• Maine Narrow Gauge Museum Discussion

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

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

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  by Noel Weaver
 
I agree that it would have been better if the NG equipment had stayed at Edaville where it really belonged. Unfortunately
this is not the case. The management at Portland needs to realize that they are more or less in a public relations business
as well as a railroad museum plus a NG train operation. The person who made things unpleasant that afternoon should be
banished whether she be an employee or a volunteer. One person like this can do more damage than 10 good people can do
good.
Based on what I have read here, the NG in Portland will not be very high on my priority list should I get to Maine by car maybe next summer.
Finally, this is a very good place to air this stuff, why shouldn't prospective visitors, supporters etc know about misconduct
and problems at these places. There are enough places all over the US where visitors will receive a very warm welcome.
I received one at Strasburg a couple of years ago and at Cass last summer. I know for a fact that visitors will also receive a
very warm welcome at Thomaston, Connecticut on an operating day as well.
Ellis Atwood would turn over in his grave if he saw what happened to his beloved Edaville.
Noel Weaver
  by BR4
 
It is good to see a discussion on the public perception taking place here, and I'm sure that the MNG management
is less than pleased to find out one of their staff was so rude. However, Mr Brandes is correct. This issue should
have been addressed to the Director or a manager immediately, so that the staff member could be identified, and
corrective action taken while the incident was still fresh in everyone's mind. Speaking from experience, I can tell
you that most of the staff members there are not like that.

I am also confused by Cowford's comments that this girl is not the only member of the staff with a poor attitude.
How many people did you interact with while you were there? If you are referring to Mr Brandes and his comments
here, I think he has spoken respectfully and clearly on the issue. I have known him for years, and he is one of the
polite individuals I have ever met. One thing he is, though, is direct and forthright. He says what he has to say
pointedly, but always rationally and with respect.

As for the conditions in the museum, the biggest problems are: #1-old buildings with lots of dust and dirt accumulating
rapidly; and #2-lack of a segregated, self contained work area that can be isolated from the rest of the facility.
Sawdust and other airboren particles land on everything. It is impossible to keep it sparkling clean all the time.

Just food for thought.
  by MEC407
 
Noel Weaver wrote:One person like this can do more damage than 10 good people can do good.
This is 100% correct. I couldn't have said it better. It doesn't matter if everybody working there that day was polite and friendly and helpful; it only takes one person with a crappy attitude to ruin the entire experience. That results in a snowball effect: the customer tells all his friends about the bad experience, and those friends then tell other people.

Most people won't say anything if they have a good experience or even a great experience, but if they have a bad experience, you can be sure that they'll be talking about it with the people they know.

Like it or not, MNGRR has probably lost at least a dozen visitors/customers/patrons as a result of this one incident. And that may be a low estimate.
  by steveh
 
Hans is absolutely in the right here...complaints should be handled by letter, phonecall, or in person.

People should stop and think before they post..."would I say this in person?" If the answer is no, then don't post it.

And Otto should delete this whole thread.

Stephen
  by Otto Vondrak
 
steveh wrote:And Otto should delete this whole thread.
I hate it when people talk about me like I'm not even in the room.

I don't see any reason to delete this thread. Someone is relating an experience, we're discussing it in a rational manner.

If you want to start a new discussion about the MNG-Portland museum in general, please start a new thread.

Thanks.

-otto-
  by pennsy
 
Quite correct. One person with a lousy attitude can wipe out the good works of untold others. Spent some time with the Edaville RR. Had a great time till one worker, an elderly gent, passed some rather bad remarks and turned all of us off. Had a great time up to that point.
  by 3rdrail
 
steveh wrote:Hans is absolutely in the right here...complaints should be handled by letter, phonecall, or in person.

People should stop and think before they post..."would I say this in person?" If the answer is no, then don't post it.

And Otto should delete this whole thread.

Stephen
Complaints should be handled by letter, phonecall, or in person ? So, I guess that the theory is to make management aware that there is a problem- privately. Like the employee whos reported range of nastiness with varied persons in different situations would leave a rational individual to believe that just maybe management just might have known about this individual's temperment (??) Do you think ? How about the dirt and sawdust ? Do we need to send a letter, phonecall, or tell management about that ? I visited this place many years ago. I was so unimpressed that I never went back. It was filthy back then. Do you think that management knows about it ?
  by Cowford
 
Hans is absolutely in the right here...complaints should be handled by letter, phonecall, or in person
Isn't it interesting that Mr. Brandes chose a public forum to complain about my posting when he had the opportunity to contact me privately through the private messaging exchange provided on this website. :wink:

This will be my last posting on this subject, so I want to make a few things clear:

* With regard to sharing my experiences, good or bad, at any public venue be it museum or restaurant, I reserve my right to do so any bloody way I deem appropriate.
* Tight budgets are no excuse for poor housekeeping. Inexpensive tarps or plastic sheeting could have been used to cover the exhibits while woodworking was in progress, a plastic sheet divider could have been put in place, or the saws moved outside.
* The museum does itself a huge disservice by not telling the narrow gauge story. There's little to no explanation as to why and how the lilliputs came about, what justified their existence, and why they disappeared. There's only one map, that of the state rail system from ~1910 if I recall, and if you're not "in the know," you wouldn't even know what to look for. The explanations in the cars are awkwardly placed, and many of the photos on the museum walls are mediocre photocopies taped on cheap black construction paper. (the anecdotal tales were a nice touch, though.)

Lastly, while I suppose my earlier use of the word "dump" was a bit harsh, I meant what I said about moving everything to the WWF. While I understand the desire of others to bow to history at the many locales the two-footers served, preserving what little is left of the equipment and history would best be served by consolidation at one location where resources, both human and financial, can be focused to best preserve this precious history for future generations.
  by doublebell
 
Sue Davis used to run the Stanley Steamer Museum in Kingfield. I always had good experiences there.
John, the guy in the white car with the wing on back.
  by MEC407
 
Cowford wrote:The museum does itself a huge disservice by not telling the narrow gauge story. There's little to no explanation as to why and how the lilliputs came about, what justified their existence, and why they disappeared.
Again, this is in stark contrast to how it was when I volunteered there from 2000 to 2003. Back in those days, the museum and gift shop were staffed by a lovely woman named Charlena Walker. She was a volunteer, if I'm not mistaken. Not only was she one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, she would bend over backwards to accommodate you, even if it meant staying late. In addition to running the gift shop and selling train tickets, she would give tours of the museum and would tell the story of narrow gauge railroading in Maine. What the museum may have lacked in physical appearance was made up for, tenfold, by Ms. Walker's friendly demeanor and willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty and to make sure that everybody enjoyed their experience at MNGRR. Of all the people I met while volunteering there, I think she is the one I miss the most.

From the sound of it, MNGRR definitely isn't the same without her.
  by CVRA7
 
I have been to the MNGRR museum many times and never witnessed anything even remotely like Mr. Cowford experienced. Although I am a member I rarely identified myself as one so I would have appeared as a member of the general public.
Regarding the equipment, although much remains outdoors there are more pieces now inside at Portland than there ever were at Edaville.
I hope that those reading the negative comments here don't universally condemn the operation. There are many dedicated people there that are doing all they can to preserve Maine 2 foot gauge railroading, including - as Mike said - sending certain items on to other appropriate homes - Bridgton, Phillips, and Sheepscot.
  by MEC407
 
CVRA7 wrote:I hope that those reading the negative comments here don't universally condemn the operation.
Agreed. Despite how disappointed I am to hear Cowford's experience, I would like to believe that it was a fluke and not something that happens every day.

Maybe this bit of "bad press" will help them to improve and prevent incidents like Cowford's from happening in the future.
  by atsf sp
 
I went to the museum when I was younger around 2000. But when I went I had a very enjoyable time. The ride was nice and the car barn was clean. Though it was a little dark, the coaches and engines were clean. I'm surprised about this recent expirience by Mr. Cowford.
  by Noel Weaver
 
Cowford wrote:
Hans is absolutely in the right here...complaints should be handled by letter, phonecall, or in person
Isn't it interesting that Mr. Brandes chose a public forum to complain about my posting when he had the opportunity to contact me privately through the private messaging exchange provided on this website. :wink:

This will be my last posting on this subject, so I want to make a few things clear:

* With regard to sharing my experiences, good or bad, at any public venue be it museum or restaurant, I reserve my right to do so any bloody way I deem appropriate.
* Tight budgets are no excuse for poor housekeeping. Inexpensive tarps or plastic sheeting could have been used to cover the exhibits while woodworking was in progress, a plastic sheet divider could have been put in place, or the saws moved outside.
* The museum does itself a huge disservice by not telling the narrow gauge story. There's little to no explanation as to why and how the lilliputs came about, what justified their existence, and why they disappeared. There's only one map, that of the state rail system from ~1910 if I recall, and if you're not "in the know," you wouldn't even know what to look for. The explanations in the cars are awkwardly placed, and many of the photos on the museum walls are mediocre photocopies taped on cheap black construction paper. (the anecdotal tales were a nice touch, though.)

Lastly, while I suppose my earlier use of the word "dump" was a bit harsh, I meant what I said about moving everything to the WWF. While I understand the desire of others to bow to history at the many locales the two-footers served, preserving what little is left of the equipment and history would best be served by consolidation at one location where resources, both human and financial, can be focused to best preserve this precious history for future generations.
I am one hundred per cent in agreement with the remarks of Cowford here. Lets be honest here, if he got the reception
that he states that he got and there is no good reason to doubt his remarks, then it would have likely happened to any of us
here as well. I remember a trip to Vermont years in the past when Steamtown was still at Riverside (Bellows Falls) and I
stopped by very late in the day and wanted to go in to their book store. I got a very rude reception at that time and it was a
long time before I ever went near Steamtown again and when I did it was in Scranton and part of the NPS.
Portland, Maine is not exactly close to my destinations when I go north from Florida and had I gotten a reception like he
did, let me assure everybody on here that I would NEVER AGAIN RETURN. I would not hesistate to use a forum like this one
to share my experiences either.
Noel Weaver
  by leftyfretguy
 
Hi All,
I have never contributed to a post like this before (because I usually don't have anything to add :wink: ) but I will say that I hope these problems are dealt with within the organization fast. I visited the museum in 1998 or 1999. My dad and I got to Portland around 8 or 9 at night and drove by the museum just so we knew where to go the next day. We were turning around in the lot when someone from the museum questioned us on what we were doing. We explained we were just finding the place now for our visit the next day. He said that they were closed for the night and leaving soon BUT if we had a few minutes he would show us around!!! He gave us a tour of the whole museum, let us into the engine shed, he even let me blow the whistle in #3!!! My dad and I were shocked at his generosity (we weren't even going to leave our vehicle), needless to say we donated to the museum that night. The next day was filled with the same calliber of people! I never rode in a car, we rode in the cab on multiple trips! We even rode the front of the dismal at the end of the day when they were switching freight around and putting the steamer to bed. Again, needless to say we donated to the museum that day as well. I have not been to any other museum that had people that treated guests like that. I plan on taking my family to Portland in the next few years and I really hope for a good experience again.
Matt
p.s. whatever happened to the foreign tank engine that was stored their - we switched it around at the end of the day and I think we were told that it was operable.
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