Friday, August 27, 2010

Why do we do this?

President Keith Berry wrote this piece last month as we geared up for the summer issue of The Dispatch, the official newsletter of the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation. Since I didn't have room for the article in the newsletter, I'll share Keith's thoughts on volunteerism over the next several weeks here.

The El Dorado Western Railway engine house and machine shops are located in Placerville, on the grounds of the El Dorado County History Museum. Several locomotives, a railbus and various other railroad cars are scattered about, all creating the look of an over sized model railroad. All of us are museum volunteers, our objective being to interpret and explain the work going on toward operating restoration of these community artifacts.

Frequently, we are asked, "Why do you choose to do this work, especially as a volunteer?"

Well, that is a good question, one which we ponder deeply, search for the best explanation and then get right back to the work. Being volunteers, we take breaks, called "standing around," and discuss just why we do volunteer for this work, donating time and expense to keep the work progressing toward a distant conclusion. Usually, we all reach the same answer, we don’t quite know! However, here are the most frequent opinions.

REASON #1: We are attracted to rusting junk! Now, seriously, we don’t like rust. It only serves to entice us to look beneath it for the original pieces and parts which offer recovery to their original beauty. Getting to the item through decades of rust is the attraction to find, save and restore to operational level something 100 years old. We are on a treasure hunt -- a hunt for old trains, steam trains, logging trains, trains of long ago.

To be continued ...

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