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Stephen Jacobs Named 2023 Volunteer Of The Year

Stephen Jacobs Named 2023 Volunteer Of The Year

Posted on February 17, 2023

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is pleased to announce Stephen Jacobs as volunteer of the year for 2023.  Stephen was selected by the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s board of directors from among the Museum’s corps of more than 150 active volunteers for this honor.

A member and volunteer since 2018, Stephen was introduced to the Museum by the late R. Neil Gruber, a former co-worker and Museum member and volunteer.  Stephen, a native of Cochranville, Pennsylvania, lived a number of places growing up as a self-described Army brat.  He continued those travels all over the United States and in places like Japan, Germany, Panama, England, Turkey and Belgium during his many years in the Air National Guard and as a senior designer for Sperry New Holland.

A Penn State graduate in engineering, Stephen performed ground work on aircraft for the Air National Guard and designed small square balers, combines, tractors and other equipment for Sperry New Holland.  As a Museum volunteer, he spends two days a week in the library and archives, primarily doing technical scanning of large scale blueprints, drawings and other historic documents and photographs.  He also answers research requests and catalogues items.

One of the Museum collections Stephen works on is that of the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania-based Vulcan Iron Works, the third largest producer of industrial and mining locomotives around the turn of the 20th century.  The almost 75,000 artifacts in just this one historic collection have been exposed to significant smoke, water, age and other environmental damage.

“I enjoy my volunteer work at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania,” Stephen says.  “It keeps me active and gives me an opportunity to use my mechanical skills and experience to digitize and save these railroading artifacts for posterity.  The Museum’s own restoration shop and others like the Georgia Museum of Agriculture can then use them for their current preservation projects.  It becomes kind of a labor of love.”

A resident of Lititz, Pennsylvania, Stephen is a lifelong model train enthusiast, with a large Lionel collection.  He also volunteers at the East Broad Top Railroad, and would like to take a few months off in the future to visit railroad museums in the western United States.

“Stephen’s work in the library and archives is greatly appreciated,” says Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania volunteer/program coordinator Elizabeth Myers.  “His willingness to dedicate hours of time to improving the quality of individual images has resulted in the preservation of railroading history that might otherwise have been lost. His consistency and knowledge are a great asset to the Museum and its collections.”

Stephen will be formally recognized as the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s volunteer of the year by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission at a ceremony in Harrisburg in the spring and during the Museum’s annual Members Day banquet at the Conestoga Country Club in Lancaster on Saturday, September 30, 2023.

Individuals who would like to learn about the Museum’s many exciting and varied volunteer opportunities are invited to contact volunteer/program coordinator Elizabeth Myers.