations and lower the numbers, but it will not be a drastic difference. This fact was illustrated by the crowds drawn by 765 – there was a saturation point and that was all you were going to get. Scranton does not have the population to support two dozen cars going to Moscow every single weekend.

This highlights the point that the average visitor responds better to steam, but they really don’t care which engine it is. So dumping money needlessly into another engine at Steamtown really doesn’t really matter. Having reliable mainline steam does matter. Conserving funds and giving some attention to the static displays, rather than caving to railfans who want to see engine X restored, does matter because it affects the overall park experience.

You have to remember that ticket sales mean nothing. The park does not get to keep any extra money that is brought in. I believe that they do get a percentage back from the visitor count, someone else I am sure can clue us in as to how that works, but their basic budget does not change.

When one looks at the plight of 3713, you will understand why my earlier post was made. It is nearly impossible, for various reasons, to restore steam at SNHS. The L&WVRHS would have been much better served to find a stuffed and mounted, privately owned locomotive, send it to Strasburg, and then donate it to the park. This is no reflection on the shop crew, which is skilled but limited, and no refection on the L&WVRHS volunteers, who have poured their hearts and souls, and wallets, into the project.

I think it was two years ago that R&N brought the 425 to Steamtown for Railfest. The intention was to have her pull mainline excursions, which was fine, but the NPS would not allow her to do so unless a SNHS crew was manning her. Andy Mueller declined to give up control of his baby, and she sat in the yard as a static display for the weekend. As some of you may note, this occurred under former superintendent Kip Hagen, who, God bless his soul, would do what he could within the NPS framework to make things happen. Even Kip wasn’t able to get 425 out on the main, and the current atmosphere is one of even less flexibility.

If this is how they are going to treat visiting steam, then they are not going to have too many takers. I would like to hear Rich Melvin’s opinion of his reception at Steamtown. The regular SOP is to roadblock the life out of everybody and I am curious if his crew was granted any latitude.

There are some dark clouds on the horizon for Steamtown, some have been mentioned on this site, and some are not yet public. How they are handled will have a major and long lasting impact on the park.


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 4:39 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 6:17 pm
Posts: 514
Location: Scranton, PA
When I was there (a lifetime ago) excursion receipts were considered an "Interpretive Fee" and were kept by the park itself. This might have changed over the last umpteen years however...

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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 5:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1733
Scranton does not have the population to support two dozen cars going to Moscow every single weekend.

Scranton is only a sliver of the target market (Northern NJ, Eastern Pennsylvania, Greater NYC and the NY Southern Tier). I've personally seen cars from as far South as Georgia, as far North as Canadian Provinces and as far West as Illinois.


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 Post subject: Travel Times - Pocono Main Track - Steamtown
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 5:43 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 6:17 pm
Posts: 514
Location: Scranton, PA
Regarding the now-locked Steamtown topic. Some corrections need to be posted regarding travel times on the Pocono Main because people might actually be interested.

Without getting into the locked conversation itself,

Corrections Time & Mileage:

One mile of restricted speed on the west (Scranton) end (about 6 min)
The 30mph starts at MP 132 and goes to MP mp 102.5 (59 min)
The 25mph starts at MP 102.5 and goes to MP 76 (1 Hr, 3 min)
Two miles of restricted speed on the east (Water Gap) end (about 12 min)

= 2 hrs 20 Min, assuming we have an engine that instantly can jump from one speed to another and back again. Best running time, end to end is 2 hrs 30 min.

= 5 Hour round trip.
+ 2 hours of detrain/layover/runaround/boarding at destination.
= 7 hour day.

And yes, current work projects add another 15 min to travel time, end to end.

A few other facts:

The last NPS steam excursions to the Water Gap have often had less than three cars worth of passengers.

The NKP 765 train was full because it was cut in half. Rich Melvin has stated on another forum that the Labor Day trip was a money loser for them. Perhaps in part because Steamtown didn't have it listed in conjunction with Railfest on their website.

For what its worth, this is my last posting on RYPN as another topic gets locked after what I considered an informative discussion (hmmm, what do riders want?) turned to polite disagreements.

So, one more guy who does this stuff for a living has left the board. Congrats.

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 Post subject: Re: Travel Times - Pocono Main Track - Steamtown
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:02 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5251
Location: southeastern USA
Thanks for the good information, sorry about the usual static and lockout. It seems based on what many knowledgeable people have posted that the shorter trips are the best prospect, and the Baldwin and perhaps something else in the small category - a little 2-8-0 or a logger - as a backup would be a good thing, especially if it could also haul the somewhat longer scenic trip on a less frequent / heavy visitation basis. The longer survival trips probably won't be practical other than as special occasion excursions, which imply the use of other peoples locomotives seeking opportunities to run since the capitalization of a mainline hauler form the Steamtown collection would not be recovered. Probably better cars would also be required....... especially in summer. So, two locomotives, one the 26 and another slightly larger with more capacity for the scenic trip is what they need if this is an accurate reflection of reality. 4? Overkill.......

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 Post subject: Re: Travel Times - Pocono Main Track - Steamtown
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:24 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:08 am
Posts: 237
Mr. Crosby - Thank you for the informative and insightful posts.

Despite the fact the the Park Service is responsible for the preservation of one of the largest steam era collections and one of the largest steam era industrial ruins in the US, threads that are both informative and include polite disagreements are exiled to the Siberia of Railfanning if they include any discussion of the preservation-related management issues in Scranton. These preservation management challenges are similar to what many museums and short lines face, yet apparently open and informative discussion is verboten unless it only includes glowing reviews. Preservation management is a relevant part of preservation, and it should not be relegated to the back pages.

It is regrettable that a person such as yourself, who has worked in various capacities with the Park Service people in Scranton, and who knows so much about Scranton rail history, will no longer be contributing. An open exchange of ideas and observations regarding the issues in Scranton gives the highest probability of a successful solution to some of the challenges. One never knows where the next good idea will come from. Being that several people involved in the situation in Scranton read this board, including a frequent poster who is heavily involved in the start up of the new potential "Friends of" group, the hope would be that they would more enthusiastically welcome a civil exchange of ideas.

A few weeks ago there was a thread entitled, "The State of Rail Preservation in the Commonwealth of PA" or something close. The OP is heavily involved with 3713. The thread devolved into a tit-for-tat, mainly between the OP and a frequent poster involved with the nascent "Friends of" group. I went away for a few days and when I logged on to comment, I found that the thread had disappeared. It is a shame, because the level of discourse perfectly summarized the state of rail preservation at the largest rail preservation site in PA, in Scranton.


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1733
One mile of restricted speed on the west (Scranton) end (about 6 min)
The 30mph starts at MP 132 and goes to MP mp 102.5 (59 min)
The 25mph starts at MP 102.5 and goes to MP 76 (1 Hr, 3 min)
Two miles of restricted speed on the east (Water Gap) end (about 12 min)

The point was to AVERAGE 30MPH over the railroad. There was a time that was possible.

The problem with Steamtown discussions is that it ALWAYS ends in recriminations and often they are misleading. For example, 6-18003 wrote that the reason 425 was static in its most recent visit was that Steamtown insisted that their crews run an excursion.

It sounds arbitrary and dictatorial until you consider the following:

1.) Steamtown would have to be be responsible for the cost of paying the crews, as R&N crews are paid professionals, not volunteers, who run freight most of the time and pulling an engineer, a fireman and conductor might disrupt the rest of the road's operations.

2.) At the time, no R&N crews were qualified on the physical characteristics or had current training in our other required topics.

3.) An irregular excursion to Moscow would be too short to build anything like fair rental compensation for the use of the engine; adding a diesel to extend the engine's range would take away from other Railfest activities. Any smart steam owner knows that intelligent pricing builds in a fixed cost, because whether you go 25 miles or 125, that's one of those 1472 days.

Based upon a brief conversation with the late Superintendent, there was simply no way to use the 425 economically, efficiently for that Railfest.

Are there problems? Yes. Nobody knows that better than those of us who rouse our selves from warm beds on weekends and drive hours to get to Scranton. If you think your patience is wearing thin, try driving up the Interstates with those damn cattle chutes that lead to Scranton with some tractor trailer going 40 where you should be going 65 and knowing the damn thing will be there next year, knowing you're pouring your heart and soul into being a Cubs fan and listening to others offer their thoughts "you guys suck".


In my case, I only continue for two reasons:

1.) Glimmers of hope
2.) The camaraderie of people who I trust my life with

Now in closing, I have identified a major problem with Steamtown that IS never discussed and is largely outside the control of any of the five people who have occupied the Superintendents office. In the interest of discussion, I invite you to guess. It's so obvious, so hidden in plain sight, that it was it took me 17 years to figure it out.

It's also a big part of why we started the Friends group.


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:51 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 399
The solution may be for the ELDCPS, the D-L, and other entities to simply avoid dealing with the park and run their own excursions off site. If Andy Mueller wins his suit against the D-L (and I am taking no sides here), who knows what sort of rail extravaganza Scranton may be party to. Heck, maybe the camel's back will finally break and NS will buy the park and all it's holdings in a gov't fire sale.

Everyone has been trying to circle the wagons and prop up SNHS, but look at who is doing all of the work - the ELDCPS, the L&WVRHS, etc. Where would the park be right now without the Tri State and Anthracite volunteers and their Lackawanna F3s? I think we all know the answer.


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:55 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 399
superheater wrote:
The problem with Steamtown discussions is that it ALWAYS ends in recriminations and often they are misleading. For example, 6-18003 wrote that the reason 425 was static in its most recent visit was that Steamtown insisted that their crews run an excursion.



I wasn't trying to be misleading, I am trying to show why "visiting steam" is not the God-send that many want to make it out to be.


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