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 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:23 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:10 pm
Posts: 171
Location: TN
Unseenthings wrote:
You were firing 610 for me last weekend 6/11 weren't you?

I lit off and got her steamed up in the morning and was around during the day.

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5916
Location: southeastern USA
Hey Joe, those parents were us boomers who wished we had been able to party with George and Ringo...........and seem to have warped you into whatever form it took to keep steam alive into another couple generations. We may not have been the Greatest generation, but we tried real hard to make up for it by being the most fun while it lasted.

The education part of the mission is usually slanted towards visitors, much to our detriment. OJT of dubious value is SOP for most volunteer programs. Trade schools don't teach a lot of the disappearing arts, but do provide some good training in basic tool using skills. Do high schools even have shop class anymore?

I'm sorry I'm not in a position to contribute to passing arcane steam stuff along right now, busy learning new arcane digital control and refrigeration skills myself. I would encourage the offered water treatment course listed in RyPN classifieds might be pursued - and if it works out, maybe others can create some E courses in their specialized fields for us as well.

Rock on.


Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 3:28 pm
Posts: 72
Location: Florida
I'm 23 and am a steam & diesel engineer/fireman/conductor/shop laborer on the NH&I and I never liked that blue tank engine growing up. I did however watch the show at a younger age. My father who is a long time railfan and remembers steam on the B&O when he was young made it a mission to get me to see as many operating steam locomotives as possible. He always said there will be a day when it will be hard to find an operating steamer and wanted to be sure I would be able to say I saw (insert road number here) run. As I got away from trains for awhile and focused on cars. That is until one day I happened to hear NH&I was running steam in January in 2006 and my dad happened to be free a weekend so I made the trip with him. I noticed the engineer appeared to be in his 20s and the fireman appeared to be my age. I found out at the time they had a volunteer program in the shop so I decided to help out and now I am in my 5th year at the railroad, still helping in the shop and looking forward to running and firing 40 when she returns to steam in a few weeks.

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:28 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:20 am
Posts: 23
For those who want to know how I became a steam nut I'm not even sure for myself but I think this is how it happened. First is that my dad is probaly a even bigger railfan and steam nut than I am and some of his blood got passed down to me. He was born a few years to late to see steam but saw lots of Pennsy equipment. He grew up next to the Pennsy NEC in New Jersey and would witness GG1's pulling passenger trains at 90 mph and E44's hauling long freight trains. This is how he became a Pennsy fan and I think I got that from him. As for the steam nut part I think I got it from when he used to take me to the BR&W in New Jersey when I was young. I also went to places like Steamtown,Strasburg, and NH&I, where I got a cinder in my eye. I was still to young to go on the yast 614 trip in 98 but my dad went and he got sick from all the cinders! Also when 614 was up for auction my dad spent the whole day there in the cab. There is a picture of him in the news paper of him climbing into the cab. Since I was a Pennsy fan it was almost natural for me to be a Pennsy steam lover. I know almost everything about all the Pennsy steamers. I don't now why but the Pennsy steam engine look facinates me and they will always be my favorite. I like other engines to but If I ever got I chance to restore a steam locomotive it would be a Pennsy one. So as you can see that little Thomas engine had nothing to do with me becoming a steam nut. Just riding behind steam engines on various railroads is what got me. And just for the record my best steam trip was in 2008 where I road behind R&N 425 in an open godola in the rain! And when we were heading back I was in the Passenger car talking to Ross Rowland and other people about steam.

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:33 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:02 am
Posts: 288
Here's an outline of how I got involved with trains:

1. Watched my first Thomas video at age 2 and became a huge fan.

2. My mom decided to get me "all trained out" and took me to the model train show in Puyallup, WA. She despaired when she saw "all these 70 year old guys playing with their trains". Needless to say, her plan backfired.

3. Got my first wooden railway set, (TC Timber) the beginning of a good-sized collection.

4. Age 7, received a Bachman train set, the beginning of a large HO collection.

5. Throughout this time I often went "train chasing" with my dad, where we tried to spot the same train at two or three different locations before it left town.

6. Library summer reading programs. While other kids read novels, I read the biggest, fattest railway histories and documentaries I could find.

7. Moved to a new house, which had the Seattle-Everett Interurban grade behind it. That began my "archeological" interest. Up until now I had done most of my learning/ research with books, but now something new had appeared...

8. The internet. I quickly became a pro at using keywords in Google searches, and could spend hours on the online, going from one site to the next, drinking in everything I found, and matching it up with what I read.

9. Received my first digital camera (2004), and began taking pictures of every train thing I saw.

10. Began joining forums and websites on the internet. Now I could share my photos/ video and learn from others involved with trains.

11. Began volunteering with a local train museum.

12. Along the way, I rode many trains and climbed on lots of park engines.

That's what's happened so far. Despite going through the baseball card phase and the matchbox phase, etc., I'm still "into" trains. I like electronics/ computers, as well as other non-train machines (steam donkeys are a favorite), but trains still fascinate me (granted, mainly older trains). Currently I'm enjoying meeting the people who are involved with trains, rather than just researching and photographing what my mom calls "rusty hunks of metal".

One last note. While I had a few computer games over the years, I only got a video game system a year or two ago. That could be a significant factor.

--Drew Black

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:38 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:46 am
Posts: 203
Location: here, there, wherever
Dave wrote:
Do high schools even have shop class anymore?


They sold off our metal shop class when I was in 7th or 8th grade. A graphic arts lab replaced it. Of course this was also before all the cool rocketry and robotics clubs hit the schools. I always miss out.

I hardly played video games, either. My last game was a PS1, way before they were called "PS". I went to high school, then college where I did have a summer intern at a pretty good rail museum, then from college right to the railroad. Along the way, have rode many a tourist RR in the northeast.

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:29 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:57 am
Posts: 81
Location: DC Metro Area
I started out watching my Grandpa's videos of a certain green 2-8-2 myself, with a bullet-nosed Northern, a monster equipped with a "Hooter" whistle, and a couple of Lima products thrown in. Did watch Thomas though... early on.

I was always a pretty big railfan...and since CSX is what ran through town, that's what I liked. Oh, my misguided youth. Then I found out about steam, and the Western Maryland Ry and all was right.

Now I work for a class one railroad...the same one I watched growing up go through town, and now it's me sailing by the very same spots I used to watch trains all these years. When I have time, I do hang out at a certainl steam-powered attraction. I do it because I love railroading, and I love steam. Now, I'm not an expert, and anything I do is under close observation, but when I like to fire, maintain, heck, even trackwork.

..and now I apologize for this most non-eloquent posts becuase I've just come back from one of those glorious days on the railroad here at 3am. I must be crazy.

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:06 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:57 am
Posts: 210
Oh what the heck, being 18, I suppose this is my time to speak. It's a long read, I know, but some of you might enjoy it.

I grew up watching Thomas the Tank Engine on television. I loved listening to the stories, and I had all the engines for my little wooden railway. Around the age of four or so, my dad took me to the Age of Steam Railroad Museum in Dallas, TX (now the Museum of the American Railroad). From there, I got hooked. My family used to live right off the mainline of the Dallas, Garland, and Northeastern Railroad. I remember that I'd hear the trains coming up to the crossing behind our house, and if I stood on the piano bench, I could watch the trains go by. Behind our house was a big field, probably half a mile across, and then there was the crossing. They eventually started building on and developing that field. I remember how sad I was the day that I couldn't see the crossing anymore.

My interest was very strong still, but I didn't have a whole lot of resources to learn from, so I didn't know very much. However, when I was about nine years old, my family moved out to Southlake, about fifty miles to the west. I attended one of the local elementary schools, and there I had the pleasure of meeting a young man named Matt Martin. I made a point to talk to him because I noticed that every now and then, he'd wear train shirts around the school. We got to talking and hanging out, and eventually, he invited me over to his house. We got there, and my jaw dropped. Santa Fe memorabilia was all over the house. Turns out that his father is Michael Martin, who was apparently one of the big PR guys for the AT&SF. I learned a lot from those two, for which I am eternally grateful. Matt and I still talk to this day.

Starting around the age of twelve, I became friends with the FWWR crews who ran the "Tarantula" train for the city of Grapevine. This turned into me getting several cab rides, which began my interest in operations. Before long, I'd spent enough time in the cab of that ten wheeler that I probably could have run it fairly well, had they let me. Engineer Troy Minnick often let me blow the whistle for grade crossings, and before long, I had my own "signature" whistle. I loved the sights, the smells, the sounds.

When I was fourteen, I applied to be a volunteer at the Age of Steam (this was right before the name change). I was accepted on the spot and showed up for work the next day. I quickly learned about the history of all the equipment, and I was soon giving tours. Of course, I didn't do a whole lot (not by choice, all the people I could learn from ran off). While I was there I met another volunteer named Scott, who was a motorman for the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority. I expressed an interest to him about volunteering to become a conductor, and within a few weeks, he showed up to my house with an arm full of rule books, and told me to report for training the next day. I loved being a conductor. I typically worked the second and third shifts on Saturdays, so I'd work from about 14:00 to midnight. It was great because I got to see the little kids who loved riding the streetcars during the day, and later in the night, when fewer people rode, it was nice to be able to just sit back, relax, and let the motorman do his thing. I loved the feeling of coming home at 2 in the morning (my motorman and I usually had dinner after the shift, and then an hour long drive home), because I'd be tired, and sore, but I would almost always have a great sense of satisfaction.

Just this past May, I finally graduated high school. Since then, I've applied for over 85 jobs, railroad and non-railroad, and I've yet to hear from any of them except the Grand Canyon Railway. I was able to get an interview out there, and they seemed to be impressed by me. It's hard to find a job with this economy, but still, I soldier on.

I found this picture and I thought it might be kind of appropriate. Matt Martin, left, and myself at about age 13, standing on the front platform of a Trinity Railway Express F59PH in Dallas Union Terminal after one of our many adventures. Before you ask, yes, we made sure to get permission before climbing up there.

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:20 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3715
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
WM 7545,

An eloquent answer? If by that you mean sounding as flowery as Lucius Beebe, the answer is no; if elegant, as in just something to which little or nothing need be added, you are up there with the best.

I'm 55, so I technically I am of the post-steam generation in terms of concious memory.

One of the interesting patterns that is developing here is the influence of home videos and films of excursion power. I predate this, but the video influence is still there, in the form of old movies showing up on television in the form of "Union Pacific,", "Denver & Rio Grande," and Disney's "Great Locomotive Chase," along with silent films such as Buster Keaton's "The General," Harold Lloyd's "Speedy," and assorted Keystone Kops capers. I remember seeing John Frankenhiemer's "The Train" with my parents in the local drive-in (remember those?)

I also recall a somewhat artsy uncle with a home movie projector and a library-rented copy of the French film, "Pacific 231," for which I have plans to set a link up for here in the future. (He's still around, by the way, and is my godfather, he also fed the fever with Lucius Beebe books.) And yes, Cass when I was 15 or so looms large in memory, as does a memorable trip up the New River Gorge in September of 1977 with a blue and yellow ex-Reading 4-8-4 that made a confirmed main line steam nut of me.

Of course, this last item was simply a graduation after all the above, plus living next to the B&O in Wheeling, watching switching crews on that road at a piggyback yard right at the south end of the city from my parents' back yard, and also watching a local freight crew near my grandmother's house in the Fulton area. This was on a railroad formally known as the Wheeling Bridge & Terminal Company, and the locomotive was a Baldwin diesel with four exhaust stacks that puffed in sequence, and had a builder's plate that read 1947--and I was elated to realize I was looking at a machine that had been part of the late steam age, even if it was part of what killed that age.

Thanks to all for sharing, both those who have, and I assume more yet to come. . .

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:33 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 7:58 pm
Posts: 111
Location: Hershey, PA
Does 19 count? haha...

I'm one of those "foamer kids" who grew up on Thomas the Tank Engine. Guilty as charged. But I gotta give that blue tank engine credit; without Thomas, I wouldn't be as involved with railroading as much as I am now.

My family history has seen a few of my ancestors working at the Northern Central and PRR. My 2nd cousin was an engineer for the North Shore Railroad (where I grew up within 2 football fields of the line through my hometown of Bloomsburg, PA), and today is on the SEDA-COG JRA board. So you can say railroads are in my blood.

I started volunteering with the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in 2002 as a docent, giving tours of the carbarn, punching tickets, and teaching the history of the museum to visitors. I was a docent until 2006, and in that time, included serving as a car host on excursion trains from Carnegie (just outside of Pittsburgh) to the museum on the Pittsburgh & Ohio Central Railroad in 2002 and 2004.

I became reacquainted with the museum several more times in later in 2006 and 2008, when I decided to return in early spring 2009. At that point, I trained as a motorman. And if I have my fact still straight, I'm the youngest qualified motorman/operator at the PTM.

My ambition is to one day join the crew of the Nickel Plate Road #765 of the Fort Wayne RHS, as it has been a childhood dream of mine to run a mainline steam locomotive. As time permits, hopefully that day will be closer than I think.

Visit the NKP 765's website:

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:41 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:34 pm
Posts: 809
I would like to bring up a slightly different approach to how and why younger kids get addicted to trains. For one I would not bad mouth Thomas, like it or not kids need to start somewhere. Some little kids really sink there teeth into it. It is a good starting point, regardless of what you think of it as an adult. If you want to dissect what attracts kids you have to get out of the adult rail-fan way of thinking, at least to a point. You can share your love of rail-fan things and that indeed can make a difference, but the key is sharing the experience at a level that means something relative to the kids age. Thomas is a great start for a very small child, totally inappropriate to a teenager.

My experiences with kids both being one and having experiences with other peoples kids is most kids actually do want a relationship with an adult male. Maybe not as much when the teen years hit, but even then a bond can be formed. This is not nuts and bolts, but human nature and human needs. It is very cool for a young kid to "hang" with an adult who acknowledges them as a person, who care is they are having a good time, who asks them "hey you want to go ride a train". Be buddies, it can be fun for the adult too, in fact if you can't have fun doing things with a kid {be honest} then maybe you shouldn't try. But befriending a kid {it doesn't matter what your doing as much as "just doing"}can give you permission to be a kid yourself and have some fun without having to justify anything. You do not have to be a know it all teacher with all the answers, but you can make learning fun. Be creative. Most of us who lived long enough to get old have had some sort of mentor who inspired us to take interest in a hobby or vocation. Many of mine were not necessarily "socially correct", they drank, swore like sailors {some were ex-Navy}but they still inspired me to take an interest in machine shop work, boiler work, mechanical work. They may have taught me a few bad habits like drinking, swearing and lewd behavior, but along with the not so good they inspired me to learn about different things and go after them, few of the people I admire to this day were couch potatoes.

Getting off track here again, but the point is that someone has to "feed the fire" of inspiration and camaraderie in young peoples life. Kids are great learning tools for adults, make a buddy out of a kid and you will have fun with them. Go to horse auctions, rifle matches, railroad museums, make them help you bale hay, change oil on something. Go buy them a root beer at a A&W after a afternoons work. Talk to them like human beings. Most of us never realize how much difference one person can make in our lives, for good or ill. Share your interests, how much that means to them is immeasurable. Ya there is some sacrifice there, but it can pay dividends in the long run and truly have a positive effect on the both of you. Think about it, someone probably helped you with your interests regardless of what it was. You have to strike when the irons hot, before sex, drugs and rock and roll, and the clicky friendships become more important.

More closely related to trains, is a shame that most museums cannot seem to find a way to allow {with supervision} kids to come and help. If only to scrape paint or hand tools to you while your under an engine. Ya I know we live in a legal toilet bowel where common sense and risk taking is considered evil, where many people would rather have their kids in the house safe and sound and then turn them loose as young adults with no experiences to build off of. Don't have any answers on how to correct a society that can't think for itself. Cheers, John.

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:32 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:21 pm
Posts: 461
Location: Danbury, CT
I'm 30, so I guess I'm a young'n. I was born into railroading. My grandfather worked on KCS for 34 years and my father has been working for KCS for 41 years. I was raised around diesel and could operate an EMD 1500 before I knew how to drive a car. I didn't have any "little blue devil" to inspire me. For me, it was old photos from my grandfather and a couple of trips to tourist lines, including my first memories of steam at Strasburg in 1985 or 86. Why the hell would anyone NOT find steam interesting? Most of the moving parts are on the outside, where you can see them. Diesels are cool and all, but a bit impersonal and private. With steam, you get a visually clear understanding of what makes it go. It's very "cause and effect". Running steam is a challenge and a true art. The crew is responsible for the way the engine is run and its efficiency. Since relocating to the Northeast, I have joined the Railroad Museum of New England, where I am a brakeman. We don't currently run steam, but recently had Flagg Coal 75 here. It was my introduction to running steam and I loved it. I fired the 75 quite a bit while it was here and I can't get enough. I'm hooked.

Randy Patterson

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:58 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:59 pm
Posts: 308
Notes from the "other" side of 20-30 years old (I'll be 50 in Sept)....

My exposure was much the same as some of the others mentioned here, the "glory" years in Chicagoland of the 60's and 70's with the likes of CB&Q steam, steam powered circus trains in Milwaukee (from the Circus World Museum in Baraboo), Southern 4501, another green visitor (Flying Scotsman), and more.

Later into the 70's and 80's, we got the Freedom Train, Chessie Steam Specials, the CP Royal Hudson, etc, plus all the rest then and now,, N&W 611, the UP steam program, NKP Berks, Milw 261,,, it's an impressive list when you sit and think about it.

Certainly a bountiful experience considering "all of this is extinct".

The younger generation has been exposed to trains a lot by Thomas, but also consider that most people taking the kidlets out to see the blue beast take them where ?,, oh yes, a place with "real" trains, the local rail museum. Just reinforces the idea in some of those formative minds. Add in that (as a general rule of thumb) a day out at the local railroad museum is generally a bargain for the average family (compared to a ballgame, the movies, amusement parks, etc), so we're getting more exposure there as well.

Another aspect I'd like to throw into the mix is the recent glut of shows that show the stories and histories of railroads and that "golden era" in general, typically found on places like Discovery Channel and others. Another avenue of exposure.

What suprprises me the most is (being the traction geek here), the interest in electrics. Steam is sort of obvious, diesels every one can relate to in the modern day, but most electrics are a minimum 60+ years back,, but there are many "young-uns" interested. A very good thing.

Most important thing for everyone to take from this thread (my opinion) is to grab these guys(and girls), teach and nurture them and their interests. I know many of the youngest ones tread that line of age/insusurance issues/etc, but there are many things to keep them and their interests busy. We need them to continue our respective "dreams", and make them "their" dreams as well.

J. Cloos/NW Chicago Suburban Area

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:32 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:51 am
Posts: 124
Location: Upland, CA
I'm 23 years old, and while I have to admit, I did always watch "Thomas the Tank Engine" I live in a small town called Tamaqua, in Pennsylvania. Seeing Reading/Northern 425, aka Blue Thunder, or Blue Comet, or whatever other nicknames people use for it, going through town right by my house really got me started. I do recall seeing 2102 one time parked at the train station, it was during night time, I was only 4 years old and it was just a drive by.

My uncle is also a huge railfan, and him and I always ended up talking trains whenever I saw him, so that was another part of my influence.

 Post subject: Re: Young'uns
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:52 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:03 pm
Posts: 254
Location: SE, Mich.
It was the little 0-6-0T #1 that got me started. Being 16 and in living in Michigan, it’s hard to find some operating steam engines without driving for a day. Two places come to mind: Henry Ford and Owosso, home of PM 1225. Henry Ford is where I actually was bit by the "bug". For those who are unaware, one of the last two surviving C&O Allegheny’s is preserved there. After seeing that, I gave away all my Thomas & Friends VHS's. Next year will be the year when I can finally get my hands dirty and learn about steam preservation. Till then, only 174 more days.

Yield not to misfortunes, but advance all the more boldly against them.

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