• STEAMTOWN Discussion

  • General discussion related to all railroad clubs, museums, tourist and scenic lines. Generally this covers museums with static displays, museums that operate excursions, scenic lines that have museums, and so on. Check out the Tourist Railway Association (TRAIN) for more information.
General discussion related to all railroad clubs, museums, tourist and scenic lines. Generally this covers museums with static displays, museums that operate excursions, scenic lines that have museums, and so on. Check out the Tourist Railway Association (TRAIN) for more information.

Moderators: rob216, Miketherailfan

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  by atsf sp
 
mxdata wrote:
They talked and talked about steam locomotives, but whenever they had to do anything they started up the diesel.

MX
LOL. I like that quote. THat sums up Steamtown in a sentence. You go there and they have cool engines but when the engines are looked at you are sad about the state they are in. Its like looking at a scrap line for some engines, even though it is a museum.
  by 3rdrail
 
I think that Steamtown needs to have a change in expectation that it is there to preserve locomotives and maintain them into operating condition. The bottom line is that things are most likely not going to improve. Why not put some money into cosmetic restoration for most of the fleet and put them inside ? It's true that the sound of steam exhaust won't fill the air, but it's not happening now anyway with most. Better this than a pile of rust that can never be recovered into anything that even remotely resembles a steam engine. Keep a slect few as running preserved and display the rest inside after work is performed. It will probably bring the budget and capabilities of workers there into a realm that can be adhered to. The alternative is virtual oblivion for most of the collection.
  by mxdata
 
How about this? Change the charter and the mission statement to make it a museum of railroading rather than strictly a steam museum. This would make absolutely no difference whatsoever in the way they operate since they have non-steam motive power active on the property already. Improve the security of the place so it really is a totally secure location for museum quality equipment. Then invite the various NRHS chapters and other organizations that have nicely restored vintage equipment to bring it in and display it on site, and allow them to work on their equipment and operate it at that location within yard limits in exchange for Steamtown being allowed to display it. They are already doing parts of this once a year with Lackawanna Railfest, why not just make it a matter of policy and allow the owners of nicely restored equipment to keep it on site all the time if they want to, as part of the displays.

MX
  by Steamtown Observer
 
mxdata wrote:They are already doing parts of this once a year with Lackawanna Railfest, why not just make it a matter of policy and allow the owners of nicely restored equipment to keep it on site all the time if they want to, as part of the displays.

MX
As someone who knows a few of the outsiders who have been the drivers of the Railfest, you should be aware that every year the list of visiting equipment starts around 20 or so pieces. The first issue is the cost of moving stuff to Scranton. For that perhaps MX's idea would help since it would make more sense to spend shipping money for something to be onsite for, say a year or two. But that only deals with half the issue. Steamtown requires a large amount of permits, paperwork, etc. and somewhat high insurance costs that has caused maybe half of the potential visitors to bail out. Also, actually doing stuff on-site is difficult because of the various rules in place. I'm not sure you could do work independently of the official volunteers on a privately owned piece of equipment. These are all issues that could be surmounted, but the National Park Service is not really geared towards this kind of activity and I wonder if the NPS would be willing to have a one-of set of rules. The other thing I would worry about is the thing you see at private museums: a piece of equipment is on the site not owned by the museum and its condition deteriorates. What would be the criteria to tell the owner to make progress, move it, or have it scrapped? We all see the cars and locomotives that are probably too far gone to save at Steamtown, what would you do if there were 20 pieces of equipment owned by many groups at the site and say 10 of them are neglected and falling apart?
  by mikeexplorer
 
mxdata wrote:I also understand that they have groups of volunteers busy transcribing documents that are perceived to have historical value but are in danger of being lost due to aging and deterioration. That may prove to be a valuable resource in the future. There is a tendency in preservation to focus on the equipment and hardware, the preservation of information and knowledge often tends to get overlooked. Nice to see this organization doing something about it.

MX
Yes, that was also described during the tour. We saw racks and racks of documents already done.

Mike
  by Mr rt
 
Locos = Steamtown had at lest three active locos, two for ops & a 0-6-0.
Income = besides the Fed. $ they also o/h other folks steam locos for cash
  by RDGTRANSMUSEUM
 
How about changing the mission statement and purpose to make steamtown a transpotration museum. The next step is to get the federal goverment out and make it private.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
RDGTRANSMUSEUM wrote:The next step is to get the federal goverment out and make it private.
Private, eh? How good are you at fundraising?
  by RDGTRANSMUSEUM
 
There are people trained/certified for fund raising. Given the current state of affairs in this country,places like Steamtown may have to sink or swim,time will tell. In our state of PA ,it's already placing state parks in private hands,to avoid shutting them down. If they cannot be self supporting,or close to , then why have them?
  by 3rdrail
 
Otto Vondrak wrote:
RDGTRANSMUSEUM wrote:The next step is to get the federal goverment out and make it private.
Private, eh? How good are you at fundraising?
As a private, not-for-profit concern, I believe that an organization such as Steamtown might have an even better chance of prospering under the right leadership, particularly considering the state of the national economy currently (and for the foreseeable future). Many fund-raising companies perform work, particularly for not-for-profit groups, on a contingency basis. This usually works out for the best for all concerned as it doesn't cost the group money "up front", and the fund-raisers have more incentive to bring in cash. The extra cash generated by this dynamic often over-compensates for the fund raising company's take in the end. (I would personally love to see Disney get it's hands on Steamtown and make it into a sophisticated, interesting, and fascinating railroad museum the likes of which have never been seen.)
  by RDGTRANSMUSEUM
 
yep,3 rail you got it.We have met locally with these people, for a museum project ,that do grant writing for the big money. It is part of getting your 'ducks in a row' before going ahead with a plan. Steamtown could be fantastic with the proper direction,Disney or something in private hands,is a good start.
  by 3rdrail
 
Yes. It's important that any outfit be respectful of the historic value of the collection and not look at it as merely a money-making amusement park type venture. My number one choice for Disney is based on the respect that I have for that organization in the way that things are run. I honestly believe that Walt Disney was the greatest developer, planner, and engineer ever, and his corporation continues as a tight ship with discipline rivaling that of the U.S. Marines. You wouldn't see the "Big Boy" with a Thomas the Tank Engine face with Disney. In the case of Steamtown, no action is counter-action as time itself will destroy what's left very soon if something isn't done quickly.
  by Montclaire
 
What in the world makes anyone here think that Disney of all companies would have any interest in ever operating Steamtown?

We had all better hope that Steamtown stays in the hands of the National Parks Service because there is no way it could ever fly on it's own. Even if you ran full excursions every day of the week, people have lives and jobs and Scranton attracts far too few tourists to ever support such an operation. Maybe some do not want to face facts, but the general public really doesn't give a damn about what happens to Steamtown. It's just a place to visit on a Saturday.

The best bet for Steamtown would be to keep the museum side of things under the NPS and put together some kind of operating agreement with a private agency that would allow them to lease the engines from Steamtown and handle the excursions. I also think that with a full time restoration staff, they may also be able to generate income by working on engines for other operations. There can't be too many active steam restoration shops left in the country.
  by 3rdrail
 
The suggestion of Disney ownership of Steamtown was, as stated, a hypothetical personal fantasy that I have, stated to make the point of how private ownership might flourish with the right private organization. By the way, I disagree with you regarding Steamtown being contrary to the Disney operation. To elaborate hypothetically a little further, Disney is a multi-faceted corporation which has, on a continuing basis, a theme of American values and history. Certainly, the railroads fit into this category. Focusing even closer, Walt Disney was an avid rail buff, constructing a large guage ride-on train on his property, who included railroads in many of his features. With the juice, capital, imagination, and engineering talents of the Disney corporation, there is no doubt in my mind that under Disney, a visitor to Steamtown would genuinely feel as if they had embarked from a 1920 American Railroad operation upon leaving Steamtown and not a static glorified scrap track as they do now. It's just a fantasy.
  by Montclaire
 
Well, as far a living in the real world, I think it's a decent operation but still one that needs quite a bit of improvement.

Even if Disney did for whatever reason decide to buy out Steamtown, I still do not think that the patronage is there. More than likely, they would transplant the entire operation to Fl, CA, or maybe even a new park somewhere in the South West.
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