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Look out, here comes Conductor Bobbie Dirks

Bobbie Dirks was in the Gallatin national Forest trail guiding when she was asked to come to Nevada City as a docent, in 2001, for living history. she quickly fell in love with the steam engine, #12 and volunteered to clean the locomotive. according to Roger Williams, “Dirks learned everything she could about the operation and maintenance. she was an excellent record keeper. she monitored boiler chemistry and made good coffee.” Dirks spent 480 hours training to become the conductor of the steam engine, all of which were volunteer hours. This took her four and a half summers to get the amount of hours needed to take the written test. Dirks was the only female steam traction engineer in Virginia city. For several years she and Roger Williams were the only conductors driving the train on the weekends. Dirks said it took five hours each morning to get the steam engine ready for the day. The cab actually sits on the boiler. They had to work in a 130 degree cab. Dirks said, “it was a long hot day, but it was wonderful.”

Another of Dirks’ passions for volunteering is with the Vigilance club. she is in charge of keeping the Thompson Hickman Museum open and clean. she schedules volunteers to work and is the treasurer. she is also responsible for the easter egg Hunt and the children’s fishing derby.

Amy Grice said of Dirks, “Bobbie is always ready and willing to make a dinner to feed the volunteer firefighters, or bake dozens of cookies and make gluten-free food for events all over town.” Bobbie Dirks decided to make the town her home over a decade ago. Dirks said with a smile, “everyone needs to take the time to volunteer in their community.” Dirks has made volunteering a huge part of her life. i think this is why she smiles and laughs as she talks about these organizations she is so passionate about. Virginia city residents are grateful for this rare beauty of a woman. Her legacy of volunteerism will live on in the hearts and minds of the residents.

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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