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A new face with a new assignment: Wheel/Rail Interaction Conference 2013

Posted 6 years ago by Steve Sweeney
Hi Everyone! Most readers are aware that TRAINS magazine just hired a new associate editor. That's me, Steve Sweeney. But since most of you still don't know much about me yet, fellow editors here thought it would be a good idea to blog an introduction. But first, a little plug. For the two weeks that I’ve been learning the ropes at TRAINS, memorizing names and editing copy, I’ve also been planning for my first big event: WRI 2013. For those of you who don’t know, the Wheel...
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Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 630 visits Asheville

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Few mountain crossings in the eastern United States are as fascinating as Norfolk Southern’s twisting, climbing route between Old Fort and Ridgecrest in the western North Carolina mountains. Its amazing engineering to gain 1,000 feet of elevation via 13 miles of track using loops, seven tunnels, and numerous bridges; the incredible operations that get trains safely up and down the mountain’s 2.2 percent grade; and its magnificent southern Appalachian forest backdrop make it irresisti...
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The climb to Clark's Gap via the former Virginian Railroad

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
Some of you may already know that I have an affinity for the Virginian Railway. Something about the railroad has always intrigued me since my love for railroads materialized young in life. The former Virginian was one of the places I first visited as a railfan. When I first began taking pictures, my dad took me to the community of Whitethorne, Va., at the base of the climb to Merrimac. I remember watching loaded coal trains stopping for helpers, then taking off a few minutes later shaking the gr...
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Inside the Barriger Library: When the government took over the TP&W

Posted 6 years ago by Nicholas Fry
For the past few years I’ve been researching railroads of Pittsburgh, Pa. When I moved to my new job at the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library in St. Louis, I found myself with direct access to a collection of materials directly related to my research. John W. Barriger III was the former President of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad and his papers contain a wealth of information about that company and its operations. However, I wanted to know more about certain decisio...
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Planes, Trains and Automobiles: One reporter’s journey to Milwaukee and back

Posted 6 years ago by Anonymous
Chicago Union Station. Steve Sweeney For a recent business trip to Milwaukee I had to fly to make connections, meet the bosses and get a good night’s sleep before the scheduled all-day meetings. On the way home, however, I consciously chose Amtrak as a return route. It’s the first time in years that America’s passenger railroad and its once-daily eastbound Lakeshore Limited fit into my scheduled return trip to Erie, Pa. Erie, Pa., 5:30 p.m. February 27:At the airport. My wi...
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Chasing NS' Norfolk & Western heritage unit across home rails

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
Overview: With Norfolk Southern’s announcement of Norfolk its 20 “heritage fleet” of new diesels in March 2012, I immediately thought, "I have to catch the N&W engine (NS 8103) on former N&W rails and the VGN unit (NS 1069) on former Virginian rails."  Since I reside near some of the most well-known and famous sections of the former Norfolk & Western, I have an affinity for that railroad and anything related to it. Thus, catching the N&W heritage unit ...
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In search of steam (and vintage diesels) on a western road trip

Posted 6 years ago by Tom Murray
My father, to whom I owe my interest in railroads, was a long-time subscriber to both Trains and Model Railroader. He and I made many trips during my childhood to watch trains at various places in central Massachusetts, where I grew up. But he didn't take many photos of trains, so the two below, which I believe he took during the winter before I was born, are very special to me. This Boston & Maine passenger train is passing the Norton Company, in Worcester, Massachusetts, en route to G...
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How the rain and fog can infuse your photos with mood

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
I am 17 years old, and I live in the remote and beautiful countryside of Southwest Virginia, in the small community of Indian Valley. My main interests are photography and railroads; both have intrigued me since I was 5, when I acquired my first camera. Honestly, I don’t know where these interests came from, because I am the only one in my family who enjoys photography or railroads. I remember taking my first train photo in early 2002, at Montgomery, Va., at the twin tunnels made famous b...
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Illuminating the dark side of steam

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Editor Jim Wrinn interviews photographer Olaf Haensch in Wernigerode, Germany in September 2012. Olaf Haensch photo. Harz train steams by the Quedlinburg, Germany, railway station. Olaf Haensch photo. A Harz 2-10-2T steams at the summit of Brocken, with the lights of Wernigerode, Germany, visible in the valley below. Olaf Haensch photo. Olaf Haensch is a lucky man. He was born near Wernigerode, Germany, 36 years ago. His family did not own a car, so they traveled by bus to visit nearby relati...
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Just like old times

Posted 6 years ago by John Hankey
Cars from the Union Pacific business train fleet were on display in Sacramento for the 150th anniversary event. John P. Hankey photo.  It was how things used to be, and may never be again. Over the last weekend in September, the Union Pacific Railroad and the California State Railroad Museum celebrated UP’s 150th anniversary in Sacramento with equipment exhibits, performances, free museum admission, and old-fashioned railroad spectacle. We rarely see traditional railroad celebrations...
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Train-watching at Missouri Valley

Posted 6 years ago by Roy Blanchard
The town of Missouri Valley, Iowa, is 40 miles north of Omaha, Neb., on I-29. It's the site of some of the most concentrated and intense mainline freight action you'll ever see. And I make it a point to get out there whenever business takes me to Omaha. Such was the case the week of Halloween for the annual Union Pacific shortline meeting. An ill wind blows no good, and I have an extra day in Omaha thanks to Hurricane Sandy. My home airport, Philadelphia, is closed, and I already changed m...
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Looking for railroad history in Canada’s capital

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
OTTAWA – Participants at this year’s Association of Railway Museums/Tourist Railway Association meeting were up early in Montreal Tuesday for a trip to the nation’s capital and a railroad history tour.  There was only one way to get there, of course: VIA Rail Canada train No. 51. We boarded the five-car train behind F40PH No. 6438 and enjoyed the ride. The large windows of our LRC coaches provided wonderful views of the countryside. At Ottawa, we took a bus to ...
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Looking for a future for the past with tourist railways and museums

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
MONTREAL — I’m in Montreal this week for the annual joint conference of the Association of Railway Museums and Tourist Railway Association. It is a meeting that I always enjoy because of its seminars and field trips. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, when railway preservation was in its infancy, and I’ve been involved in it directly through volunteer work at the North Carolina Transportation Museum since 1986. So this is a homecoming of sorts for me — the chance...
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Pullman: Though the factory is gone, the community remains

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
A Southwest Airlines 737 takes off from Chicago's Midway Airport, flying over the remains of the Pullman plant. Jim Wrinn photo CHICAGO – I visited the fabled Pullman Palace Car plant on the south side of Chicago on a recent weekend. It was the Historic Pullman Foundation’s 39th annual tour of homes, a chance to step inside some of the row houses where 12,000 railroad passenger car workers lived in a factory community that was so nice to live in that it was once labeled Ameri...
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South of the border, the railroading isn’t much different

Posted 6 years ago by John Hankey
I’m sitting in the courtyard of a hotel built from the ruins of a 16th-century convent in the Mexican city of Puebla. The evening’s rainstorm is washing through, and I’m wondering why we gringos have so often ignored Mexican railroading. I’m not here as a tourist, although now I wish I were. I’m part of a delegation to Mexico’s first “International Colloquium on Railway Cultural Heritage Conservation” (my translation). Nathaniel Guest, from the NR...
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As InnoTrans 2012 winds down, a look at the odd, the quirky and how North American railroading shows up in some of the strangest ways

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
BERLIN – I despise QR codes, those square boxes with ink arranged like it came out of an old-fashioned dot matrix printer. It’s supposed to lead your smart phone to further information with the press of a button. I’ve never used one, and I only know one person who does, but on the first day of the world’s largest railway trade and technology show, there was one, as big as a living room rug, plastered on the side of Vossloh’s big, new high speed rail grinder. Is it t...
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Part volksmarch, part theme park, part party city, all business: It’s InnoTrans

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Like ants flocking to their hill, visitors to InnoTrans flood into the fairgrounds at Berlin for the world's largest railway trade and technology show. Photo by Jim Wrinn Here's a typical exhibit booth with plenty of people, big-time graphics, and video displays. The trains are outside! Photo by Jim Wrinn We're at Lucchini RS' exhibit for a briefing about research into steel for high speed wheels ... and then, as they describe it, 'a typical Italian reception.' Photo by Ji...
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Out of 115 pieces of rolling stock at InnoTrans, two favorites emerge: A Euopean dome car and a jacked up track maintenance rig

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
We’re looking at the seating area of a former German railways dome car under restoration by RailAdventure, a Munich-based company. Jim Wrinn photo RailAdventure, a Munich, Germany-based company, is rebuilding this dome car into a private car for charter use. The panels on the side show what the interior will look like once it is done. Jim Wrinn photo The Robel-built Mobile Maintenance System looks like a giant yellow caterpillar but provides a portable workstation for track maintenance u...
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At InnoTrans, it’s fun to go to the press briefing … and stick around late!

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Here's a unique rail vehicle on display at InnoTrans, a portable work station, where the rolling stock moves into place, opens up like a camper, and the track crew can work in a sheltered environment with tools and gear within easy reach. Photo by Jim Wrinn The Italian-made Crab, basically the same concept as an American Trackmobile, is on display at InnoTrans 2012. Photo by Jim Wrinn Among the final chores prior to the opening of InnoTrans 2012 is to wash the windows on all of the trains. The...
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Original Glacier Express route keeps steaming in Switzerland

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
]Workers repair a wood passenger car at the Furka Pass shop in Aarau, Switzerland. Jim Wrinn photo The boilers and frames for the Furka Pass 0-8-0s rest in the shop at Chur. Jim Wrinn photo The boilers and frames for the Furka Pass 0-8-0s rest in the shop at Chur. Jim Wrinn photo I’m always looking for railroads that American railfans can use in comparison with some of the stars in Europe’s vibrant preservation community. Over the last two days, I’ve been visiting with Switz...
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Railfanning at 30,000 feet

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
I am on the way to the world’s largest railroad trade and technology show, InnoTrans, held every other year in Berlin. I am taking the long way to the show, via one of Europe’s most spectacular steam-powered tourist railroads and some incredible fast trains that put Amtrak’s Acela to shame, but more about that and the show later as they happen. On Wednesday, I started my journey with a 2-hour plane trip from Milwaukee to Philadelphia, where I boarded my trans-Atlantic flight. E...
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Two derailments, one tragedy

Posted 7 years ago by John Hankey
Once in a while, an incident gets your attention in unsettling ways. That happened the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 21, when a CSX coal train derailed in Ellicott City, Md. Two young women lost their lives. They were just days from returning to college, one of them to a school I attended. I’m pretty certain I crossed paths with CSX train U813 on its way east from Grafton, W.Va. I was returning from a weekend conference in Ohio, and decided Monday to follow the original B&O route from Whee...
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Desolation at Vaughan

Posted 7 years ago by Kevin P. Keefe
Rust marks the curve in Vaughan, Miss., where Casey plowed into a freight train on April 30, 1900. Photo by Kevin P. KeefeThe plan for the end of a recent vacation was simple. After a few days in the Florida Panhandle, my wife, Alison, and I would overnight in New Orleans, then drive back to Milwaukee over two days via our favorite college town, Oxford, Miss., our daughter's alma mater. These kinds of trips invariably are dedicated to food, Southern style, and you can't miss with eithe...
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Steam returns to Roanoke

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Photo by Jim Wrinn. ROANOKE, Va. – Let the record show that on June 24, 2012, at approximately 4:03 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings time, an operating mainline steam locomotive rolled into the city once known as the Alamo of Steam. Over a radio, I heard Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 630 call the approach diverging signal for Norfolk Avenue and then roll into view. It was a most unlikely liberation by an everyday, turn-of-the-century Southern Railway K-class Consolidation in this, the headquart...
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Fifty shades of blue: How Conrail’s paint scheme changed from brown to blue

Posted 7 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
 Norfolk Southern’s first heritage unit, ES44AC No. 8098, proudly wears Conrail’s blue paint and trademark “wheels-on rails” logo. Photo by Norfolk Southern It’s June 1, 2012, and 13 years ago to this day, Conrail was dissolved, split among Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation. (The name still lives on, however, in a unique switching and terminal operation that you’ll learn about in the October 2012 issue of Trains magazine.) This year saw a pl...
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2011 Trains photo contest winners

Posted 7 years ago by Kathi Kube
For this year's photo contest, we were looking for creative use of light and shadow. Overall, the quality of photos submitted was very high, making the task of choosing the winners even harder than usual. Take a look at the winners below and please leave your comments. Thank you. Grand Prize: Travis Dewitz' wonderful image of a locomotive in the night snow. First Prize: John House's shot of a Union Pacific train in Colorado. Second Prize: Matt Batrynrodriguez's photo o...
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In Portland, the Daylight & Co. are packing their bags

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
The Southern Pacific Brooklyn Roundhouse in its last days in May 2012. Jim Wrinn photo PORTLAND, Ore. – Few historic locomotive shops in American railway preservation have earned icon status. The Brooklyn Roundhouse in Portland, Ore., is one of them, and it is getting ready to close soon. Its most famous residents, Southern Pacific Daylight 4-8-4 No. 4449 and Spokane, Seattle & Portland 4-8-4 No. 700, will be moving to a new home, and the walls at Brooklyn will come own. Some will she...
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How many places can put four locomotives in steam in 2012?

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
All four operating Mount Rainier Scenic steam locomotives running together make for a fine sight at the railroad’s shops in Mineral, Wash., on May 4. Jim Wrinn photoMINERAL, Wash. – I spent last Friday and all of Saturday at Washington state’s Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, where 20 of us steam locomotive enthusiasts were fortunate enough to witness the spectacle of four vintage logging locomotives in operation at once. Against a backdrop of snow covered peaks, fir, and yellowi...
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Where the steel hits the rail

Posted 7 years ago by Kathi Kube
I'm spending this week in Chicago with some dear old friends, and a whole lot of wonderful new ones at the Wheel/Rail Interaction Seminar in Chicago. It's Trains' new publisher Diane Bacha's first industry event, and I'm really enjoying introducing her to this industry I love so much. It's funny, though: In many ways, being here and explaining some of the engineering concepts and terminology being tossed about is reminding me how far I've come in these many years...
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Sunset (and a New Dawn) at Andover

Posted 7 years ago by Ron Flanary
"If you want to see the last Interstate unit to leave Andover, you'd better get up here!" The voice on the other end of the phone was Sonny Burchfield, an operator for the Southern at the newly combined Interstate-Southern yard at Andover. As the evening sun set behind the southwestern Virginia hills on Oct. 5, 1965, I drove up to the engine facility to find a single Alco RS-3-Interstate Railroad No. 32 burbling away all by itself. Her nine sister units were already in Atlanta, ...