2

California dreamin’ – railroad style

Posted 5 years ago by Jim Wrinn
An eastbound Union Pacific stack train climbs California's Beaumont Hill from Loma Linda to Beaumont, Calif., on Tuesday. It was followed closely by a merchandise train on the former Southern Pacific Sunset Route. Jim Wrinn photo PALM DESERT, Calif. – While much of the nation has suffered mightily through dangerously bitter cold that would test anyone’s patience, 1,100 people have been in this southern California desert town for the annual meeting of the National Railroad Constructi...
1

This year's Trains' Photo Contest

Posted 5 years ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
I'm neither a professional photographer nor an amateur photographer, but I know a well composed shot when I see one. My art background coupled with more than a decade of sifting through your train photos, I've come to know great photography. I recently acquired a "good" camera. My definition of good is it's not just a point and shoot. And, like many other people, I tend to use the camera built into my phone to take many shots of … my kids. Between my new camera, my phone's camera, and hav...
7

CNJ in 4 separate states in two months

Posted 5 years ago by Samuel Phillips
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 the unit in four different states and on four separate former railroad lines: Monongahela, Pennsylvania, Southern, and Norfolk & Western. The CNJ is one of my favorite heritage units, so...
14

New Zealand: Land of Variety

Posted 5 years ago by Tom Murray
Above: Map and statistics from KiwiRail Annual Report 2013 Before my wife and I traveled to New Zealand for the first time in 2012, I had studied the online timetables of KiwiRail Scenic Journeys, the passenger arm of the country's national railway, and I had identified other rail operations that I wanted to see or ride while in the country. But I never found an up-to-date guide to New Zealand's railways – freight, passenger, and tourist – that would tell me (or any other overseas...
4

Lac-Mégantic fallout continues for crude oil shippers

Posted 5 years ago by Paul Burgess
A Canadian Pacific train of empty tank cars heads west for reloading. The train is passing Hammond, Ind., on Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line, over which CP has trackage rights. Photo by Paul Burgess The effects from the summer’s deadly oil train derailment at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, continue to ripple across the railroad industry, and crude oil shippers may be the next ones to feel the heat. On July 6, 2013, an unmanned and unattended Montreal, Maine, & Atlantic freigh...
1

Let’s refine crude oil carload numbers: Going inside the industry

Posted 5 years ago by Roy Blanchard
Crude oil empties roll west through Western Springs, Ill., on BNSF Railway tracks in September 2013. Jim Wrinn photo All Class I railroads post weekly car-counts on their websites. The categories are straight from the Association of American Railroads’s classification list and so are pretty much self-explanatory. The exception is “Petroleum Products.” This category shows all crude-oil carloads plus all petroleum products from liquefied petroleum gas to asphalt.Let’s loo...
7

Norfolk Southern's cab units: Among the most technologically advanced streamliners around

Posted 5 years ago by Jim Wrinn
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 photoALTOONA, Pa. — We’ve all come to admire Norfolk Southern's set of four tuxedoed cab units' two As and two Bs that create that "perfect" ABBA set of streamlined Electro-Motive Division engines that were the norm in the 1940s and 1950s. Lovingly restored with great attention to exterior details' they look r...
7

As the Wheel Turns, Part Two

Posted 5 years ago by John Hankey
A Radio Story in Search of a Point Wednesday, Dec. 4, 5:25 PM EST I’ve just finished listening to a feature story on National Public Radio's afternoon news program “All Things Considered.” It was about the boom in new oil traffic on America's railroads. I enjoy and support public radio. It is an oasis in the desert that passes for contemporary broadcasting. But I found the story “Pipeline on Wheels: Trains are Winning Big Off U.S. Oil” deeply troubling. It offers...
5

As the wheel turns, part 1

Posted 5 years ago by John Hankey
This post will end up with a hard-to-answer question. Eventually, I plan to write a string of posts about railroading in the 21st century, and what kinds of roles people fascinated by railroading might play in its dynamic and unpredictable future. Getting from here to there may be a bit of a wild ride. I hope you will hear me out.  It may take a while to convince you, and the railroad industry, that Sunday's tragic Metro North derailment in the Bronx, along with the ghastly derailment and ...
7

Winter photography

Posted 5 years ago by Samuel Phillips
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. Even though it's not much, it still is enough snow to yield beautiful photographic results. A little snow can make an image really pop. Road conditions can be a huge deterrent at times, bu...
34

What railroad are you thankful for?

Posted 5 years ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
During this month of thankfulness, I can't help but think about what railroad I'm thankful for. As I rode into work this morning, I had plenty of time to think about it. At 5 mph on the highway, my mind wandered.  My first thought? I'm thankful for the Canadian Pacific. The railroad runs right through my small town of Oconomowoc, Wis., carrying oil, grain, auto parts, and other goods. We see about 20 freights a day. Amtrak's Empire Builder makes its way through town on these tracks, too....
1

How to understand the Association of American Railroads weekly report on carload freight

Posted 5 years ago by Roy Blanchard
It’s one thing to look down the list of commodities and carloads on the Association of American Railroads reports of weekly rail traffic; it’s something else to know what goes where and why. Let’s take the recent Week 42 report apart. First, the Standard Transportation Commodity Code, STCC for short, assigns a seven-digit number to every conceivable commodity that might be moved across any segment of railroad. The first two digits represent the broad commodity group: 01 for ...
3

Steam into History digs deep into the American story

Posted 5 years ago by Brian Plant
On the early afternoon of Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2013, Leviathan’s whistle blows for the Kirchner Road crossing on the north side of New Freedom, Pa., as the York follows closely behind. Photo by Brian Plant. NEW FREEDOM, Pa. — The once-familiar sound of steam whistles again echo down the valley between Hanover Junction and New Freedom, Pa., on the rails of the former Northern Central Railway. The Northern Central connected Baltimore, Md., with Sunbury, Pa., with constructi...
5

Big Boy, thy strength is already mighty

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
The crowd watches as the Big Boy is prepared for more movement on panel tracks. Jim Wrinn photo POMONA, Calif.- The emotions that Union Pacific’s newly repatriated Big Boy steam locomotive No. 4014 stirs, even without it being restored and in steam, is powerful indeed. On Thursday, as the UP steam crew pulled the engine out of the Rail Giants museum at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, more than 200 people appeared. Many had heard about the move from our social media and News Wire po...
6

Frequently Asked Questions on Trains' Big Boy coverage

Posted 6 years ago by Steve Sweeney
Throughout the day on Wednesday and Thursday, we've noticed certain questions appearing regularly. We hope that posting answers will help some of our viewers enjoy the live streaming video even more. Frequently Asked Questions: Q: When will Big Boy No. 4014 be restored to operating condition?A: Union Pacific needs to return the Big Boy to Cheyenne, Wyo., where the locomotive will receive a complete overhaul. Although the railroad’s heritage operations department has a good idea of what w...
5

Great beginnings: Big Boy No. 4014 comes from out of nowhere to dazzle us

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Big Boy No. 4014 spent her last night inside the Rail Giants Museum at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds Wednesday. Today, she begins her trip toward restoration. Jim Wrinn photo POMONA, Calif. – Steam locomotives, whether running all out at full gait or at rest, command attention. One that is tantalizingly close to going onto the stage, even if the occasion is a trip to the restoration shop, is often a mystery. What is its personality going to be? We’re about to find out. On We...
3

So where can a Big Boy go?

Posted 6 years ago by Steve Sweeney
Distinguished observers like to point out that Big Boys only ever operated in revenue service on the Union Pacific in select mountain areas, mostly Utah and Wyoming. It was what they were designed to do – all they ever did. A kind of logic dictates the original routings are the only ones Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 will ever run again.So when I visited Union Pacific’s steam boss, Ed Dickens, on the last leg of an official Trains trip to Los Angeles three weeks ago, I asked him, &l...
9

Waking up Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
POMONA, Calif. – Good morning. If you’re reading this on Wednesday morning, I am probably in a hotel room putting on my well-worn steel-toed boots, orange safety vest, and lime green hard hat, or more likely, I am already dressed and out witnessing a true miracle, something those of us who love steam locomotives never expected to live to see happen: The first baby steps of a Union Pacific Big Boy steam locomotive that’s headed toward restoration. Full restoration. Given my exci...
4

Train-watching in the Two Percent Economy

Posted 6 years ago by Roy Blanchard
Intermodal traffic and other freight sectors are up, but carload traffic is off, thus yielding a 2 percent railroad. A BNSF Railway intermodal train heads west out of Chicago through Western Springs, Ill., on Oct. 27, 2013. Jim Wrinn photo  If you think the manifest freight trains you’re seeing today are less frequent and not as big as they were a few years ago, you’re right, and I can explain. We’re in what might be called a The Two-percent Economy, i.e., the gross dom...
4

Autumn and all its glory

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
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 than spending a day trackside with friends in the fall: the cool temperatures, a slight breeze, crystal clear days, and the glow of leaves never fail to disappoint. Some of my best and most memorable ...
6

Join me for a ride on Amtrak's rare mileage excursion in Pennsylvania

Posted 6 years ago by Roy Blanchard
We’re on Platform 7 at Amtrak’s 30th Street Station at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Nov 3. In front of us is one of the biggest Amtrak trains I’ve ever seen: 16 cars -- four Amfleet and nine Horizon coaches plus two cafe cars and office car No. 9800 bringing up the markers. On the point are Phase III P42 Heritage unit No. 145 and P40 No. 822, properly positioned back to back. The occasion is the second of two Amtrak Autumn Express (the first ran yesterday) excursions to Harrisburg and bac...
2

Did the railroad club or the railroad get a good deal in Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014?

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 is being worked on by Union Pacific crews to ready it for a ride to Cheyenne, Wyo., in the near future. Photo by Steve Sweeney. The Southern California Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society was the owner and custodian of Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014 for more than 50 years until earlier this summer. That’s when the club and UP struck a deal to put the giant 4-8-8-4, one of the largest and most famous steam locomotives ever built, back...
11

Why 2014 may be the best for steam in the last 20 years

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 rounds a curve near Largo, Ind., on Oct. 27, 2013. Jim Wrinn photo  FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Riding behind Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 last Saturday from Fort Wayne to Lafayette, Ind., and then chasing the westbound train Sunday made me smile and often. This was two beautiful fall days with a big, modern steam locomotive, running sans diesel helper on a Class I railroad with a 16-car train of lightweight passenger equipment in excellent condition and ...
2

Continuing a tradition in the New River Gorge: The New River Train

Posted 6 years ago by Chase Gunnoe
HINTON, W.VA. — Celebrating its 47th consecutive year of New River Train excursions, the Collis P. Huntington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society runs this Amtrak-sponsored consist on CSX rails between Huntington, W.Va., and Hinton, W.Va. The annual “leaf special” traverses some of West Virginia’s most scenic mainline trackage through the majestic New River Gorge. Tracing the route of famous Chesapeake & Ohio long distance passenger trains such as the ...
3

Fighting the good fight on “I” Street

Posted 6 years ago by Kevin P. Keefe
Railroad preservation can be a pretty thankless pursuit, especially if you try to practice it on a grand scale. Americans are oblivious to our industrial and mechanical heritage anyway, except perhaps when it comes to warplanes and warships. When you throw in the challenges of collecting and interpreting things as big and cumbersome (and expensive) as trains, you have to look pretty hard to find the necessary resources, human and otherwise. Fortunately, for more than two decades we’ve see...
1

Railroading gave us the first aid kit

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
I have long been an advocate of teaching in the public schools all of the many ways railroading set the tone for many aspects of modern life. The concepts of time zones, the organization of big businesses, and modern diet (thanks to refrigerator cars) owe all or part of their origins to the railroad business. If you do a little study, it makes for great cocktail party trivia. Impress your friends! Now come our friends at Johnson & Johnson, who tell me that this year marks the 125th annive...
7

Michigan railroads: going deep

Posted 6 years ago by Kevin P. Keefe
When it comes to railroads, I never met a state I didn’t like. They’re all interesting, and for you, that’s especially true of the one you call home. Trains magazine has acknowledged as much a number of times, with special issues devoted to a handful of states that somehow seem more compelling than others. Or at least seem more compelling to the editors. I’m thinking of our first, the all-Nevada tribute so beautifully wrought in January 1978 by photographer and writer Te...
3

A visit to the land of the Union Pacific Big Boys

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Big Boy No. 4005 shines inside the Forney Transportation Museum in Denver, Colo. Jim Wrinn photo. I trekked west recently for the Rocky Mountain Railroad Club’s 75th annual banquet and also to get in touch with Union Pacific’s Big Boy steam locomotives. With all of the excitement related to UP bringing back Big Boy No. 4014 that’s currently on display in southern California, I figured it was time to go where the Big Boys once roamed. The club met, appropriately, in the form...
6

A trip to the Clinchfield

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
My affinity for mountain railroading and anything associated with it continuously fuels a desire to visit and re-visit places that define the term with their tracks that negotiate steep grades, plunge into deep tunnels, and contend with curvature, bridges, and other challenges. I grew up accustomed to such features near the former-Norfolk & Western and Virginian railways mainlines near my backyard, so my heart is with such territory.When getting serious about my photography a couple years ag...
5

Remembering 'Nubes'

Posted 6 years ago by Kevin P. Keefe
Jim Neubauer (1933-2013) inside the cab of Dardanelle & Russellville 2-6-0 No. 9 at North Freedom, Wis. Photo by Mike Schafer Nobody loved riding a steam locomotive and writing about it like Jim Neubauer. A lifelong steam devotee, he made a point of climbing aboard and sometimes even firing just about any engine he could get his hands on, and he had an amazing streak of luck chasing down cab rides in the 1960s and early ’70s. Some of them — Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 4-8...

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