Due to our celebration of the Day Out with Thomas, the museum's collection and grounds are closed to the public outside of the event times from March 1st until March 12th. Bring your children, come out and enjoy this fantastic family friendly event!
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum offers several opportunities for visitors and members to take part as a crewmember on Museum trains.
For General Members who desire to become an active part of the Museum's Operating Crew, we encourage those interested to call the museum, or stop by on a weekend. The Museum depends on the dedication of volunteer crewmembers built from within its general membership to operate its trains as part of its endeavor to educate our visitors.
For adult visitors, who do not wish to be members, we offer a Train Crewmember For-A-Day Program providing anywhere from a half-hour to an all-day adventure at the controls of historic railroad equipment.
The Museum also offers a Junior Trainman Program for children under age 18 who are interested in learning about operating trains and railroading in general.
To become part of the operating crew, it is first necessary to become a Museum member. Insurance considerations require that only members of the Museum may operate our equipment.
Interested volunteers will learn the basics of railroad operation at the Museum. Attendees will spend approximately two hours in classroom instruction covering the Museum's Operating Rules including whistle/horn signals, hand signals, railroad safety, and operating procedures.
The remainder of the class is conducted outside, in and around the Museum's cars, equipment, and right-of-way, where railroad terminology is discussed and the physical properties of the railroad are explained, including coupling cars, brakes, switches, and more.
After completion of the course, attendees may take the class materials home to review and study. When they feel ready, attendees can schedule to take the Operating Rules Written Exam. If attendees obtain a passing grade on the exam, they will gain the title of Trainman, become an official crew member.
Upon becoming a Trainman, new crewmembers can assist with operations at the Museum and begin further training in the various positions.
New Trainmen will first be instructed on the operation of the "Link" Train. Trainmen will work alongside qualified crewmembers and learn the mechanics of operating a small scale steam locomotive on compressed air during regular train operations. This training will also familiarize new Trainmen on the general operating procedures at the Museum and day-to-day activities.
Operating the Link Train will teach the principles of safety, responsibility, judgement, and equipment care, that will be required for advancement to standard gauge operations. At the same time, learning on this relatively small scale equipment ensures that any errors, mistakes, or accidents during training are not exacerbated as they might be with standard gauge operations.
In addition, the steam locomotive is perhaps the most difficult piece of equipment to learn to operate smoothly and effectively and thus will provide an excellent base for further advancement. To some, it is the most difficult piece of equipment to master at the Museum.
After sufficient training, Trainmen will gain the title of Link Engineer and will have the authority to operate the Link Train on their own. Link Engineers will be monitored for a period of time before advancement to standard gauge equipment can begin.
Concurrent with Link Training, Trainmen who have demonstrated responsibility and adequate knowledge of the Museum's Operating Procedures may be trained by qualified crewmembers in the Fireman position on Cab Rides and other standard gauge operations.
After sufficient training, Trainmen will gain the title of Fireman and will have the authority to act as Fireman on their own on standard gauge trains.
After acting as Fireman for a sufficient period, training may begin in the positions of Engineer and Conductor. Written and practical exams may be required for each position.
Engineer training is engine specific and qualifications will be issued per engine, and further, for specific operations (i.e., cab rides, coach rides, switching, etc.)
Engineer trainees will work alongside qualified crewmembers to learn the operating and physical characteristics of each engine, including handling and braking, as well as safety and dealing with emergency and unusual situations.
Conductor trainees will learn the groundwork required in making and breaking trains, moving equipment, and working effectively with groups of crewmembers.
Qualified Conductors hold the highest rank on Museum trains; collecting tickets, attending to the needs of passengers, guarding the rear of equipment during reverse movements, and control train movements.
While it is possible to become qualified in various positions without participating in the care and maintenance of equipment, it is strongly preferred that crewmembers assist in these activities wherever possible.
Engines may only be started by crewmembers qualified by the Mechanical Department and specific training is arranged for each piece of equipment.
All mechanical work is arranged through the Chief Mechanical Officer, and all crewmembers and members are invited to assist wherever their skills may be useful. The Museum depends on volunteers to help maintain our collection.
Becoming an active crew member may be considered a free "bonus" for members who volunteer time and/or services at the Museum and is not a privilege of membership. In return for the opportunity to become and remain an active crewmember, we offer a free museum membership to the individual who volunteers his or her time.
There is no defined contribution requirement, but we aim to ensure that the program is fair and crewmembers have an equal opportunity to operate equipment given consideration to personal schedule, physical ability, and level of commitment to the Museum.
Our members' skills are as varied as their interests and we understand that not every member is mechanically inclined, and we also understand that time is always a premium resource. We offer to teach people the following areas, and some examples of crewmember contributions are:
For members who may not desire to actively contribute and participate as a permanent crewmember, but desire to operate our equipment on a one time basis, we offer a Train Crewmember For-A-Day Program.