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Don Phillips reflects on Trains-Amtrak town hall meeting

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Special guest post from Don Phillips, Trains columnistI am tempted to say that there was good news and bad news out of the Trains Magazine-Amtrak meeting in Chicago Saturday. There was indeed one item of terrible news and a few items that could be bad if we learn the details. More about that shortly, but first I want to concentrate on some of the good things that came out of this meeting.The best "good thing" was that Amtrak management was there at all and actually provided some straig...
1

That cloudy day in Utah feeling

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Posted by Jim Wrinn, EditorOK, so let’s just say that you are traveling in one of the greatest railroad states in the nation (Utah), and on the February morning you had free, you could choose anything you wanted to do — as long as you didn’t mind the cloud cover that was hovering overhead. That happened to me Wednesday, and the answer to my dilemma was to enjoy a short train ride, as well as a bit of freight action and a glimpse of some preservation. A three-in-one kind of day.  The day sta...
2

Union Pacific 2-8-0 No. 618 makes a rare appearance

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Posted by Jim Wrinn, EditorHeber Valley Railroad Executive Director Craig Lacey was astounded at the phone call he got Tuesday. It was from a resident of the region just east of Salt Lake City wondering what that sound was. “She wondered if it was a cow in distress, or maybe giving birth,” Lacey said over dinner. “She hadn’t heard it much and was debating it with another woman.” What the two women heard was a Southern Railway “hooter” whistle affixed to Union Pacific 2-8-0 No. 618, a 1907 Baldwi...
1

Trains Map of the Month section debuts online

Posted 8 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
By Matt Van Hattem, Senior EditorOne of the most popular features in Trains magazine is now a benefit for subscribers who visit our Web site: the Map of the Month, available as PDF files you can save or print out.  Use our drop-down menus to find maps by subject matter, or type your favorite railroad name into the search engine. We’ll be adding new maps on a regular basis, so be sure to check back, and see if your favorite railroad appears. And check out our free preview map that is availab...
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The legend of ‘Chief Wawatam’

Posted 8 years ago by Andy Cummings
By Andy Cummings, Associate EditorI touched base yesterday with my friend Alex Huff, who recently retired from the railroad industry after a career with Missouri Pacific, Michigan Northern, and Dakota Southern. I wanted to see how he was doing in retirement (fine, thanks), and in the course of conversation, he told me a story that I found fascinating. With his permission, I tell the story in hopes you’ll enjoy it, and perhaps learn something about pre-Staggers railroading.  The Chief Wawata...
17

Spotting roundhouses from satellite images

Posted 8 years ago by Kevin P. Keefe
Of all the brilliant time wasters on the Internet, my guiltiest pleasure is Google Earth. That little blue marble just stares at me from my desktop, daring me to dive into another ridiculous journey across time and topography, leading me at helicopter level across old neighborhoods, familiar landscapes, and most often, railroad landmarks. My latest Google Earth habit: roundhouses. When I first started playing with Google Earth a couple of years ago, I zoomed in on my hometown of Niles, M...
1

Live video of President Obama's high speed rail announcement

Posted 8 years ago by Matt Quandt
Tampa TV station, WTSP is offering live video of President Obama's high speed rail announcement. The site also features live updates from the President's visit. According to these updates, the speech is expected to begin at 1:05p Eastern.Also, be sure to visit TrainsMag.com's "High Speed Rail 2010" section for the latest, most comprehensive news and analysis available from the world's leading publication on the rail industry....
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Strasburg caught hauling freight! Oh my!

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
In choosing pictures for Trains magazine’s April 2010 preservation section, I couldn’t help to select one of Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road doing something so un-Strasburg like as to shock readers who land on page 87: hauling freight. The Strasburg, of course, is the east’s ever-popular tourist railroad in Lancaster County’s Amish country. Close to 400,000 take the short (4.1 miles between East Strasburg and the run around track at Lehman Place, also known as Paradise) ride, much of it throu...
1

Norfolk Southern in the Carolina Piedmont: A message from the boss and a look inside a yard

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Sunday was the last day of the annual Railway Passenger Car Alliance meeting in Salisbury, N.C., and Norfolk Southern was in the spotlight. On Saturday night Wick Moorman, NS’s president, chairman, and CEO, became the first sitting railroad chief executive to address the organization. Moorman gave a presentation on his youthful railroad interest in his hometown of Hattiesburg, Miss., then discussed his company's view on high speed rail (bottom line: it's coming, possibly to some NS route...
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A chance sighting of Clinchfield Railroad office car No. 100

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
When I arrived at the Lancaster & Chester Railway in South Carolina today for a field trip that's part of the Railway Passenger Car Alliance meeting, I saw a car whose lines looked oddly familiar to me. Later, at a photo stop at Fort Lawn, S.C., I recognized the tail car after rare mileage trip organizer Bart Jennings prompted me: Clinchfield Railroad office car No. 100.  The car was painted all Pullman green and its CRR markings were faded, but visible in the right sunlight. The L&...
2

A mid-winter thaw

Posted 8 years ago by Andy Cummings
Last week, I was reading Slate Magazine’s Moneybox column by Daniel Gross, in which he makes the case that recovery will come sooner and stronger than we expect. Much as I’d like to believe him, I think we all have doubts right now about how long it’ll be before the economy we live on returns to normal. This is certainly true at the railroads, where overall traffic is down more than 20 percent from pre-recession levels.  For the first weekend of the new year, I got my first feel for a thaw ...
2

Witness to a great train movie production

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
When our new 100 Greatest Train Movies special came out last week, I had to smile when I got to page 39 and reflected on the movie that ranks No. 47 out of 100. That’s Disney’s “Great Locomotive Chase,” and I have first-hand knowledge of it because I grew up listening to my mother tell stories about its filming in my hometown of Franklin, N.C., a few years before I was born. The subject of the 1956 movie is the capture of the Confederate locomotive “The General&rdqu...
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Trains Magazine and Amtrak to hold town hall meeting in March

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Response to the town hall meeting that Amtrak and Trains are co-sponsoring March 6 in Chicago has been nothing short of excellent. With only a few days since the February 2010 issue to hit mailboxes and the announcement was posted to Trains’ News Wire Monday afternoon, we’ve already pre-registered 102 participants as of today. That’s great news, and it shows that people are definitely interested in this dialogue with CEO Joe Boardman and Amtrak board Chairman Tom Carper.If you’re not familiar wi...
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Rush Loving: What Kind of Owner Will Warren Buffett Be?

Posted 8 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
By Rush Loving--UPDATED-- A lot of people at Burlington Northern Santa Fe are probably wondering what Warren Buffett will do to their company once Berkshire Hathaway completes its purchase in the next few months..Everyone in the railroad industry knows all about predators who come seeking quick profits. They date back to the days of Jim Fisk and Jay Gould. Many people remember those leveraged buy-out artists from Wall Street who were knocking on corporate doors in the 1980s, and more lately some...
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Trains on film: The best of 2009

Posted 8 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
Railroads have a surprising way of sneaking into the popular culture — sometimes in places where we least expect them. What follows is a short list of my favorite railroad “cameo appearances” in movies and TV for 2009. This list is by no means comprehensive, so why not share your favorite “trains on film” moments from 2009 with us? Here are seven to get you started. President Obama’s inauguration train: Millions of Americans watched on Jan. 17, 2009, as a president-elect rode a 10...
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Happy Holidays from all of us at Trains magazine

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Dear readers, On behalf of the Trains editorial staff, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Reflecting on 2009, we’ve enjoyed bringing you the world’s top railroad magazine and web site. This has been a memorable year for us with our two special jumbo issues, the April issue devoted to grain traffic and our October issue about narrow gauge; the addition of Fred Frailey as a monthly columnist; and features, news sections, and departments throughout the year that we hope ed...
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Jim Wrinn's list of “must see” places and “must do” experiences; what’s on yours?

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Everybody has a life’s “to do” list. Some people have heightened this sense of urgency by calling it their “bucket list” of must-do activities they consider essential before they pass from this earth or “kick the bucket.” I was reminded of this earlier this week when I saw pictures of the tiny two-truck Shay that’s on display at the Allen County (Ohio) Historical Society being lifted by crane from one display site and placed in another. For all of the many years that I’ve been riding behind or a...
3

Of politics, education and main line steam

Posted 8 years ago by Steve Glischinski
The recent announcement that Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 would return to the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis., after 15 years of pulling excursions got me thinking about the politics behind mainline steam. Politics, you say? You bet. To successfully navigate the treacherous waters of organizing a main line steam excursion in the 21st century, you’d better be a darn good politician. Consider what you're up against: First, unless you have a good relationship with a Class I rai...
0

What’s a steam fan to do? Answer: Reflect and look forward

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
This is the time of year when I realize that most of the fireboxes on the nation’s operational steam locomotives have gone cold. For most of the museums and tourist railroads, the engines are back in the shop, the volunteers and professionals in charge of them are tearing engines apart for much needed work, and the prospect of another steam season is months away. It’s also a time when I count the “wins” and “losses” for the year – engines that have come back, and others that left us. It’s also a...
2

Rush Loving on Why Buffett Bought BNSF

Posted 8 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
Guest post from Rush LovingTwo weeks ago, when Warren Buffett announced his purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, a number of journalists seemed surprised that anyone would want to buy a railroad. "A railroad might strike many people as a bit old-fashioned-more 19th century than 21st," said The New York Times. Some TV network reporters referred to railroads as if they still were in the 1800s.Nevertheless, they all were quick to explain that Buffett was gambling on the U.S. economy-...
1

Chili’s restaurant and high speed rail … who knew?

Posted 8 years ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
So there I am sitting down to dinner last Friday night at my daughter’s favorite dining establishment, Chili’s. Our hostess presented my girl with her menu, which doubles as an activity book. I’m not sure how often Chili’s changes the activity book theme, but this was the first time I saw this one on transportation. Chili’s recurring characters all took charge of a mode of transportation. Hal flies a jet that uses a rocket engine, Sunny drives a solar car, Pepper explores the ocean in a deep-sea...
0

Introducing Photo of the Day

Posted 8 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Railroad photography just keeps getting better. It’s always been great with passionate photographers, great optical equipment, and the most thrilling subject on the planet (in motion, lighting conditions never the same twice, equally fascinating up close or in panorama). But today it just seems that the digital revolution has just made a great art form even better, and Trains is going to showcase more great railroad photography on our Web site. Starting today, our Photo of the Week feature becom...
0

Enjoy a free tour of TrainsMag.com, including News Wire, this weekend!

Posted 8 years ago by Matt Quandt
From noon Friday, November 13, through 8 a.m. CST Monday, November 16, all the great features that are available only to registered users or Trains magazine subscribers will be available to everyone, including you. For free! Find out what you've been missing! Check out these exclusive benefits: Trains News Wire — Get caught up on the day's railroading headlines written by Trains staff members, featuring about 30 stories a week! TrainsTube Videos — Watch Trains editors interview indus...
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TRAINS cover breaks new ground

Posted 8 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
by Matt Van Hattem, Senior EditorIf you’ve ever stopped to glance at the cover of a fashion magazine (admit it — we all have), you may also know that the “photo” is often a composite of different pictures of the same model, knit together seamlessly with the magic of photo editing software.At Trains magazine, we usually strive for realism on our covers. That doesn’t mean we won’t, say, remove a patch of dirt from the lead engine’s nose. But to do much more would mar the integrity of the photo and...
2

Goin' to the end of the line

Posted 8 years ago by Andy Cummings
The towns along Minnesota Northern Railroad’s Warroad Subdivision could form the backdrop for Garrison Keillor’s stories, or provide set locations for the Coen Brothers’ movie Fargo. Tall gray grain elevators provide the only vertical relief; each fall, they fill with the bounty of the fields that stretch north into Manitoba, and south until they transition to marshes on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. In summer, Warroad sees its share of visitors in the form of boat-towing Twin Citians who mak...
1

A Rare Class-1 Rail CEO Gathering ...

Posted 9 years ago by Bill Withuhn
A rare trio spoke in August before an important annual professional gathering that represents all transport modes:  Three leading Class-1 CEOs – BNSF’s Matt Rose, Kansas City Southern’s Mike Haverty, and Norfolk Southern’s Wick Moorman – spoke at a forum called “Balanced Regulation & Freight Railroads" at the 12th Annual Transportation & Infrastructure Summit in Irving, Texas. These annual summits are multi-modal, drawing an audience of transportation decision-makers from ...
5

Bad railroad language

Posted 9 years ago by Bill Withuhn
Trains is pleased to welcome Smithsonian Transportation Curator Bill Withuhn to our blogs. Withuhn is well known to Trains readers for his many articles in the magazine and his work in preservation. You can read much more about him and his fascinating career in our November 2009 issue. — Jim Wrinn, Editor  ---------- President-elect Barack Obama rode in a "blue caboose" from Philadelphia to Washington before his swearing-in. Well, that was how the Washington Post described it.
&nb...
1

Tales of a baby brakie

Posted 9 years ago by Kathi Kube
A couple of months ago, I took — and passed, thank you very much — my rules exam at the Illinois Railway Museum. That's right, I'm now a baby brakeman learning as much as I can about railroading operations with the goal of marking up to conductor and, eventually, engineer. The path here has been logical, at least for me.As an introduction, let me address two questions I'm asked more often than some people wash their cars: Do I really like trains, and how did I get involved in this hobby? Yes, I ...
0

Class I steam is alive and well – on rails other than the main line

Posted 9 years ago by Jim Wrinn
by Jim Wrinn Santa Fe, Union Pacific, Southern, Southern Pacific, Boston & Maine: The illustrious list of Class I railroad steam locomotives that are back in operation or on the way to steaming is impressive; the notion that the only steam in captivity today is about short lines and industrial railroads is far from the truth. But what’s even more remarkable about this list is that this new round of engine restorations isn’t taking place on Class I railroads. Museums and tourist lines are doi...
2

Is the DM&E project dead?

Posted 9 years ago by Andy Cummings
It's a fair question, to be sure. Canadian Pacific's Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern withdrew 19 lawsuits attempting to seize land from Wyoming residents; the land was to be used for a new right-of-way into the Powder River Basin coalfields. I spoke with DM&E spokesman Mike LoVecchio last week about the decision, and he tells me it represents a change of tactic, not an abandonment or even suspension of the project as a whole. Still, CP makes no secret that regulatory and economic factors are...

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