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 Post subject: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:18 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/28/styl ... ments.html

Quote:
Many of today’s re-enactors were born as the last Civil War veterans were dying, and grew up amid the celebrations and re-enactments of the centennial that lasted from 1961 to 1965. But the heyday of re-enacting was the ’90s, during another moment of national fascination with the Civil War. . . .

But in the last decade or so, the crowds at large scale re-enactments have dwindled. Longtime hobbyists are aging out and retiring — soldiers in their 50s and 60s filled much of the camp at Gettysburg — and younger people aren’t marching onto mock battlefields in nearly the same numbers.

Enthusiasts cite a number of factors. Video games are to blame, some grouse, while others attribute diminishing interest to the rising expense of gear. A reproduction Civil War rifle alone can cost more than $1,000.

But many are more introspective about it. In the 1980s and ’90s, “the whole tone of the country was different,” said Thomas Downes, 68, a retired machinist from Cleveland, who has been re-enacting for the Union side for 38 years.

“Up until the last five or 10 years, the social causes of the war did not come into what we do,” he said. “We were paying tribute to the fighting man.”


Railroad history buffs aren't the only ones watching the interest in their "hobby" of history preservation wane over the years. Civil war re-enactors are facing the same problems--aging participation dying off, not enough young people interested.

I'm hearing similar stories from other "living history" groups, from British/Scottish "regiments" to ethnic/cultural musical groups.


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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 8:23 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
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I've seen precisely the same phenomenon described for large steam-locomotive experience -- the aging-out of the last generation that learned effectively from those people who experienced big steam in regular service, or designed it firsthand.

That can be overcome definitively by organizations like Kelly's, or a different way by the 'new' Union Pacific approach. But the magnitude of what slips away unnoticed might be enormous. Part of the horror is that we won't know entirely what's been lost.

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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 11:31 am 
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Overmod wrote:
But the magnitude of what slips away unnoticed might be enormous. Part of the horror is that we won't know entirely what's been lost.


The people who made the history.

Hamilton, the Ketterings, Dilworth, and Ephraim at EMD.

Egbert, Blunt and Tromel at Alco.

People that were all still around during the time that our Railroad History organizations existed.

PC

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Last edited by PCook on Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:54 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:00 pm
Posts: 802
Location: NJ
Maybe this has it's basis in the fact that many schools dropped history yeas ago and therefore the students have no interest or desire to learn. Add the lack of desire by many governments large and small to preserve what history is out there, and you have what we are facing today. Many (not all) of the young people today want to play video games and work on computers. Restoring or maintaining history can be dirty and take too much time. Sad but true.

Later!
Mr. Ed


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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:55 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:25 pm
Posts: 255
Part of the problem can be attributed to the declining birth rate, which is below the replacement level. We just don't have as many people coming up as we did before. Also, so many of the people in our area are fairly new arrivals from other countries who simply don't have the same interest in battlefield re-enactments, old rail equipment preservation, etc. It's not part of their history and they don't have the same interest in such things as we do.


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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:03 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2552
As with most things, there are many factors at play.

I suspect that cultural changes are the biggest factor. Guns used to be a much more common part of life 40 years ago. Not old west style shootouts, but for hunting and target practice and the like. People were used to them. Hunting was common, we had gun safety classes at school, though without live ammo. Presented by the game warden, they were pretty popular.

Movies were different too. Remember "cowboys and indians?. War movies? John Wayne? They were common and people watched them since it was something they could relate to. Granted, none of my family was old enough to be in the civil war, but my grandfathers had been in World War 2. They had first hand experience of that sort of thing, and could relate.

These days guns are far more controversial, and not welcome in many areas. When's the last time you saw a western, even on TV? I suppose someplace in those 600 channels there must be re-runs, but I'm pretty sure Gunsmoke, the Lone Ranger, Wagon Train, Maverick, Bronco, the Rifleman, and the Virginian (Sadly, not about the railroad) aren't top rated show these days.

Popular culture reflects people's taste. Maybe somebody should start a "Deadliest Catch Express" with train rides to the local fishing harbor?


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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:06 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:07 pm
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Location: Leicester, MA.
I steadfastly believe that the decline could at bare minimum be stemmed through how we portray our history... Take it from one of the young people with a love of history that my contemporaries from high school couldn't stand history not because of what had happened, but because it was presented in a cold, analytical and inhuman manner. If you change your method of presentation, bring the human factor to the forefront and try and present it in a manner that is easily understood while maintaining accuracy of the information.

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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:08 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
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Quote:
Video games are to blame, some grouse, while others attribute diminishing interest to the rising expense of gear. A reproduction Civil War rifle alone can cost more than $1,000.


Then you need the rest of the gear. Along with some place to store it. If you live in an apartment that rifle could be a problem. Even if not, where do you put all that stuff. How do you pay for it? How do you haul it around? A lot of young folks these days don't have cars, or if they do, they're small fuel efficient ones. Not exactly friendly to hauling tent poles.

By comparison, a video game is cheap, arguably more realistic (depending on the game, I presume there are some with accurate representations of the historic battle fields) and can be done at your convenience.


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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:11 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
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daylight4449 wrote:
I steadfastly believe that the decline could at bare minimum be stemmed through how we portray our history... Take it from one of the young people with a love of history that my contemporaries from high school couldn't stand history not because of what had happened, but because it was presented in a cold, analytical and inhuman manner. If you change your method of presentation, bring the human factor to the forefront and try and present it in a manner that is easily understood while maintaining accuracy of the information.


It's also something most can't relate to. I recall that even World War II seemed to be a long time ago when I was in school, even though in actuality it was only 30 years or so in the past. My grandfather fought in the war, but it was a subject he avoided talking about except on very rare occasion. For me, it seemed long ago, and the Civil War seemed like it was centuries past, on a par with ancient Rome. I suspect that today it's even worse.


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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:34 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:07 pm
Posts: 1041
Location: Leicester, MA.
Quote:
Enthusiasts cite a number of factors. Video games are to blame, some grouse, while others attribute diminishing interest to the rising expense of gear. A reproduction Civil War rifle alone can cost more than $1,000.


See, I don't know if I could blame a video game... I look at it as another medium that can introduce people to history. Out of everything, Battlefield 1's opening was by far the best show of the depravity of trench warfare. It struck a chord not because of what it was, but what it was helping me visualize. When it comes to something like World War One we read about all the death and destruction that was wrought in France and Belgium during the four years of trench warfare but many of us can't easily visualize what the written word is sometimes trying to get across... There are plenty of other stories throughout history that could be told in such a dynamic manner. The saga of the Bismarck comes to mind. Her initial victory over the British in the North Sea and her brutal defeat are another that's easily read about but very hard for some of us to visualize. A lucky shot blowing the Hood to smithereens? The pictures of her wreck don't do the event justice in my mind. The absolute pounding that Bismarck took when cornered by Nelson and Prince of Wales at the battleship equivalent of point blank in the Bay of Biscay a few days later? Again, it's hard to really picture because of the lack of a visual frame of reference. The sheer loss of life on both sides of the battlelines in those few days? It's even harder to picture the hell it was for the sailors on both sides to keep those ships fighting. Prince of Wales' kept having issues with her turrets, and went out with civilian contractors on board that had been working on the guns. Bismarck was leaking fuel and had flooding it was contending from the Denmark Straights on to her eventual death. Admittedly it's an easier question to answer when it comes down to war, but it's a line of thinking that might be worth exploring for us in rail preservation...

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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 2:06 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:21 pm
Posts: 356
Location: Danbury, CT
There was a revival of sorts in Civil War reenacting with the 150th anniversaries of the battles. My unit (1st Texas Infantry, H Company) fell victim and disbanded after the 150th anniversaries due to lack of interest and “real life” conflicts. C’est la vie. But hey, how can you really expect the 1st Texas to survive in Connecticut in the first place! Not many lining up to be Johnny Reb up here.

I’m finding it very difficult to spend time volunteering at RMNE these days and not for lack of interest or desire. When I started, I was single and had all the time in the world. Now, I’m married with one child and another on the way and oh yeah, I’m a homeowner. Spending a day at the RR depends on celestial alignment, work schedule, child care, and let’s not forget my wife’s mood. It’s going to be a while before I can be the volunteer I want to be again, but family and home life comes first.

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 Post subject: !I
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 2:14 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
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Quote:
Enthusiasts cite a number of factors. Video games are to blame, some grouse, while others attribute diminishing interest to the rising expense of gear. A reproduction Civil War rifle alone can cost more than $1,000.


I hope someday soon we can put these kinds of statements to rest. Why? Here are three reasons:

1. By saying these things, the "old guard" shows their deep misunderstanding of what youth want. In today's world, this is a big turn-off for younger folks.

2. The video game argument is a crock of #*@#. Anyone who knows today's gaming world knows that the hyper-realistic, fact-based games encourage learning. From gaming alone, my 15 year old son and his friends have a much greater interest in WWI and WWII than my friends and I did way back when.

3. The cost argument is also a crock. A good gaming PC is at least $1500, not to mention the games, DLC's etc. Even if you are just a console player, the cost is quite high. Also, just for giggles, remember that the top gaming demographic right now is 25-40, college educated males with higher than average household income. They aren't all teens, by any means.

So what do we need? Better outreach. I am quite familiar with a certain Lima restoration project where the bulk of the volunteer shop group are folks under 30. How did that happen? Good management, attractive outreach, positive environment.

Rob


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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:57 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 11:07 am
Posts: 552
PCook wrote:
Overmod wrote:
But the magnitude of what slips away unnoticed might be enormous. Part of the horror is that we won't know entirely what's been lost.


The people who made the history.

Hamilton

PC


Speaking of which, if people have lost an interest in history, why are tickets for the Broadway show Hamilton so hard to get ??????

Bob H


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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:30 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:14 am
Posts: 214
One thing I have noticed is that it is not video games or phones that are the issue. I think the interest in history is still there and very much alive. The thing that I see is that the commitment is not there. Sometimes by choice, sometimes not. The days of the 9-5 job mon-fri are pretty well gone. Everybody I know my age and younger works inconsistent or abnormal hours. Most people I know regularly work Saturdays and/or Sundays. That makes it hard to schedule or commit to projects.

Some choose not to commit becsuse they want to (here comes a dreaded buzz word) "experience" as much as possible in life. Why dedicate your life to one hobby when you can experience all kinds of different places and things and post about it on facebook and such? It is a strange situation we have here.


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 Post subject: Re: More Declining Interest in History Preservation
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:31 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:11 pm
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I have declined to volunteer at a few organizations due to fear of over-commitment. I have many interests and a family and a house that needs attention, so I can't spend every Saturday with a group. But I am willing to give the third Saturday each month, for example. For many organizations that's just not good enough, especially if there's any type of training or certification involved.


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