Giving back to the preservation community

Posted by Justin Franz
on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nevada Northern Railway No. 93 poses during the railroad's annual winter photo charter. Photo by Justin Franz.

Railfanning can be an expensive hobby. Just for a moment, think about all the gear that’s in your camera bag. Then think about how many railroad-related books are sitting on your bookshelf. While you’re at it, think about the number of times you went trackside this year and then do a little back-of-the-envelope math and figure out how many gallons of fuel you consumed doing that.

You know what? Let’s stop before it gets too depressing.

But whatever most of us spend on this hobby it pales in comparison to the price it takes to maintain an historic locomotive or freight car. So when you look at the photos you took this year of a main line steam excursion or tourist railroad, think about the true cost it took to make that shot. If you didn’t buy a ticket to ride or drop a few bucks at the museum gift shop, consider writing out a check to your favorite railroad preservation group this week (after all, today is Giving Tuesday).

Here are a just a few of the preservation efforts that I benefited from this year and was sure to drop a few bucks in the donation bucket.

The Nevada Northern Railway Museum: Earlier this year I made my first trip to Nevada to see this amazing piece of railroad history. Even if you’re not a steam fan, every railfan should make the trek to Ely.

The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington and Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad: Maine’s two-foot gauge railroads only lasted a few decades but a number of great museums are preserving what’s left, including the WW&F in Alna and the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad in Portland.

Market Street Railway: San Francisco’s PCC-powered F-Line is a true blast from the past and it couldn’t happen without the Market Street Railway, a non-profit group that advocates for historic transit in the city.

The Center for Railroad Photography & Art: What good is an old railroad photo if it’s sitting in a forgotten box? The Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s staff has done a fantastic job preserving significant railroad photos and they put on a darn good conference every year.

What are some of your favorite rail preservation causes? 

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