Tag Archives: museums

“Don’t Say That About The Steamboat”

Photo by the author. Copyright (C) 2014 by Tony Held, all rights reserved.


Censorship crops up in the oddest places.  One such instance involved a museum newsletter I once was a volunteer editor for.

From 1999 to 2001 I served as an editor for a newsletter called “Steamboatin’ News” (later called “Steamboat and Trolley”).  This publication covered the Lake Minnetonka Division of the Minnesota Transportation Museum, which operated a historic steamboat named the Minnehaha and a streetcar line.

While drafting a news summary about the Minnehaha for an edition, I mentioned a minor accident the steamboat had suffered.  Shortly after that edition went to press, I was politely called on the carpet and informed, in essence “Don’t say that about the steamboat.”  The reason cited for this restriction was that copies of the newsletter were distributed to various local organizations such as chambers of commerce.  If bad news about the steamboat got out, it would make the museum look bad. Needless to say, when I next began compiling news about the Lake Minnetonka Division for the next edition, I did not include any news that was even remotely bad.

In retrospect, I’ve realized that the restriction was in place not just out of concern for the museum’s image but because local support for the museum would dry up if the organization looked unsafe.  Now that many museums posts copies of their newsletter online, I am sure a ban on reporting bad news is imposed on the editors of those publications lest those museums lose support too.

Will The 328 Roll Again?

Northern Pacific Class S-10 4-6-0 328 rests inside the pole barn at the Minnesota Transportation Museum’s Jackson Street roundhouse sans headlight on Saturday, August 25th, 2012. Her tender was parked out back. Photo by the author.


Restored to operation by the Minnesota Transportation Museum between 1976-1981 after being on display in the city of Stillwater since around 1950 thanks to the intervention of MTM predecessor Minnesota Railfans Association, the little NP ten-wheeler has roamed everywhere from the St. Croix River valley to southern Minnesota and many more places.   Her last regular service was on the MTM’s Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway from 1992 to 1999.   I first saw her in action there in 1998 during “Steamfest In The Valley” which saw two Soo Line steamers pay a visit: 2-8-2 1003 and 4-6-2 2719.   The grand finale: a steam triple header using all three engines!  (The year before 1003 had visited and doubleheaded with 328 too.)  Taken out of service for overhaul, the 328 has fallen into the ranks of many a steam locomotive waiting in limbo to return to steam.

Will the 328 roll again?   I’m afraid your guess is as good as mine.   Officially, the MTM says she is still under restoration; rumor mills have been rife that it will only be cosmetic due to costs, a crying shame if true.

It was still good to see her again, though.

Note: for more information about the NP 328, go here:     http://www.mtmuseum.org/jsr/roster/np328.php