Volume 63 – Issue 12                          1 December 2023

From the Brass Hat

Welcome to Winter! The leaves are on the ground and the thermometer is showing abnormally cold temps. We have rain in the forecast, so that must mean it will be warming up, at least incrementally. This means we must all be prepared for cold AND wet conditions for our upcoming Santa Trains. Of course, that is part of the allure of our open excursion cars. Nothing beats bundling up on the train with a cup of hot chocolate and having a chance to talk to Santa and plead one’s case with the coal-bearing Elf. The candy-to-coal ratio is pretty high, so chances are good that everyone will have a smile in the end.

Santa Trains are upon us. Thanks to our dedicated decorators, everything is looking very festive at the NCRM. It looks like we will have many riders coming out to see Santa, who will be on the train this year, after a few years of him being in the Yard. Of course, we will need full crews to operate the 25 trains (over 5 days) and all the other things that go on around the Museum to make it a memorable time for all. This will be our 28th year of Santa Trains!
Looking back on November, we really got a lot done. The new Board of Directors approved the updated NCRM bylaws, which require ratification by the entire membership, and the new NCRM Policy Manual. Most of the things taken out of the bylaws went into the Policy Manual, along with many other policies which had been in effect. More details about this are included later in this newsletter. Elections for 2024 Officers were also conducted. The same leadership team was elected: Rob Grau – Treasurer, Cindy Grau – Secretary, John Morck – Vice President, Chris Tilley – President. Along with our Board, Committees, and most of all, our great Volunteers, we should be well situated to continue to improve the Museum and accomplish our missions.

Thanks for all you do for our Museum.

Respectfully submitted,
Chris Tilley
President, NCRMs Hat


Get to Know a Member
by Tom Hutchinson

Name: Art Kotz

How long have you been a member? Since 2016

Where are you originally from? Southside of Minneapolis, MN

What is/are/was your job(s) in real life? I worked my way through college as an Offset Press Printer as well as performing pre-press and post press operations. My first professional job was as a Mechanical Engineer working in production design, test and then engineering management of typewriters and electronic keyboards. I then transitioned to Information Technology Project Management and concluded my career as Senior Project Manager for AT&T Global Business Solutions implementing integrated voice/data&video systems.

Where do you live now? Raleigh

Any family? I was the middle child of three. Now there is my wife and our dog and cat.

How did you become interested in trains? As a boy I was given a O scale train set for Christmas. I think half the time was spent dismantling reassembling the locomotive to see how it worked. As I got older, I became more curious and fascinated by rail operations and their role in performing logistics.

What is your favorite activity at the New Hope Valley Railway? Working on the restoration of Steam Locomotive #17. By the time I became involved it had already been taken out of operation. All Mechanical Engineering students are taught thermodynamics and steam is typically used to illustrate the properties of gasses. What I really find fascinating is the way the engineers solved various technical challenges especially since they did not have the benefit of computers, or even electronic calculators at the time.

If you do not receive the operating crew calls, please contact the crew caller if you are interested in participating in train operations!

Reminder: 2024 Membership Renewal
by Tom Hutchinson

The North Carolina Railway Museum membership of everyone who is not a lifetime member expires on December 31, so annual members need to renew their membership by then. There is a 60-day grace period after December 31 to maintain your membership in good standing.

In November, annual members should have received an email from our membership software program, Springly, inviting them to renew membership for 2024. If for some reason you did not receive this email, you will receive another in early December, as well as several reminders as year-end approaches. Or if you have misplaced or not received this email, you can click here to renew.

Membership may be renewed by credit card this year in our new system, saving you a 66-cent postage stamp. If you have any questions, contact Tom Hutchinson. You can still renew the “old-fashioned” way by mailing your check to North Carolina Railway Museum, PO Box 40, New Hill, NC 27562…Attn: Membership. Be sure to indicate who the renewal is for. If you want to renew by cash, you will need to get your cash payment to Robert Middour before year-end.

Dues levels for 2024 are the same as for 2023: $20 for adult (18+), $5 for each additional family member (residing in the same household) and $15 for youth members (14-18). Spouses of members may register as Family members, but only the Adult member category can vote in our annual Board elections or any other issues voted on by members.

Amended Bylaws and New Membership Policy Handbook
by Victor Varney

You may have heard that a committee has been working since July to update our bylaws. What are bylaws? For an organization like the North Carolina Railway Museum, our bylaws basically document how we “work” as an organization. This is a legally important “statement” of how we run our organization to our board of directors, members, and others. Our current bylaws were last amended (updated) in July 2017.

It has become increasingly clear that how we accept new members with an up to 3-month-long approval period to be “fully accepted” no longer works and is not friendly to new member candidates. Also, our current bylaws are “way too long” and include things that really don’t need to be in a non-profit’s bylaws. All of the unnecessary stuff needed to be removed from our bylaws. And on the flip side, we were completely missing important items in our bylaws covering things like our ability to solicit donations as a non-profit, indemnification (protection from liability or lawsuit claims) for our board of directors and volunteers, a non-discrimination statement, and more.

In July, the bylaws committee including Chris Tilley, Jim Jatko, Robert Middour, Tom Hutchinson, and Victor Varney set about to redo our bylaws. The current bylaws require that amendments (changes) to our bylaws require a two-step approval process. First the proposed new bylaws need to be approved by the board of directors. That happened during the board meeting on November 16, 2023. The second step to make the bylaws “official” requires that the membership ratify by vote any bylaws changes (amendments).

During December Chirs Tilley will be sending out the board approved proposed new bylaws to all members. Please look these over during the holidays. A ratification vote by the members is slated to happen during the January 20, 2024 annual members’ meeting. Ballots will be sent out prior so those that cannot attend the meeting will be able to vote on the new bylaws, too. Bottom line is that these new bylaws will streamline how we accept new members, remove lots of stuff that doesn’t need to be in the bylaws, and better document how our board and members are protected from liabilities associated with volunteering at the NCRM.

With the changes to our bylaws there is also a NEW document, the Membership Policy Handbook, that will include a number of policies that do not need to be included in our bylaws. In a couple of cases, this new handbook will include items removed from our current bylaws. Mostly the handbook will include policies that we already have, but now they are consolidated in one document.

The most important “new” policy in the handbook concerns how future new members earn the right to vote for board members and any other NCRM business. With the new streamlined membership acceptance process described in the bylaws, new members will be accepted as soon as they submit their application and dues, but they won’t be able to vote. To earn the right to vote we will require that new members self-document and submit that they have volunteered on site at least 50 hours over a prior 12-month period. Once done and approved by the board, they will obtain voting rights for as long as they remain as members in “Good Standing” (which means no lapse of paying dues for more than 60 days). Keep in mind this policy change will have NO impact on any current members who have voting rights. Current members have already “earned” the right to vote based on our current bylaws and will be able to continue to vote for as long as they remain a member in “Good Standing”.
Unlike the bylaws, the new policy handbook will only require approval by the board of directors to make changes or additions. It will go into effect once the new bylaws are ratified. Please look over this first edition as you consider accepting the proposed new bylaws. It is already expected that changes and new policies like member dues/benefits, procurement and others will be added as needed going forward.


Back in the Old Days: Acquiring Two of Our Larger Assets – The Goldston Depot Part 2
by Dave Dick

A lot of preparation and planning goes into moving a building as large and heavy as the Goldston depot. Luckily, it had been moved once before. The heavy I-beams shown in the picture went right back into the holes originally cut into the office back in the 70’s, and up underneath the freight end of the depot. This helped to provide support for the building as well as a tie-in for the bogies (the wheelsets shown in the picture). Back at the museum, a flurry of activity was also taking place. A location for the building had to be finalized, and a permanent foundation had to be designed and constructed before moving the building. Inside the depot all the stuff that had accumulated over the last forty years, like desks, couches, room dividers, heavy shelving, a NASCAR Pepsi bottle collection, toys, as well as Gaines family mementos, all had to be removed. Amongst everything was an old roll-top desk from about 1900. We talked to Todd about whether he would donate that as well, and were told that he would, as long as it stayed with the depot. When we removed the desk, it literally came apart in our hands. It had been sitting there so long that the glue joints had dried out. So, we packed it up for a future restoration. I plan to write another article on the desk itself, and about my thought process when restoring an antique like this. That might be interesting for all you woodworkers as well.

Another surprising find was the original semaphore. It was located at the very back of the freight area where it was covered by wood planks and other stuff. Without looking closely, you would have stepped right over it. A portion of the old chimney also had to be removed from the roofline to below the sill plate. This was because it was decided to remove the roof and move it separately from the rest of the building (because of the overall height of the depot). The roof would be separated just above the sill plate. This guaranteed that visually, when put back together, there wouldn’t be any evidence that it was ever separated.

A few days before the actual move to Bonsal, the depot was moved to another part of the Gaines’ property where it could be accessible to the two cranes that would lift and remove the roof. After the metal roofing material was removed, I-beams were placed through and horizontally along the roofline to help stabilize it during the move. It was then lifted off and lowered on to a flatbed truck. The side walls in the main portion of the building were covered with plastic to protect the graffiti on the walls. Spreaders were then placed on the inside between the longer sidewalls to keep the building from collapsing inward since the headers were removed with the roof. We were now ready to move the depot to the museum. At 8:00am on Sunday morning, August 27th 2017, the depot left Goldston. The route took it out of Goldston on Main Street to 421 North toward Siler City. At Siler City it entered the on ramp to 64 East, crossed Jordan Lake, traveled another three miles, and then took a right on Beaver Creek Road. The depot arrived at the North Carolina Railway Museum around 11:00am. It was then positioned in the right orientation along our mainline, but still with enough room so that the two cranes could lift the roof back in place.

Once that was completed, the depot was moved again to place it over the new piers. This had to be done very carefully; the distance from center of the track had to be carefully maintained to avoid improper clearances, as our rolling stock and locomotives are different widths. The height of the platform was also important to be able to use it as a future boarding platform. Besides the move itself, positioning the building along the right-of-way as well as over the piers took several hours. A lot of planning was done in the months before the move, where we tried to think of every problem that might arise, which in the end made the move very successful.

With the building now in position, it was time to replace the metal roofing. We were also ready to finish the block work underneath the building up to the depot’s support beams. When completed, the depot was then lowered onto its permanent foundation. To meet code, we also installed ties from the concrete blocks to the support beams underneath the building. Since then, a lot of work has gone into restoring the depot. We decided to paint the depot in Southern Railway colors, as it might have been after the Southern Railway took over ownership in 1900. We were able to gain access to the original color numbers used by the SR at that time to paint its buildings. In areas where there were a lot of environmental damage, the siding, as well as some of the interior structure, had to be replaced. The building was then sandblasted down to bare wood and repainted by members of our paint crew. Many of the windows had to be rebuilt. Fortunately, there was an antique wood shop out in Silk Hope that still had the correct tooling and machinery to duplicate the exact mullions needed to restore our windows. We tried to keep as much of the original window glass as possible, and through a lot of trial and error learned how to glaze windows ourselves, just as it would have been done a hundred years ago.

The office was restored as it might have been in the early 1900’s, with the roll top desk as its center piece. The chimney has been completed by a brick contractor to closely resemble what was there in earlier photographs. The stove is currently usable which might be nice during those cold nights during our Christmas trains. With all that said, there’s still a lot to do before it can be opened up to the public. Most importantly, we need to finish grading around the building to drain excess water away from the building. Standing water and the humidity are not good for wood buildings. The platforms need to be rebuilt so they are safe for our customers, as well as being ADA compliant. We need to install a fire suppression system, as well as better lighting for any future displays. And at the very least, we need to do some landscaping around the building to make it look more attractive. I’ve always considered the Goldston Depot as the first building in our long-range infrastructure plans, with the hope that in the very near future it might be used as it was originally intended. Thinking back over the last 30 years or so that I’ve been a member, I continue to be amazed and gratified by the amount of positive growth we’ve experienced over the years. Projects like this couldn’t happen without us all coming together as a team!

HeritageRail Alliance Fall 2023 Conference
by Evan Jennings

The Host
The HRA Conference, September 20-23, was hosted by the Canadian Railroad Historic Association, owner and operator of Exporail, in Montreal, Quebec. Exporail is the largest railway museum in Canada with 100,000 visitors annually.

The heart of the museum site is the Angus Pavilion. Constructed in 2004, it houses the main museum exhibits and services, gift shop and galleries. The huge 12-track Grand Hall has dozens of locomotives, trolleys and rolling stock on display. There is also a large operating HO scale layout and a mini-IMAX theater designed by Stephen Low (a producer of IMAX movies; more about him later). The facility is also available for rentals for gatherings large and small.

Exporail recently completed a renovation of their small artifact displays putting many more objects on display with new colorful, descriptive signage. The Grand Hall also received new custom designed LED lighting that bathes the collection with camera-friendly lighting while leaving the walkways with a soft pleasing level of light. This replaced the previous harsh lighting directly over the aisles that’s still typical in many display barns.

Pre-Conference Activities
Pre-Conference Tour 1, Sept. 19, was hosted by EXO commuter rail and REM light-rail. First was a ride from Central Station on a deadhead EXO train to the EXO heavy repair shop for an extensive tour. After lunch, the group boarded a car on the new REM (operating less than a month) driverless electric light-rail train that included crossing the also new Samuel de Champlain Bridge over the St. Lawrence River.

Pre-Conference Tour 2, Sept. 20, was a trip to Ottawa to see the Ingenium and CN Archive. Ingenium is a new massive facility that connects the Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, and Canada Aviation and Space Museum. The original Canada Museum of Science and Technology building also had a significant update recently. The CN Archive is also a huge state-of-the-art collections facility nearby.

My wife and I did not attend the pre-conference events this year, but I have seen the Canada Museum of Science and Technology and CN Archive in the past when Exporail hosted previously about a decade ago. I do hope we can visit Ottawa again to see the expanded and updated facilities.

The theme of the conference is The Power of Connection, and you’ll see a number of the presentations I mention below have some relationship to connecting to the public, improved communication, community outreach, and closer ties to stakeholders.

The conference proper kicked off Wednesday evening with a vendor hosted meet and greet reception in the hotel ballroom. Vendors had their booths spread around the room. The vendors included Adams & Westlake, Dynamic Ticket, eTix, FareHarbour, Mattel (Day Out with Thomas), Ozark Mountain (their free work gloves a perennial favorite!), Rail Events (Polar Express), and Strasburg Rail Road (representing their mechanical services).

The conference also had sponsors besides the vendors. Sponsors included CN, CPKC, FMW Solutions, Railway Association of Canada, The Stephen Low Company, CANDO, DPJL, EXO, [intact] and Xrail.

Thursday morning had two plenary sessions:

Museums and the Power of Connection, Brad King, Lord Cultural Resources
Brad talked about the current trends of museums becoming more outward-facing and community-centric, and explore ways for museums to better connect to the public. Lord Cultural Resources has offices around the globe, so they are able to both learn from and advance these trends.

How Digital Marketing Can Make Your Brand Thrive, Frederic Gonzalo, Gonzo Marketing
Here Frédéric emphasized the need for an effective digital marketing strategy and presence, and showed some examples of current tools and best practices. I’d known a bit about search optimization about 20 years ago, but Frédéric made me realize my knowledge is way out-of-date in today’s environment of diverse forms of social media.

After lunch, the afternoon was more time with the vendors, since they’d need to take down their booths at the end of the day. The evening was in Old Montreal where the group was split across 5 popular restaurants. This was followed by a short walk to the IMAX theater where Stephen Low presented two of his productions, Train Time (the story of BNSF) and The Trolley (visiting many international cities with different eras of electric trolleys). After the showings, Stephen answered questions about the movies. It was interesting to hear him talk about everything from how he worked with the railroads to arrange shooting locations, to how the large-format cameras are handled and positioned. Stephen still uses 70MM film stock.

Friday was hosted by Exporail. Transportation to and from Exporail was provided by EXO trains. Our outbound morning train was a regular service train, while the evening return trip was on a deadhead.

During the day at Exporail, a steam engine (replica “John Molson” 2-2-2), a trolley (Montreal observation car “Golden Chariot”), and a diesel train (a switcher and commuter coach) were in operation. In addition to time to explore the site and take the rides, there were two plenary sessions.

Renewing Exporail’s Permanent Exhibition, Nadine Cloutier, ED, Exporail

Here the process of updating the museum displays and lighting mentioned above was described, and the challenges of completing the project with limited budget and staff during the pandemic. Nadine shared how they renewed the visitor experience to leave more room for the human component, why they redesigned the lighting and how it was promoted.

Being a Hero – Is It Worth the Risk?, G.Mark Ray, TVRM
On January 4, 2023, an accident at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum claimed the life of George Walker, General Manager of Passenger Operations. G. Mark Ray went beyond the cause of the accident to discuss the behaviors that caused the event, behaviors we are all guilty of.
When we figure risk of taking a potentially dangerous action in our minds, it can be stated as:

risk = probability x consequence

The problem with this is that we tend to discount the risk if we think the probability of an accident is small, even if the potential consequence is dire. For example, you need to make a repair high on a building that’ll take just 3 minutes, so you use an aerial lift without bothering to put on the fall protection harness and secure the lanyard. You used the perceived low probability of an incident to justify not using provided precautions, despite the high consequences of falling from a height. For both your safety and the safety of others around you, always take all prescribed safety measures in a task. Thinking “I’ll be done in just a second” as a reason you won’t trip, slip or fall, isn’t an excuse to skip using PPE or safety procedures.

G. Mark ended by remembering George Walker in his long career at TVRM and urging diligence on safety in his honor. Others in attendance also spoke up of the times they worked with George and how he was helpful, influential and inspirational. Not many dry eyes in the house during these tributes to George.

Saturday, the last day of the conference, featured seminars followed by the closing banquet. Sessions were run concurrently a few at a time, so I could only attend 3 of the following sessions (@=I attended). This is where you wish you could clone yourself to attend more sessions at once.

  • Maximizing Your Museum’s Collection@
  • Running Maintenance of Conventional (pre-PCC) Heritage Streetcars
  • Community/Business Partnerships
  • Seven-year Project to Restore Hillcrest Lumber Shay No.1 to Operation
  • Collections Management@
  • Strategic Archival Practices
  • Preserving the Jackass & Western Railroad
  • Tourist Railway Sustainability
  • Forum on Attracting and Retaining Younger Staff and Volunteers@
  • Manual of Procedures (MOP)
  • Parts Committee Meeting

We were back at Exporail in the evening for the banquet. After acknowledgments to the people both in front of and behind the scenes that made the conference
possible, dinner was served. After salads, a main course, then dessert, the guest speaker Keith Heller was introduced. Keith has had a long and interesting career in railroading, spanning CN and Europe. He even has a locomotive named after him on DB Schenker Rail. You can read more about him here.

Unfortunately, my wife and I had to leave in the middle of Keith’s talk due to our travel plans. However, there were customary presentations later during the closing banquet (which we missed) including the announcement of significant achievements in railway preservation across North American. You can see the achievement awards here.

[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]

NCRM 2023 Schedule 3.0
2 Santa Trains 930am 5 trains
3 Santa Trains 930am 5 trains
9 Santa Trains 930am 5 trains
10 Santa Trains 930am 5 trains
16 Santa Trains 930am 5 trains
21 Board of Directors 6pm
30 Santa Train Undecorating/storage

NOTE: Safety meeting 1 hour before all listed train movements. Crew calls issued 1 week prior from Chris Tilley. 

Please respond to the remaining Santa Rides Crew Call as soon as possible. The Crew Caller needs as much time as possible with FIVE open crew calls going on if we are to make this giant undertaking work smoothly

Our train-themed NHV holiday train is on display at the Halle Center in downtown Apex from November 20 through December 29. The display, by the NCRM Garden Railroad Committee, includes an ad for our December rides, and the train runs for 30 seconds after visitors press a button on the front of the display. Be sure to check it out if you are in downtown Apex.