Railroads & Locomotives Tourist Railroad Profiles Young Guns in Preservation: Mark Huber (Hyce)

Young Guns in Preservation: Mark Huber (Hyce)

By Lucas Iverson | March 16, 2023

| Last updated on May 14, 2024

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Portrait shot of crewman in front of a steam locomotive. Explore the different avenues for museums and tourist railroads in the young guns in preservation with Mark Huber from the Colorado Railroad Museum. David Smith photo

At age 28, Mark Huber has an interesting dual-facet nature in rail preservation. With a day job at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Colo., he wears different hats in the restoration, maintenance and operation of their historic equipment. On the flip side of the coin, Huber goes by the name of “Hyce” on YouTube, producing videos discussing all things railroading while racking up more than 50,000 subscribers.

How did you get involved in rail preservation?

Mark Huber: My grandpa, “Choo Choo Bob” as we called him, got me into trains. Many who read Model Railroader will know him as Bob Longnecker, who invented PFM and PBL sound systems which were the first for model trains. I grew up getting to play with them which were all Rio Grande narrow gauge because that’s what he loved other than the Pennsylvania Railroad.

It came time to go to college and I knew that I wanted to get into engineering. The Colorado School of Mines in Golden ended up being a good fit. I also knew that (Denver & Rio Grande Western 2-8-0) No. 346 was in Golden, and I grew up playing with the model of that locomotive. I got accepted into Mines for my 4-year bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and waited until the second semester to get into the museum stuff. I began volunteering at the Colorado Railroad Museum and got sucked in.

As a young preservationist at age 28, what have you found to be the most challenging aspect in the industry?

Mark Huber: For me, it tended to be the people politics. This is not a super fun subject to talk about, but it is kind of the reality of these different organizations and places. There are a lot of interesting personalities out there with folks who maybe you get along with and maybe you don’t, whether in positions of power or whatnot. That can really influence your kind of experience and trying to get involved.

What’s been the most rewarding for you so far?

Mark Huber: Making an impact and being able to apply skills in a way that I know is impactful is what gives me the best reward at the museum. On the YouTube side of things, it is that folks have actually came out and told me that they’re volunteering and that I’m seeing a new drive of volunteers that is happening across the states because of the videos. When I went to last year’s Great Western Steam Up at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, I met five or six people who said, “Hey, I started volunteering here, I volunteered at wherever, or I looked into a job at this railroad because I saw your YouTube videos and I thought it would be cool, and I’m loving it.” I literally was just making videos because I thought it was fun, I was passionate, and it seemed like some people would be interested in hearing me talk about trains. Seeing the positive reactions was like “oh, this is great!” I love making these videos, but to know that it is getting people involved in something that I care about so deeply and I’m very passionate about, it’s one of the coolest things.

Where do you see rail preservation as it is today and what do you hope it’ll become for the future?

Mark Huber: It’s at an interesting spot right now. I would almost say that we’re kind of in a golden age in some respects of rail preservation. You look at the number of steam locomotives that returned to service in 2020, but also historic diesel and everything else too. We’re also now further removed from the people who saw them originally run and now catering to a group of folks who don’t have that touchstone. But there’s still so much interest in many that want to get into it. It’s rewarding and exciting for the industry in that respect.

Moving forward with more people working on more things and getting them restored is good. But another avenue that is really helping is the internet and the digital end. We now have all these groups on Facebook and forums where folks can collaborate and talk. The different avenues are out there. It’s really exciting with what people are doing at museums and tourist railroads, but also the different things that are happening on the digital side. I think we’re going to have a very bright future in preservation if these continue.

What advice would you give for any young person looking to get involved in the industry?

Mark Huber: Come do it. Find your museum, find the website, and find the application link to volunteer. Sign up and be ready to get dirty. Come knowing nothing, but ready to learn everything from scratch.

Sign up, show up, get dirty, learn stuff, have fun.

Contact Trains.com Staff Writer, Lucas Iverson to help spotlight the next young gun in rail preservation.

One thought on “Young Guns in Preservation: Mark Huber (Hyce)

  1. Could wish I’d known about School of Mines back in my college days; I might have been then where you are today, only working for the TVRM in Tennessee.

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