Beebe & Clegg: Gruber & Co. shed new light on these groundbreaking railroad photographers

Posted 2 days ago by Jim Wrinn
On the cover of a new book, “Beebe & Clegg Their Enduring Photographic Legacy” is a most un-Beebe-like Beebe image. It’s a westbound Union Pacific train on Sherman Hill from a far distance with profuse smoke against a cloudy sky – definitely not the sunny day, three-quarter angle, in-your-face wedge shot that Beebe and Clegg made famous. The surprise cover of this new book is the first clue that the reader is about to experience a new and different treatment of this f...

Waiting for the adults to take charge

Posted 4 days ago by Steve Sweeney
Railroad bridges of St. Louis, 2014. Railroads maintain their infrastructure, why aren't the rest of us? Photo by S. Sweeney Mississippi announced recently that it will close 100 bridges to automobile traffic until further notice because of structural deficiencies.  As I began composing this blog post (3:39 p.m. Central Time April 12), the New York Times had yet to post a story on this. CNN was too busy with wall-to-wall coverage of President Donald Trump controversies and so hadn't pos...

Nashville: Hot Spot, Big Steam, and commuter trains

Posted 13 days ago by Jim Wrinn
I just got back from the American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. From Sunday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon, my colleagues Mike Yuhas, Jane Brenner, and I were on hand to meet readers, advertisers, and learn more about this important side of the railroad industry. It’s one of the reasons why you saw extra attention to this business in our April issue. The trade show’s two days were packed with seminars, speakers, and networking (more...

Conversations at the short line and regional railroad's annual gathering

Posted 16 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Greetings from Nashville, Tenn., where we are exhibiting and writing about the nation’s more than 500 short line and regional railroads at the annual conference of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. Here’s a quick postcard of the conversations that we’re hearing often at this gathering of industry professionals. What we’re hearing this year is among the widest ranging and wildest in terms of tone. Some samples: “I’m surprised that Amtr...

One of my hometown railroads

Posted 20 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
Joliet Junction Railroad on its first day of operations in 1994. Photo by Joe Petric Having moved around a lot as a kid, I count Joliet, Ill., as one of probably five hometown railroads. I spent my high school and college years in this area. My first apartment was adjacent to a short line called the Joliet Junction Railroad. The 6-mile former Elgin, Joliet & Eastern branch line was out of service and, during my time living there, in disarray.  The EJ&E abandoned the branch after...

Rolling back Amtrak's private car restrictions and special train ban won't be easy: Here's how to do it

Posted 23 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Last week, Amtrak said it would no longer run special trains or charters and would severely restrict running private cars. The railroad said it was about profitability and time keeping and customer service. The change hits the 150 or so private cars (some place the figure closer to 250) that are still fit for the mainline, big steam locomotives that venture out once or twice a year on the main, and a handful of non-profits that utilize charter trains or tack private cars on Amtrak trains as part...

About a new Trains book you'll want before you go to Europe

Posted 28 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Some 26 years ago, in an act of desperation, a sheltered American who’d never been overseas but was about to take his first European vacation called a well-traveled magazine editor in Vermont for advice: I’d signed up for a group tour of UK and the continent, but I still want to try to strike out on my own to see some of its railroads. I have two free days in England, the possible safest environment for a neophyte. I was nervous. What should I do? Where should I go? Mark Smith, edito...

A progress report on Union Pacific Big Boy 4014

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
Deep inside the cavernous backshop at Cheyenne, Wyo., a giant is coming back to life. I saw it with my own eyes on a visit earlier this week. Here's what I saw. Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 is about as disassembled as you can get and still be counted as a locomotive. The wheels are out from underneath it – all 24 of them – and 100-ton freight car trucks support the frame. It currently holds the title of the world’s largest 0-0-0-0. The boiler is as empty as it has been since...

Railroad photography: Shooting for publication

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
Spring is right around the corner, and for most of us that means more time trackside with a camera. For better or worse, when you send an email to photoeditor@trainsmag.com, I'll be the first one that sees it. I get a lot of questions about specific images, which we often have no immediate use for. People, it seems, want to see the photos they've already taken in print, but don't want to give any thought to shooting for publication when trackside. That's a shame because a typical issue of Trains...

A look at steam in 2018: What to anticipate, what to appreciate, where to go

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, this is the time of year when I anticipate mainline steam schedules, plan trips to see newly restored and notable locomotives, and find time to make calls and send emails to my steam friends to see who is planning to go where and where we might cross paths, or tracks in our case. We’ll see who is willing to break the bank and stretch vacation time to make one more trip. It’s an optimistic time, when we all look forward to what will excite and i...

All bragging aside, you need to see the new Raleigh, N.C., passenger train station

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
We are taught early on in childhood not to brag, especially about ourselves, and particularly not about home towns, or native states. Reckless bragging is disgraceful. A sign of poor manners. But maybe you will indulge me in a bit of gentle bragging on my home state, North Carolina. I was back recently and imposed on the good folks in the capital city of Raleigh for a preview of the new passenger station under construction and set for completion this spring. If you haven’t heard of this...

So, how does PTC drive in the snow?

Posted 2 months ago by Steve Sweeney
  Where I grew up in the snow belt regions Lake Erie shadows, and where eight feet of snow in a year is an average, not a record, when someone bought a car that's new to them, you ask how it drives in the snow. Oh, you let them brag about their purchase first: The gas mileage, sunroof, third row or trunk space, how they got a "brand new" spare tire thrown in, or how much get-up-and-go it has, and how great it sounds with the aftermarket subwoofer the first owner installed. They might even...

The long road to Trains was even longer than I recalled

Posted 2 months ago by David Lassen
So we’re doing some reshuffling of office space here at Kalmbach, which means a lot of people are going through their desks and tossing out stuff that they don’t need to cart down the hall. (Trains ‘ relocation is still in the future, so my office is just as cluttered as ever. The 37 bobbleheads on the window sill are safe for now) One of the people who did make the move this week was former Trains editor J. David Ingles, senior editor at Classic Trains. During his cleaning pr...

Trains photo charter at Cumbres & Toltec: We're going back to 1968. Care to join us?

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
We’re throwing a steam-powered party this August, and you’re invited. We’re sponsoring a photo charter with the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, that 64-miles of serpentine narrow gauge tracks that seem to dart across the state line more than there are peaks in the spectacular San Juan Mountains that is home for this line (OK, that’s an exaggeration, but it sure seems like it at times). We’re there to commemorate the last runs of Rio Grande freights across 10,0...

Late winter when a man starts thinking about steam locomotives

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
I usually start thinking about planning travel to enjoy what little steam is left running about this time of year. I blame it on Southern Railway and Jim Bistline, who set the railroad’s steam excursion schedule every winter. It was the most anticipated piece of mail that I can recall as a teenager or a young adult in the late 1970s and early 1980s: You could see what locomotives Southern was running, where, and when, and plan a whole year’s worth of steam railroading fun. There were...

What other unthinkable things await us?

Posted 2 months ago by Steve Sweeney
Ask the editors at Trains. When I read the statement from Amtrak at 12:49 p.m. (Central) in my email inbox, I swore — a lot. One trainset of the one and only high-speed rail service in the Western Hemisphere pulled apart on the Northeast Corridor.  The New York Post reports that Acela Express train 2150 was moving at 125 mph when it separated in Maryland. The news organization shows a photo of what appears to be a loose drawbar on the semi-permanently coupled trainset hanging betwe...

It's the end of Amtrak as we know it

Posted 2 months ago by Brian Schmidt
As we learn more this Sunday morning about the overnight collision between Amtrak's Silver Star and a CSX Transportation freight, I can't help but think that the national passenger carrier is on the cusp of a major change – for better, or worse. With three high-profile incidents in less than 60 days, Amtrak is undoubtedly under scrutiny from regulators, legislators, and host railroads. It's possible (but not likely) that none of those will be found to be Amtrak's fault; it's also possible...

My first railroad photos turn 40 years old

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
They were neither well executed nor worth much as great art. Some were poorly composed, and others were over or under exposed. But they were amazing sights to me -- my first action railroad pictures with a good 35mm camera. And they were made 40 years ago this month. The occasion was the first good weather in the winter of 1978 when, as a 16-year-old fan, I was ready to try out the Nikkormat FT-3 that my parents had given me the Christmas before. They’d heard my disappointment in my Kodak...

My top 10 best train watching Hot Spots

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Our special issue, Hot Spots, is available now, and it has me excited about traveling to great train watching places this year. We broke down our 100-page guide into three categories: Places to watch a lot of trains. Places that are scenic wonders. And places that are icons in our common obsession. Like everyone else, I have my favorites. Here’s my top 10, and be sure to get your own copy of Hot Spots at https://kalmbachhobbystore.com/product/special-issue/vt-tr05180101-c.   1. The ...

About the most famous passenger car in the U.S.: Ferdinand Magellan

Posted 3 months ago by Jim Wrinn
What would you say is the most famous passenger car in the United States? The well-traveled PV Caritas? Lucius Beebe’s office car Virginia City. Amtrak office car 10,000? It’s a debatable list, and one that would have to include in its top 10 an office car that I have heard about all my life and visited for the first time recently while on business in Florida: Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s office car Ferdinand Magellan. This classic heavyweight Pullman makes its home at the Gold...

Clinchfield 800's winter vacation to Florida

Posted 3 months ago by Jim Wrinn
The Appalachian Mountains, where the Clinchfield Railroad operated, was a place of heavily forested mountains, dense hardwood forests, and rushing whitewater streams. The environment last week in which I found the railroad’s most famous diesel locomotive, F7 No. 800, was much different. It was a relatively flat expanse of land with numerous lakes. The exhaust tossled palm tree leaves and tickled the Spanish moss. Yes, this is a fish out of water story, the tale of a locomotive on winter br...

Brightline, Florida East Coast steam -- 100 years of Sunshine State railroading

Posted 3 months ago by Jim Wrinn
I was in Florida last week. No, I was not on vacation, neither at a beach nor Mouse World. In fact, it was rainy the first half of the trip, and down right cold (for Florida) on the second half (38 degrees Sunday morning. The primary railroad topic, as it has been in the Sunshine State for generations, was passenger trains. The newest of these trains, Brightline, was days from the start of revenue service. The oldest have been in museums for decades and date back to the early 20th century. Both ...

The hurt behind the crash of Cascades No. 501

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
It has been a rough few days for all of us who love railroading. Everybody is heartbroken about the tragic Amtrak Cascades derailment. Many of us know people who were on the crew or who were among the passengers who were injured. Friends have lost colleagues or pals. It is our worst nightmare come true. Compounding it all is the chatter that goes on in the fog that lingers in the minutes, hours, and days after a catastrophe. One of the safest ways to travel doesn’t seem so safe in the eye...

Children’s holiday artwork featuring trains

Posted 4 months ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
Nothing warms my heart more than looking at children’s artwork. It’s so innocent, intense, and uninhibited. Furthermore, I love to see railroads as the focus. Talgo sent its holiday email greeting by way of the winner of their holiday art contest. Here’s 12-year-old Roland Richards’ Talgo-themed Christmas card. Great job, Roland! Here are other winners from Talgo's contest. Trains are so relevant to our lives in so many ways and can be shared with our children and gr...

Trains' Top 10 railroad preservation stories for 2017

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Here’s my list for the top 10 preservation stories for 2017. 1. Texas restored for Atlanta History Center Besides the locomotives at Promontory, what pair of locomotives is more famous than the General and the Texas of Civil War Great Locomotive Chase fame? You’d be hard pressed to find a set that’s better known. Long confined to the dingy basement of Atlanta’s Cyclorama building in Grant Park, the 1849 Texas got a cosmetic overhaul prior to its placement in the Atlanta...

Beer Line exhibit ... enjoy with appropriate beverages

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Where would you put a photo exhibit about the famous Milwaukee Road Beer Line if you had your choice of places? A brewery, of course! That’s what the Center for Railroad Photography & Art is doing with its photographic study of the Wallace W. Abbey images that record this famous freight route that served the industry that made Milwaukee famous and that included famous Fairbanks-Morse diesels for motive power. It opened Thursday night, and the Trains staff was there to check it out whil...

Top train-watching destinations for 2018

Posted 4 months ago by Brian Schmidt
There are, without exaggeration, thousands of places across this continent to stop and watch a train. From a lonely grade crossing in Iowa to a jam-packed subway platform in Queens. (Our newest special issue "Hot Spots" details 75 of the best.) While I can't claim to have seen them all (there are a LOT of grade crossings in Iowa!), I believe that I have seen enough to make a few recommendations for our discerning readers: Northwest Ohio This is where I'm from, so of course I'm a little biase...

BNSF remembers James J. Hill in Superior, Wis.

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
The quote about “all who wander are not lost” was on my mind over the holiday. My family and I were in Duluth, Minn., to visit family and friends. Normally, this is a cold, snowy place this time of year. We, however, were blessed with warm temperatures and no precipitation. There was snow on the ground to make it look like late fall in the Northwoods. So, that gave us opportunities to train and ship watch in this fascinating Midwestern port city. Last spring, we were here for BNSF&r...

Clinchfield Country and CSX's 75th anniversary Santa Train

Posted 5 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Clinchfield. The word conjures images of a regional railroad defined by multiple sooted black six-axle units in run 8, working against gravity and curvature, hard against slide detection fences, soaring across bridges, and diving into the cool of 55 tunnels, to move coal out of the heart of Appalachia. It brings to mind railroaders, many of them multi-generational, working locals, mine runs, coal trains, and time freights across 277 of the most rugged and beautiful mountain railroad miles ever b...

China doesn't need (or want) GE Transportation

Posted 5 months ago by Steve Sweeney
Readers and even one or two Trains correspondents have asked me in recent days why I didn’t write about China’s CRRC as a potential bidder for GE Transportation. And, to a lesser extent, Canada’s Bombardier.My plain and simple explanation: Both are poor fits for GE Transportation as it stands today.Bombardier first. The Canadian industrial giant is in trouble. It makes airplanes and passenger trains for international markets but relies heavily on support from the Province of Qu...