Re: Whatever Happened To Accuracy?


Shawn Beckert wrote:
That said, however, I've got to ask: Do ANY of these places
bother to research their equipment? Sure, I understand it's
mostly volunteers that make these museums go, but don't they
have people on staff that check into the history of their cars?
Is it all really just a question of time and money? If they had
the money to paint the cars in the first place, why not get it
right the first time? The first two photos are at the Museum Of
Transport in St. Louis. They of all people ought to know about
railroad history (I don't know why I'm saying that, probably
because they're so large).
It's obvious at most railroad museums that they don't really care all
that much about accuracy. And indeed, they often have much more pressing
issues: keeping the fan trips running (with both staff and equipment),
staffing the gift shop, etc. etc. A number of them around the country have
deliberately (when they knew better) repainted equipment for a "favorite
railroad" even though said road never owned that piece of equipment or in
some cases, anything resembling that equipment. And we all know of the
imaginary or "fun" schemes used by museums, mostly for locomotives.
As anyone who has worked as a volunteer at a rail museum knows, a maximum
of one visitor in a hundred knows a blessed thing about railroads. Thus the
common remark that museum workers would have for Shawn: "nobody gives a
Someone will no doubt lumber Shawn with the usual rebuttal: "Whyncha go
out there and help?" This is a variation of what we learned in third grade,
if you can't say something nice, don't say anything. But Shawn is quite
entitled to notice that accuracy is not being served, at St. Louis (hardly
a paragon among museums, BTW), or at many other places.
About all you can do is offer to provide information. If, like Bob
Walker, they tell you that "nobody gives a s--t" you'll just have to shrug
it off.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2942 Linden Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@...
Publishers of books on railroads and on Western history

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