• Last operational steam loco on Pine Creek RR: where now?

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey

Moderator: David

  by CTL10D

What`s interesting here is there are a rather large group of young people (age 18-29) who are (were) involved with Pine Creek. A major problem is an unwillingness of older members to "pass the torch" on to us younger guys. Its not a matter of trust, most of us young guys now work professionally for railroads (NJT, Amtrak, short lines etc) The problem is the elder ones being too selfish and self absorbed to let us get our hands dirty. I truly think that some of these selfish people would rather see something not get accomplished at all than letting a younger wave of people get involved with operations/restorations, hence one of the many reasons there is no steam there anymore.
What also happened over a ten year period at Pine Creek, which drove many people away, were those self-absorbed ones interfering with people`s professional trades. Like you said, "b**ching about how every little thing should be done." When you try telling a sheet metal worker of 35 years how to do sheet metal work, a carpenter of 40 years how to do woodwork, and professional railroaders how to run a train.....when you yourself have no real experience with any of this, it tends to drive people away.
Also regarding steam, in all reality 26 could be made operational very easily and very quickly. It was put away a runninglocomotive. It needs firebox work, but thats not a huge deal with the right people involved. The boiler needs to be ultrasounded. (for years we`ve heard "The boiler is shot! That engine cant run again!") Theres no way to know for sure until it is UT`d. It may be iffy, it may be great. Who knows. If there are issues, they can be dealt with, just like any other steam railroad deals with them.
There are many people waiting in the wings, and getting some serious movements in motion to re-organize the railroad into something enjoyable for everyone again.
  by CNJ2403
It's a shame to see Pine Creek deteriorate, there is so much potential for the museum/railroad. There are so many very cool pieces of equipment in the collection but they are not getting restored. I don't wanna see that second CNJ wood caboose rot away, there are not many left (maybe 10?). There are volunteers that WANT to do restorations but are not allowed.

I noticed that an Eagle Scout just completed a project last year or so that included putting the water spout back up on the water tower and restoring that PRR Crossing Shanty. I saw the nice plaque hung up in the ticket sales building talking about his project, I was very impressed. That project looked like a lot of work. (Looks very nice! The scout did an awesome job! I forget the scout's name off the top of my head.) He went through all that work to preserve railroad history and one key piece is not being used for it's sole purpose...SERVICING STEAM LOCOMOTIVES. That scout must be very annoyed that he went through all of that and the spout isn't being used. I would be ticked off if I was him.

I agree with everyone here that steam will cause a huge jump in ridership. Black River & Western is a great example, ridership went through the roof right after word spread that 60 was back in service. Pine Creek could be the same.

Something has to change or there won't be anything left in the future.
  by CNJ Fan 4evr
I apologize for the stereotypical comments on age. Thinking about what you two have said in your posts is probably something I don't see because we really don't have ACTIVE members that do actually work for the railroad.We do have the few guys who "volunteered" at various railroads and THINK they know everything. These are the ones I was referring to in my post. We had one, God rest his soul, who was the most miserable pr--- you would ever run across. He had a lot of knowledge and tons of stuff, but never really loaned his experience to help out.All he ever did was cut down what the rest of us were trying to accomplish. I had an experience with another person criticizing the work I had done when NO ONE else wanted to be bothered. I told him my thoughts and promptly left on a loooonnnggg hiatus after that.I even quit paying my yearly dues until a couple of years ago.It was the deaths of several of our founding members(all my dearest friends) that got me interested in helping out again.Granted we have more jobs than we have people or finances but we do what we can. It happens with any group,whether it is a railroad group, fire department,gun club, camping club,etc..I have seen it time and time again.Some like to talk the talk but few can walk the walk.
  by GSC
I joined Pine Creek in 1968, at 14 years old. 42 years active, either on site, or administrative at home (membership and publicity were my specialty).

Over the years, I saw so much. Starting with a trail through the woods, building the shop buildings, restoration and maintenance of equipment, running three steamers and TWELVE diesels (including those 2-footers we had) for a Railroaders Day event, to projects started and never completed, and a mass migration of talented people out the door.

We had a dictator in charge for over 20 years, and we managed to get things done. He was a tough man to deal with, but he steered the place in the right direction (mostly). Yes, things could have been much better, as he drove many people away over the years, but we ran, and ran well.

Oldtimers taught newcomers how to do things back then. Many young members went on to be machinists, mechanics, welders, and railroad employees in real life, all from inspiration and talents learned at Pine Creek.

I'm as disappointed as anyone else how the place has gone. I'm 60 years old now and not interested in any additional work, so I can't be of much use out there. I wouldn't have any influence either, so why bother?

Just venting, thanks for listening.

Over the years I've enjoyed the Pine Creek railroad with my children, and now, grandchildren. As an outsider to the issues described in earlier posts, I don't know anyone associated with the railroad but, after reading these posts, I am compelled to ask: Is this organization permanently affected by these people issues from the past? Reading the comments i.e. "something has to change" etc. begs asking: What has to change? People in leadership roles? People leading projects for the equipment?

If Pine Creek is a 503c organization, what is the formal structure for leadership roles, and how are they filled? I guess I am trying to understand how such a negative situation has existed so long in spite of the clear effort by many to volunteer and help over the years. I think all organizations are affected by people's behaviors, cliques, and agendas, including volunteer efforts, sometimes they drive people away from something they would enjoy spending time doing, which is vital to volunteer organizations. If Pine Creek is truly a formal organization, with formal meetings and standing agendas, there should be a mechanism to bring the reasons for volunteer dissatisfaction into the open for discussion.

It might be of value for someone to facilitate a dialogue on : What is the mission of our organization, what do we plan to do from here forward, what organization structure will support what we plan to do, etc, etc. Or does someone or a group have so much "power" within the organization that an open dialogue such as this could not even take place? From the posts it appears to be the latter, at least it appears to have been in the past from the comments.

If so, it is puzzling to understand what "power" someone or a group could hold in a volunteer organization to have created a reputation for being so autocratic and unsupportive over such a long period of time, does someone "own" some of the assets there such as locomotives and rolling stock?

I apologize if all this is obvious to all of you great people associated with Pine Creek over the years, I appreciate all that you folks have done to provide Monmouth County with a railroad enjoyed by myself and so many people.

I mean no disrespect to anyone in my comments. Can anyone share more insight on this situation?
  by Matt Johnson
I'm sorry to learn of the discouragement and organizational dysfunction. Alas, while the Pine Creek is a treasured part of my childhood, I'm not in much of a position right now to offer much support down here in Williamsburg (where we do have steam trains of a sort - propane burning I believe - running a nice little loop at Busch Gardens). I did visit Allaire just this past summer with my dad and we took a ride on the train - brought back memories! It's a special place, and I hope to see the Pine Creek continue well into the future.
  by CTL10D

I`ll try to run through as many of your questions as I can....

"If Pine Creek is a 503c organization, what is the formal structure for leadership roles, and how are they filled?"

The process for filling leadership roles is by annual vote. Current board members are put up for election, and voted on by the membership. In years past, the entire membership was able to vote. In 2011, the board of trustees completely changed the by-laws of the organization (with no vote by the membership), so that only certain people had voting rights, essentially limiting the voting to the trustees and themselves and several others. This has been a major point of infuriation to the membership, as it doesn`t seem quite legal to change the bylaws of an organization, especially if it affects membership rights, without their input and vote.

"If Pine Creek is truly a formal organization, with formal meetings and standing agendas, there should be a mechanism to bring the reasons for volunteer dissatisfaction into the open for discussion."

Yes, there should be, but any dissatisfaction of members brought to the attention of the Board is usually met by those members being suspended or removed from the organization. Yes, that sounds ridiculously childish and unimaginable, but its what happens out there. Basically, its "agree with us or you`ll be removed"

"If so, it is puzzling to understand what "power" someone or a group could hold in a volunteer organization to have created a reputation for being so autocratic and unsupportive over such a long period of time.."

Again, it sounds elementary, but you`re dealing with people in higher positions who honestly have no life, and view their leadership roles as a way to "control" their organization. Just a typical ego trip, regardless of what others want to accomplish or what the public desires to see. In all honesty, being "in charge" of something thats become so dismal would defeat the point to me if I were in that situation.

The biggest topics at hand now are unethical (if not illegal) by-laws changes, unlimited term lengths for board members, wasted donations, no project planning or coordination, an unwillingness of certain people to work collaboratively with other members, and a persistent effort to avoid bringing steam back to the railroad.
Error on my part in my post, I am referring to 510(c)(3) status organizations, not 503c.

Changing bylaws to reduce the voting population certainly seems to be a strong move to limit the influence of the volunteer membership in the organization. How do the volunteers as a group feel about this change?
  by Matt Johnson
Maybe a new propane burning loco would be more economical! Here are two of our three Busch Gardens trains in Williamsburg...
  by Blackseal Jim
It's not about being economical . It's all about the current Management. The Management has made it their goal to chase away anyone with talent and skills. In 2005 , NJMT had over 15,000 hours volunteered. In 2014 , they didn't even reach 8,000. So many people have left , that work on the 2 diesel locomotives capable of pulling passengers and track work has been contracted to outside contractors. This is work we easily did within the NJMT orginazation 10 years ago . NJMT has lost members to WK&S , BR&W & The Bel Del Train Rides. Management has even gone as far as to tell us members with NJ State Boiler licences , that our licences are no longer any good there for running steam. I have called the N.J. Bureau of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Compliance and they told me this is not true. " No steam will run without a NJ licenced boiler operator" This is one of the many reasons I have not been active since 2009.
Jim Hurley
Member since 1996
Life Member since 2003
  by ApproachMedium
Arent we pushing nearly 30 years of no steam? When I was a kid, there was 3 that ran!
  by Matt Johnson
ApproachMedium wrote: Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:40 pm Arent we pushing nearly 30 years of no steam? When I was a kid, there was 3 that ran!
18 years I think. Yeah, I definitely remember riding behind both #26 and the Shay back in the day!
  by CNJ Fan 4evr
#26 was running in 2001. That was the last time I was ever there. I always wanted to see the Shay run. I have never seen one of those run yet. Have never been to Cass Scenic(yet).
To expand on one of my posts from a few years back. I have become less involved in volunteering these past few years. Many reasons. Job is #1. I have been promoted twice and picked up more responsibilities with them . That includes schedule changes that don't allow me the free time I once had. Yeah, money is good but less free time isn't.
Second is aging moms and the time we have to spend taking care of them. Both my wife and I feel like we are going it alone sometimes and it is tough.
Third is more important things to do with house/property. My house is where I live. When that needs repairs they come long before some old railroad equipment. True fact of life.
Fourth. I'm getting older and can't use my body physically the way I did in 1997,when I first started. Another sad true fact of life.
Don't get me wrong, I still would love to be elbow deep in stuff like I used to and would like nothing more to see all our equipment look like new. However, reality is a cruel s.o.b.. :wink: