Volume 64 – Issue 2 1 February 2024
From the Brass Hat
Welcome to February and even a little warm weather, at least for a few days. Plenty of activities are planned for February, some we are used to and some new. Any spare time will be devoted to sprucing the place up for our 40th, 60th, and 120th anniversaries. Three different milestones being realized in the same year! 120 years since the New Hope Valley RAILROAD was chartered on our current location, 60 years since the East Carolina Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society was founded (our predecessor organization) and 40 years since our first rides on the NHV. We are replacing the normal Hop Into Spring rides in April with our big anniversary weekend with trains, speeches and other activities being planned. I will write more details as they develop, of course!
We had our Annual Membership Meeting on 20 January at the American Legion in Fuquay with a full house. About sixty members and guests showed up to hear the reports from the Officers and Committee Chairs and have questions answered before a nice meal. Victor Varney found some 20-year-old videos of NHV operations recently and we all got to see some of our younger selves hard at work. The final event was a silent auction of books and items from the Gift Shop and a LIVE (and lively) auction conducted by our member, John Martin who is an auctioneer in real life. The bidding on most items was highly contested, especially the historical railroad items which were donated by Tim Carroll from a number of companies and individuals. The auction raised over $700.00 to benefit the Goldston Depot project.
During the meeting we also voted in the SEVENTEEN new members and ratified the updated NCRM bylaws. More to follow on these items later in the newsletter.
Thanks for all you do for our Museum.
Get to Know a Member
by Tom Hutchinson
How long have you been a member? Since January 2016
Where are you originally from? Northern Ohio
What is/are/were your job(s) in real life? Teacher for pay and tons of volunteer activities with church and Scouts
Where do you live now? Raleigh, NC
Any family…spouse, kids, grandchildren? Husband Rob, brother Fred, kids Robert and Kim, each with spouse, and each with two children
How did you become interested in trains? Helping husband Rob with trains and got involved with the gift shop – and stayed ever since
What is your favorite activity at the New Hope Valley Railway? Helping others with museum activities and the challenge of running a gift shop
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 expired on December 31, 2023, so annual members need to renew their membership. 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, and another in early December, as well as several reminders as year-end approached. If you have misplaced or not received this email, you can use this link to renew.
Membership may be renewed by credit card this year in our new system, saving you a 68-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 as soon as possible.
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.
2024 NCRM Order of the Rusty Spike Inductees
It is with great pleasure that we announce the latest recipients of the NCRM’s Order of the Rusty Spike! These lifetime achievement awards are presented each year to recognize those members who have gone far beyond the call of duty in their contributions of time and talent to better the Museum and Railroad.
All railroads are held together with track spikes to keep the trains safely on the track. The rusty ones have been faithfully doing so for a long time under all sorts of conditions. For 2024, the recipients are Dave Brook and Anita Hussey who both do whatever is needed, sometimes in unpleasant weather and often behind the scenes, seemingly without notice. Their dedication has not gone unnoticed! Please congratulate them when you next see them for a job well done.
New Member Orientation
by Victor Varney
The next new member orientation session will be offered on Saturday March 30 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 share 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 first of two orientation sessions offered in 2024. The next one will be on Saturday September 14. If you are interested in attending on March 30, please RSVP to Victor Varney by Wednesday March 28.
[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]
Planned 2024 Anniversary Celebrations
by Jim Whitten
The NCRM will be celebrating several important anniversaries in 2024! You can Help! The goals are to raise funds for the NCRM in general and some projects in particular while providing educational information about, and raising awareness of, our Museum and Railroad, AND having some fun in the process. It should be a great kickoff to our spring season. We plan on having a “Mr. Bonsal” and others in period dress with a photo history timeline, live music, flags and other decorations and exhibits to show our history. On the morning of April 20th we will have some VIPs to present speeches about the history and impact of the NHV, a ribbon cutting, a cake, food truck, a VIP ride and some train rides for the public afterward. Sunday will hold more rides for the public. Of course, the crew and members will have many opportunities to explain further about our history and current mission.
Some of the things we need to accomplish in the lead up to the festivities include a light cleanup of the grounds, replace some signage that is faded or worn, digitizing some photos and creating the historical timeline, creating some period costumes and preparing some descriptions and comments for each project and exhibit around the yard. Of course, the trains will need to be manned. More info on that aspect will be forthcoming from Kevin Edwards and John Morck.
2024 Anniversary Story: New Hope Valley Railroad Company Established 1904
by Victor Varney
This year marks the 120th anniversary celebration of “The New Hope Valley Railroad Company” (NHVRR) as it was initially officially named. The scans at the end of the newsletter are a 1921 copy certified by the NC Secretary of State of the original 1904 document that established the NHVRR. We are very fortunate to have this document. Tim Carroll found it in an antique store in Selma, NC several years ago. At that time the line was to run 20 miles from the “Raleigh and Augusta Air-Line railroad” (now the CSX) to a point in the southern end of Orange County. Originally this was to be West End (now known as Carrboro). The capital structure (for raising money) was to be 400 shares worth $100,000 (par value of $25 per share).
The Founders shares were distributed as one share for each of 23 individuals. Mr. Wm Moncure and Mr. W. R. Bonsal received 389 and 388 shares, respectively. From page 3 to 5 you can see a series of notaries certifying all of the Founders across several different NC counties (Richmond, Chatham and Wake). Pages 6 and 7 show this copy of the original 1904 charter was certified in 1921. The process that started on May 30 and ended once all notarizations were completed and the charter was finally filed on June 14, 1904.
The New Hope Valley Railroad Company’s birthday is June 14, but we will be celebrating with some birthday cake during our Anniversary Celebrations on April 20-21. Next month I will share how the NHVRR only lasted for less than a year before it merged into the Durham and South Carolina Railroad in April 2005.
New Feature: Important Committee Information
Most of our members don’t attend the Board meetings and may have missed the reports at the membership meeting. Someone suggested including a short report from a couple of committees each month, especially when they have something of interest for a large percentage of our subscribers. This month we will have two, filled with timely information that may be important to YOU.
Rules & Safety Committee News
by Kevin Edwards
Well, it’s almost that time again: the first Crew Call will go out March 13th with the first ride day March 20th. For you “seasoned” members, NOW is the time to begin planning on which 2024 Rules and Safety Briefing YOU need to attend to remain qualified. REMEMBER, you MUST pass the Rules Test every two (2) years and attend a Rules and Safety Briefing ANNUALLY to remain crew qualified. (see
below for “new” crew training information) The briefings/trainings are only good for 365 days. We have three (3) Rules and Safety briefings/trainings scheduled this year. They are April 6th, July 20th and October 5th. All briefings are conducted at the railyard and begin at 9:00 AM. Testing can be done then or any ride day that I’m there and available. If you are unsure when you are due, email me and I can let you know what we have on file.
For the new guys & gals, thank you for joining us on our rail journey. Initial training for new crew members/trainees begins with you working with an experienced crew member to learn “the ropes”. (Make sure to see me for a rulebook and timetable) You will begin by learning the proper steps involved in working as a HOST and start your journey to becoming a qualified Brakeman. Make sure you have a qualifications book (also available from me) and get your “trainer” to sign-off on tasks as you accomplish them. Once all steps are complete you will be ready to test and be approved by the Superintendent.
It’s going to be a busy and exciting ride season. We need as many qualified crew members as we can get. If you have any questions please email me, or better yet, catch me, a conductor, or any experienced crew member on a ride day. We’re glad you’re here.
To EVERYONE, Thank you! Thank you for everything you do to support the NCRM and the NHVR. We don’t say it nearly enough, but we really couldn’t do this without each and every one of you.
NCRM Strategic Planning Report
by Jim Jatko
Whether in the 1980s TV series “The A-Team” starring George Peppard, Dwight Schultz, Mr. T, and others, or in any organization or business working to make next year better than last, seeing “The Plan” come together is cause for celebration. NCRM is more than just a railroad museum– it has to be a business that succeeds in carrying out our mission of educating future generations about not only the heritage of railroads in North Carolina but their value to our society in the future. That takes a lot of work and it takes our sticking to “the plan.”
In our strategic PLAN for 2023 we had 95 tasks and objectives we hoped to accomplish, and we ended the year accomplishing 62 of them. We all can celebrate that 65% score because it was the first time that anyone could remember that we actually had a written-down “plan” of accomplishments, and although some things were a little out of reach and funds were very tight until
summer rides picked up, we began checking off long-awaited jobs – things like:
•Completing a re-write of the NCRM Bylaws,
•Developing “Handbooks” for our holiday theme ride decorations to expedite work,
•Adding a successful evening Halloween Boo-and-Choo,
•The restoration of Rail Escort Vehicles NHVX #302 and #309 in time for the nuclear train remembrance celebration in May as well as replacing the siding on Excursion car 100,
•New signs and exhibit information was added with QR codes,
•Lighting improved in the passenger loading area (infield) as well a new generator light system for the parking lot,
•A completely new railroad crossing was installed at Daisey Street,
•A draft of a request for designation of the NCRM property in Bonsal as a Historic District was submitted to the NC State Historic Preservation Office,
•Roof repairs were done on the Yard Office, Crew Kitchen (Weenie Hut) and Motor Car Shed,
•288 ties were replaced by a contractor on our mainline,
•One diesel engine was replaced in Locomotive 1640,
•A transportation frame was fabricated for the boiler of Steam Locomotive #110 so that it could be shipped to a contractor for the necessary work.
What was not accomplished in 2023 (among several other things) is:
•Increasing NCRM membership by 50 members or adding to the number of active volunteers,
•Finishing a good draft of a Master Site Plan for the property,
•Work to clean out the Swift Premium Refer for use as exhibit space or the Mansion House before it falls down,
•Repairs to critical maintenance-of-way equipment and Hyrail trucks.
In 2024, NCRM is looking forward to the celebration of 40-years since the first ride we offered the public in Bonsal (as well as the 120 years since the founding of our railroad by Wm. Roscoe Bonsal and 60-years since our charter as a chapter of NRHS), the opening of the 1884 Goldston Depot to the public with new exhibits as well as new exhibits in the 1916 Pullman Atlantic Coast Line Express Baggage car. A draft of the overall Site Plan of NCRM’s Bonsal facility will be ready by the anniversary celebration that will show some conceptual ideas of what types of exhibits and facilities are in “the plans” for the next ten years.
But 2024 is not just about getting 1900-square feet of new exhibit space. While we need to keep improving our “Visitor Experience” with more information signage and small added attractions improving our S.T.E.M. educational message, we will operate our first “All Caboose” train and open the cabs of diesel locomotives 71 and 75 to visitors, and complete the restoration and conversion of the 1974 Atlantic Coast Line Louisville and Nashville Caboose into a parlor car for our special rides. In 2024, with more funding, we hope to see Steam Locomotive #17 actually begin to look like a locomotive again (operating hopefully in 2025) and the leaky traction motor support bearings under diesel locomotive 1686 need to be replaced by the ones under the red, white, and blue locomotive #71 (won’t that be exciting to watch). We need to replace another 250 aged railroad ties, keep improving our track and bridges and plan to see a turn-out (switch) installed in the mainline for a spur through the woods toward the sawmill – and did we say that there is increased interest from differing sectors about getting that entire sawmill operation and exhibit opened? All this means a lot of work going on in many parts of our facilities – many things concurrently and many projects dependent on other things getting done first – like improvements to our electrical distribution system. This takes more funding than NCRM has right now, but it also takes volunteers.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED as volunteers (crew members, hosts, docents, and restoration workers) and we need to grow our membership to a solid 300 strong. We have volunteers working at Bonsal over 200-days a year, and while many believe we are “closed” on non-ride days, we are in fact “open” and often greet visitors throughout the year. Would you like to help us do that? Of course, we welcome our members to learn about our history and exhibits and join us as docents and tour guides, and we would love to have someone responsible for coordinating that interesting new task of just opening doors and showing visitors around our yard on more than just our ride days. NCRM is also looking forward to hosting a record attendance in 2024 including 22,000 riders on our excursion trains, and though the budget for 2024 began as just $400,000, our combined hope is that we can grow that to $470,000 reaching toward $550,000 in 2025. Come join us for the most exciting year of our 60-year history!
Around the Yard
New Bylaws Ratified
by Chris Tilley
I’m pleased to inform everyone that the updated bylaws were ratified by the membership. They will be posted on our website as a public document and filed with the NC Secretary of State, as required for all corporations. Thanks to the team who went through many revisions to get to a much better governance document for our Museum. The new Policy Manual will also be on our website.
New Crew Callers!
by Chris Tilley
We are now sharing Crew Caller duties on the NHV. Kevin Edwards will handle March, April, May and John Morck will cover June, July and August. I will take it back for September thru the end of the season. Thanks to them for helping me out. Please give them cooperation and understanding as they take on this huge, thankless task.
Anniversary Bonus! The original NHVRR charter from 1904 is provided below in its’ entirety as full-sized .JPEG reproductions of the original document contained within our archives.
New Members: Michael Akers, Joseph Ballachino, D’Andre Ballard, Jesse Blackmon, Henry Carter, Allen Cooke, Logan Dial, Rob Erwin, Susan Evans, Sharon Ezzell, Larry & Nancy Gustke, Marion & Will Hobbs, Tim Mabe, John McFadden, Winter Ryan, Elliott Susseles, Alec Urban, Stephen Weiss, Will Workman. Welcome to you all. I know you will have fun working with us! This is our largest group of new members at one time that anyone can remember. Please grab on to a veteran member and make them show you what they do. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me or one of the Board Members. – Chris