MEDFORD, Ore. — The Medford Railroad Park was packed on Sunday for Mother’s Day, but park officials say they are in desperate need of volunteers.
More than 35,000 people visit the park every year, but its volunteer base said it needs a new generation of volunteers to keep Southern Oregon Live Steamers, one of the five clubs who call the railroad park home, alive.
Most volunteers are in their 60’s or older. They said they just can’t work like they used too. The park currently operates six fully-functional locomotives. It also has restored cabooses, a steam train, and museum. People who choose to volunteer their time will under-go training.
“An experienced conductor will ride with you… you will also get a rule book, and the rules are basically common sense… and so after several trips around you’ll be familiar with everything and pretty soon you are a conductor,” said Tony Johnson, Southern Oregon Steamers treasurer.
If enough volunteers don’t step forward, the park said it’s unlikely it would have to shut down for good, but there would be fewer trains running, which would lead to longer lines and wait times.
The Medford Railroad Park is considered a city park, but it’s not funded by the city. It operates solely on a volunteers and donations.
The park is open every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month April through October.
Anyone interested in volunteering should visit the park’s website at www.southernoregonlivesteamers.com and click on the “contact” link to fill out an application. Volunteers must be 13-years-old to volunteer, 16-years-old with a valid driver’s license to drive the train. All volunteers must also be members of the Southern Oregon Live Steamers Club. To join its $25 for a single person, or $35 for a family.