Blogs

  • Blog Post: How the rain and fog can infuse your photos with mood

    I am 17 years old, and I live in the remote and beautiful countryside of Southwest Virginia, in the small community of Indian Valley. My main interests are photography and railroads; both have intrigued me since I was 5, when I acquired my first camera. Honestly, I don’t know where these interests...
  • Blog Post: Chasing NS' Norfolk & Western heritage unit across home rails

    Overview: With Norfolk Southern’s announcement of Norfolk its 20 “heritage fleet” of new diesels in March 2012, I immediately thought, "I have to catch the N&W engine (NS 8103) on former N&W rails and the VGN unit (NS 1069) on former Virginian rails." Since I reside near some...
  • Blog Post: Entering Chicago, the hard way

    I’ve written before about Norfolk Southern’s Funnel of Fun, its busy line into Chicago from Cleveland, Toledo, and Elkhart, Ind. It has always been a minefield of potential problems. Sixty years ago, New York Central ran 48 passenger trains on weekdays in and out of Chicago. But I wager today...
  • Blog Post: Ode to Lewistown Junction

    Loads east, empties west. Norfolk Southern doing what it does best. -- Burma Shave
  • Blog Post: The climb to Clark's Gap via the former Virginian Railroad

    Some of you may already know that I have an affinity for the Virginian Railway. Something about the railroad has always intrigued me since my love for railroads materialized young in life. The former Virginian was one of the places I first visited as a railfan. When I first began taking pictures, my...
  • Blog Post: Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 630 visits Asheville

    Few mountain crossings in the eastern United States are as fascinating as Norfolk Southern’s twisting, climbing route between Old Fort and Ridgecrest in the western North Carolina mountains. Its amazing engineering to gain 1,000 feet of elevation via 13 miles of track using loops, seven tunnels...
  • Blog Post: Watching Norfolk Southern trains at Shawsville, Va.

    I want to take you to a place that has become a favorite of mine to visit again and again. Shawsville, Va., situated along the westbound assault of Christiansburg Mountain on Norfolk Southern’s Christiansburg District, is a spot on the former Norfolk & Western main line between Norfolk, Va...
  • Blog Post: Contrasting old and new: The iconic Norfolk & Western coaling dock at Vicker, Va.

    Standing tall and proud after years of serving the former Norfolk & Western, a concrete coaling dock spans Norfolk Southern’s busy double-track main line at Vicker, Va., as an eastbound manifest silhouettes the structure in heavy fog. The train is grinding uphill, piercing the night air with...
  • Blog Post: Catching all 20 NS heritage units in the wild!

    After the event at Spencer, most of us Eastern rail buffs have spent immense time and money chasing the fleet, sharing one goal in mind: catching all 20 in the wild! Residing in a part of NS's system where heritage locomotives show up frequently has enabled me to photograph the fleet in a relatively...
  • Blog Post: Autumn and all its glory

    Autumn is special time of year for me. When I starting taking pictures in 2002, autumn’s potential for photography was apparent for me. My dad and I started a tradition by attending the Bluefield, W.Va., model train show when I was just five and continuing nine years. There is nothing better...
  • Blog Post: Winter photography

    The leaves have fallen, cold temperatures are the norm, and white-stuff is beginning to fly: yes, Winter has arrived! We saw all of these conditions in Virginia within the last month and snow is actually falling as I write this. As I look out my window, I see a beautiful layer of white covering everything...
  • Blog Post: Norfolk Southern's cab units: Among the most technologically advanced streamliners around

    Norfolk Southern's four executive cab units roll through Harrisburg, Pa., in August 2012. The units have seen substantial internal upgrades since their debut in 2007. Jim Wrinn photo ALTOONA, Pa. — We’ve all come to admire Norfolk Southern's set of four tuxedoed cab units' two As and two...
  • Blog Post: CNJ in 4 separate states in two months

    Ever had a particular locomotive follow you around? Or have you ever made a trip and photograph unit, then see it in your home turf weeks later? I have, and that is Norfolk Southern's Central of New Jersey heritage unit, SD70ACe No. 1071. Starting with a trip to Pennsylvania in late October, I photographed...
  • Blog Post: Foreign power invades Norfolk Southern

    A splash of fresh color has swept across Norfolk Southern in recent weeks, as foreign power has invaded Virginia and West Virginia. Everything from old and new, and BNSF to Canadian power, is roaming rails of the former Norfolk & Western and Virginian. Going trackside is nothing short of a guessing...
  • Blog Post: Southern Railway No. 630's trip across the Buchanan Branch

    I've had many people inquire about locations and chasing information regarding the 21st Century Steam excursions powered by Southern 2-8-0 No. 630 in Grundy, Va., this weekend, and figured a blog post containing information might be helpful to many of you. First off, the line this train is traveling...
  • Blog Post: 23 reasons to be excited about this weekend’s Norfolk Southern steam trips

    After departing Bulls Gap, Tenn., train 976 swings through an S curve on the east side of town with Southern 2-8-0 No. 630 leading a public passenger excursion part of Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam program on April 6, 2014. Photo by Samuel Phillips. We’re now at the start of the fourth...
  • Blog Post: Enjoying Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam Program

    Having witnessed the steam excursions originating this spring in Bristol, Va., and Grundy, Va., only one word comes to mind when describing them: awesome! Norfolk Southern and the Tennessee Valley Rail Museum went above and beyond to put on a fabulous show for railfans and individuals riding the train...
  • Blog Post: Why your next trip will induce heartburn

    I’ve said before that any train I’m on can be as late as you like. I believe my exact words were “more train-riding pleasure for the same low price.” Well, forget that. I’ve changed my mind. Even idiots like me have their limit, and mine has been breached. Any train more...
  • Blog Post: The tough new rules of oil by rail?

    Railroads came to Washington this week to make the case at the White House against what could be tough new rules being drawn up by the U.S. Department of Transportation for handling crude oil. The proposals, which have not yet been made public, may involve slowing crude oil trains to a top speed of 30...
  • Blog Post: When the road meets the railroad

    NS 6169 led the Peach State Whistle Stop Safety Train , and we see it here after arrival in Dalton, Georgia. Look between the ditch lights, and you'll see the lens hood of the camera mounted on the front. All photos by David Lester. Growing up in Southern Railway country, I became aware of the Operation...
  • Blog Post: Look out: CSX is in virgin territory

    I’ve been reporting a story for Trains Magazine about the railroad mess we call Chicago, and one of the worst sinners is CSX Transportation. What bothered me was this: The railroad during April-June was still 4.7 percent shy of its traffic volume in the last peak year of 2006. So why is its whole...
  • Blog Post: The dynamic duo

    This is about two beautiful heritage locomotives that were paired in Roanoke, Va., last month. The two have brought enjoyment to railfans across Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio for the last month. I know. I was one of them. For me, it started on July 15th as I began my day at home...
  • Blog Post: Making odds on the future of an iconic mountain grade: Rust in place Saluda

    I was going to write a sentimental post about Norfolk Southern’s sale of two lines out of Asheville, N.C., to Kansas-based shortline conglomerate Watco, which launched its brand new 91.8-mile Blue Ridge Southern on July 26. Both routes were once Southern Railway territory. One line was part of...
  • Blog Post: Outrages on the rails: The real story

    Be on notice: Any rational observer would predict that American railroads are in for a terrible winter a few months hence — that is, if it is a normal, mild winter of the sort we had before last winter. How can I say that in the middle of August? Follow the trail of evidence, please. My correspondent...
  • Blog Post: Should China expand U.S. railroads?

    Michael Ward, the esteemed chief executive of CSX Transportation, when asked about his railroad’s chronic state of congestion, says you don’t build a church for Easter Sunday. Is that his final answer? We are left to conclude that CSX would rather offer substandard service at higher and higher...