Volume 63 – Issue 9 1 September 2023
From the Brass Hat
Greetings to everyone and I hope you enjoyed the “slow” week at the end of August and survived the Tropical Storm. August was a good month for us, with a lot of things getting done around the yard. We got two new 20-foot shipping containers to consolidate the seasonal decorations better and allow for more storage of other items. Roger Koss and Gene Ezzell have been working hard on 1640 and the new engine is now running! The hood is on, but we still have to get a few other accessories reinstalled. She is nearly done. HUGE thanks to them for a lot of hot, heavy, complicated work. Locomotives 1640 and 671 will serve us well for many more years.
Now that it’s September, Halloween prep is upon us. We have already been working on the things we can, to get ahead of the game on Wednesdays, but the real push is now here. We are currently planning to line up the Ghost Train and load it with all the decorations and drop them off all along the line (along with volunteers to set them up) on Saturday, 23 September. I would ask as many folks as possible to come out and help with this new approach to Halloween setup. Gina Casselberry has developed a detailed instruction manual to facilitate success for anyone who wishes to help. Crew turnout will be critical! The decorating calendar is at the end of the newsletter so you can print it out and select those projects you would like to help us on. I will send out crew call reminders too.
Also in this issue, you will find a printable ballot for the annual Board of Directors’ election. Please read the biographical summaries of each candidate carefully and select the THREE that you feel would best lead our organization.
Thanks for all you do for our Museum.
Rusty Spike Nominations Needed from Members by September 30
by Tom Hutchinson
Each year, the New Hope Valley Railway awards the Order of the Rusty Spike to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to our railway. Pursuant to a policy adopted by our Board in 2022, ANY member may now nominate an individual for a Rusty Spike. A majority of the Board will then determine by secret ballot who among the nominees should receive the award each year, with a maximum of three Rusty Spikes to be awarded each year.
Nominations are due by September 30. To nominate someone for a Rusty Spike, a member needs to prepare a paragraph or two listing the reasons why the nominated individual is deserving of the award and send the nomination to the Chair of the Membership Committee, currently Robert Middour (or nominations may be placed in an envelope in the Membership Committee mailbox in the dispatcher’s office). If a member wants to nominate someone for a Rusty Spike, but needs help in preparing the written nomination, they may contact a member of the Membership Committee (Robert Middour, Luke Sullivan or Tom Hutchinson) to provide assistance.
The Membership Committee will accumulate all of the nominations received by September 30 and present them to the Board for vote by December 1. Consideration for a Rusty Spike is normally given to individuals who have been members at least three years, but this requirement may waived by the Board in exceptional circumstances. Nominations made will be kept confidential and only the Chair of the Membership Committee will know which nominee(s) have received a majority of the Board’s vote until the Rusty Spike is awarded at the annual Membership meeting. Any questions concerning this process should be directed to a member of the Membership Committee.
NCRM New Membership Processing System
by Tom Hutchinson
As our museum membership continues to grow, the Board realized that we needed to improve our new member and membership renewal processes to make them more efficient. In June, we acquired a new membership processing software package from a firm called “Springly”. Springly is a leader in non-profit organization membership systems…and the price was right at $25 per month !
Tom Hutchinson volunteered to implement and administer the new system. So far we have successfully imported all of our existing membership records to the software package. In addition to name, address, phone, e-mail, date of membership and membership type (Life, Annual, Family or Youth), additional fields have been added so that we can eventually track certifications and membership areas of interest.
We have done some testing of the system with several volunteers from the Board and the Membership Committee, but now it is YOUR turn as members to help us with some final steps.
All current members will receive an introductory email from Tom Hutchinson in September. You will be invited to go online in the Springly system and access your membership record, set up a password and verify that we have the correct information for you. Your membership records will be password=protected and only visible by you and the members of our Membership Committee. You will also have an opportunity to update/indicate areas of the museum where you may be interested in volunteering in the future. Tom will be available to work through any questions you may have or deal with any “bugs” that we uncover.
Our goal is to use the system for membership renewals later this year. You will be able to renew your membership on-line, paying with a credit card, avoiding all of the back-and-forth mailings and paper checks. For those members unable to access the system due to lack of email or internet, Tom can handle the renewals manually as before and update the system as our system administrator.
Robert Zschoche, 81, one of our newer members, passed away on 10 August 2023. Bob was a retired U.S. Army Colonel in the Artillery Branch and later in the Logistics field. After retirement from the Army, he was instrumental in preparing the American Red Cross for the technological issues associated with Y2K (when all the computers in the world might have stopped working at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve because the year changed from 99 to 00, for those who aren’t familiar with the Y2K term). Since 2005, Bob was a main figure in the Norfolk Southern Historical Society, and was serving as their Treasurer upon his demise. He joined the NCRM in 2022. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors at some point in the future (there is currently a lengthy waiting period). He will be missed by many in the rail history community.
NCRM CAN CLAIM NRHS ROYALTY IN ITS MIDST
by Victor Varney
At the NCRM Board Meeting on Thursday August 17, our long-time member Dr. Robert P. Majors (know affectionally as “Doc”) received a very special recognition sent by the National Railway Historical Society: His 50th Anniversary as an NRHS member certificate and pin.
Doc joined the NRHS in 1973 which is only 9 years after the NCRM (as now known) was chartered as the East Carolina Chapter of the NRHS in 1964. Back in those early days, Doc was actively involved in the East Carolina Chapter, then located in Farmville, NC, and the many Southern Railway steam specials organized by the chapter.
Over these 50 years Doc has supported the NRHS, he has contributed to help make their Heritage Grant, youth Rail Camp, historic rail photo and film preservation, and many other programs possible. These programs in turn support many rail preservation projects pursued by chapters, and rail museums (like the NCRM). The NCRM itself has received $13,500 in NRHS Heritage Grants over just the last 4 years. $5,000 of that was granted this year to support Doc’s restoration work on the ACL Baggage Car.
It is very rare to meet someone who has been a dedicated NRHS member for 50 years. At NRHS events and outings, when you meet members with this many years involvement it is like meeting royalty.
Next time you see Doc, be sure to congratulate him on his achievement. Bows are optional.
Name: Dave Brook
How long have you been a member? Since 2011
Where are you originally from? Schenectady, Orlando, Tampa
What is/are/were your job(s) in real life? Marine Corps Reserve, MBA, 27 years at GMAC, 10 years in music stores. 12 years as crossing guard. Musician, playing or singing in over 40 groups. Currently, Cary Town Band, Holly Springs Community Band, and RTOOT, The Really Terrible Orchestra of the Triangle. I teach bassoon to beginners. Amateur Extra, class, ham radio operator.
Where do you live now? Cary NC
Any family…spouse, kids, grandchildren? Wendy and I have 4 kids, 14 grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. My son, Steve is a member, and lives in New Hill. 2 daughters live around here. Many grandchildren live within 20 miles. A son and his family in Peoria, IL.
How did you become interested in trains? Just happened to stop by on a Wednesday with a friend that was visiting from Florida. I’ve always enjoyed small engines, and we have a lot.
What is your favorite activity at the New Hope Valley Railway? I enjoy managing the Livery on our restorations. I’ve done about a dozen. I also enjoy working on and riding the speeders.
The best part of the group is the fantastic people that you work with and depend on. Some of the best friends I’ve had in my whole life.
If you do not receive the operating crew calls, please contact the crew caller if you are interested in participating in train operations!
Last 2023 New Member Orientation Session Scheduled
by Victor Varney
The next quarterly new member orientation session will be offered on Saturday September 16 from 10 am to noon. It will be held under the covered area behind the yard office, and include a tour of the property along with some of our ongoing projects. The new member orientation session is intended to give new members information about our history, bylaws, how to get information, who’s who, and most importantly how to get involved as a volunteer (and have fun). This session is open to those who have been members for up to 2 years. This is not a substitute for the rules and safety training sessions necessary to get involved with train operations, but we will explain how to attend those sessions, too. This will be the last orientation session offered in 2023. The next one will be early 2024. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP by 13 September to Victor Varney.
Rules and Safety Annual Training – 23 September at 9:00AM
This is the once-per-year training session that all train crew members need to attend. Anyone who did not attend the sessions in the spring of this year need to attend in order to be eligible to work the Halloween and Santa trains!
Back in the “Old Days” – Moving Locomotive 17
As Told by Gray Lackey and Dave Dick
Locomotive 17 was acquired in 1999. It was located in Kingwood, WV on the soon to be abandoned West Virginia Northern Railroad (WVN). We had to arrange movement from Kingwood to Bonsal, and it wasn’t moving by rail. The picture below shows the locomotive as we found it at the WVN railroad.
We had a crew of 6 on site to help out and gather up the spare parts that were included in the sale. Dave Dick, Bill Conklin, Mack and Gray Lackey, Roger Koss, and Robert Middour arrived on Thursday for the scheduled move on Friday.
As usual there is always some background to make a story not so simple. The locomotive was owned by individuals that also owned (or controlled) the railroad through a stock corporation; the corporation DID NOT own the 17. The railroad had a large amount of physical assets – LAND, as well as the railroad and equipment itself. The problem was that the corporation was not exactly flush with cash flow and had sold a large amount of stock to what became in today’s words, an activist investor. The investor managed to get control of the corporation and proceeded to shut the railroad down in order to cash out the assets (sounds familiar). Needless to say, there was ill will between the former owners and the investor. We were told in advance that there might be problems, and we were advised that there would be law enforcement on hand to keep the former owners off the property. In the end, there were no issues with us being there.
Friday morning arrived after a long, restless night. The cranes to lift the locomotive arrived from Pittsburg, PA. Soon after, Turner Transfer out of Greensboro, NC arrived with a truck big enough to haul the locomotive. A smaller truck from Dean’s Wrecker Service in Raleigh was to arrive later for a tie crane that was part of the deal.
Due to the loading area constraints, the cranes would have to pick up off their side. For whatever reason, the cranes set themselves up wrong. While both were rated the same lifting tonnage, one was older than the other.
The older crane would actually do more work due to having the loading gauges only for the operator and not tied into the controls. The older crane should have been on the firebox (heavy) end, but that isn’t what they did.
Now for the BIG drama that always accompanies a move: Gray was in town at an auto parts store, so he did not witness the next event but was only told about it when he got back. The WVN diesel had moved the 17 into place and backed off. But the engine needed to be moved again to spot it between the cranes. When the diesel went to couple, the knuckle pin didn’t drop and 17 took off DOWNHILL– we are talking a six mile downhill! Dave Dick did a great impression of Fred Flintstone trying to stop the engine. He figured that we finally got ourselves a steam engine, and wasn’t about to let it go, but in the end, Dave was no match for 40 tons. So, he and Bill Conklin ran alongside, chunking anything that could be found under the wheels. Unfortunately, as the engine was picking up speed, those items got chewed up as well. Luckily, a piece of wood got in front of the brake rigging and jammed the brakes on, which in turn stopped the engine. Fortunately, she only rolled about two hundred feet. Robert Middour filmed the entire thing, and occasionally brings it out just to have a good laugh. It was NOT funny at the time. It’s probably one of NCRM’s greatest videos. WVN had actually lost a covered hopper of flour down that same hill some years before, and the car was still where it went off the tracks. Luckily, there was not a steam engine added to that pile. 17 was retrieved and again spotted between the cranes where loading could be started again.
Now, remember the crane positions mentioned earlier? The lift started, and the newer crane quit; we could hear the operators yelling to each other, “My crane quit, it won’t do anything but go down. “Override the computer” came back as the response. Once the engine lift was done, it was time to breathe again. The engine was chained down, and due to tight quarters, the truck had to back out approximately a half mile to an industrial parking lot to turn around. I had to go inside and ask the receptionist if some of the employees could move their cars.
The truck was finally on its way after a 7-hour lift. Since oversized loads cannot move past sunset on weekdays, past noon on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays, it would be Monday afternoon before arrival at Bonsal.
We got the tie crane loaded and said goodbye to Kingwood, and headed to Clarksburg, WV for the night. Kingwood would never see any of us again. Soon, there would be no railroad left.
As far as the WVN, it was now dead. The diesels were sold, anything not sold was scrapped, and the track was ripped up after the requisite two-year Surface Trans-portation Board abandonment comment period. It was a great little railroad.
Two cranes put the engine back on the track with no drama, and the truck was on its way back to Greensboro. 17 was at its new home! Now, we had to get it steaming and running.
We started working on the locomotive in 2000. A lot needed to be done. Most weekends and more than enough weeknights were spent in bringing 17 back to life. Funding came in from multiple sources which allowed us to make continual progress on the locomotive. Finally, about mid-2003, we were able to test fire the locomotive and she moved on her own for the first time in about 50 years.
Locomotive 17 provided 15 years of steady service before the required 1472-day Federal Railway Administration inspection. Today, great care is being taken to get her back in service. This little engine should be running at the museum for many years to come.
Fuel Train Caboose Video
by Victor Varney
Jim Whitten was successful in getting Jimmy Sumerell’s video of the fuel train veteran event up on the Triangle Train YouTube channel. Here is the link. Check it out.
After you watch the video, be sure to click on Triangle Train right below to see our channel with this video, a number from Save the 10, and then some others posted years and years ago. Now that we have this up on our long-neglected YouTube channel, we can use this video to more easily point to from other social media platforms, and start generating subscribers for ourselves to help build traffic on our YouTube channel. If we can build sufficient numbers of subscribers and viewers, we can generate revenues from YouTube, too.
A lot of credit to Jimmy for making this video happen and kudos to Jim for cracking the code to get us access to our YouTube channel. I will get this video link out thru the NRHS News in their next edition (deadline Sept 15).
We Had a Car Show at the Brew & Choo!
by Harold Boettcher
On August 5th, the American Legion Cruisers of Post 116 in Fuquay -Varina, NC and our friends from around Sanford, New Hill, Apex, Holly Springs, and Cary attended a Cruise-in at New Hope Valley Railway. About twenty-five classic cars and hot rods showed up at the railyard for the enjoyment of railroad patrons and to see each other’s pride and joy rides. A few tall tales were told as well. That is not at all unusual for this group. It was a hot day, but a good time was had by all, and many took advantage of the train rides that day to cool off and enjoy a trip through the North Carolina woods. Many of them remarked on how the railroad and grounds had changed since the last time they had been there.
[Editor’s note: If you have photos or other info about long-ago (or recent) events at the NCRM, please contact your editor. You can submit your own “Back in the Old Days…” or other article with pictures about anything (within reason) from our past for the Telegrapher. If you can rough out the ideas, we can work with you to craft an article to benefit the entire membership. – CT]
Saturday Work Crew for 23 September
For the next 2 months, we are going to continue to conduct monthly Saturday Crew Work Days between 8 am and midafternoon (we may start earlier on hotter days). Mark your calendar now for Saturday Work Days on September 23, and November 4. These Saturday Crew Work Days will offer increased opportunities for volunteers to come out to Bonsal while still fully employed M-F, the more the better. By no means do these scheduled monthly Saturday Work Days limit any project teams that wish to organize to work on a specific project on any other day of the month. Victor will reach out to everyone a week before to see what projects to put a project on the list for that day. After trying this out for the 6 months, we will assess the results and determine how to continue Saturday Work Days in 2024.