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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 4:00 am
Posts: 170
Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
There is already a line in operation that offers 80 miles of mainline running suitable for larger steam with pretty decent scenery. In fact, a large steam locomotive ran this line two years ago (almost to the day) at what I believe was a loss for them. Anybody care to guess what it is?

Steamtown. They have access, granted at a cost, to a line that can offer a decent ride. I remember reading somewhere after the 765 went home that it was very unlikely that they would ever come back due to low ticket sales despite years of people asking when it would happen. Something like ten cars were left in Scranton while the rest of the train took the trip. I rode the trip. It was great. I couldn't understand why nobody wanted to ride it. It's not like it wasn't advertised. There were certainly chasers though. At every crossing along the way. The only thing missing from this trip was speed. I don't think we ever broke 30-35 MPH. That line used to rated for higher speed but years of lackluster maintenance have left it with multiple slow orders. Other than that though, it was a great ride with less than capacity.


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:32 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 356
NKP779 wrote:
TP&W would be an unsustainable choice for a mainline steam "home", and I was involved in planning and executing the NKP 765 visit in 1980. There is no scenery and no tourist base, plus it is still in service by G&W. US 24 being parallel for most of the route is terrible - few chasers actually contribute to the steam operator. It is human nature..........

I tend to agree, though I don't have the experience to say what would make a steam excursion possible, I am from there, born in Peoria, lived the first three years less than a mile from the TP&W's (then) headquarters, and then another twenty or so years twenty miles north of El Paso. The area in question is nice for about three months and then extremely bleak the rest of the year. The world's best pizza, Davis Brothers in Washington, would be a stop that would draw me, but not much else. Seriously, there are a lot of good restaurants in the area, but yuppies complain about the paper napkins etc. at what are mainly working class places (one friend of mine asked snarkily "is this where these people get their chicken fried steak?" not seeming to realize that I was one of those people).


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:29 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:03 pm
Posts: 722
ns2110 wrote:
I remember reading somewhere after the 765 went home that it was very unlikely that they would ever come back due to low ticket sales despite years of people asking when it would happen. Something like ten cars were left in Scranton while the rest of the train took the trip. I rode the trip. It was great.


It was five or so - and it was a combination of other excursions trips being operated close together and the fact that Steamtown didn't consider it a "RailFest" event and it wasn't included in advertising...Bummer.

Moreover, your point is a good one. Steamtown, in essence, seems to be a justifiable "home" but what the original article and other comments overlook is that mainline steam, by itself, is not sustainable. You need a multi-use destination and a variety of additional amenities that provides customers with a valuable experience beyond being near or riding behind a steam locomotive.

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Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc
http://www.fwrhs.org


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:41 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 10:49 am
Posts: 635
nathansixchime wrote:
ns2110 wrote:
I remember reading somewhere after the 765 went home that it was very unlikely that they would ever come back due to low ticket sales despite years of people asking when it would happen. Something like ten cars were left in Scranton while the rest of the train took the trip. I rode the trip. It was great.


It was five or so - and it was a combination of other excursions trips being operated close together and the fact that Steamtown didn't consider it a "RailFest" event and it wasn't included in advertising...Bummer.

Moreover, your point is a good one. Steamtown, in essence, seems to be a justifiable "home" but what the original article and other comments overlook is that mainline steam, by itself, is not sustainable. You need a multi-use destination and a variety of additional amenities that provides customers with a valuable experience beyond being near or riding behind a steam locomotive.


The steam community, for a long time, has not been in the railroad business...they are in the entertainment business. We are Disneyland on rails, and everything we do from this point has to stress the entire experience. Polar express being one example. I have been to England twice and marveled at the work the excursion lines put into their equipment and buildings...they provide the complete immersion experience, and it would be easy to see North Yorkshire Moors or the Bluebell as examples of being literally trapped in time. The two lines were indeed great places to visit, and they provided a great deal of insight as to how to make things successfull on this side of the pond:

1. Make the experience as authentic as possible:

Very much like the Chicago Experience with 765, a '40's theme or something similiar gives that immersion experience

2. Lose the fracking egos:

Lots of opportunities are lost by people just refusing to get it done by working together. This requires cooperation and out of the box thinking. If we want to be doing this in thirty to fifty years, or longer, that needs to happen:

3. Locations, location, location:

Just as Disneyland has multiple locations, this experience needs multiple locations to make the concept completely successful. There needs to be a place East of Chicago, one in the Midwest, and two out West. What this also means is that organizations need to buy or lease their own track, preferable an operating short line with a varied traffic base near a major metropolitan area, with Class One connections and the ability to move not so big locomotives to sites which may be easier and less expensive than moving a locomotive on its own wheels. ITM is the perfect example of what could have been, an opportunity now lost.

4. Organization:

To pull this off, we need to pull together under the leadership of organizations which not only have the relationships with Class Ones figured out, but have also figured out the political angles as well. All of the organizations need to move as one body, contributing cars, locomotives, experience, and FINANCING to make it happen. No, your locomotive may not run this year, but it will in two years. Meanwhile, other locomotives get their turns and the shared pool of money from operations and revenues from freight traffic help keep everything up and running.

Is this doable? Yes. Is it feasible? Absolutely. The question is how we can pull it off together where the public is thrilled with the result, the freight customers are happy, and each location handles over 100,000 passengers per year. The Bluebell and North Yorkshire Moors do this every year, from a much smaller population base. Closer to home, the Silverton handles 200,000 people per year.

First step is the organization, under one banner. Let's make it happen....


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:24 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
Posts: 909
Hi,

One possibility would be to contact the State of Georgia. They own the Western & Atlantic and lease it to CSX. I think the R.O.W. is wide enough for a second track from Marietta to Chattanooga. The old pre-Civil War era tunnel at Tunnel Hill is still in existence but not in use.

The bridge over the Chattahoochee River would be an expensive proposition but starting in Marietta going north would be doable. Just north of Marietta is Elizabethtown where the Georgia Northeastern interchanges with CSX. This was the backdoor way into Atlanta for L&N/NC&StL.

The GNE already operates the Blue Ridge Scenic tourist train in association with the State of Georgia.

Maybe someone could sell the state on allowing adding a second track to their ROW for a dinner train to Cartersville from Marietta. The ultimate goal would be to extend to Chattanooga. If the tourist line were to be kept separate from the CSX line, steam could be run. If the tourist line were to be essentially double tracking the W&A/CSX line, CSV needs the capacity and they could maintain the line.

100-odd miles from Marietta to Chattanooga would be a good section of mainline running and it could be set up such that the ex-Southern predicessor line (now part of TVRM) could be the servicing and turning facilities for the Chattanooga end. In Elizabethtown, the GNE has a "Y".

food for thought.

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:01 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3054
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
First, I would like to than Texas Highballer for his comments. . .he and Nathan Six Chime (Kelly Lynch) have the best comments here so far.

Speaking of Nathan/Kelly, he mentioned that the passengers should have "something more to do" than ride the train.

One route that would be wonderful for this would be CSX's New River Gorge line, possibly with the run extended to Clifton Forge, Va. On this route are (or in some cases were):

Huntington (considered West Virginia's most beautiful city, with miles of brick streets the last time I was there)

The state capitol at Charleston

Kanawha Falls State Park

Hawks Nest State Park

Babcock State Park (Sewell)

Grandview State Park

Whitewater outfitters based out of Thurmond

Bluestone Lake (Hinton)

The Greenbrier at White Sulfur Springs

The Homestead at Hot Springs, Va.

And of course the famous scenery of the New River Gorge--and beyond.

Not all of these destinations are directly on line, but might be reached easily with a bus or taxi connection, possibly using vintage buses such as the National Park Service uses at Glacier National Park.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Jammers

It would be a great operation except for one thing--the current owner and management.


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:25 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3054
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
It's interesting that we have had various interpretations that in some cases come close, though not quite in a Class I manner (Strasburg, Cumbres & Toltec, White Pass, East Broad Top), and some main line operations even had touches of the "immersion experience."

One of these for me--the one that got me spoiled for main line steam--was a trip in September of 1977 up the New River with the Chessie Steam Special and 2101. The sound and scenery were great, in spite of the certainly non-period paint. . .everything would have looked better in black and Pullman green, especially as much of the consist was made of standard cars with open windows and stitched together with rivets.

But the return . . .that was something else again. . .

By the time we were approaching Mount Carbon westbound, it was deep twilight. The sky was a dark indigo blue, the hills were black silhouettes, and the Kanawha River was also deep blue with ripples, reflecting the sky. The Chessie paint was no longer visible, as the train itself was also a black silhouette, with a lumpy locomotive outlined in the headlight beam, and the cars a string of golden rectangles of light that also shown upon the ground, dancing along over the lumps in the earth and the bushes.

Ahead was a signal, displaying approach. We were coming up on the signal at track speed, with no apparent sign of slowing down. The signal got closer and closer. . .

Right in front of the pilot, the signal flashed to "clear." Of course it immediately changed to "stop" as the locomotive roared under the signal brackets, the red lights shining through the smoke.

We went into a curve to the right, then one to the left. Beyond this we were running along a very wide, long curve that followed the river. We had visibility for several miles along this curve.

Visible ahead was another signal, displaying "approach." Beyond it was another signal, displaying "stop." Just beyond this signal were two moving red lights--the markers of another train!

We kept on around the long curve, the "approach" signal getting closer and closer, and again, no attempt to slacken speed.

Another signal displaying "stop" came into view. The markers of train ahead passed it.

Then, in response to relays and circuits, the first "stop" signal changed to "approach." The signal that was displaying "approach" promptly went to clear--again, right in front of the pilot. That signal again flashed to "stop."

This went on for some time. . .the signals falling to "clear" right in front of the locomotive.

It was a grand display of heads-up railroading, and a glimpse of what it must have been like when the 20th Century ran in multiple sections up the Hudson.

I can't say how much I would like to see all of this today, but even better, with low-headlight C&O power in black and gold and silver, with riveted Pullman green cars with openable windows to let in all the magnificent sound--even if they also let in the smoke and cinders, too, most of which seem to come down around the third car in the train (guess how I know that!)

As recreated by the Fort Wayne people with 2-8-4 (2)765:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mqJcThsjVE


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:05 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:45 am
Posts: 67
My time machine trip was two years prior to the video you posted at the NRHS convention at Huntington WV. with the 1225/765 trip to Hinton. As many folks may remember, the 1225 ended up with a crack in a thermic syphon, so the 765 did most of the work that trip. On the return to Huntington, it was well past midnight, and I was alone in the vestibule. The majority of the passengers were sleeping, so I had the area to myself. The warm balmy evening was pleasant in comparison to the heat of the day, and the occasional wafts of coal smoke would drift in through the open half door. The sound of the Berkshire on the front was almost like a roar. She was pulling 32 coaches and the 1225 along with her. The mile markers were ticking off at a rate of about 50 seconds, and we would lean into the curves. To hear the whistle call out for the grade crossings, and the occasional rail of cinders would fall upon the roof and some would be carried into the open window. The experience went on for what seemed like forever, but also like most experiences, it too was fleeting. We paused at Montgomery for servicing, and then made the final dash into Huntington. This was my favorite steam trip experience, and I will forever be grateful to the many folks who so graciously made this a possibility.


Steve


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
SteveC wrote:
My time machine trip was two years prior to the video you posted at the NRHS convention at Huntington WV. with the 1225/765 trip to Hinton. . . . . . This was my favorite steam trip experience, and I will forever be grateful to the many folks who so graciously made this a possibility.
Steve


Thanks for tickling my brain cells!

Some other memories, and future possibilities. . .

One was on the eastbound run to Hinton. . .I forget the exact location, but it was section of the railroad that was triple track.

We were running at track speed, and met a freight (diesel powered, of course) going west. It showed up with no warning at all--and explosion of sound, the windows on the left side momentarily going black, and then the patterns and heralds of Chessie and other roads racing past on a dancing wall of steel.

Whoosh! There went the caboose--and then the air came on, and speed dropped rapidly to perhaps 30 mph. There was a lot of clattering and banging going on, getting closer.

Then from my position on the right side of the train, I could look through the open doors between the cars, and saw the second car ahead and then the car directly ahead swerving to the left, then the right, and then my own car started to swing through the crossover, the banging of wheels over frogs and short rail sections receding behind me as my car went over.

Once we were on the opposing track, we began to accelerate--and we started to overtake a freight that had been ahead of us. Caboose with the crew watching us, then freight cars, then the straining diesels.

We were back up to track speed, but not for too long. The air came on again, speed dropped again, and the clanking and banging came back again as we crossed back over, now placing us ahead of the train we had just passed.

And shortly after that, as we were accelerating back to track speed, here came another westbound on the track we had just left!

Again, it was a great display of heads-up, on the ball railroading, with the execution aided by CTC.

I can't help but think of how such a demonstration--even if random as we saw here--can show off good modern operations as well as the glory days.

Was it not David P. Morgan who said a steam train was not only an education for the past, but an education into the modern day, showing how far we had come?

********************************************************************************************************************************

The other tickling is a little more low key. . .on the return trip again, I believe it was after a stop to drop off passengers at St. Albans, I was up in the baggage car that was used for people who were making sound recordings. Also in the car were two C&O veterans, at least one of them on duty, in a uniform and wearing a big yellow walkie-talkie radio on his hip. Those two guys and myself happened to be the only people in the car at the time.

One of them said to the other, something to the effect of, "Homer's having fun with the whistle. He's blowing for a crossing, but there isn't one for another three miles."

The other replied, "I guess he should have fun. It's the first chance he's had to run a steam engine in 27 years!"

As Steve C. said, we can be and are so grateful for what so many did, ranging from Hayes Watkins and Ross Rowland to those two anonymous railroaders, for what we got to see, hear, and smell.

Oh, where did that spirit go?


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:52 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
Before we start debating locations, somebody first prove that there's a financially sustainable possibility for any place to work doing this in this country at this time. If that can be done, the rest is really pretty easy......

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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:08 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3054
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Dave wrote:
Before we start debating locations, somebody first prove that there's a financially sustainable possibility for any place to work doing this in this country at this time. If that can be done, the rest is really pretty easy......


I think it is feasible, based on some operations we have now; let's look at some of them:

Grand Canyon Scenic, 65 miles long, mostly diesel operated now, but regularly steam operated for years; I believe the choice of going diesel wasn't entirely economic, but was at least partially ecologic, given the emphasis on "green" fuel.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic, 64 miles long, about all steam, and a tough railroad to operate, too, with miles and miles of 4% grade.

Durango & Silverton, 45 miles long, all steam, too, and the 2% grades on that line are nothing to sneeze at either.

White Pass & Yukon, 107 miles long (67 in service), mostly diesel but with some steam, and also with a long 4% pull out of Skagway.

All of these roads call for trips that take most of a day. The steam power on almost all have been 2-8-0s and 2-8-2s; the latter are not always that small, even on narrow gauge. Those grades don't help the bottom line, either.

Against this, all also have something close to the "immersive environment" that got a lot of this discussion started. They also have the additional activities Nathan/Kelly alluded to--old style towns in Durango and Silverton and Chama and Williams, a national park at Grand Canyon, campsites only accessible by rail along the Rio de Las Animas, hiking trails at Carcross in the storied Yukon.

Someone might make a comment about standard gauge main line power being larger and thus more expensive. That might be so, but by how much? Unless you are talking about an articulated engine, you have two cylinders, two sets of valve gear, and a boiler--same stuff as the narrow gauge guys. You have either three or four driving axles; while they might take more muscle to move around than in narrow gauge, you're still looking at the same jobs of maintaining journals and tires, and in fact the work might even be easier on an engine with roller bearings. Air brake systems, superheaters, injectors, and the electrical system with the turbogenerator are the same, whether you're looking at a 4-6-0 or a 4-8-4, or for that matter an articulated.

Is there that much difference in labor to drop a driver wheelset with 50-inch drivers vs. one with 80-inchers?

The big differences might be the larger boiler, plus a couple of auxiliaries--a mechanical stoker and usually a feedwater heater, with one or two pumps. You might have a couple of more axles in a four wheel leading and four wheel trailing truck.

But would this be a killer? If it were, would the railroads have gone to Superpower, or would they have stayed with drag engines?

Much the same can be said for cars. You have two couplers, you have an air brake system, you have windows and doors, you might have an air conditioning system (in steam, I like open windows anyway!) The narrow gauge equipment has about all that, too, including the AC in some cases. You might have heavyweight cars with six axles, maybe (I still recall how such cars were the best riders on Southern and Chessie excursions).

We might have more mileage, we probably would have more speed. How much more would that cost, along with everything else?

I'm not sure that would matter than much--PROVIDED you could get the traffic!! Get enough people to pay, your problems go away.

And that's the real question. Can you get those butts into the seats, and maybe the dining car and the sleepers?

I can't really answer that, but I don't think the answer is totally hopeless. (To Be Continued)


Last edited by J3a-614 on Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:19 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3054
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
I'll let James Porterfield help answer that. He's perhaps best known as the author of "Dining by Rail," as a preservation columnist in Railfan & Railroad, and as the principle instructor at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, teaching courses in heritage tourism is a big part of the Center for Railway Tourism.

This is from a column he had in Railfan & Railroad in the October 2016 issue as he addresses what he thinks will be our "future shock," starting with a bit on demographics:

Quote:
The Numbers Game: Just to be clear, the audience for preservation as education - not preservation as entertainment - is known as a heritage traveler. That term is defined by Laura Mandala, a leading heritage tourism market researcher, as one who travels "to experience the places, people, activities, and things that authentically represent the past and present, including cultural, historic, and natural resources" (emphasis added).

Mandala's most recent study, published in 2013, points out that 76% of the 170.4 million Americans who travel for leisure - as opposed to those who travel for business or family matters - participated in one or more heritage-related activities. At 3 out of 4 leisure tourists, that's 129.6 million people annually looking for sites operated by folks like you and I. The number has likely grown as the "Great Recession" has waned.

So much for the "we're in a shrinking market" argument floated by some among us.

Meanwhile: Now consider this. Even though we operate in a growing market, many issues of this magazine, as well as others in the field, report the demise of some number of rail heritage sites. As was pointed out here earlier (see the June and August issues), this is not only disappointing to those who are fans of railroading and railroad history, it is often a blow of some level of seriousness to the economic well-being and community pride where the disappearances take place.

In addition, a core component of my thinking holds that a majority of future funding for preservation efforts is going to come from tourist spending and local investment in attracting tourists. Shrinking the number of rail heritage sites, and abandoning education in favor of entertainment as a raison d'être, is irreparably damaging to these efforts. National awareness of the important role railroads played in both building and binding this nation together is critical to generating preservation revenue. All those people - the Millennials and others under 50, racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants, and women - who are absent from our activities and sites lack the first-hand experience many of us of a certain age had growing up. What we see as inherent and self-evident - the lore and lure of trains - is lacking in most people under the age of 60. Our preservation, interpretation, and marketing efforts are all that stand between us and a greatly diminished presence for the fruits of our hard work.

Without those efforts, here's what's coming.

The Future Shock: Within the next twenty-five years, the number of authentic, functioning rail heritage sites will be reduced to a dozen or so regional venues. There you may find an in tact steam-era locomotive service facility with all the trappings, connected to a substantial and serviceable right-of-way that enables classic equipment to run at speed - as it was intended to operate. Re-enactors will portray various roles, both necessary (operating personnel) and supporting (division point depots staffed with dispatchers, station and freight agents, and the like). Elements of a right-of-way, originally saved by rails-to-trails advocates, will be visible, perhaps even restored and staffed (a coke oven bank, for example, or a grain mill or interchange). Think Rocky Mountain Express, depicted in the DVD recommended last month.

As part of the site, visitors to one or more locations along the train's operating route will have access to carefully crafted but informal, often self-guided tours supplemented with robust electronic media - informative smart phone Apps, virtual reality experiences, Artificial Intelligence interactivity, 3D-cad exhibits, and more - to stimulate interest in and appreciation for railroad technology dating back, by then, more than 200 years.

Exactly the kind of authentic, varied, full and accessible experience today's heritage tourist is looking for and willing to travel miles to enjoy.

The few other sites remaining will have surrendered completely to what documentary historian Ken Burns labels "avarice and greed." That is, entertainment disguised as preservation. We see the creep already, as market saturation hits Thomas the Tank Engine, as the season for the Polar Express expands, as numerous knock-off venues are deployed. You saw, didn't you, the next "big thing?" The addition of a Hogwarts Express experience to Universal Studios' bag of contrived entertainment venues?

In an email chat discussing the possible privatization of Steamtown, someone inquired, "If they do privatize, can we expect to see boxy bio-diesel locomotives and Thomas the Tank Engine?" My guess is, "Without a doubt." And at that point, look for commercial real estate developers, city planners, amusement park builders, housing advocates, and others, to begin demonstrating to city, county and state elected officials how their plans for the property can produce substantially more revenue and jobs than a fake rail heritage facility passing off toy trains as real history. Meanwhile, is there a better place in America than the Tuckhannock Viaduct near Steamtown to serve as a setting for a simulated run to Hogwarts Academy?

The interests of those of us who see preservation and meaningful interpretation, not entertainment, as the key to success lie in working to improve the performance of Steamtown as a National Park and as a priceless illustration of what was once a ubiquitous setting on the American landscape.

What to do?: To alter this path, substantive new thinking is required.

First, there has to be a considerable and conscious effort to recruit Millinnials, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and women into this effort.

Second, money needs to be spent on market research, customer satisfaction initiatives, a determination of what constitutes educational relevance, more than on restoration.

Third, based on what is earned, the focus of preservation efforts will have to satisfy what the research uncovers as the needs.

A mighty challenge to say the least. Frankly, our allies in this effort appear more likely to be found in the history, preservation, economic development and tourism communities than among the rail fan community.

But without a shift in emphasis, you will continue to see railway heritage sites either disappear or devolve into marginally profitable but meaningless entertainment venues. Whatever vestige there is of America's once widespread and meaningful railroad history will be mere decoration, no more authentic than a jousting contest at a Renaissance Fair in Wisconsin.

Very little of what we have today - static artifacts and collections, random pieces on display (often out of context) - will be of little interest. Unless they are seen in use and in proper context, do not connect with visitors. A metal box, whether it is a caboose, a box car, or a call stand, has no relevance. A locomotive - whether steam or diesel - that putters along at 5 or 10 miles per hour on 6 miles of track, also lacks relevance (what interest a steam engine might draw can be more easily and cheaply satisfied by a demonstration track a hundred yards long).

As this erosion continues, remaining sites - the outcome of avarice and greed - will seek the easy way out, and turn increasingly to entertainment in lieu of education as a lifeline. Until overtaken by a new reality: Irrelevance.


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:35 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
That's a pretty lengthy quotation (and I hope I don't get into trouble with the publishers of Railfan & Railroad for using so much of this editorial), but consider everything he says here, in particular about how we too often run things. How many here have complained of bad experiences in the past from heritage railroad management who apparently thought their roads were full scale model railroad clubs? How many such roads look more like junk yards than treasured jewels of preservation? Read again what he says about a possible future of only a dozen or so really viable rail operations. . .and consider what happens to the others, consider what that could also mean for park engines and other displays.

But we might have a better option provided we have the intelligence and the humility to look for it.

Check his comments on demographics again:

Quote:
[Laura] Mandala's most recent study, published in 2013, points out that 76% of the 170.4 million Americans who travel for leisure - as opposed to those who travel for business or family matters - participated in one or more heritage-related activities. At 3 out of 4 leisure tourists, that's 129.6 million people annually looking for sites operated by folks like you and I. The number has likely grown as the "Great Recession" has waned.

So much for the "we're in a shrinking market" argument floated by some among us.


Actually, reading this, and the rest of what Porterfield had to say, I think that future might be an improvement! It would be nice to get beyond the Thomas set and the Polar Express set!

As noted earlier, the grandest experiences I've had have been on trips or portions of trips that were the most authentic. I would dare say that would apply to most of us here. It was the feel, the grandeur of those earlier times that makes us interested in this in the first place.

I ask again, are we smart enough, bold enough, and humble enough (no room for egos!) to look and learn and do to get a better future?

Or, to put it more bluntly, do we the brains and the guts to shoot for this?


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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:55 pm 

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Location: southeastern USA
[quote="J3a-614"
Grand Canyon Scenic, 65 miles long, mostly diesel operated now, but regularly steam operated for years; I believe the choice of going diesel wasn't entirely economic, but was at least partially ecologic, given the emphasis on "green" fuel.

With the Grand Canyon outside the coach windows, power doesn't matter and people will flock there train or no train.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic, 64 miles long, about all steam, and a tough railroad to operate, too, with miles and miles of 4% grade.

This is an economic development program for two states that just happens to run a railroad. It also isn't mainline steam.

Durango & Silverton, 45 miles long, all steam, too, and the 2% grades on that line are nothing to sneeze at either.

Located in a place where tourists are already looking for scenic things to do, and also not mainline steam.

White Pass & Yukon, 107 miles long (67 in service), mostly diesel but with some steam, and also with a long 4% pull out of Skagway.

See the above.

All of these roads call for trips that take most of a day. The steam power on almost all have been 2-8-0s and 2-8-2s; the latter are not always that small, even on narrow gauge.

So, unless we have a location that's already populated by tourists and the railroad provides something scenic and nostalgic that fits into the larger picture, these models aren't necessarily the most appropriate for the subject under discussion.

Heritage tourism by all means - but maybe not mainline steam? Ever been to Jamestown CA? Shortline all the picturesque way. Lots of good shortline buildings and rusty iron laying around, operating appropriate steam with some relevance to the location. How are they doing these days? Consider the replica at York, PA - where else can you take a ride back into 1869, even though it's s not really accurate and the context surrounding it is noticeably today. How are they doing? I'm really asking, I don't know in either case.

So, I think we need to think about a British style contextual time machine rather than old stuff on a modern roadbed IF we want a permanent location....... but we may be better off building a touring mainline excursion program that won't wear out one market by taking it to many markets. Locomotives that are ready to run with no place to go can be alternated. What is needed is a good set of reliable and sustainable mainline passenger cars, a marketing A team, and willing hosts.

Perhaps the home for mainline steam is wherever a mainline with a market can be found that can and will carry one.

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 Post subject: Re: A Home For Main Line Steam
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:20 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3054
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Thank you for the reply--and ironically, I think most of it is at least sort of in agreement with my own commentary.

You made a comment about the narrow gauge roads and in particular the Grand Canyon Scenic as having tourists who wouldn't care about steam, that they already had a market.

That's true, and it helps illustrate something I might not have emphasized enough--that you need a good operation, especially for something like this, to be viable in the first place.

As emphasized earlier, this experience has to be RIGHT!

Steam just makes it better!

I don't know if this still holds, but a railroader who was involved with the NKP Historical Society and who was also an official on a shortline railroad in West Virginia when I knew him (and he posts here occasionally!) said, if I remember right, that steam might make for something like an extra 20% in ticket sales. The question is, will the extra 20% (or less--we have to keep that possibility in mind) justify keeping a coffee pot around?

Quote:
So, unless we have a location that's already populated by tourists and the railroad provides something scenic and nostalgic that fits into the larger picture, these models aren't necessarily the most appropriate for the subject under discussion.


Isn't that what the British lines and Jamestown and Ely, Nev. are? Would any of them be what they are without the context of their surroundings?

Would the currently inactive East Broad Top be the jewel we still want to see reborn without the context of the shops and bridges and the ridges of the mountains of Pennsylvania?

Quote:
Heritage tourism by all means - but maybe not mainline steam?. . .

So, I think we need to think about a British style contextual time machine rather than old stuff on a modern roadbed IF we want a permanent location....... but we may be better off building a touring mainline excursion program that won't wear out one market by taking it to many markets. Locomotives that are ready to run with no place to go can be alternated. What is needed is a good set of reliable and sustainable mainline passenger cars, a marketing A team, and willing hosts.


Maybe you're right--but would it be a good idea to write this off? Shouldn't we be sure before we say "no?"

Quote:
Perhaps the home for mainline steam is wherever a mainline with a market can be found that can and will carry one.


And isn't this problem--the one of finding a main line road that will let steam run--one of our greatest obstacles? Wasn't the original proposal (actually, if you wanted to just call it dreaming, I wouldn't argue with you) meant as a way to get around that apparent hostility main line roads seem to hold against heritage operations?


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