We’d love to have you join our all-volunteer crew! All operations of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway are handled entirely by volunteers, which has been the case since the railroad’s humble beginnings in 1972. To be considered for membership, you must first download and complete the membership application.
Membership with us provides great opportunities to become involved in the railroad–as much time as you can afford to give. These opportunities include restoration and maintenance of equipment, train operations, and more! Many of our volunteers wear multiple “hats” so it’s not unusual to see our president or other officers right out there on track work or helping on the train! And any member that displays an active participation in the railroad through the year can run for any available elected office the following year! Our volunteer members are as diverse as one can imagine, many having no prior professional railroading experience. However, we do have some retired railroaders that help out throughout the railroad, giving guidance and help as needed.
Like many other volunteer organizations, we have many needs including:
We only have one class of membership, the cost of which is just $20 per year. Members, who must be at least 18 years old, are then entitled to participate in train operations, equipment and track maintenance, and equipment restorations. Members also receive our bi-monthly newsletter The Valley Flyer, a discount on gift shop items, and an invitation to all membership functions (annual meeting, etc.).
You don’t have to live in the Nelsonville area to help! We have members mainly from the Columbus area, with some traveling from as far away as Bellefontaine, Ohio, and Charleston, West Virginia! We also have members from across the United States who support our organization simply by sending in their $20 and keeping up with the activities we have going on. Even if you aren’t able to physically help us due to distance or otherwise, we truly appreciate your financial support (and since we are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, all donations beyond membership dues are tax deductible)! We are entirely self-funded mainly through ticket sales, as well as generous outside donations.
• Maintenance-of-Way (Track Maintenance)
One of the most pressing needs – we urge every able volunteer to participate in work on our track and right-of-way. No experience is necessary. You should be in average physical condition. The work is medium-to-heavy manual labor and tends to be very relaxing. It is the most popular job on the Hocking and is a great way to stay in good condition if practiced regularly.
Steel-toe shoes are strongly recommended. Work gloves and other clothing suitable for outdoor work will be needed as conditions require.
Work consists of tie replacement, ballast tamping, brush clearing of right-of-way, or any other work that may be scheduled by the foreman for that day.
Special brush-cutting trains are scheduled during the winter and spring months.
• Train Crew
The volunteers that work the train are conductors and trainmen (brakemen, PA announcer and car attendants). The basic skills of each position can be learned in a short time, but will become apparent to a volunteer in train service that the success with which the position is discharged is determined by the polish and development of the skills. Train personnel must be good with people and should also be of good appearance. This is the face of the railroad!
The most important part of train service is the operation of the train in a safe and professional manner. Most passengers have no knowledge of railroad safety and educating the public to safe practices in a courteous manner is essential.
Conductors have general charge of the train to which assigned and all trainmen thereon are subject to his instructions. The train crew is responsible for the prompt, one-time movement, safety and care of its train and passengers. The train crew must know that their train is properly equipped and inspected and that the prescribed signals are displayed.
Trainmen obey the instructions of their conductor and assist the conductor and enginemen in all things necessary. When assigned as ticket cancellers, trainmen assist the conductor in punching of tickets.
Train duties are learned from the Hocking Valley books of safety and operation rules and through actual experience. Some duties to be performed are protecting grade crossings, assisting passengers with boarding and disembarking, and protecting the rear of the train whenever backing up. Train personnel also work in supplement to the public address system, pointing out specific locations and having a few historical or educational words with riders thus giving the Hocking a warm, friendly image.
The public address volunteer is the voice of the Railway and should leave a positive, lasting impression on patrons. He or she must first be good with people, must also have a good speaking voice, must be somewhat familiar with the Hocking Valley historically and educationally, and must be of good appearance.
• Locomotive & Equipment Maintenance
The Hocking Valley comes under the jurisdiction of the Federal Railway Administration (FRA). As a result, professional railroaders’ advice is closely followed by the volunteers involved in engine maintenance.
Volunteers can learn the best of the accumulated knowledge and history of the locomotives by getting involved.
During the operation season, firing up the locomotive, daily servicing and help in performing the monthly inspections are just a few of the key jobs in good locomotive maintenance.
A volunteer should possess some mechanical skills, such as the effective use of machinists’ hand tools. Certainly, anyone whose past or present profession is as a certified welder, pipe fitter, machinist or boilermaker is most welcome too.
A rewarding factor of being in locomotive maintenance is the selection of our operation personnel for engine service begins here. Engine service during the operating season is on an assigned basis.
Engine personnel are responsible for the proper operation and care of a heavy piece of potentially dangerous equipment and must therefore show complete familiarity with the locomotive, competence in its operation and care, and familiarity with the safety and operating rule books of the Hocking.
Advancement to the position of fireman or engineman is made on the basis of reliability, desire and effectiveness in applying firing and operating knowledge.
Equipment maintenance and restoration is also an on-going series of projects throughout the year. This includes the cranes, flat cars, box cars, M-of-W equipment, coaches, and other equipment. We have a regular shop work day the first Saturday of every month starting around 9:00 a.m. and have a Facebook page just for the shop at www.facebook.com/hvsr3!
• Station Personnel
Ticket agents and souvenir salespeople are the “image” of the Hocking Valley. His or her attitude and personality helps to create the image of the Railway in the mind of the patron.
The authentic railway station creates excitement and joy to everyone visiting the railway.
The ticket agent must be an expert with people (good talker), must be experienced in handling money and in keeping records.
Station personnel are assigned by recommendation of the Vice President of Finance.
• Non-Railroading Skills
Other important areas of need are skills such as carpentry, electricity, automotives, and business skills such as marketing. In fact, if you have any particular skill that you feel could be of benefit to the Railway, please let us know!