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14

Will Donald Trump top railroad news in 2017?

Posted 6 months ago by Jim Wrinn
When we put together list of the top 10 railroad stories of 2016, we put Donald Trump’s election as the next president as No. 10 and Wick Moorman’s appointment to Amtrak’s president as No. 1. Our choices were more of a predictive designation, not unlike President Obama’s Nobel Peace in 2009: It’s about what we expect they’ll do. I’ve been thinking about that, and I’m going to predict that 11 months from now, when we compile a new top 10 list, that ...
4

What's ahead in railroading for 2017

Posted 6 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Are you ready for a new year? It’s upon us. And no one is more surprised than I am that it’s time to plan the year ahead. The railroad world is already busy. Here’s a month-by-month calendar of what we’ve got on the radar so far. Check back here often for additions. January 8-12, Transportation Research Board. Big-time gathering of the best and brightest minds in railroading and other modes with an eye toward the future. Associate Editor Steve Sweeney, who edits our tec...
15

Looking back at Trains -- 1967

Posted 6 months ago by Brian Schmidt
As we 're about to flip our calendars over to 2017, I'm continuing the sentimental tone this week with a look back at Trains 50 years ago, in 1967: Jan. 3 Chicago South Shore & South Bend control acquired by Chesapeake & Ohio. February IC replaces diamond with split-rail logo. March 22 Jersey Central files for bankruptcy. March 24 Last run of last “true” Soo Line passenger train, the Winnipeger to St Paul. April Great Northern introduces Big Sky Blue livery. Apri...
4

Looking back at Trains – 1992

Posted 7 months ago by Brian Schmidt
As we 're about to flip our calendars over to 2017, I'm continuing the sentimental tone this week with a look back at Trains 25 years ago, in 1992: Jan. 3 Fred A. Stindt, a railroad and maritime historian who helped establish the California State Railroad Museum and was past president of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, dies at the age of 80. February Don Phillips, veteran Washington Post transportation reporter and author of Trains’ monthly “Potomac Pundit&rd...
16

40 years hence

Posted 7 months ago by Brian Schmidt
Conrail light power rolls through Michigan Central Station in Detroit in the late 1970s. John Uckley photo, collection of Brian Schmidt The “old farts” from a previous blog post have me thinking again – about how remarkable modern railroading is. In spite of what some curmudgeons would lead us to believe, railroading in the past 40 years, since the creation of the late, lamented Conrail, has been remarkably stable. That is my estimation from the trackside perspective, at lea...
8

Merry Christmas from Trains magazine!

Posted 7 months ago by Jim Wrinn
From everyone who puts together Trains, we’d like to wish you a wonderful Christmas 2016. It is our pleasure and an honor to bring you the world’s largest popular railroad publication and its most visited website. I hope you’ll allow me to brag on the folks who make it happen, as they richly deserve it. As I often remind people, there is no “I” in Trains – OK, well, there is grammatically but as far as writing and producing this publication and website, it ...
16

Here's why you need to ride or chase Norfolk & Western 611 in 2017

Posted 7 months ago by Jim Wrinn
I am here to urge you, my friends, no to politely shove you, toward tracks down south come April and May. Why am I doing this? Because you need this. You really do. Norfolk & Western No. 611’s spring 2017 schedule came out today, and while any main line steam schedule the U.S. in the 21st century is cause for celebration, I fear that some of you may treat this with utter complacency: “These trips have all been done before. I’ve seen the engine on this line. I’ve ri...
8

Site of the Berlin terror attack is a familiar place

Posted 7 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Monday’s terror attack in Berlin, in which some awful monster drove a truck into a crowded Christmas market, killing at least 12 and injuring more than 50, hits close to home, even though I live in the U.S. The site is the Kaiser Willhelm Memorial Church, and it’s an area well known to me as I have lived nearby in an apartment for a week while covering InnoTrans, the world’s largest railroad trade show in September 2010, 2012, and 2014. Associate Editor David Lassen covered thi...
12

Twilight for 'Twilight of Steam' author Ron Ziel

Posted 7 months ago by Jim Wrinn
I never met noted steam photographer Ron Ziel, who passed away Dec. 15 at age 77, but I know him well. That’s because some 50 years ago, he spoke to me from the bookshelf of Brody’s Hobby Shop in downtown Asheville, N.C. I was but a lad, a child in love with steam locomotives, and here was a man who had gone out and photographed the last steam power and put it into a book called “Twilight of Steam Locomotives.” It is still one of my favorites, and I still have the tattere...
2

Brushing up on the basics

Posted 7 months ago by Brian Schmidt
Although I don't really have the title, if you send an email to "photoeditor" I will invariable see the message. It's just one of the quirk of the job. Some people use it to ask questions, about submitting photos or upcoming needs. Others just attach images of all manner, so I see a lot of the first time photo submissions. While we do get some gems in door that way, a majority of it is just unusable. But it doesn't have to be that way. Photography is a creative pursuit, but there are still s...
7

From the Steam Passenger Service Directory to the Tourist Trains Guidebook

Posted 7 months ago by Jim Wrinn
I’ve been moonlighting lately on behalf of the good folks down the hall in our books department who are updating the Tourist Trains Guidebook. The sixth edition will be published in 2017. I’ve got a few entries to update, and the work is giving me the chance to touch base with some folks I haven’t talked to recently. It’s also giving me the opportunity to find out the latest advances and challenges at museums and tourist lines that I haven’t visited lately. And it a...
12

A lost print shows up from 1979: Amtrak's Crescent at Atlanta

Posted 7 months ago by Jim Wrinn
It is amazing what might show up in your garage. Case in point: This black and white image of Amtrak’s Crescent in April 1979. I found the print last week in the garage of the house my wife, Cate, and I moved into last year. I have no idea how it got there. In the blender-mixer that is moving – nine times for me since college – the print and I have traveled many miles, first across North Carolina and 12 years ago to Wisconsin. I am as curious as anyone as to why the print, neve...
1

Join Trains magazine in an epic adventure on Peru railroads

Posted 7 months ago by Jim Wrinn
We’ve got a new travel opportunity for you at Trains. In the last two years, we’ve taken you to Colorado, Austria, Germany, Ireland, and U.K., and we’ve had a great time sharing the railroad experience with you. Now we’re upping the game. Working with our partners at Special Interest Tours, and thanks to efforts of our friend Henry Posner, chairman of Railroad Development Corp., we’re announcing a new tour for fall 2017 called the Ultimate Peruvian Railway Experienc...
8

It's hard to think of only ONE top story ...

Posted 7 months ago by Steve Sweeney
Time Magazine named its person of the year this week. This annual occurrence, among other signs of the season, signaled me to pause and reflect on what this year has been in the world of railroads. At the top of my mind right now, there has been what seems like a slew of crashes and accidents around the world this year, with back-to-back passenger train accidents throughout November, killing hundreds of unfortunate passengers. The passenger news here in the U.S. is that Amtrak agreed to purcha...
8

The art of the 'heads up'

Posted 7 months ago by Brian Schmidt
Sometimes the train-watching hobby is a solitary pursuit, while other times it's a group activity. Oddly, it can be both at the same time. Sitting in the car trackside you see a special move go by your location. What do you do? Tell your friends down the line, of course! But there's a science to doing it properly. 1. What did you see? This seems so simple, yet many messages that are intended to aid people down the line don't always make this clear. "NS 1070" – while cryptic to those ou...
12

Pearl Harbor anniversary makes me think of dad and the Daylight

Posted 7 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Wednesday is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, plunging the United States into World War II, ending the country’s isolationist era, and sending the railroad business into an overdrive frenzy. When I think of that conflict, I think of my father, John, an agricultural agent who had graduated from Clemson with an Army ROTC scholarship. At the start of the war, he was called to active duty with the U.S. Army, and assigned to the infantry school at Fort Benning, Ga. I...
11

The railfan gifting dilemma

Posted 7 months ago by Brian Schmidt
The holidays are upon us now, and that brings a sense of dread for many railfans – well-meaning relatives who think anything railroad related is "good enough." Who among us hasn't received a train-shaped empty Avon bottle or generic bargain-table railroad book as a gift? I'd wager more than a few. Most railfans are passionate – borderline obsessive – about the hobby. That's especially true for modelers. (Nevermind just getting the right scale, a gift giver should also know h...
6

I thought I'd caught an SD45

Posted 7 months ago by Jim Wrinn
It had been a long drive. I’d been watching the tracks along U.S. 53, searching in futility, but the flash of blue and the hint of motion caught my eye at 72 mph: Train! I pulled off the four lane highway at Chetek, Wis., and started backtracking on a side road paralleling the tracks. Still, nothing, for miles. I know I didn’t imagine the units or the movement. More empty tracks. And then, suddenly, near a frac sand plant, I saw two units in the woods shoving back to a coupling. And ...
4

A shortline survivor and the loneliest Soo Line Decapod

Posted 7 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Last weekend on the way back from Thanksgiving, my wife and I drove through north-central Wisconsin and found two rarities that I wanted to share with you. One is a shortline steam locomotive, Marinette Tomahawk & Western 2-6-0 No. 19, on display in its hometown. The other is a one-of-a-kind locomotive on its owner’s roster, Soo Line 2-10-0 No. 950. The 1923 Mogul lives in Tomahawk, Wis., and the 1900 Decapod in Ashland, Wis. Thankfully, both of these fine Baldwin products have roofs o...
10

Pullmans to everywhere, no more

Posted 8 months ago by Brian Schmidt
On this, the traditional busiest travel day of the year, I found sobering map from Trains' past. In brief, red lines show Pullman service active in 1967 that also operated in 1927, while black lines show Pullman service discontinued in the intervening years. The map supports a five-page feature story in the October 1967 issue by Frank E. Shaffer. Contrasted with Amtrak's current route map, the Trains reader of 1967 must not have realized just how good he still had it when choosing travel by ra...
5

Help wanted: With a generation ready to retire, railway preservation needs a few good leaders

Posted 8 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Earlier this month I was in Savannah, Ga., for the annual meeting of the Association of Tourist Railroads & Railway Museums, now to be known as Heritage Rail Alliance. I’ve been thinking about all the things I want to tell you about that gathering, the buzz that is always on when this group congregates, and over the weekend one of the chief impressions I took away came rushing at me while watching college football: There’s a lot of leadership, brain power, creativity, and known-h...
9

Trump's transportation secretary: Can one former passenger train supporter be redeemed?

Posted 8 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Now that the buzz about the Trump presidency is about cabinet makeup, those of us interested in railroading’s fate under the new administration are laser focused on transportation secretary. I’ve seen a few names mentioned so far. One is James S. Simpson, a trucking company executive and a former Federal Transit Administration head and New Jersey Department of Transportation secretary under Gov. Chris Christie. Another is Mark Rosenker, former head of the National Transportation Saf...
7

Preservation’s crossroads: They’ve forgotten why we saved this stuff

Posted 8 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Two events this week snapped me back to reality from the good mood I was in after attending the Savannah, Ga., conference of the Association of Tourist Railroads & Railway Museums (which is rebranding itself Heritage Rail Alliance — more on that later) and a stop in Plains, Ga., to attend President Carter’s church and visit the depot that was his campaign headquarters 40 years ago. http://cs.trains.com/trn/b/staff/archive/2016/11/14/a-visit-with-jimmy-carter-and-the-plains-ga-dep...
13

Shooting unprotected?

Posted 8 months ago by Brian Schmidt
I’m revisiting one of the oldest debates in photography lately: do I keep a UV or clear filter on my lenses to protect them from front element damage? The premise is simple – use a piece of glass that’s expendable to protect a much larger investment from flying ballast, sand, rain, etc. The trade off is that head-on telephoto shots, like this view of Canadian National in Richfield, Wis., this past weekend, have a higher likelihood of producing funny image artifacts with the ...
13

A visit with Jimmy Carter and the Plains, Ga., depot are good for me

Posted 8 months ago by Jim Wrinn
No matter what your party affiliation, or whether you voted for Trump or Clinton, this election season has been difficult on us all. We need a break. So let me share an experience about an encounter with a humble man and a simple country depot that to me was a ray of sunshine. For the most part, I believe that most Americans like to get along with each other and find ways to compromise and cooperate. So it was in this spirit that I found myself Sunday in Plains, Ga., home to the 39th presid...
7

Don't listen to the old farts (all the time)

Posted 8 months ago by Brian Schmidt
Last weekend I went out to explore a new (to me) photo spot: Lake interlocking on the south side of Milwaukee. At one time the Milwaukee Road had a small yard and interlocking tower here. Today, College Avenue – the dividing line between Milwaukee proper and suburban Oak Creek – sails overhead leaving a view of just the double track main line, a single siding, and a sign in place of the wood frame tower. Sure, it could be better. Those wires could go away, and the Milwaukee airpor...
12

How will Amtrak, infrastructure funding, and safety regulation fare under Trump?

Posted 8 months ago by Jim Wrinn
I’m still in Savannah, Ga., for the tourist railroad and museums conference, but my thoughts today turned to a national issue: How will Amtrak, infrastructure funding, and safety regulation play out under President Trump? Those have to be the questions on the mind of every railroad executive, labor union, and almost brand new Amtrak President Wick Moorman. With a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, will the party take aim at Amtrak? Will the party in charge cut it back to the ...
2

Shopping around: A visit to the Central of Georgia roundhouse in Savannah, Ga.

Posted 8 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Today is the first day of the four-day Association of Tourist Railroads & Railway Museums conference in Savannah, Ga., and the host organization, the Coastal Heritage Society, kicked off the meeting with a visit to its preservation project and museum in the former Central of Georgia roundhouse in downtown, within walking distance of the convention hotel. About 200 preservationists from across North America and around the world are here for this gathering, a time to learn, network, and share ...
5

Preserving rail history, one document at a time

Posted 8 months ago by David Lassen
If you’ve heard of Baraboo, Wis., a town of 12,048 north of Madision in the south central part of the state, it’s likely because of the Circus World Museum, established here because the community was the original winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus.Just blocks away, on the opposite side of the Baraboo River, is a lesser-known organization that is, or at least should be, a significant resource for those interested in railroad history.The Lake States Railway Historical Associ...
1

Live streaming from the Association of Tourist Railroads & Railway Museums Nov. 9-12, 2016

Posted 8 months ago by Jim Wrinn
I'm on the road again next week, traveling to Savannah, Ga., for the annual meeting of the Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums. I'll be blogging, and we'll announce the winner of the 2016 $10,000 preservation award on Saturday night about 9 p.m. Eastern We'll be live streaming several seminars and sessions, including the awards. Here's the schedule. Please join us! Here’s the schedule of events that you can find on our Website at www.TrainsMag.com/bigsteam: Nov. 9, 5-7 ...