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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...
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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...
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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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Let the good times roll

Posted 6 years ago by Greg McDonnell
The eldest of OSR's three FP9s, No. 6508 awaits the call to duty at Salford, Ont. These are good times for aficionados of EMD-design E and F model cab units. On the verge of extinction for decades, the population of classic EMD streamliners in revenue service is actually increasing. Much of the credit for this remarkable renaissance goes to Iowa Pacific president Ed Ellis and his ever-expanding collection of EMD streamliners. Ellis and Iowa Pacific's fleet of vintage EMDs — 23...
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Fighting the good fight in Michigan

Posted 7 years ago by Kevin P. Keefe
People who fight for better passenger-train service never get combat pay, but they deserve it.  That’s a conclusion I reached last Saturday after attending the annual meeting of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (www.marp.org), which is celebrating its 40th year. Founded by John De Lora in 1973, MARP has been on the front lines for nearly every effort to improve Amtrak service in the Wolverine State. Sometimes its members fight the big battles: saving the all-impor...
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Super-sized steam preservation: Are we entering the age of the articulateds?

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
News that Western Maryland Scenic is interested in a Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 as a running mate for its 2-8-0 in Cumberland, Md., is the latest information that leads me to think we’re entering into a true American era of railway preservation: supersized. This is a surprising turn given that so many large engines have gone cold over the past dozen years since the coming of new Federal Railroad Administration regulations that raised the standards on boiler integrity.  For a while...
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Mapping North America’s railroad extremes

Posted 7 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
Putting together the illustrations for Trains magazine’s new “Railroad Maps” publication provided a great opportunity to delve into the extremes of North America’s railroad network.  Inside “Railroad Maps,” you’ll find maps of the highest, steepest, fastest, busiest, biggest, and snowiest lines on the continent. To prepare this collection, we took some of your favorite illustrations from Trains magazine’s “Map of the Month” serie...
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Southern Railway 4501 is coming together at Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Southern Railway 2-8-2 No. 4501 is coming along in the shop at Tenneesee Valley Railroad Museum. Note the feedwater heater apparatus in the smokebox and on top. CHATTANOOGA — On the wall of the Robert M. Soule Shops at Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is a park bench-sized sign with legendary 1960s Southern Railway President D.W. Brosnan’s famous axiom, “It can’t be done” with the “n’t” crossed out by a slash. It is a most appropriate sign for the ...
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Can't we all get along?

Posted 7 years ago by Brian Schmidt
I thought it would be nice to take an Amtrak trip in the Midwest this fall. A train trip purely for the sake of a train trip, and go somewhere I've never been on a train before. Seems pretty simple, right? Wrong.I'd ridden the Empire Builder (and even Hiawathas) long before I moved to Wisconsin, so there's no new mileage for me here. There are still four corridors and a few other routes out of Chicago I've never seen. But, unfortunately, lack of foresight and planning on behalf of the states sup...
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Seven new experiences in one year at Trains magazine

Posted 7 years ago by Brian Schmidt
June 18 marked my one year anniversary at Trains magazine, and I've seen a lot in my first year here. In no particular order, here are some favorites: WINTERAIL – In March I traveled to Stockton, Calif., to attend Winterail, a large railroad multimedia event held annually. The premise, of course, is that Trains sends a representative to staff a table and be available to contributors, both established and potential. What the event turned out to be, however, was a chance for me to mee...
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Catching all 20 NS heritage units in the wild!

Posted 7 years ago by Samuel Phillips
After the event at Spencer, most of us Eastern rail buffs have spent immense time and money chasing the fleet, sharing one goal in mind: catching all 20 in the wild! Residing in a part of NS's system where heritage locomotives show up frequently has enabled me to photograph the fleet in a relatively short order. However, one locomotive in particular, Central of New Jersey SD70Ace No. 1071, evaded me for nearly a year. Then, on rainy July 7, my day came as I photographed No. 1071 leading a nort...
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See what's inside "Railroad Maps"

Posted 7 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
Think of our new publication “Railroad Maps” like a musician’s greatest hits album. We’ve taken your favorite maps from Trains magazine’s “Map of the Month” series, updated the modern-day ones with the latest information, and collected them all in one place. Plus, we’ve prepared four new illustrations exclusively for “Railroad Maps.” The artwork you see here shows one of the new maps in progress: a detailed guide to the railroads of Se...
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Southern 4501, Norfolk & Western 611, and now Union Pacific 4014: Can it get any better than this?

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
These are strange, almost surrealistic times for us steam locomotive fans. We’re on the verge of living in a dream that is beyond-belief good. But we’re still not a happy lot. The modern age of steam on the main line had diminished to a candle flickering in the night. To the sorrow of many, Norfolk Southern abruptly ended mainline excursions in 1994. Union Pacific decided in the early 2000s that it was easier to run its two locomotives without the hassle of trying to sell tickets to...
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What's in a number?

Posted 7 years ago by Greg McDonnell
BNSF AC4400CW No. 5701 was just another GE when Ted Benson, Steve Bradley, and I encountered it leading eastbound intermodal train Z FRSCHI7 09 at Tunnel 2 on Tehachapi in April. Indeed, according to the data we’ve assembled for “All In!” a 20-page Locomotive 2013 feature examining the motive power fleets of the North American “Big 8,” No. 5701 is one of more than 4,000 GEs that account for a whopping 59 percent of the BNSF locomotive fleet. While GEs dominate the ...
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Delayed by a train

Posted 7 years ago by mikeyuhas
Traffic stops on I94 in Milwaukee, Wis., while a man works on his disabled truck, which happens to be hauling rail. Photo by Mike Yuhas The general public often claims that being late to work is the result of being "held up by a train." For railroad enthusiasts, that expression has a slightly different connotation - yeah, I was held up by a train all right, but that's only because I was photographing it while on the way in to the office. So, although I have been (ahem) held up by a train on oc...
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Contrasting old and new: The iconic Norfolk & Western coaling dock at Vicker, Va.

Posted 7 years ago by Samuel Phillips
Standing tall and proud after years of serving the former Norfolk & Western, a concrete coaling dock spans Norfolk Southern’s busy double-track main line at Vicker, Va., as an eastbound manifest silhouettes the structure in heavy fog. The train is grinding uphill, piercing the night air with locomotives in notch 8 as they move across NS's Christiansburg District. Old icons like coaling docks remind us of railroading’s past, and it’s neat to include them in modern photog...
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Erie to GE: "I love you more"

Posted 7 years ago by Steve Sweeney
Erie, Pa., locals thought GE loved them as much as they love it. Or did, until last week.To me, Erie is the closest “big” city to where I was raised, about an hour east in foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in New York State. For the five years I spent living and working as an adult in Erie, it had quality colleges, inspired physicians, and an amusement park that still entertains. And, for course, there was GE. GE Transportation’s June 28 announcement that ful...
4

Luck

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
“Eighty percent of success is just showing up.” That is one of my favorite quotes, and many of you will recognize it as being attributed to comedian, actor, and director Woody Allen. Friends and co-workers tire of hearing me repeat it. But it is true. Case in point: A chance encounter far from home with two special locomotives Monday morning. I had been in Colorado last weekend for a good friend’s wedding. The visit also gave me the chance to visit one of my favorite preservat...
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Evolution in Erie

Posted 7 years ago by Greg McDonnell
If there’s a bright spot in the gloom currently cast over the historic GE Transportation factory in Erie, Pa., it’s the brightly painted blue-white-and-green ES44AC Tier 4 engineering prototypes currently undergoing testing in the back yard of the sprawling facility on the east side of town. Word that negotiations between GE and United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers Union Local 506 had failed to secure concessions to avert the transfer of work and resultant elimination of ...
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Locomotive 2013

Posted 7 years ago by Greg McDonnell
It’s been seven years since the first edition of Locomotive, the Trains magazine special issue dedicated to motive power, rolled off the press. The brainchild of Kalmbach Publishing Co. Vice President-Editorial (and former Trains Editor) Kevin Keefe, Locomotive has covered the contemporary motive power scene, from building Evolution and export-model GEs on the assembly lines in Erie, Pa., to the construction of dual-power NJ Transit ALP45DPs in Bombardier’s historic former-Henschel w...
3

Low light photography

Posted 7 years ago by Samuel Phillips
Low-light Photography: One of my favorite situations while trackside is a high-contrast, low-light scene, which can produce incredibly striking results. Low light is defined by the time around sunrise or sunset. However, some weather condition, like heavy rain, fog, or just a flat-out 'dark' scene, could also be defined as low light and likewise produce a striking result.When I’m trackside, I seek out low light. It challenges me as a photographer, enabling me to capture something out of t...
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A great ride for a great cause

Posted 7 years ago by Brian Schmidt
This past Friday, June 7, Union Pacific hosted two Operation Lifesaver specials in conjunction with its UP CARES railroad safety awareness program. I got to ride both trips, and the deadhead moves, along with some friends. The first trip we rode from Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago out the Metra UP-NW commuter line to Barrington and return in the dome. Ogilvie is the new name for the old North Western station, or at least the office tower that replaced it. The morning commuter rush is ...
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Rochelle Railroad Days 2013

Posted 7 years ago by Brian Schmidt
Although I'm a frequent visitor to Rochelle, I had never attended the city's annual Rochelle Railroad Days, now in its eighth year. That record speaks volumes for the city of Rochelle and Union Pacific who support the event. The Rochelle Tourism & Visitor's Association organizes the event, which draws people from throughout the U.S. and Canada, with the help of the city and UP. The railroad provides display equipment, this year Southern Pacific-painted heritage unit No. 1996 and a new EMD ...
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2012 Trains photo contest

Posted 7 years ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
Thanks again for sending us more than 400 photos for our 2012 contest. The theme was the blue hour, or the one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset. Check out the winners below, and please let us know what you think by commenting. Grand prize: Robert Jordan's aerial image of a Canadian Pacific freight at Bellevue, Iowa. First prize: Eric Williams shot of a Metro-North train crossing Moodna Viaduct at Salisbury Mills, N.Y. Second prize: Stewart Buck's stark photo of a switchma...
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Watching Norfolk Southern trains at Shawsville, Va.

Posted 7 years ago by Samuel Phillips
I want to take you to a place that has become a favorite of mine to visit again and again. Shawsville, Va., situated along the westbound assault of Christiansburg Mountain on Norfolk Southern’s Christiansburg District, is a spot on the former Norfolk & Western main line between Norfolk, Va., and Cincinnati. For those that regularly see my photography, you know that I love shooting at one particular location in Shawsville, just east of the downtown area. I stumbled upon the location se...
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Their era ended long ago, but the last 40-foot boxcars endure

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
A BN 40-foot boxcar in work train service in Missoula, Mont., in September 2006. Tom Danneman photo. Just for the record, I like watching an entire train go by, from the power to the EOT. We all enjoy seeing locomotives pass, but I also like to see the rest of the train. The consist is 95 percent of a train, after all. Not watching the whole train, to me, is like buying tickets for a major movie and failing to stick around for the credits. You’re bound to miss something noteworthy if you ...
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How WRI friendships grease squeaky wheels

Posted 7 years ago by Steve Sweeney
CHICAGO - You could describe the 2013 Wheel/Rail Interaction conference here in Chicago by highlighting the bright minds gathered in one room at one time or by the scope of knowledge each presenter offers to the audience. Yet the connections forged during the four-day conference might be the most important of all. Gordon Bachinsky, the electrical engineer at the heart of WRI seminars says as much almost as a mantra throughout the daily sessions. "We want to develop those relationships and tea...
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Tom Hoback on Wheel/Rail Interaction 2013: "brilliant"

Posted 7 years ago by Steve Sweeney
When something is important to Tom Hoback, he lets you know. The Indiana Rail Road, of which he is founder, president, and CEO, is one. Railroading, in general, is another and lately, so is the Wheel/Rail Interaction Conference. So important is the conference coming next week, that Hoback paused during a recent overseas trip to talk about it, fighting through spotty cell phone reception to get his message across. “Here you have less than an inch square with all these contact forces th...
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A new face with a new assignment: Wheel/Rail Interaction Conference 2013

Posted 7 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 7 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...