Railroad museum on the right track | TheUnion.com

Railroad museum on the right track

Special to The Union

What is your mission?

The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum’s mission is to acquire, document, restore, preserve and organize information pertaining to Nevada County’s transportation history in accordance with agreements with the Nevada City and the Nevada County Historical Society.

What is your yearly budget, and how many paid employees do you have?

Our operating budget relies on gift shop sales and donations, therefore, is limited – averaging about $17,000 per year. Some building maintenance costs are included in the city budget. There are no employee costs as the museum is totally staffed by volunteers who donate about 15,000 hours a year.

What is your nonprofit’s history and who is your audience?

A museum’s audience is for all ages who want to enjoy, understand and learn from history. The museum’s history goes back to 1983 with the establishment of the Transportation Museum Division of the Nevada County Historical Society.

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Its first major goal and success was the securing of NCNGRR’s Engine #5 which traveled to Colfax from 1876 to 1942. Until the museum’s grand opening in May 2003, members sought, acquired and restored transportation artifacts.

The idea to build a museum surfaced in 2000 at a meeting of Historical Society and city officials. What resulted was a cooperative land venture with the Northern Queen Inn, TDK Semi-Conductor, Hooper & Weaver, Inc., and the Bureau of Land Management.

Next followed the building and shop funded by a grant secured by Nevada City through the Nevada County Transportation Commission, along with other state agencies and donations.

List your biggest achievements.

Major acquisitions, in addition to Engine #5, are the Umbrella Top Pleasure Buggy, circa 1890; Nevada County’s first car – the 1901 Jeffery steam automobile; film of aviation pioneer Lyman Gilmore; many exhibit areas including the Chicago Park Station; and a shop addition. Very important to the collection are the 10-passenger railbus and the circa 1885 steam locomotive thanks to volunteers’ construction. Visitors are welcome to visit the shop where construction and restoration are always underway.

List your biggest challenges.

Funding to keep our preservation and restoration work going while working to add to the museum’s resources. Making the museum known to the public is an ongoing goal and challenge.

What is your No. 1 short-term goal?

Greatly needed for visitors is an addition to the museum building which will house archives for research and an area for showing various films, videos, etc.

What is your No. 1 long-term goal?

Of ongoing importance are a variety of projects including a platform/steps revision, stabilizing a coach, work on Engine #5’s cab, a gondola, S.P. flatcar and West Side Lumber Company parts car. Maintaining a library with data base is also ongoing.

What is your major fundraiser?

Our annual yard sale and December Santa event contribute to our budget, and grant applications are an ongoing effort.

How can people help?

Become a member, by donations of funds and equipment and volunteering. Throughout the year, the museum’s newsletter, ‘Headlamp,” publicizes happenings and needs.

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