• NRHS Dues increase

  • 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: Miketherailfan, rob216

  by Noel Weaver
 
I understand there is a proposal in the works to increase national dues in
the National Railway Historical Society by $11.00 a year. I am not in
favor of this increase and intend to vote against it. The national NRHS is
in a state of "confusion and disarray in my opinion. We get a Bulletin now
and then and it is not very often. They are around two years behind and
yet we still seldom get one. It used to be nicely done and quite
informative but now it is completely devoted to one topic and not very
informative. The Conrail issue was 90 per cent PRR and I did not get
much out of it. Every year we do not know whether we will get a dues
notice or not nor when we will get it and our cards for the new year are
sometimes delayed too.
They seem to devote a lot of their energy to the convention which few of
us can afford to go on these days. The chapters have seemed to see the
problems of trying to run a convention these days and the national seems
to have taken that over and as a result all or practically all of their efforts
and resources have gone into the convention that only a small percentage
of the members participate in.
I have been a NRHS member for almost 40 years and fully support my
chapter (Western Connecticut) but I think the national is "highballing to
nowhere".
To all NRHS members who read this, if you get a ballot in the mail or at a
meeting regarding a dues increase in the national dues, I urge you to
vote NO on any increase, especially one as high as $11.00 a year.
Noel Weaver

  by mxdata
 
Noel, those are all points very well presented. While the national continues to be preoccupied with bloated overpriced grandiose conventions, the local chapters are becoming a part of "history". A look through the 2005 yearbook recently sent (publications are running two years behind) shows many chapters with no address information, and no reports of current activities. I wonder how many of them still exist? A look at the websites of local chapters in my area shows many outdated by several years, giving the impression the groups are gone. And a look at the agenda for the national convention shows an almost complete preoccupation with expensive fantrips and very little involvement in railroad history other than the museum visits.

I had noticed in the daily summary of last years convention they did not even mention their four speakers who did presentations for the one day they devoted to railroad history topics. And attending conventions and meetings, I have noticed that most of the single railroad historical societies manage to spend more time on real "history" topics in a single day meeting than the NRHS devotes to "history" in a week long convention. I think this is one of the major reasons for the NRHS decline, the people with a serious interest in the historical aspect are going elsewhere.

Since there are frequently complaints they do not make enough money on the conventions, perhaps they should shelve them for a couple of years and get their publications caught up, and work on their communications with the outside world to let people outside the NRHS know they exist (if they still do)? Just a suggestion.

  by Noel Weaver
 
mxdata wrote:Noel, those are all points very well presented. While the national continues to be preoccupied with bloated overpriced grandiose conventions, the local chapters are becoming a part of "history". A look through the 2005 yearbook recently sent (publications are running two years behind) shows many chapters with no address information, and no reports of current activities. I wonder how many of them still exist? A look at the websites of local chapters in my area shows many outdated by several years, giving the impression the groups are gone. And a look at the agenda for the national convention shows an almost complete preoccupation with expensive fantrips and very little involvement in railroad history other than the museum visits.

I had noticed in the daily summary of last years convention they did not even mention their four speakers who did presentations for the one day they devoted to railroad history topics. And attending conventions and meetings, I have noticed that most of the single railroad historical societies manage to spend more time on real "history" topics in a single day meeting than the NRHS devotes to "history" in a week long convention. I think this is one of the major reasons for the NRHS decline, the people with a serious interest in the historical aspect are going elsewhere.

Since there are frequently complaints they do not make enough money on the conventions, perhaps they should shelve them for a couple of years and get their publications caught up, and work on their communications with the outside world to let people outside the NRHS know they exist (if they still do)? Just a suggestion.
I suggested that they skip the convention for a year or two but they were
not receptive to that idea.
My home chapter today is the Western Connecticut and they are doing
quite well with the old tower at South Norwalk, CT but I was also in the
Mohawk and Hudson Chapter in Albany for several years and they have
a fine collection of equipment that is rusting away in the weeds in the
Albany area while the chapter itself seems to be dwindling. While the
locomotives are sort of "preserved", they are rusting away and I would
not be surprised to see or hear of them in a scrap yard sometime in the
future, this is a shame. Probably the stuff could not be moved anymore
on its own wheels.
I am certainally not keen on a dues increase to help support their
convention which I can't afford to go on anyway.
I will probably continue my membership but only because I like my local
chapter even though I live hundreds of miles away from them today.
Noel Weaver

  by mxdata
 
I could probably afford to go to the convention, I just can't justify it! I just got the flyer from another historical society where I am a member, their convention tickets including a fantrip are $150. Each year I calculate the tickets and fees for NRHS and it is averaging 6X to 10X that much, and NRHS spends only a small fraction of the time on presentations relating to railroad history compared with the other group. Add to that, the other group has their meeting in the fall when the weather and foliage are nice instead of 95 degree weather in the middle of summer when you have to fight all the traffic, and the choice is easy.

Sorry to see the state that the NRHS is presently in, but unfortunately they have put themselves there.

  by gp80mac
 
What are the benefits for a local chapter to be a part of the national?

In other words, why can't some of these chapters break off and start their own organizations? It would be one thing if the national chapter provided some essential service (website help, hint hint) but other than the 2 yr old yearbook, what is the point? The conventions have no appeal to me - and are more about staged railfan photography than real historical issues.

I can't see the NRHS surviving another 10 years if that.

  by mxdata
 
The point that you make about websites is very valid, there are numerous chapters that have poorly designed websites that in some cases are years out of date because they lost their webmaster and nobody else has stepped up to do the job. It is one area where the national could make an immediate contribution to improving the public image of the organization. At least it would establish a system where more than one person has the password to the website so you do not have these things going on and on for years with totally obsolete information on them.

The officers at local chapters tell me one area where the national could help them is to keep a database of programs and presenters like the National Model Railroad Association does. Right now there is no way for the program chairpersons to learn about people at other chapters who have good railroad history presentations other than by reading all their monthly bulletins or watching their websites (if they have any and if they are up to date). But considering the lack of interest the national organization shows in railroad history presentations at their conventions, perhaps the NRHS chapters should be going to the NMRA for advice and guidance.

  by gp80mac
 
I'm thinking out loud here:

Why couldn't the NRHS (national) create a register of front pages for the chapters, giving location, addresses, and phone numbers (the permanent stuff), and then link the chapters to each of their own blogs?

A blog can be real user friendly (type in your info and hit ENTER). Then you could easily keep it up to date (does anyone care what you did 6 years ago, anyhow?) and could allow easy photo uploads, meeting information, etc, on a timely basis. Sort of like a myspace for rail preservation.

Hmm... myspace for rail preservation... that could be an interesting feature in itself.
  by mxdata
 
I heard recently that Grey Molloy, the president of NRHS, will be at the monthly meeting of the Tri-State Chapter in Morristown, NJ on Thursday evening July 12. Supposedly there will be an open discussion session that may provide members with an opportunity to ask about the dues increase.

  by Noel Weaver
 
I hope the people attending that meeting will speak out against any
increase of dues.
Noel Weaver

  by mxdata
 
Based on the information presented at the Tri-State meeting, it appears that not only is this large dues increase a necessity for the NRHS to meet current expenses, but it appears that an additional large increase of equal or greater amount would then be needed sometime in the not too distant future. Total of increases per information from the meeting could possibly be around $45. This is no secret, it was shown to lots of people.

  by Otto Vondrak
 
Don't get me started on the publications. I guess they are trying their best to get info out in a timely manner with the NRHS News, but the Bulletin is a lost cause. Thanks for the Conrail issue and thanks for the Shaughnessy issue, but what do they have to to with the NRHS? Abandon the Bulletin and keep putting out the NEWS. We want to know about the organization, what our fellow chapter members are doing, and other activities related to the ORGANIZATION.

I read the impassioned plea from the NRHS president. It sounds like he has developed a plan to "right the ship" and get the organization back on track. It's worth a shot, at least there's some sort of PLAN in place and it's not just, "Pour more money on the fire, that will help!" Sounds like Mallory is trying to get the staff organized, cut costs, and get the publications back on schedule.

I have never gone to a national convention, even when they were in nearby Syracuse, NY and Hartford, CT. Too much expense for me. They should take a tip from the NMRA and consider hosting REGIONAL conventions that are closer to home and cost a lot less for the attendees.

-otto-

  by mxdata
 
Otto, I also have not gone to one of the NRHS national conventions in a number of years now, due both to the expense and the time of the year that they have them. For an organization that is totally and completely absorbed with "pretty picture" slide shows at their chapter meetings, it is difficult to see why they pick the middle of the summer with high sun angle and incredibly hot temperatures that make photography less than enjoyable and the results often rather disappointing. As you noted the total of the event tickets would be several thousand dollars not including hotel and travel. Then in an entire week of events they only allocate one day for presentations and speakers on railroad history topics. They seem to think of their conventions as being a celebration of the NRHS "manufacturing" railroad history themselves rather than studying and honoring what others have done that have influenced the form and function of the industry today. The last time I went to one of their conventions I came away with the feeling I could have done many of the visits on my own at a much more leisurely pace with far less expense and possibly learned a lot more in the process. What's the point of spending thousands of dollars to be herded through places and leave wishing you could get back on your own someday to spend some time and get to see it at your own pace. Add to the list the fact that they only show an interest in diesels when they aren't able to set up an expensive steam excursion, and I just don't see much in their conventions that relates to my experience in the hobby. Considering their declining membership, apparently a lot of others don't see anything in NRHS that interests them either. I am still a member and attend some chapter meetings, when they are worth attending, but if your interest in railroading is technical, you will find a lot more people with similar interests in the single railroad historical groups and the National Model Railroad Association. In my area it is the NMRA folks who are the serious students of railroad history.

  by mxdata
 
The big vote on the dues is supposed to be held at the convention, everybody should know very soon how the future looks for the NRHS. I personally don't view them as being very essential to the hobby, if they were to disappear, the more viable NRHS chapters could probably do fine on their own. Look at what a great job the Amherst Railway Society does and they have never been associated with NRHS at all.

  by mxdata
 
According to the convention summary the dues increase was approved.

MX

  by chuchubob
 
Otto Vondrak wrote:
I have never gone to a national convention,...

-otto-
Look at what you're missing by not attending the convention: conspiracy of potential phototerrorists.