The first quarter of 2004 has come and gone. As the days become longer and warmer, the museum is gearing up for a very ambitious season. I wanted to take a moment and review what we've done this spring and a quick overview of the summer.
Let's start at the shops, the heart of the organization. Jack Anderson, our Master Mechanic, has been on the job since the first of the year. Working with Jack in the shop is Al Gledhill, Shop Foreman; Kris Miller, Shop Helper; and Ed Shurtleff, Diesel Locomotive Mechanic.
Since the first of the year, locomotive 93 passed its annual FRA inspection, the boiler for the steam crane passed its hydro test, and locomotive 109 was available all winter long, thanks to the circulating heater Ed installed last fall. Locomotive 93 was also in the shop for regular maintenance. The throttle was lapped, the air pumps taken apart, serviced, and reassembled. Locomotive 93 was jacked up to have pins and bushings renewed in the suspension. All of this work was done in house under Jack's supervision. The teardown of locomotive 40 was also started. The plan is to have locomotive 40 back in service by October 1, 2004. It's early days yet, but right now we have not found anything unexpected.
The shop staff is going through the buildings, cleaning and organizing the equipment and supplies that we have on hand. They have made some interesting discoveries that will help us maintain our steam locomotives.
This summer we will have four of our diesel locomotives in service: locomotives 204, 105, 109 and 310. Locomotive 310 is the little 25-ton GE switcher that was used at McGill. The plan for this locomotive is to put train air on it, and use it to pull two little excursion cars between the Railroad Museum and the White Pine Public Museum.
Speaking of the White Pine Public Museum, the plan is to open the original mainline track between the two museums. For this to happen, the washout and the road crossings will need to be repaired. Then locomotive 310 can pull its train between the two museums, which should help attendance at both.
Train wise we have already been busy. Our first locomotive rental happened in early January. The Nevada Northern hosted two photo shoots in February with over sixty photographers in attendance. Our first charter of the season was March 18 with locomotive 93 doing the honors.
Mark Bassett, Executive Director and Ron Taylor, volunteer, attended a course on Railroad Track Maintenance for Branch Line, Regional and Industrial Railroads presented by the University of Wisconsin, College of Engineering. This course will assist the museum in developing a maintenance plan for the thirty miles of track that the museum owns and it will assist the museum in evaluating the one hundred and twenty miles of track that the community is purchasing from Los Angles. (Speaking of the purchase, escrow was opened in December.)
The office staff is just as busy as the shop staff. Evva Schaefer celebrated her tenth anniversary with the museum on March 1, 2004. Assisting Evva and Mark, is Misty Imboden who is our new Administrative and Operations Assistant.
Spring is grant time. Grants were due at Nevada Commission on Tourism, Nevada Humanities Council, and E. L. Cord. Grant presentations were given in Carson City to the Commission on Cultural Affairs. The Museum was awarded $100,000 for the continuing work on the machine shop and engine house building. Also received was $75,000 for the McGill Depot. This money will allow us to put a new roof on the building, repair the walls in the southeast corner and seal all of the doors and windows. If we have any money left over, we will bring electricity to the building so work on the inside can continue.
Meanwhile in the East Ely yard, work is continuing on the Machine Shop and Enginehouse building to stabilize the structure. The door to Track 1 was replaced. Thanks to generous donation from John West, the Engineer's Building was re-roofed. The structure was basically sound and the new roof will keep it that way. The Engineer's Building is slated to become a volunteer dormitory. As we run additional trains, and involve the volunteers in preservation projects; we will have an explosion of additional personnel that will want to help. Volunteers are the backbone of the museum and they will need housing. Our volunteer pool has gone from about a dozen people to over sixty. With a dynamic program the number of volunteers will only increase and we need a place to house them.
As we head into April there a couple of events planned. Kicking off the month is the first Volunteer Work Week. The focus of this week is the wooden boxcars. One is being resided and the other three will be repainted. John West is the volunteer leader for this week. For this week to be a success, we need a few more volunteers. If you are interested, please contact me. The next event is the annual safety training and potluck dinner that will be April 24 and 25. Training will be all day on April 24, potluck dinner that night. Testing will be on April 25. If you desire to be part of the operating crew, this training is mandatory.
Then on May 1st the 2004 excursion season starts. Trains will be operating weekends through Memorial Day. Then the schedule goes into high gear as we operate two trains a day, six days a week until Labor Day. Then through the month of September we operate a morning train six days a week. October 2 and 3 is the Trains Unlimited weekend, where both locomotive 40 and 93 should be steaming up a storm.
The museum will continue to operate weekends in October. Building on the success of our first Haunted Ghost Train last year will be four Haunted Ghost Trains this year. During November and December, we will be running the annual food drive train and the Polar Express Trains and this will wrap up the year.
This year we will be building on our successes of the past year and laying the foundation to begin our Centennial Celebration next year. Our goal next year is to operate our steam locomotives seven days a week during the summer. This year promises to be busy--come join us.