Jim Wrinn's list of “must see” places and “must do” experiences; what’s on yours?

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Thursday, December 17, 2009
Everybody has a life’s “to do” list. Some people have heightened this sense of urgency by calling it their “bucket list” of must-do activities they consider essential before they pass from this earth or “kick the bucket.” I was reminded of this earlier this week when I saw pictures of the tiny two-truck Shay that’s on display at the Allen County (Ohio) Historical Society being lifted by crane from one display site and placed in another. For all of the many years that I’ve been riding behind or admiring (and occasionally working on) Lima-built locomotives, I have yet to visit the place where they were made. I should get myself over there and see what’s left of the shop, visit the historical society, and admire that cute, little geared engine. It’s sacred ground for a Lima fan!
I have been fortunate to have many good experiences. One illustrates the need to “be there.” A few years ago, I was with a group of steam photographers who chartered Canadian Pacific 4-6-4 No. 2816 for a memorable photo charter in the Rockies west of Calgary. Standing at the famous Morant’s Curve just around the bend from Lake Louise, I was awe struck at being in this scenic location that was the site of so many of CP’s publicity shots. This is definitely a “must-see” place to visit made famous by photographer Nicholas Morant; standing there in his footsteps, you understood why he chose that location over all others on this incredibly beautiful piece of railroad. I’m glad I went because nothing beats being there. The same can be said for visits I’ve made to Maria’s Pass, Saluda, the Santa Fe between Flagstaff and Winslow, Cascade Tunnel, and so many other places.
Still, there’s so much to see and do. In addition to visiting sacred ground for Lima fans, I also want to:
Ride the Boston & Albany on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited. The Berkshires must be beautiful from the rails!
  • Take a trip the next time someone sets up an excursion on the Inside Gateway on the BNSF line north of Keddie, Calif. It has always intrigued me with its remote location.
  • Visit Union Pacific’s new Kate Shelley high bridge near Boone, Iowa. Now that the new bridge is in place, there are two good reasons to get there.
  • Be a part of the Frontier Days train on the Union Pacific. For years the UP ran over Sherman Hill (did that in 1987) and it came to be taken for granted… now it’s a rare trip. I’d hate for the same to be said of the Frontier Days train one day.
  • Get down to the Arkansas & Missouri. I always loved the Louisville & Nashville’s Alco C420s and they look great in A&M’s maroon paint scheme.
  • Tour Pullman’s complex in Chicago. So much of it is gone, but so much of it is still left that it is irresistible.
  • Bicycle the Milwaukee Road grade in Idaho where bi-polar electrics once fought the grades. The tracks are gone, but the legend and allure of the Milwaukee’s Pacific extension lives on!
What’s on your list?
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