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Volunteer with us!

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera

Do you like trains, history, or just being around other people? If so, please consider joining us as a volunteer member. Membership is only $25 a year and allows you to be involved with a real railroad. No prior railroad experience is required. With your willingness to learn, we can train you from your skill level. Opportunities include but are not limited to train operations, restoration/maintenance of equipment, and track maintenance. Many of our volunteers wear multiple hats, so it’s not unusual to see our president or other officers helping on the train. In addition, members who gain 100 hours of general service through the year can run for trustee or any available elected officer position. 

Like many other volunteer organizations, we have many needs including, but not limited to:

  • Maintenance-of-Way (Track Maintenance)
  • Train Crew
  • Engine Crew
  • Locomotive & Equipment Maintenance/Restoration
  • Non-Railroading Skills

Scroll down to learn more about the different volunteer opportunities. 

Members are 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 who travel several hours to volunteer with us. 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.

The first step to becoming a member is to first download and complete the  Membership Application . To be approved for membership, applicants are asked to attend a board meeting. Board meetings are typically held at the Nelsonville Depot the second Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. when trains are scheduled and 10 a.m. when there are no trains. We typically do not hold board meetings in December due to our busy Santa Train season. Applicants under 18 must receive the signature of a parent or legal guardian. will be limited on what type of work they can perform and will not hold the ability to vote, nor to run for office/trusteeship. 

Note: We do not and shall not discriminate on any basis. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all people.

Maintenance-of-Way (Track Maintenance)

a couple of people that are standing in the dirt

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 is very rewarding. This is a great way to stay in good condition if practiced regularly.
Steel-toe shoes are required when working around heavy equipment. Work gloves and other clothing suitable for outdoor work will be needed as conditions require. Work may consist 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.

Train Crew
a group of people in a room

The volunteers who work the train are conductors, trainmen, car hosts, and pa announcers. 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!

a man standing next to a train

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.
a train on a steel track

Conductors have general charge of the train to which assigned and all trainmen and car hosts thereon are subject to their 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.

a man standing next to a truck

Trainmen, also known as car hosts, obey the instructions of their conductor and assist  the conductor in all things necessary. Car host duties may include, but are not limited to punching tickets and helping passengers on and off the train. Train personnel also work in the 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.
a man standing in a kitchen

The public address volunteer is the voice of the railway and should leave a positive, lasting impression on patrons. They must first be good with people, have a good speaking voice, must be somewhat familiar with the Hocking Valley historically and educationally, and must be of good appearance.

Engine crew (Engineers, Brakemen and Firemen)

a man standing on a sidewalk

Note: Advancement to the position of engine crew will require time, dedication and willingness to learn. Remember that these are real trains and just as dangerous as those on Class I railroads.  The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway comes under the jurisdiction of the Federal Railway Administration (FRA).  

a train engine carrying carts down a track

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. Their knowledge must also include, but not be limited to, proper hand signals, properly throwing switches, and lacing up air hoses. 

Locomotive and equipment maintenance/restoration 

We are always looking for volunteers to help behind the scenes. 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 man standing in front of a building

Volunteers who help behind the scenes 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, pipefitter, machinist or boilermaker is most welcome, too. Equipment maintenance and restoration is an ongoing series of projects throughout the year. This includes cranes, flat cars, boxcars, MOW equipment, coaches, and other equipment. In addition, there is almost always at least one piece of equipment undergoing restoration in the engine house. 

a man standing in front of a building

Non-railroading skills

Other important areas of need are skills such as carpentry, electricity, automotive, 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!