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Just Don’t Stand There Volunteer

2006 promises to be a very busy year. It is our Centennial and there is a ton of work to do.

Without volunteers, the museum activities would come to a screeching halt. Actually, the museum finds itself in a Catch 22 situation. Our current volunteer pool has allowed us to operate trains and walking tours. The success of these activities has caused the demand for these activities to increase, which brings about a demand for more volunteers. If you ever had the thought, “Yeah, I’d like to volunteer down at the railroad museum,” this is the time to do it—the need is great. If you have never thought about volunteering, think about it—we could sure use the help.

So what do volunteers do and where are they needed? The short answer is that volunteers can do everything at the museum and they are needed in all aspects.

The long answer is volunteers work in train service from brakeman through conductor to engineer. That’s right—volunteers can train to be a steam locomotive engineer. A volunteer with this goal will need to make a sizeable commitment and invest the time, but it is doable. The position of brakemen offers the volunteer the chance to experience railroading and the opportunity to be in the cab of the steamers with less of a commitment of time. We have had volunteers who spent a week here and get the intensive course on safety and our operations and by the end of the week, they are in train service. Other volunteers spent their summer in Ely working in train service. Train service is hard work that can occur on sweltering hot days or freezing cold days. And occasionally that happens in the same day.

Not everyone is interested in train service. There are plenty of other opportunities to for individuals to volunteer. The museum needs tour guides, narrators, concessions, and gift shop help. Speaking of shops, help is also needed in the machine shop.

Skills needed in the machine shop are welder, machinist, mechanic, painter, and carpenter. Don’t have those skills? Don’t worry. You can learn while you volunteer. If you can tell the difference between a wrench and a hammer, we can use you in the shops. No one was born with the ability to maintain a steam locomotive, it was learned. And you can learn those skills also.

In addition to needed shop workers, help is also needed out on the track. We need ties replaced, spikes driven, bolts tighten, and lots of shovel work. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? Actually, to some people it is fun not to mention plenty of fresh air and exercise.

Not all members of the museum live in Ely. Some travel literally hundreds of miles to volunteer. Some come and volunteer only a couple of weekends a year while others spend months at the museum. The staff of the museum appreciates any time you can spare helping out.

I realize that not everybody can travel to Ely and help out. One of the areas we need help in is eBay. We successfully sold an engine rental on eBay. We would like to set up an eBay store to sell some of the things that we offer. So if you’re an eBay-er, drop me a line. We have items around the property that we want to sell. We’ll supply the pictures if you do the listing.

We also have need of typists. We have old instruction manuals that we would like to reprint. To do this they all need to be typed into MS Word. Some of these manuals are approaching their Centennial. The knowledge in them is priceless. We need the information.

And speaking of the Centennial, which is now upon us. The big celebration will be September 29, 30 and October 1st. Help is needed on planning the festivities and doing the grunt work. And along with the Centennial, we will be doing the Long Steel Rails Festival on Fathers’ Day Weekend. Help is needed there also.

I’m hoping that I have you excited by now and you want to help. Where it may seem like there is a secret handshake that you need to know to get started, that isn’t the case. If you are interested in volunteering, contact the museum either by writing, calling or via e-mail.

  • For train service, typing, the Centennial, tour guides, and general questions contact Mark (e-mail: [email protected])
  • For helping on narration, the gift shop, and concessions contact Evva (e-mail: [email protected])

Well, there you have it, a little something for everyone. So just don’t stand there—volunteer!

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Hours of Operation

Monday - Saturday | 8AM - 5PM
Sunday | 8AM - 4PM

Our Location

1100 Ave A, Ely, NV 89301

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