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Railroads vs. coronavirus: Not just truckers! Railroaders are heroes, too!

Posted yesterday by Jim Wrinn
As we endure the evolving Coronavirus pandemic, railroads are not getting their due in the general media for the role they play in the economy. They’re not getting noticed for moving the coal that keeps the lights on in many homes and that creates the consumer goods that families need in an emergency – yes, we are talking about that elusive toilet paper!   All week long, I’ve been monitoring major television news sources. They’ve rightly given the bulk of their p...
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Coronavirus vs. railroading: Cleaning those locomotive cabs

Posted 9 days ago by Jim Wrinn
A railroader’s workspace is never his own. A locomotive cab, if you’re on a Class I railroad or a regional railroad, passes from one user to another. That happens sometimes with only a matter of minutes between the time when one crew alights after a long stint and the next one boards for another lengthy trip. Think about it if you are an office worker: Railroaders basically share cubicles, one shift to another. They operate the throttle, brakes, and other controls in the space th...
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Coronavirus vs. tourist railroads and museums

Posted 10 days ago by Jim Wrinn
This is usually the time of year when most tourist railroads and museums are holding their collective breaths and hoping to make it financially to the first big event of the spring that will bring in a surge of visitors. For most operations, it’s a long, lean winter between the hustle, fast pace, and big bucks of Polar Express or a locally grown Christmas substitute. Those holiday events usually restock most railroad bank accounts for a time, but there are winter locomotive overhauls t...
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Take aways from the Nevada Northern Railway Museum

Posted 11 days ago by Jim Wrinn
EAST ELY, Nev. – It has been 10 years since I last visited the Nevada Northern Railway Museum, located far from the maddening crowds of Las Vegas about 3 or 4 hours north of the live entertainment capital of America. Of course, how long it takes to get there (it depends on how fast you drive) is inconsequential. The Nevada Northern is the real deal, in the same league as the Cumbres & Toltec and the East Broad Top. Its locomotives are original. Its rolling stock is original. The en...
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Trains and SIGMA present the 2020 photo contest

Posted 18 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
This year’s photo contest theme is “In the City.” I hope you enjoy this completely different photographic direction after 2019’s “Go West!” theme. Don’t get hung up on the definition of city. One could make a case that everyone lives in a city. We’re not just looking for Chicago or Los Angeles railroad landscapes. I know the definition of city indicates that it is “an inhabited place of greater size, population, or importance than a tow...
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It's time to fire up Baldwin's last steam locomotive

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
The following appears in the Preservation column of the March 2020 issue.  Dear Trains readers:  For the first time in the 80-year history of this publication, we are committing to an ongoing fundraiser for a preservation project. We’re asking you to help steam the Baldwin Locomotive Works’ last engine built for domestic use: Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309, a rare articulated under restoration at Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, a non-profit educational or...
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What's ahead for the steam scene in 2020

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
It’s shortly after the first of the new year and it’s time to dust off the crystal ball that John Craft and I fashioned 20-something years ago for his Steam Central Website. The crystal ball was and still is about coming attractions in the U.S. steam scene. A heads up back in the day when the internet was in its infancy and before there was social media. Today, it’s time to break out the big ball and gaze into what 2020 may bring.   If 2019 was the year of the articulate...
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Railroad Maps Vol. 2, and the process behind it

Posted 2 months ago by David Lassen
We’re about to deliver our special issue, Railroad Maps Vol. 2, and thought there might be some interest in a look at the map-making process — in this case, how it looks from the editing side. (We showed a little bit of the design process in Matt Van Hattem’s editor’s note in the original printing of Railroad Maps Vol. 1, back in 2013.) First, a few notes, based on some questions I’ve received online: — None of these maps were included in Railroad Maps Vol. ...
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On the road with Big Boy No. 4014: The end of the beginning. What it means

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
No. 4014 rolls south near Black Rock, Utah, in early October 2019. Jim Wrinn photo Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 is set to return to the steam shop in Cheyenne, Wyo., today. When fireman Austin Barker shuts off the oil fire, the pressure starts to slowly drift south of 300 psi, and the stack cap goes on for the last time in 2019, it will mark the end to an unexpectedly spectacular year for the first 4-8-8-4 to steam under its own power in 60 years. UP didn’t just run the engine o...
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Take A Train To Work on Nov. 22

Posted 4 months ago by Steve Sweeney
Now, you can interpret that headline at least two ways.  If you can, I hope you choose to both, A.) Take a commuter train into the office (a cab ride if you are a qualified railroader) and B.) Take one of your model trains, toy trains, or old lanterns, switch locks, or pocket watches to work. Why? Because Kalmbach Media is making a holiday out of it by re-starting Take A Train To Work Day. The holiday started back in the early 2000s with our friends at Model Railroader, who chose a day i...
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On the road with Big Boy No. 4014: Texas

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
MARSHALL, Texas – Everything is bigger in Texas … except Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014.   On a cloudy rainy Monday as the cold front swept through, UP’s steam public relations mega force sat on display and entertained crowds in this former Texas & Pacific shop town. In fact, the locomotive and its display train occupied the site of the now demolished T&P shop.   In the last few days since we met No. 4014’s train in College Station for the donat...
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Postcard from Cass, W.Va.: A Climax in Shay country

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
CASS, W.Va. – This former lumber mill town and logging railroad center along the Greenbrier River is a familiar place to me. I came here for the first time some 44 years ago as a broken-hearted teenager whose favorite steam-powered railroad (North Carolina’s Graham County Railroad) had just closed down. My parents thought a visit to the former logging railroad turned tourist hauler in the Back Alleghany Mountains of West Virginia might do me good. They were so right.   So I&...
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A visit to the Grand Canyon Railway: Deep ballast, steam, pocket streamliners

Posted 5 months ago by Jim Wrinn
WILLIAMS, Ariz. – Our Trains Magazine photo charter last weekend saw me return to a landmark preservation railroad for the first time after 10 years. The Grand Canyon Railway, I am happy to report, is doing well.   I found the 65-mile railroad’s track to be well surfaced with deep ballast, 115-pound rail, and a contour that some Class I railroads would envy. The motive power and the passenger car fleet were in outstanding shape. It is a model for anyone who wants to see the ...
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“What makes for an exceptional photo?” according to 22 railroad photographers

Posted 5 months ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
Photo by John Gruber. See caption below. After nearing the end of a yearlong stint curating the “Gallery” for the 2019 issues, I was reflecting on how much I enjoyed putting them all together. I’m sure I was supposed to be doing something else at that moment, which was the real reason why I was dreaming up this idea. Normally, I let things simmer a bit before acting on them, but not this time. I wrote up an email July 12 that I intended to send to all the photographers fea...
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Pennsylvania tour: Horseshoe and the Altoona experience

Posted 5 months ago by Brian Schmidt
I have to confess, this went better than I expected. Perhaps I've been jaded by my seven years in Wisconsin that one can sit by the tracks for less than two hours and not see a train. Well, in 90 minutes at Horseshoe Curve on Wednesday morning, our group got four trains, including the Southern-painted heritage unit! Best of all, the group made it to track level (by funicular or by stairs) before the first train passed!  Having not been to Altoona for about 25 years, I'm reminded of just ...
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Pennsylvania tour: Everett escapade

Posted 5 months ago by Brian Schmidt
Our first exposure to the Everett Railroad was looking through the bus windows and down into the yard at Hollidaysburg. Our power for the day would be Cooke-built 2-6-0 No. 11, which previously served the Narragansett Pier Railroad in Rhode Island and the Bath & Hammondsport in New York. Throughout the day we took advantage of more than a dozen photo runs on our chartered run to Martinville over former Conrail trackage. The train included a boxcar, flatcar, combine, and coach. It...
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Pennsylvania tour: PRR 1361

Posted 5 months 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...
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Pennsylvania tour: Milk & Honey

Posted 5 months ago 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...
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Pennsylvania tour: The overwhelming Strasburg experience

Posted 5 months 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...
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Pennsylvania tour: Planes, trains, and buses

Posted 5 months 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...
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Rochelle's new views

Posted 5 months 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...
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Keystone Railroad Delights tour ready to roll!

Posted 5 months 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....
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On the road with Big Boy 4014: Nevada welcomes the King of the Rails, Elvis, I mean, 4014!

Posted 5 months 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...
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On the road with Big Boy 401: Into the wilds of Utah we go!

Posted 5 months 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...
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On the road with Big Boy 4014: On home turf on Wasatch grade

Posted 6 months 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...
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On the road with Big Boy 4014: The chase crowd that wasn't

Posted 6 months 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...
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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 6 months 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...
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This is Switzerland: Gettin’ Rigi with it

Posted 6 months 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...
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It's Big Boy time - Again! Join us for the experience right here

Posted 6 months 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...
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This is Switzerland: Piling on at Pilatus

Posted 6 months 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 ...