Skip to main content

Railroad preservation advocacy group launches podcast to reckon with industry challenges

February 14th, 2024 – Ahead of the Torch, an 8,000-member group of industrial heritage advocates working to rescue and preserve railroad history, has announced a new podcast intended as a tool-kit for rail preservation in the 21st Century.

Helmed by industry professionals Rob Davis, TJ Gaffney, and Kelly Lynch, the podcast and its accompanying website are aimed at creating a comprehensive resource to arm the industry with tactical advice and insight through roundtable discussions, interviews, and influential content meant to break down barriers, unify conversations, and elevate pressing topics facing the rail preservation industry. Learn more at and subscribe at

Everyone knows what’s wrong in our industry, but the conversations about how to fix anything are fractured,” said Kelly Lynch, executive producer for the series. “The pandemic laid bare the inadequacies not only in our industry but in our tutelage and stewardship. It’s common to pile on when we see failures, but the truth is, there is no Rail Preservation 101 and few useful resources that can be learned from or observed outside of the aftermath of something harmful.”

The series kicks off with an hour-long discussion revisiting the Top 10 Rules of Railway Preservation, which were originally penned in 2018 by Jim Wrinn, then editor of Trains Magazine.

“Jim’s rules are a perfect foundation to launch what we hope will be not just entertaining, but instructional and tactical – something you can apply right away. The best lessons need not be the ones we only learn through strife,” stated Lynch.

Ahead of the Torch was first produced by Rob Davis in 1992 as an online journal charting railroad and industrial preservation, but its reach and impact were magnified through the efforts of TJ Gaffney, Kim Lazar, Madison Kirkman, and others working in the industry once it became a Facebook group. Amid the 2018 eviction of the Indiana Transportation Museum, its membership soared to over 5,000 contributors and became a hotbed for discussion and salvation efforts ever since.

“Social media and dedicated forums are great for in-the-moment action, but conversations are easily buried and lost to time, there is no repository for this knowledge,” said TJ Gaffney, co-host. “We have a unique world where hobbyists and professionals are all vying for the same outcomes but with drastically different methods and very few honest conversations. Because our industry is so packed with emotion, it becomes difficult to professionalize or evolve. Many groups, collections, and museums are at risk, and we hope these conversations can be a lighthouse for anyone setting sail.”

“We elected to go this route because these podcasts, which will be featured primarily on YouTube, are more permanent than a keynote at a convention or a blog post,” explained Rob Davis, creator of Ahead of the Torch.

Upcoming episodes will include conversations on railroad insurance, marketing, fundraising, leadership, and other relevant topics. Production started in 2020 with episodes recorded periodically throughout the last three years.

We don’t pretend that this will be the savior of an industry, but more like a study guide for our counterparts, regardless of their mission, vision, or experience level,” said Lynch.

Leave a Reply