Wednesday, June 27, 2007

World of Good, Railroad Style

For Wayne.

All aboard for another excursion into the World of Good!

Years ago, I had an officemate who was a huge railroad buff. Not model trains, but real ones, particularly the steam locomotive kind. He had train calendars, train photos, his vacations were built around the Amtrak schedule and most weekends, he volunteered at the local railroad museum. After some persuasion, I visited.

There's a certain glamour and romance to trains.

It wasn't a fancy place with multimedia displays and computer graphics, it was a slice of Americana from a time when traveling by train was commonplace. The museum, through its volunteers, tried to give you a look into the past. The Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum is another such place. It's another place where people donate their time to give us a chance to experience a time and place unavailable to us any other way.

The museum is run solely by dedicated volunteers and works in partnership with the New York Museum of Transportation to bring the visitor a unique dual museum experience in the railroad and transportation history of Rochester and Western New York...Beyond the depot, the museum's volunteers have built a five-track yard around the depot which allows for the display of some of the museum's railroad equipment. In 1995, volunteers drove the golden spike on a two mile, standard gauge demonstration railroad that joins the R&GV Railroad Museum to the New York Museum of Transportation. The following year joint public museum operations began offering track car rides between the two museums for visitors.

I lost $12 playing cards with the boys in that caboose. I shouldn't have tried to draw to that inside straight.

When my son was a wee lad, he loved trains. (Does anyone's son not love trains at some point in their childhood?) We took him to the railroad museum and he spent a wonderful day playing in and around the trains. The R&GV RR Museum is all about giving people that experience.

Not being too far removed from my childhood in spirit, this part really appeals to me.

The Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum is also home to a large collection of historic construction equipment. When you decide to build and run a railroad, you quickly learn how useful it is to have your own construction equipment. With a dedicated group of volunteers who maintain and restore the equipment, the collection has grown to over fifty pieces; most of them serviceable. The historic construction equipment collection is a real asset to the R&GV Railroad Museum!
Big, antique construction equipment! Hooray! (Insert Tim Allen ape grunting noises here.)

All aboard! Next stop, 1953!

The volunteers also run railroad excursions for visitors.

Open-air track car rides connect the New York Museum of Transportation with the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum. The trip takes 15 minutes each way through unspoiled country scenery, and the 30 minute guided tour at RGVRRM visits a 1918 country train station and a host of railroad cars and engines on display.
Keeping this museum running is no joke. The organization, management and maintenance of this museum is a non-trivial effort and shows the volunteers' devotion to sharing their love of railroading with the rest of us. These people aren't shopping at the mall or taking in the latest movie at the theater, they're giving of themselves that we might experience the past.

Don't you be talkin' about the size of my caboose!

This last part requires you to turn up your speakers. If you've got kids, they'll enjoy this. Go to this page of their website and listen to the sounds of the railroad. What a clever idea! I love it. They've got a great collection of videos as well. I just wish they had uploaded them to YouTube so I could embed them here.

I'd write more, but I've got to run. The train to Dobbs Ferry is about to leave.

My officemate passed away about 15 years ago. I still tend some of the houseplants he kept in our office and every year a friend and I buy the same train calendar he used to have on his wall. For the rest of our lives, whenever we see a train, we'll think of him, his passion for trains and how he gave of himself to share his enthusiasm and joy with the rest of us. Whether he knew it or not, he was a part of a World of Good.

1 comment:

snowforest said...

You are right about trains having a certain charm to them - the sounds of railroad are unique and attractive in their own way!