Pennsylvania tour: PRR 1361

Posted 18 hours ago by Brian Schmidt
The folks at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum are about to reach another milestone in the restoration of former Pennsylvania Railroad K4 class 4-6-2 No. 1361. Guests on the 2019 Keystone Railroad Delights tour were told that the tender will be painted in the next month, virtually completing its restoration. The tender was on display in the roundhouse and tour attendees were able to get up close for inspection. The trucks are converted to roller bearings, and the water scoop is operation...

Pennsylvania tour: Milk & Honey

Posted yesterday by Brian Schmidt
There's something great about having your own train. Your very own train. Sure enough, guests on the 2019 Keystone Railroad Delights tour got their own train today on the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad, known colloquially as the Milk & Honey Line. Our centercab GE and three coaches made for a fine sight rumbling down Brown Street in Middletown, so named for its position between Lancaster and Carlisle. We were let off at the west end of the street trackage segment and wandered the f...

Pennsylvania tour: The overwhelming Strasburg experience

Posted 3 days ago by Brian Schmidt
Perhaps this is obvious to someone who's been there, but before this past weekend I had not. There is a lot to do at Strasburg. Even when No. 611 isn't in town, the Strasburg Rail Road has a lot to offer. There are, of course, train rides, but also gift shops, a restaurant, and kids' rides. While I can't see myself returning for a special event (it was that crazy with No. 611), I'm already plotting my return to Paradise. Just across the street is the wonderful Railroad Museum of Pennsylvan...

Pennsylvania tour: Planes, trains, and buses

Posted 4 days ago by Brian Schmidt
I’ve lost track of how many seats that I’ve been in today. It started with a car ride to the Milwaukee airport followed soon by a plane ride to Baltimore. Once in Baltimore, a bus ride to the airport rail station, followed by a train ride to Philadelphia and another to the airport. Then a bus ride to the hotel, another to the West Chester Railroad, the dinner train ride, and then on the bus back to the hotel. Whew. Amtrak was disappointing, but I’m not surprised anymore. Upo...

Rochelle's new views

Posted 7 days ago by Brian Schmidt
I found this week, by accident, what some of you may have already seen: the old Chicago, Burlington & Quincy code line has been removed through Rochelle, Ill. This opens up a cleaner view of the diamond for viewers of our Rochelle Railroad Park webcam. The image here shows the view in October with the poles remove. For those unfamiliar, our webcam is available free for registered users of this website. The removal also simplifies photography for those who want to photograph BNSF Railway t...

Keystone Railroad Delights tour ready to roll!

Posted 8 days ago by Brian Schmidt
I've done covered a lot of ground for Trains Magazine already this year. I covered two railroad trade shows, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association in Orlando in April and Railway Interchange in Minneapolis in September, along with both the winter and summer MARS meetings. The best is yet to come, however. Friday, Oct. 11 we kick off Keystone Railroad Delights tour with Special Interest Tours and I have the privilege of joining the group at Trains' representative....

On the road with Big Boy 4014: Nevada welcomes the King of the Rails, Elvis, I mean, 4014!

Posted 9 days ago by Jim Wrinn
LAS VEGAS – Elvis may have been the king of Rock and Roll in this city once upon a time, but the undisputed King the Rails is Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014. The locomotive and its 10-car train arrived Sunday to a warm welcome and thousands of spectators who gathered along the tracks on the 126-mile route from Caliente, Nev., to 1001 Iron Horse Court in downtown Las Vegas, just north of the strip. This was something of a complete circle for me. In 2014, when the unrestored Big Boy was bei...

On the road with Big Boy 401: Into the wilds of Utah we go!

Posted 11 days ago by Jim Wrinn
MILFORD, Utah – Today was one of those amazing days when a steam locomotive cuts through a rugged and beautiful landscape and plops you down in an out of the way place that you’d never travel to otherwise.    Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 made its way down the Sharp Subdivision from Provo, Utah, to Lyndyll, where it meets up with the much busier Lyndyll Subdivision for the trip south to Delta, Deseret, Black Rock, and the destination, Milford. Local fans tell me they nev...

On the road with Big Boy 4014: On home turf on Wasatch grade

Posted 14 days ago by Jim Wrinn
PROVO, Utah – Some locomotives photograph better when they’re in their native element. Norfolk & Western No. 1218 and 611 on the N&W Pokey Division in West Virginia, Frisco 1522 on the SLSF mainline between Springfield and St. Louis at Swedeborg, Mo., and Santa Fe 3751 on the Transcon in Arizona all fall into that sacred category. Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014, likewise, never looks better than when it is on the Overland Route, and especially on the Wasatch Grade for which i...

On the road with Big Boy 4014: The chase crowd that wasn't

Posted 15 days ago by Jim Wrinn
ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. – Attention all 10,000 of my fellow fans who chased Big Boy No. 4014 last May: This chase, the one we’re on now, is the one you were wishing for.   Remember the 12-mile long motorcade in Weber Canyon? Remember the standing room only crowds in Medicine Bow? Remember the inability to move from one spot to another freely?    Well, then, you should be here now. It’s a small group of dedicated fans who either didn’t get to see No., 4014 la...

This is Switzerland: 18 things I learned in 12 days, on about 40 trains, 8 buses, 3 boats, and in no less than 72,000 steps

Posted 19 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
  From Swiss cheese to American (not even real) cheese ….   Now back in the Dairy State, I’ve had time to reflect on my time in the dairy country. Here is my list of what I learned in Switzerland: 1)      The Swiss Alps are breathtaking, literally and figuratively. 2)      You can park on the sidewalk and walk in the street. 3)      I wish I had the windows that open like doors and have no...

This is Switzerland: Gettin’ Rigi with it

Posted 20 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
After taking a boat from Lucerne, we arrived at Vitznau and enjoyed a tour of the Rigi-Kulm Railway’s shop. It was fun to watch the crew use the turntable to move their equipment around. The shop also stored supplies for the shops and restaurants at the top of the mountain as the trains take everything from beer to teddy bears to the top. They had spools of catenary for a project to replace it in some spots. They had two 1920s steam engines resting in the shop, too, among other piece...

It's Big Boy time - Again! Join us for the experience right here

Posted 21 days ago by Jim Wrinn
One of the questions I like to ask readers when I visit with them is “what would you like for us at Trains to do next.” The answers vary, of course, depending on interests. Some want a feature story on their favorite locomotive or railroad. Others want to know more about what’s ahead for railroading. But inevitably, just about everyone wants us to take them along on the journeys we make to cover railroading for you. I like that idea.    So, once again, as we did...

This is Switzerland: Piling on at Pilatus

Posted 21 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
We boarded a boat at Lucerne to Alpnachstad (See). Once there, we rode the Pilatus Cog Railway to Pilatus Kulm. This is the world’s steepest cog railway with an average grade of 38 percent; the highest at 48 percent. The train took us 6,982 feet above sea level. It uses the Locher rack system (engages center rack with cogs on each side instead of on top, providing stability, and no teeth can jump out of rack). The 2.86-mile line takes 30 minutes to climb, but 40 minutes to descend. It ...

Railway Interchange 2019 outdoor exhibits gallery

Posted 21 days ago by Brian Schmidt
Railway Interchange 2019 had its typical outdoor displays at BNSF Railway's Northtown Yard between Minneapolis and St. Paul. This was my first visit to a Minneapolis-hosted Interchange, which traditionally has alternated between Indianapolis and Minneapolis biennially. In my seven years with Trains Magazine, this was my first Interchange at Minneapolis with the outdoor displays. However, the next two are scheduled for Indianapolis, possibly ending the outdoor displays at Northtown. Regardless...

At Railway Interchange, motive power comes in many sizes

Posted 21 days ago by Brian Schmidt
There are many things to see at Railway Interchange, held this year at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Both Cummins and Wabtec had prime movers on display – of course a full-size, six-axle locomotive would be too big for the convention center floor. (There's an outdoor exhibition, too, at BNSF Railway's Northtown Yard, but, sadly, no new locomotives appear there, either.) What we did see on the exhibition floor was the classic Trackmobile, and its electric and Italian cousin Zephir. ...

It's Railway Interchange time

Posted 23 days ago by David Lassen
MINNEAPOLIS — The big show has begun. Railway Interchange 2019, the rail equipment trade show held in conjunction with conventions of an alphabet soup of railway organizations (most prominently AREMA, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, and RSI, the Railway Supply Institute) opened Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center, featuring exhibits from hundreds of rail-related manufacturers. You can talk to representatives of companies making everything from ...

This is Switzerland: Jungfrau Railway — it gets snow higher

Posted 23 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
Everyday of the Special Interest Tours “Switzerland by Rail” is filled to the brim with train rides, from cogs to commuters. The rides are smooth and comfortable no matter where you go. The inter connectivity from trains to buses to boats is something for any passenger train enthusiast to take note. This day, perhaps took the cake on the number of trains we rode from 8:44 a.m. to 6:53 p.m.: nine. You’ve heard of tennis elbow, athlete’s foot, and tension headache? I ...

This is Switzerland: Cuckoo for the Chocolate Train

Posted 24 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
The Chocolate Train, aboard Belle Époque MOB to Montbovon provided comfortable seating, smooth hot chocolate, and flaky and soft chocolate-filled croissants. All of those luxuries are in addition to the mountain views through panoramic windows we’ve now become accustomed to, however, I’m not immune to their beauty and majesty. At Montbovon, the group boarded a bus to Gruyere Gare for a cheese factory tour.Although designed for tourists, the experience was educational and e...

This is Switzerland: First you whip and then you Rochers-de-Naye

Posted 25 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
After arriving in Montreux, we boarded the Rochers-de-Naye (pronounced ro-SHAY dah NAY) cog train. This train booked to the top where we reached 6,699 feet. That may not seem as impressive as altitudes you’ve experienced in other parts of the world, but this train gained altitude fast. On this trip, we enjoyed tunnels, Lake Geneva, and the lovely alps. I found it interesting that this train made additional stops en route to pick up and drop off passengers and dogs — don’t f...

This is Switzerland: Matterhorn, I love your face

Posted 28 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
This might be my favorite day yet. We rode the Gornergrat Cog Railway, Europe’s highest open-air cog, up to the summit of Gornegrat at 10, 171 feet … and the view of the Matterhorn was just awesome. Here we were able to see and touch snow on the mountains. No sooner had I commented on how there was no yellow snow up there, and another gentleman heard me and chuckled. Just when you think you’re at the top of a mountain and no one will hear your snark! Not too much later, I ...

This is Switzerland: Furka Steam and other delights

Posted 29 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
This morning’s journey began at Chur aboard the Glacier Express train, known as the world’s slowest express. It boasts grades of more than 12%, double cogwheels with a rack-and-pinion system that allows the train to tackle these extreme grades. The seats were more than comfortable with a large table to write yesterday’s blog and drink a too-small cup of coffee I bought for 5 francs. But with the smooth ride and beautiful mountains, that was really all the fuel I needed. Our tra...

This is Switzerland: Bused a move (and a comfy train too) on the Bernina Express

Posted 29 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
Bernina Express is part bus and part panorama coach train on the Rhaetian Railway. We departed by bus from Lugano. My reward was 50 minutes in Tirano, Italy, to indulge in delicious thin crust funghini pizza and water with gas. We beat feet to catch our train at Tirano aboard comfortable coaches with their soft seats in fours, facing a table top with the entire route map on its surface. One of the highlights, since our coach was a few cars from the rear, was that when you went around the swoopin...

This is Switzerland: Gotthard Panorama Express (yourself)

Posted one month ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
We left Zurich today via a commuter train to Lucerne. At Lucerne, we boarded a steamboat to take us to Fluelen. I’m fast realizing that you can take your dog everywhere in Switzerland. These dogs have ridden more boats and trains than I ever will. However, the canines are nonplussed about the trains, boats, and trams, whereas I am fascinated by all of it. The Gotthard Panorama Express took is from Fluelen to Bellinzona on first-class carriages that were about as posh and plush inside as th...

Two videos you need to see: Country music and Saluda grade

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
I am here to tell you about what we’re doing here on the web, in print, or with experiences. I’m also supposed to be here comment on railroading, and in particular, preservation, as that’s my forte. But today, I’m taking a break. I’m going to suggest two video events that should be on your radar. One is on your TV. The other on your computer.   First, let’s talk about the one on your TV. Set aside Sunday evening when PBS debuts Ken Burns’ long-awa...

This is Switzerland: Pinch me. I’m in Zurich!

Posted one month ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
The toilet bowls are round, the names of everything are incredibly long, and you can get just about anywhere on a train. And these are just my impressions in the first 4 hours, having arrived at 8:30 a.m. and being awake for 24 hours after two plane rides and two airport trains to get to wonderful Zurich. You can imagine why the restroom, or should I say water closet, was so important after landing. I am excited to be co-hosting Trains and Special Interest Tours “Switzerland by Rail Tour&r...

England calling when No. 611 arrived at Strasburg

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
The arrival of Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 at Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road Wednesday gave me a moment to pause and feel like a bit of British railway preservation philosophy has finally taken hold in the U.S. My friend Mike Long sent me the picture above of the Class J with SRR’s 2-6-0 No. 89 as a pusher just for the fun of it.     Due to changing circumstances at Amtrak and Norfolk Southern, No. 611 no longer has a mainline excursion venue. But inste...

Norfolk & Western No. 611 in Pennsylvania: The thought makes me smile... and dig out old pictures

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
Norfolk & Western No. 611 arrives today at a new venue: Pennsylvania’s hallowed Strasburg Rail Road. This will be a nice change of pace for the Class J, and it will allow it to spend time with another N&W veteran, M Class 4-8-0 No. 475. I expect those two have some tales to tell each other about how life has been for the last 60 years or so.    While having No. 611 on the mainline is preferable, conditions in 2019 beyond the control of just about any railroad CEO (at th...

Will the horse move? Thoughts on photographing animals with trains

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
There’s a famous W.C. Fields quote about never working with animals and children. I’m not 100 percent sure of the context of that statement: Perhaps that meant he was afraid they would upstage him, or perhaps that meant they were too unpredictable. Maybe both. I tend to think the latter.    We’ve all tried over the years to incorporate various animals into our railroad photography. The famous have done it: One of O. Winston Link’s most famous photos, Maude b...

Western Maryland 1309 update: Drivers and front engine reunited

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Steam locomotive restorations are agonizingly slow, especially when the subject locomotive has been well used in its working life and exposed to the elements during its preservation life. Such is the case with Western Maryland Scenic’s former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309. The engine only ran from 1949 to 1956 in coal service near Logan, W.Va., but by that time the Chessie knew it was heading toward dieselization and that steam upkeep could be minimal. Years of storage at Russ...

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