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David Lubic

The battle is still uphill. . .and I wonder if it will always be that way.

This even goes for the historic railroad people.

From the comments at Railway Preservation News (RyPN):

ColebrookdaleRailfan wrote:
Back to the original topic of "what we are up against," another perpetual issue the railway preservation community faces is introducing young blood. As a high school student, I can name about four or five other people in the entirety of out approximately 2,000 student school that hold any interest in railroading. Of them, half are only interested in modelling. What we need to address is keeping children interested past the "Thomas phase" which could supply future volunteers. While Thomas can get children interested and pay bills for many railroads, if fuels the misconceptions of teens and adults that this is all there is to railroading and that the railroad industry is outdated and irrelevant. I'm also a student at a tech school for diesel technology where we mostly work on trucks, though we focus on other applications for diesel engines. When asked about future plans, I mentioned railroads and everybody instantly dismissed it as though railroads have no place in the economy and accomplish nothing. As I tried to explain the workings of a modern railroad, everyone honestly thought I was stringing them a line of crap. I'm sure this is a problem elsewhere, but how we address it I can not tell. The fact is unless we fix public ignorance, we're going to have serious problems down the road.

Cameron Wolk:

My experience with outsiders especially youth is that they inherently believe railroad preservation is full of (if I may say) autistic toddlers who like to play with their big metal toys. I don't blame them for this perception and certainly the average railfan doesn't help clear this falsehood. I grew up in a diverse neighborhood with a balanced mix of individuals. Unfortunately when I would tell them that I volunteered at a museum they would often reply with "ohh that's just a white thing" quickly losing interest. That said I seriously feel there are people in recent years who are solely against the hobby (Politicians, NIMBYS, Activists) because of its key demographic makeup. It would not surprise me.

Dennis Storzek (to Colebrookdale Railfan):

That doesn't seem to have changed much. I suspect I'm a bit older than you - graduated high school in 1970 - and of our student body of over 5,000, there were exactly three students who belonged to the local (not school sponsored) model railroad club. There were likely a few more modelers or railfans that partook the hobby with their dads, but we had no common ground to meet at school.

I actually ran into more people my age when I became active at IRM a few years later, but not many more.

Railway preservation is a very exclusive calling.

That last comment suggests some of us a pretty special--and it also suggests we will always be underdogs.

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