It is currently Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:33 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 45 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:04 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1514
On the internet, it just takes an instant, or a wrong keystroke, to erase what you are reading.

Some of the infatuation with the internet has now diminished, but it certainly has had a major effect on the railroad history and preservation fields, both positive and negative. It has provided a display point to share information with the entire world, it has given us the ability to reach out and locate documents, manuals, and artifacts. And maybe most important, it has provided a new means to quickly communicate with retirees from railroads and equipment builders. All the “common” manuals you can find on eBay are never as good a reference as a set of the company’s management conference notes from a retiree. There is no "interpretation" as good as the information the Engineering Department presented to the Sales Department explaining why they were doing what they did.

The internet has its disadvantages. It is a “free theft” zone where anything and everything that is posted can be stolen, including the credit for doing the work. Incorrect information lives on forever with little chance of being totally corrected. Information that is incorrect or stolen gets posted right next to information that is accurate and properly presented. And if the treasurer of your organization fails to pay the bill for the domain, somebody in another country will eagerly grab it and ransom it back to you.

The internet has in some respects helped, but it also has undermined, the established historical groups and the print publication industries. Let’s look at the last 25 years. In 1992, US population was 256 million people, in 2017, it is 325 million. In the same time span, membership in some of the largest railroad historical groups has declined significantly. How many members does your organization REALLY have now? Forget the number “for show” on the website, which is probably years old, take a look at the treasurers report or the IRS 990 and divide the income from dues by the cost of membership. Some of the decline is due to changing interests, but a lot is due to people wanting stuff and entertainment handed to them for “free”, a service now provided by the internet.

How about the market for print books, the far more “permanent” archive of railroad history? The print run for popular railroad books back in the 1990s could approach 5000 copies. Now a print run of 1200 is “large”. That is a 75% drop in 25 years. That decline happened in a period when the total US population grew, and much of the decline was due to competition from the internet
.
How many people are still interested in this "stuff"? Well, if you follow the bidding in eBay auctions, which can be a pretty good indicator, you will notice that many auctions for “railroad paper” are now ending with just one bid, or no bids at all. Sellers who select high prices for “Buy-it-Now” are having their auctions run long times without a buyer.

The hobby and the market seem to be in decline. It is ominous – and the preservation community needs to take notice and prepare, before they find themselves on the edge of history.

PC

_________________
Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:25 am 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 538
Quote:
How about the market for print books, the far more “permanent” archive of railroad history? The print run for popular railroad books back in the 1990s could approach 5000 copies. Now a print run of 1200 is “large”. That is a 75% drop in 25 years. That decline happened in a period when the total US population grew, and much of the decline was due to competition from the internet


In this case I disagree, the print runs may be shorter, but the number of Titles has exploded, the cost of producing books has dropped to the point that you can make money at 1000 copies.

- Hudson


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:32 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:21 pm
Posts: 116
PCook wrote:
A recent flurry of inquiries from individuals who want to contact and talk with people who worked in the industry in the 1930s through 1950s leads me to this posting, some of which I stated before in a discussion of the EMD F40PH locomotives.

PC



I want to know more about this discussion on the F40's....

Eric


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:19 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1514
Previous F40PH discussion:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=40876&p=263545&hilit=F40PH#p263545

_________________
Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:18 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:18 am
Posts: 124
Location: B'more MD
This has been an interesting discussion, perhaps made a bit more interesting because I am personally acquainted with a couple of the folks making posts. Preston's original comment about oral histories especially rang home, as I was at a meeting of regional Nickel Plate rail fans in suburban Baltimore/Washington DC, a few months ago, when two of the attendees spontaneously began talking about participating as part Ross Rowland's crew who worked to originally return the NKP 759 to service, back in 1968, at the former NKP Conneaut (OH) roundhouse, as well as the early runs up through it's breakdown on a trip over the Western Maryland Ry.

What a wonderful back-and-forth discussion it was, between two guys who were there, almost 50 years ago. There was a lot "Do you remember when", and "Yes, this is what happened". I was privileged to even be able to interject a question or two during the discussion from my memories of the time, as a distant but interested NKP fan/observer, from Cleveland area. It all seemed particularly relevant, as even while this discussion was happening, the good folks from the Mad River and NKP Museum, in Bellevue (OH) were an hour or two up the road in Strasburg (PA) working on preparing the NKP 757, for it's move, next year, to their Museum.

Why the relevancy? Included was the story of the crew driving to Strasburg (PA) and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, after the Western Maryland breakdown, to "borrow" parts from the on-display NKP 757 to return the NKP 759 to service. A number of years ago, I had heard Doyle's description of the trip, and here were two other participants telling the same story, from their points of view.

I wish we had the foresight to have a tape recorder or a video camera or even a cell-phone recorder going, but the discussion just spontaneously happened and none of us thought to start a recording. The best I can say is, wait until our next get together, we will have those resources, at the ready Happily, both of those guys, have indicated they would sit down with the Bellevue folks to tell what they remember.

G.F.Payne
B'more, MD

_________________
George F.Payne
Baltimore, MD


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:47 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9434
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Quote:
I just opened up a book published 94 years ago. It recalls the opening notice of the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company. The notice of the opening is dated September 19, 1825. Using daylight, it required no electricity to read the book contents.

What’s the likelihood this very conversation in this thread will be around… say, 50 years from now?

This real question has to be extrapolated against another aspect: accessibility.

You had the opportunity to find, hold, and open that book published in 1923(?). You either were in the right place at the right time, or had to go seek it out. Did you go looking for it specifically for that information, or did you just blunder into it? If I went looking for that specific book and its information, am I going to find it on some publicly-accessible library shelf? Or will I have to hunt down a private archive and travel there, or buy a copy? Or pay some archive to look it up, copy it, and send it to me so I can see if it's even relevant to my needs?

Online content suffers from the uncertain future of the content, but also the vastly superior capability of the information to be shared and personally preserved. We've seen examples of this in personal collections we have had donated that include printouts of sometimes embryonic, ancient (by modern standards) web pages printed out to be preserved by self-appointed historians. Similarly, I have friends scouring online photo sites and saving relevant images posted to railroad photo sites, because we all know that it simply takes some unplanned death, merger, or noxious threat of litigation to wipe out the whole thing.

Factor in such projects as Google Books, Archive.org, and Project Gutenberg, and the situation is less dire and/or dependent upon a friendly landlord, custodian or philanthropist than we might make it out to be.

As for hard-copy libraries, two of the largest railroad history libraries in the United States--the Kalmbach Library of the National Model Railroad Association, and the library of the National Railway Historical Society--have been shut down to public access, and as I type are in the process of being merged with other archives (California State RR Museum in the case of the NMRA, and T.B.A. for the NRHS). Among the problems are the costs for shipping a couple tractor-trailer loads of materials more than halfway across the country, and their storage and the manpower for cataloging and placement. What are the odds that someone will still be willing to pay those costs, say, fifty years from now?


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:22 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 538
As someone who has done a few 100,000 scans, that's the easy part.

It's the curating, sorting, indexing, data entry, and storage that take the man power.

-Hudson

Old joke: What's faster then fiber optics?

A station wagon full of hard drives.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:31 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1514
HudsonL wrote:
As someone who has done a few 100,000 scans, that's the easy part.

It's the curating, sorting, indexing, data entry, and storage that take the man power.


This is an area where a lot of us have fallen down, and particularly with age, and as the collection grew. I can still remember when I used to have all the slide labeling up to date, descriptive printouts in sleeves on the inside of the 16mm film cans, and the paper collection neatly in file cabinets with folders and tabs. But it was a long time ago. Then came electronic images, and it was lucky if I had the time to put them in folders with the date and location. The paper collection outgrew the file cabinets, and as it did, the labeling and indexing did not keep up.

Then came age, work and travel, and other hobbies. The electronic images and the PDF scans still get sorted into labeled and dated folders once in a while, the paper collection and slides are long since out of control, and the 16mm is still up to date only because I haven't shot any in a couple decades.

PC

_________________
Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:11 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:13 am
Posts: 57
HudsonL wrote:
Old joke: What's faster then fiber optics?

A station wagon full of hard drives.


I'm old enough to remember when it was "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes"


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 3:37 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1514
A recent project to identify the people in photographs of an EMD business meeting originally taken in the early 1970s generated some ominous results that provide an appreciation of the difficulty locating first hand participants in events as recent as 50 years ago.

Of the 12 people in the photos, we were able to identify all of the meeting participants. Checking with friends in the industry and one person in the photos, it was possible to determine that only 2 of the meeting participants are alive today. These are some of the people who were involved with the support for the 40-series and the Dash-2 product lines, equipment that we tend to view in a historical perspective as being relatively recent.

PC

_________________
Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:47 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:14 am
Posts: 274
Time is an interesting perspective. I have been driving the same 1976 Suburban for many years and it was only after a conversation I had within the last year that it dawned on me that my truck is approaching half a century old! Many people make comments about driving such an old truck but I have owned it so long that I never gave it any thought.

The town I grew up in lost rail service in the mid 1970s. As I have reached a point in my life where I care more about, and have more means to research history of the area, I begin to realize that there is a dwindling number of people who recall anything about the railroad operations or infrastructure in that area. There is a mentality in my area to almost erase any industrial history. The few historical societies in the area tend to be "old heads club" that sit around and talking about the old days and bitching about today.

Some of the most interesting oral history I have heard has been around coffee and donuts, or a lunch table, with multiple members of a company, craft or area, where they help each other recall certain times, places and people that made history what it was.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:59 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 2116
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
It's amazing the perceptions of history once those who were there were gone. When the last Civil War vet passed, the entire concept of the war from a historical standpoint changed almost overnight.
Kelly Anderson wrote:
Never forget that a lot of oral history isn’t worth the air it is carried on.

Yep. You can't imagine the stories I've been told by WW2 vets that make no sense:
Airstrike called in from jet bombers during WW2 (never happened unless you were German)
Weapons being used that never existed in WW2 (like the 3.5 inch bazooka rockets, which first were used in the 50s but in countless WW2 movies incorrectly)
And I'll never forget the guy who swore he personally killed Hitler with a knife before Pearl Harbor happened!

_________________
Lee Bishop


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:08 pm 

Joined: Tue May 08, 2007 4:59 pm
Posts: 140
Oral tradition that has become accepted as hard fact comes to mind. I ran into this during my lengthy research on the Eagle Lake & West Branch railroad.

There were (and still are) many "facts" that are refuted and disproved by the surviving records and contemporary first person accounts - yet they still persist.

I remember one such "fact" that exists simply because of writers not using primary source material and simply leaning on the previous work of others. I was able to trace it
back to a single article written in 1954 by a person who simple speculated. Granted, at that time much of the material, such as the large number of photographs and corporate records, available to me today were not readily available back then. It's only come to light in the last 20 years. (and not through the internet)

In all the articles and books I looked at that stated this particular "truth" they all pretty much circular referenced each other. At least one quoted a contemporary first person account stating the real fact yet still stated the false truth!

What peeked my interest in this research? At the time a family friend was the Manager of the Allagash Waterway where the remains of the railway and locomotives reside.

One day one of the Rangers told him how there was this old guy who kept showing him old photos and was simply bugging him and keeping him from doing his work. Tim went and talked with the guy. As it turned out he was the last surviving employee to work on the EL&WB. Tim put me in touch with him and we talked and wrote back and forth for a couple of years until his passing. His story vividly told through letters, sketches and those faded photographs led me to believe that there had to be a lot more info out there and that the accepted history might be a bit different and far more interesting.

As the years went past the vast majority of Edwin's story has been collaborated - even his story of the pet bear and his coaster railway. Finding that one person opened-up a whole new world or research.

Edwin Robichaud in the cab of the Plymouth, Tramway, circa 1933
Attachment:
RO-01.jpg
RO-01.jpg [ 287.73 KiB | Viewed 1058 times ]


Edwin's brother on the coaster railway "locomotive" made by attaching
two of the tramway trucks together.
Attachment:
RO-14.jpg
RO-14.jpg [ 273.79 KiB | Viewed 1057 times ]


Edwin's coaster railway "Locomotive" today
Attachment:
IMG_1406a.jpg
IMG_1406a.jpg [ 71.3 KiB | Viewed 1058 times ]


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 2:34 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1247
Sometimes amazing things disappear as the edge of history passes without adequate care being taken.

An apparent case in point is the B&O experiment with front-firing stokers just prior to and during the beginning of WWII. Supposedly these were tested and upward of 70 locomotives received them. I know this from peripheral notes in one book: no one at the B&O museum or the B&O Yahoo Group had any information on them.

I could presume that the project was abandoned with Emerson's retirement and the relative success of diesels, the same as for the W-1 motor locomotive. But where is the collateral? Where are the drawings? Where are the road reports?

'Not documented' can turn, as easily as in nursing, to 'might as well never have been done'...

_________________
R.M.Ellsworth


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Edge of History
PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 5:31 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 586
Location: B'more Maryland
PCook wrote:
On the internet, it just takes an instant, or a wrong keystroke, to erase what you are reading.

Some of the infatuation with the internet has now diminished, but it certainly has had a major effect on the railroad history and preservation fields, both positive and negative. It has provided a display point to share information with the entire world, it has given us the ability to reach out and locate documents, manuals, and artifacts. And maybe most important, it has provided a new means to quickly communicate with retirees from railroads and equipment builders. All the “common” manuals you can find on eBay are never as good a reference as a set of the company’s management conference notes from a retiree. There is no "interpretation" as good as the information the Engineering Department presented to the Sales Department explaining why they were doing what they did.

The internet has its disadvantages. It is a “free theft” zone where anything and everything that is posted can be stolen, including the credit for doing the work. Incorrect information lives on forever with little chance of being totally corrected. Information that is incorrect or stolen gets posted right next to information that is accurate and properly presented. And if the treasurer of your organization fails to pay the bill for the domain, somebody in another country will eagerly grab it and ransom it back to you.

The internet has in some respects helped, but it also has undermined, the established historical groups and the print publication industries. Let’s look at the last 25 years. In 1992, US population was 256 million people, in 2017, it is 325 million. In the same time span, membership in some of the largest railroad historical groups has declined significantly. How many members does your organization REALLY have now? Forget the number “for show” on the website, which is probably years old, take a look at the treasurers report or the IRS 990 and divide the income from dues by the cost of membership. Some of the decline is due to changing interests, but a lot is due to people wanting stuff and entertainment handed to them for “free”, a service now provided by the internet.

How about the market for print books, the far more “permanent” archive of railroad history? The print run for popular railroad books back in the 1990s could approach 5000 copies. Now a print run of 1200 is “large”. That is a 75% drop in 25 years. That decline happened in a period when the total US population grew, and much of the decline was due to competition from the internet
.
How many people are still interested in this "stuff"? Well, if you follow the bidding in eBay auctions, which can be a pretty good indicator, you will notice that many auctions for “railroad paper” are now ending with just one bid, or no bids at all. Sellers who select high prices for “Buy-it-Now” are having their auctions run long times without a buyer.

The hobby and the market seem to be in decline. It is ominous – and the preservation community needs to take notice and prepare, before they find themselves on the edge of history.

PC


I would ask this: is it the media that's important or the content?

Because, for example, even with its current frustrating bugs, the CRHS's photo archive has far more photos of Conrail stuff in it than have ever been published in print:
http://conrailphotos.thecrhs.org/

And they're all searchable.

The market changes, the people change, the way people engage changes, but that doesn't mean the hobby is dying.


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 45 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: 70000, Chris Webster, Google [Bot], Majestic-12 [Bot], PMC, WVNorthern and 71 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: