I hear the train a comin’...
The sun rose on another day of adventure for the First Iowa Division of NARCOA on Monday, October 10. A group of seven railroad motorcars departed from the historical Murdo MacKenzie train station at first light and journeyed the lonely DSRC tracks to Belvidere and back. Chances are that you have caught sight of a line of NORCOA motorcars cruising along a railroad track near you. If you were ever sparked with curiosity regarding the journey of these railcars or how you might get involved, the answer can be found in the following information courtesy of http://www.narcoa.org/newsite/aboutnarcoa.htm.
Founded in 1980, “NARCOA” is a non-profit group dedicated to the preservation and the safe, legal operation of railroad equipment historically used for maintenance of way. The key phrase in this description is “safe, legal operation.” NARCOA members operate their own privately owned railroad motorcars on railroads throughout the United States and Canada during railroad-sanctioned NARCOA excursions. Members travel through some of the most picturesque areas of the North American continent. Excursions vary from one-day, 25 mile trips between two towns to multi-day, 1000 mile trips covering several states or provinces! These excursions are organized by NARCOA excursion coordinators. All excursions are approved by and coordinated with participating railroads.
Railroad motorcars or ‘speeders’ were used by the railroads to inspect the many miles of track for defects and to handle track maintenance. Speeders have been phased out by the railroads in favor of hy-rail vehicles, which are standard road vehicles with retractable guide wheels that can operate on road or rail. Rail fans bought the scrap speeders and organized NARCOA in the mid 1980’s. Running a speeder costs considerably less than boating or golfing although some think it’s a hot, noisy and smelly hobby! Some members also own and operate more modern hy-rail vehicles.
NARCOA has over 1,700 members worldwide. Membership in the association is open to anyone. No person is barred from membership due to race, religion, nationality, disability or sex. NARCOA welcomes everyone and it is easy to join. To obtain membership information, visit the "How to join NARCOA" page on the NARCOA web site ( www.narcoa.org ) where you can download a membership form. You can join on-line through the web site or by mail. The web site has links to membership info, planned motorcar excursions, member advertisements, and to the bi-monthly Setoff magazine. In fact, the primary method of communication within the group is through this web site.
There are three ways to find out about excursions:
1. Our bi-monthly publication, “The Setoff”
2. Flyers sent by mail to members
3.The NARCOA web site http://www.narcoa.org.
At excursions, you will meet people from all walks of life. You will see families. There will be friends who met through this hobby. You won't see alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs. Their possession will get you booted off the railroad and out of NARCOA. Maintaining a good safety record is necessary to continue operating on railroads. This not only includes operation of motorcars, but good behavior around trestles, structures and operating trains. We operate because of the trust that railroad management has in us. This trust has come through professional behavior and goodwill developed over many years.