Charles A. Anderson
We have been asked by Boy Scouts of America to revise and rewrite the national Railroading Merit Badge Handbook.
After this merit badge came close to being discontinued a little over two years ago -- ostensibly due to lack of interest among young people -- the Boy Scouts, headquartered in Irving, Texas, have now decided to breathe new life into this award. At last summer's two-week National Jamboree in Virginia attended by over 20,000 scouts no less than 2222 boys completed the nine "stations" in qualifying for railroading. It was the most popular merit badge challenge along the midway with its switching contests and daily awards of HO-guage Acela trainset prizes to the winners.
Next month at Ames, Iowa an additional 1200 candidates are signed up for a special Railroad Weekend in that state.
Where the old handbook emphasizes model railroading the revised edition will make modeling an option to riding an actual train including how to read a time table, plan a trip, purchase tickets and observe safety around RR track rights-of-way and at crossings ["Dad! Please don't race that train to the crossing!"]
A brief history of how railroads came into being will also be included; the advantages of steel wheels on steel rails as opposed to rubber tires on pavement -- called "rolling resistance." In an energy conscious time with highway congestion getting worse by the day, the many advantages of rail as a viable transportation mode for carrying people and freight are just beginning to be realized by the traveling and shipping public. Railroad folks have known this all along.
Various rail organizations have agreed to assist with the new handbook's editorial content: The Ass'n. of American Railroads, Burlington Northern/Santa Fe RR, Norfolk Southern, Federal Railroad Administration, CSX Transportation, railroad libraries in Missouri, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, the National Park Service (Steamtown), Amtrak and Smithsonian Institution in Washington among others.
But input is always welcome from any knowledgeable source.
Reaching the tens of thousands of young people -- girls included -- including job opportunities within the RR industry, is seen as crucial to the future of railroading in all its many forms. That is the theme underlying this project.
Besides...railroads are fun!BSA/Railroading Project
<Malcolm T Taylor [firstname.lastname@example.org] March 21, 2002 11:12 AM>