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2009 in Review

The year 2009 was all about DCNRHS people—officers, members, friends, guests, railroaders, passengers and volunteers. All of these folks made our year a great success.

Our annual banquet in April featuring speaker Tom Dixon from the C&O Historical Society, was also when several Chapter members were recognized for distinguished service, including Bent Spike Awards to Michael Gingerich, chapter webmaster, and Teresa Renner and Alex Mayes for long time Chapter involvement; the Bernard H. Gallagher Dover Harbor Award to Mike Martin, ticket agent; and the Henry V.A.. Bielstein Member of the Year Award to Michael Karlik, newsletter editor.

This year we continued having our third Friday meeting programs in alternating months on both sides of the ‘Washington Beltway’ at the restored B&O Silver Spring MD station or at the George Washington Masonic Memorial across from Alexandria VA’s Amtrak station. In July, thanks to Karl Scheetz, we also took in the view of passing trains from atop of the Masonic Memorial.

DCNRHS awarded its 2009 G. Lawson Clark Memorial scholarship to the NRHS Rail Camp at Steamtown to Melissa Bauer. Educational outreach included talks by Kevin Tankersley on Pullman Porters to a visiting high school group and by Dean Edmonds to the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society on operating a historic Pullman car today, as well as Jim Lilly’s work supporting scout railroad merit badges. Our newsletter, The Timetable, carried lots of DCNRHS news and began publishing historic photos from the Chapter’s Richard D. Kehm collection. The Martin O’Rourke Memorial Library, led by Erik Delfino, reached the ‘mile marker’ of over 800 books cataloged at the library housed in the Bowie Railroad Museum; work continues. The Library group also spearheaded a mid-summer yard sale at our Dover Park facility, to sell off excess books, magazines and railroadiana which had been donated to the Chapter. In addition to our web pages www.dcnrhs.org, www.doverharbor.com, and www.railroadlibrary.org, we are now also represented on the internet as seller DCNRHS on eBay, bringing our Chapter sales operations nationwide exposure.

Time was spent in the summer planning for the return to operation of two coaches given to the Chapter by MARC--- these two cars were former Pennsylvania Railroad 21 roomette sleepers Franklin Inn and Collinsville Inn. At year’s end, they were awaiting impending movement from MARC’s Brunswick MD facility to a shop to begin the work.

During the year, the Chapter’s flagship Dover Harbor plied the rails on charters and trips in the East, to the Midwest, as far as Denver, and concluded the year with a trip as part of the AAPRCO all-private car James L. Larson Florida Special which included rare mileage over the Florida East Coast Railway and a visit to Savannah. As always, our professional team of service and mechanical volunteers kept our passengers safe and smiling.

Nineteen volunteers hosted nearly 1,500 guests while Dover Harbor was on display to show what first class Pullman rail travel was like in the 1930’s as part of Amtrak’s National Train Day festivities in Washington Union Station in May. A few weeks earlier, at that same station we also hosted an Amtrak Employees Day in appreciation for their hard work and excellent care of the car when operating on Amtrak trains.

Including those on Dover Harbor, twelve varied Chapter trips were hosted by the dozen members of the Trip Committee and carried 225 passengers across 8,354+ miles of railroads in the United States.

The year’s greatest collaboration of people was the creation of a professional video on Dover Harbor. Titled "Travel a Legend: Pullman Dover Harbor," much effort was spent with multiple camera shoots occurring from/on a number of different locations, angles, times and days. On one August Saturday, Dover Park siding looked like Hollywood East as film crews, Chapter members and volunteers from the Art Deco Society of Washington came together to recreate historic and present-day scenes of Pullman rail car travel. The video will premiere and be available in early 2010.

DCNRHS reached its 65th year in 2009, but is in no way ready to retire. This year marked the beginning of a strategic planning process initiated by President Jim Lilly, for revitalization and reinvention of our group. As we look ahead, people continue to be important in our railroad history community. We look forward to making strides towards the plan’s first results in 2010.