Posts Tagged ‘railfan clubs’

Cincinnati RR Club to Consider Move to Tower A at CUT

August 21, 2021

The board of directors of the Cincinnati Railroad Club board will meet on Aug. 26 to discuss a proposal to resume meeting at Cincinnati Union Terminal’s Tower A.

The offer was made by the Cincinnati Museum Center, which operates the venerable train station.

The membership of the club will hear a report on the Tower A proposal when the club meets on Sept. 2.

Officers will present an overview of the club’s options and the board’s views of them.

Rather than have a program that night club members in attendance will be given time to share their thoughts.

The Sept. 2 meeting will be held at the Archbishop’s House in Norwood. The September meeting will also be available via Zoom.

RRE Picnic Sunday in Hudson

August 10, 2021

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts will hold its annual picnic on Sunday (Aug. 15) at Colony Park in Hudson.

The club has reserved the park’s pavilion from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The park is located next to the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern and a footbridge leading from the park allows for an overhead view of trains. The ridge has a fence with large chain links, but a camera lens might fit between the links.

Lighting will be favorable during the duration of the picnic.

The club will provide hamburgers and hot dogs along with an assortment of condiments.

Members are asked to bring drinks, snacks, desserts and side dishes.

There is no refrigeration available at the park so members should avoid bringing items that might spoil if left open for a long period of time.

Guests and family members are welcome to attend. The park has playground equipment for children, a basketball court, soccer fields and baseball diamonds. There is also a walking trail.

There will be no regular RRE meeting in August. The next meeting is Sept. 10 and will feature a program by Jim Semon.

Cincinnati RR Club May Return to Tower A

August 5, 2021

The Cincinnati Railroad Club is considering signing a lease to return to Tower A at Cincinnati Union Terminal.

The move will be discussed at the next club meeting on Aug. 5.

A majority of the group’s board members recently toured two third floor spaces near Tower A and Tower A itself.

The board members said they decided to bring up leasing space there at the next meeting.

That discussion will focus on structuring a lease, volunteering, furnishings, parking, and club meetings being able to be in the Newsreel or the auditorium/other theater on the Concourse level.

Railfan Groups Resume In-Person Meetings

August 2, 2021

The Cincinnati Railroad Club will conduct a hybrid meeting on Aug. 5 at 7:30 p.m.

The club will meet in person but offer its meeting online via Zoom.

In an announcement the club said it likely will offer regular monthly in-person meetings as well as have a virtual option to watch programs.

The August program will be presented by Lee Rainey remotely via Zoom on the East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania.

The meeting will be held at Archbishop’s House on the campus of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, 5418 Moeller Avenue, in Norwood.

Register in advance for this meeting:

In an unrelated development, the Michigan Railroad Club has announced that it will return to in-person meeting starting Sept. 1.

Meeting will be held in Club Room 1 of the Ford Performing Arts Center in Dearborn.

Meetings are held between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The group must clear the meeting room by 9 p.m.

The programs for future meetings will be announced later.

RRE To Meet Friday, Sets Bellevue Outing

June 8, 2021

The Cleveland-based Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts will meet this Friday in Westlake.

The meeting begins at approximately 8:15 p.m. at the Western Cuyahoga FOP Lodge at 26145 Center Ridge Road. The program will be a slide show given by RRE member Dennis Nehrenz.

The group also announced that the July 9 meeting will feature a program by Bob Todten, the Aug. 11 meeting program will be given by Jim Semon, the Oct. 8 program will be given by Marty Surdyk, and the Nov. 12 program will be presented by Jerry Jordak.

The annual August picnic will return at a site to be determined. The club is considering hold it at Colony Park in Hudson or the Willis Picnic Area of the Bedford Metropark.

Both locations are adjacent to the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern.

On Saturday, June 12, RRE members and their friends will travel to Bellevue for a day of train watching at the Kemper Railfan Pavilion.

The group also has resumed publishing its newsletter. The publication, the annual picnic, the annual banquet and monthly meetings had been suspended for most of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The banquet is expected to return in April 2022 and the club hopes to have as its presenter Terry Kolenc, who had been scheduled to give a program in April 2020 on the return of the Union Pacific “Big Boy” steam locomotive.

ARRC Plans to Resume Meeting in June

May 21, 2021

The Akron Railroad Club plans to resume meeting in June with a program by club president Todd Dillon.

However, the announcement noted that plans to meet on June 25 are tentative because the New Horizons Christian Church, where the club meets, has not yet officially said the club could resume meeting there.

If the meeting is cancelled, an email notice will be sent to members.

Dillon’s digital program is titled Off the Beaten Path: Railfanning in the Era of COVID and will feature images of sugar plant railroad operations in Florida, Tampa Bay trolleys and CSX tribute locomotives 911 (Spirit of our First Responders), 1776 (Spirit of the Armed Forces) and 3194 (Spirit of Law Enforcement).

The program will focus on Todd’s travels between Ohio and Florida.

The ARRC last met in February 2020. Meetings were suspended the following month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The May meeting has been cancelled but the ARRC will hold the annual Dave McKay Day in Berea on May 29. The club also plans to travel to Fostoria on June 27 for the annual longest day outing at the Iron Triangle Rail Park.

RRE to Meet Friday in Westlake

May 10, 2021

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts will meet on Friday (May 14) in Westlake.

It will be the first indoor meeting the organization has had in more than a year. Earlier this year, the club held three online meetings.

The meeting will begin about 8:15 p.m. at the FOP Hall at 26145 Center Ridge Road.

The building is located behind B-K Glass and parking is the rear. Attendees should enter at the ground level doors at the southwest corner of the building.

Masks will be required and attendees will need to social distance.

The program will be presented by Mark Demaline and is titled “Montana Railroads.”

The RRE plans to railfan in Bellevue on June 12, the day after its Friday night June meeting in Westlake. The program for the June meeting has not yet been announced.

Will Pandemic Be Tipping Point for Local RR Clubs?

August 24, 2020

Author Malcom Gladwell has written about what he terms a “tipping point,” which he defines as “that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

In this context tipping point refers to how an idea reaches enough widespread acceptance to then be implemented.

But tipping point can also refer to a point of no return when an organization or an effort tips into a downward spiral ultimately resulting in failure.

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a host of examples, most notably businesses losing enough customers and revenue that they descend into a death spiral from which they cannot recover.

In some instances, a business had been in trouble long before the pandemic began, but in other cases the forced closings and reopening at reduced capacity resulted in too much lose revenue for an owner to overcome.

Although tipping points might be obvious after the fact they are not necessarily recognizable when they occur.

It remains to be seen whether the pandemic proves to be a tipping point for local railfan clubs.

In Northeast Ohio, the Akron Railroad Club and Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts have not held a meeting since early spring.

The Miami Valley Railfans group in the Dayton had been shut down since then, too, and finally held a meeting this month by going to Richmond, Indiana.

The two Northeast Ohio groups have held railfan outings that drew a few participants but those events are not the same as what draws most members to meeting, which is seeing a slide show.

The longer members have not attended a meeting, the more likely they are to begin to think they don’t need to belong to that group.

I’ve written extensively about how interest in organized railfan groups is waning and that younger fans show little to no interest in joining.

The pandemic might not in and of itself doom the railfan groups in Northeast Ohio, but it seems likely to deal a death blow to some groups that were already struggling to survive.

Both the ARRC and RRE have been beset with declining membership and participation in recent years.

This is not to say those who are left are going to abandon these organizations once they can begin meeting again.

If anything there might be pent up demand to attend a meeting, see a slide show and socialize with the guys.

At the same time, the membership of these groups tends to be older and at higher risk of severe complications, including death, from COVID-19.

Some are going to decline to attend meetings until they feel it is safe to do so. That might be a long time coming, a very long time.

You have to be careful when looking at membership numbers. In its early years, the ARRC had around 20 members and was still a thriving organization.

The key is to have enough members who are committed to attending meetings and participating in keeping the group going.

In theory that could be a group of less than 10 if they are committed to meeting on a regular basis and have a place to do so.

Another key is having competent leadership. It may not be enough to merely send out a notice that the group is meeting this Friday.

Good leadership needs to work to make the members feel comfortable about attending and attracting quality programming that members will want to take the time to come see.

Lack of leadership may doom some organizations if meeting notices are not sent in a timely and effective manner and the administrative chores associated with governing an organization are not adequately addressed.

Of course it might also be the pandemic will turn out to be the tipping point that accelerates the decline that was already underway.

If you have ever had an elderly parent, relative or friend who had a life-threatening condition, such as cancer, you know that person’s decline might play out over a period of months or even years.

Those individuals will have moments when it appears their body is rallying and fending off the condition that threatens their life. But each time they wind up a little weaker until reaching the point of no return.

I would expect that once the ARRC and RRE are able to resume meeting that there will be enough attendance at meetings to make it feel like old times.

These organizations may well continue to meet and do what they’ve always done for several more years.

There may be someday an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 although some medical experts are warning that coronavirus will always be around.

There may not be a way to cure lack of interest, which has much to do with why membership and participation in these clubs is declining.

These groups may still have a lot of life left, yet it also might be that someday you will be able to trace the tipping point of irreversible decline to the pandemic.

Todten to Present at January RRE Meeting

January 5, 2020

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts will hold its January  meeting on Friday (Jan. 10) in Westlake.

The meeting will begin at 8:15 p.m. at the Western Cuyahoga F.O.P. No. 25 Hall at 26145 Center Ridge Road.

Robert Todten will present a program featuring images from transit operations in various cities. He also plans to show photos of steam locomotives operating in China.

The group has also named its officers for 2020, all of whom served in the same office in 2019.

The officers are Marty Surdyk, president; Bob McCown, secretary; and Jerry Jordak, treasurer. The two at-large directors are Alex Bruchac and Dennis Nehrenz while the program chairman is Bob Todten.

It Isn’t The Young Who Are Killing Railfan Clubs

December 16, 2019

A friend pointed me in the direction of a discussion on Facebook that he initiated asking why younger railroad enthusiasts aren’t joining railfan groups and railroad historical societies or getting involved in railroad museums.

The question was aimed at millennial railfans and evoked a number of responses that could be boiled down to one theme: Lack of interest.

A number of reasons were given for that including boring programs, a perception of being looked down upon by older members, and the belief that sitting in a dark room to watch a slide show is obsolete in an era when railroad photographs are widely available online.

The question of where are the younger members is interesting yet a more relevant question might be where are your existing members?

I served as president of the Akron Railroad Club for 14 years and also belonged to the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts in Cleveland.

During that time I witnessed the demise of the Cleveland Railroad Club and the Midwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. I saw the closing of a traction museum in Cleveland that had evolved from Trolleyville USA in Olmsted Township.

I saw a steady although not necessarily dramatic or unexpected decline in the membership in the ARRC and RRE.

It does not bother me that younger generations (note the plural) of railfans have little to no interest in joining railfan clubs or getting involved with railroad museums and historical societies.

I see it as neither a positive or a negative. It is what it is. Younger railfans are more oriented toward social media. That’s fine. Things change, including how railfans share their photographs and experiences with others.

I learned during my time as ARRC president that the decline of railfan organizations is not entirely a generational divide issue even if it’s often framed that way. That younger generations are not joining railfan clubs is not the sole or necessarily primary reason why these organizations are faltering.

I saw many guys who had long been fixtures at meetings stopped coming to those meetings or their attendance became sporadic.

Some of these guys might give a program once a year but otherwise you seldom see them at meetings or club outings.

I never asked any of them why they stopped coming. I really didn’t need to.

They stopped coming because the railroad club meetings were no longer important to them.

Life has a way of changing your priorities. Maybe your work hours changed. Maybe you had an elderly parent to take care of. Maybe you had a medical issue crop up.

Or maybe you just found the railroad club meetings to be not so interesting anymore because you had become blasé about it.

Social media presents opportunities to stay in touch with guys who in another time you might only have seen at the monthly railroad club meeting.

Guys stop coming to railroad club meetings because they don’t need the club. If you think about it that’s the same reason why younger railfans don’t join these clubs.

Having been in charge of programming I understand how “boring” programs come to be. I sat through a number of them and understand how they might drive away some younger guys.

But there are plenty of older fellows who also have found the “boring” programs not worth it. For that matter, they no longer find the more interesting programs worth it either.

Turnover among the membership is a reality of every organization. Not everyone is going to have a lifelong passion for railroads. Something else might interest them and they become focused on that.

I learned during my time as ARRC president that for many members the club was at best a sometimes thing in their life.

There is a core of members who show up for every or nearly every meeting. But there are far more members who only show up here and there if they show up at all.

Can a railfan organization take steps to get the wayward members of the flock to return to the fold and start attending meetings again?

Maybe, but that raises the question of whether the group’s leadership has the skills and resources, including time, to do that. And would the realistic gain to be had be worth the effort?

I came to see the demise of railfan clubs as inevitable because of the demographics of the membership. I saw the organization’s challenge as managing that decline rather than stopping it.

Medical professionals understand that there comes a point in the life of the super elderly when they stop trying to understand and address the causes of their illnesses and instead focus on making their remaining days, months or years of those individuals as comfortable as possible. Everything has a life cycle and it will some day reach its end.

This analogy might not be a perfect fit with railfan clubs yet I don’t know that there is much that those railroad oriented organizations that I saw die could have done to have reversed their demise.

So long as there are members willing to gather regularly to enjoy each other’s company and share photographs these “dying” railfan organizations will continue to exist.

At some point it becomes a matter of serving the needs of those who want to be there and not worrying so much about those who don’t.