5

Preserving rail history, one document at a time

Posted one year 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 one year 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 ...
5

Falling behind with railroad photography

Posted one year ago by Brian Schmidt
Amtrak's westbound Empire Builder pounds the diamond at Duplainville, Wis., just minutes out of Milwaukee on a beautiful November afternoon. It was certainly a great moment to be trackside: beautiful sun, unusual warmth for November, decent color yet. Yet, the moment is fleeting, for this Sunday we turn our clocks back one hour and lose much of the opportunity to photograph trains after work – at least for those of us who live up north and work "normal" hours. Sure, I'll make an effort ...
10

30 years in railway preservation ... watch out rust!

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
30 years ago this month, I began volunteering in railway preservation. I date my direct involvement to November 1986 because it was the first time that I had been around trains when I wasn’t trying to ride them or take pictures. I was going to scrape rust or flaking paint, mark trucks with chalk stone, or tighten bolts. The work was nothing spectacular, and I’m sure neither were my efforts: I do not profess to be a mechanic of trains, cars, or anything else. But if shown how, I can d...
12

Is The Tide, southeastern Virginia’s light rail system, rolling in? (Or going out?)

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
When I was in Norfolk last week, I decided to collect some overdue mileage on the light rail system that’s been in place for 5 years. I’ve never been enthusiastic about transit or commuter trains, mostly because I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s South, a region devoid of public transportation outside of buses. But over the years, I’ve come to appreciate and even like light rail and commuter trains as I’ve ridden them in cities from Los Angles to Frankfurt. So, at breakf...
1

Thinking about Colorado (never a bad thing)

Posted one year ago by David Lassen
It was 70 degrees and partly sunny yesterday at Trains world headquarters. Today it’s gray and 50. All of which has me thinking about Colorado, and not just because with Wisconsin winter is fast approaching, other places start having a certain allure (at least for a California native).One reason I was thinking about Colroado is that those sorts of temperature changes — and ones far more dramatic — are a big part the Centennial State. I think we had a range of more than 60 degre...
4

Remembering Jim McClellan: Will we see his like again?

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
Remembering Jim McClellan: Will we see his like again? I returned to Milwaukee today after attending the funeral for Jim McClellan, one of the masterminds of American railroading in the last half of the 20th century, and a real hero to many in the industry and its cadre of followers. Ever since Jim’s passing on Oct. 14 at age 77, I’ve been wondering, who will be the next Jim McClellan? Is that person already out there in the business? Would the railroad business tolerate or even en...
9

'Brown bagging' on the train

Posted one year ago by Brian Schmidt
Amtrak's Hiawatha service trains do not have food service offerings, and that's fine by me. Here, a northbound approaches the Sturtevant, Wis., station. Photo by Brian Schmidt It's been said that nothing could be finer than dinner in the diner, but there's nothing wrong with "brown bagging" it, either. Fred Frailey noted in a recent blog post that he stopped off for provisions before an overnight trip on the Silver Star. I think this is a marvelous approach. Last year, my wife and I set off o...
5

Today is a big day for 4-8-4s

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
Today is a special day for steam locomotive lovers. Two 4-8-4s are in operation in the United States. Most days, a census of such machines would result in the most empty number there is: Zero. The number of days that locomotives this big are in steam in the early 21st century is as rare and as fleeting as a solar eclipse over every existing roundhouse in the country. But take comfort, friends, relax, and have another black coffee, hazelnut latte, or coke as your personal preference guides you an...
4

Trains live streaming: 844, IC-painted passenger trains, Santa, and more

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
One of the most frequent comments we hear from you, our readers, is how much you’d like to go with the staff or correspondents in the field. You’d like to be with us to see the things we get to see on your behalf. That’s understandable. Thanks to the miracle of live streaming webcams, we’ve got some exciting opportunities for you this fall.  If you’re online Saturday morning, next Wednesday, or Oct. 29-31, be sure to check out our live streaming Webcam (www....
8

Thoughts on Jim McClellan's life on the rails

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
Much has been written about Jim McClellan, who passed away Friday at age 77. I cannot add to the accolades given Jim for his accomplishments with regards to the railroad industry – the creation of Amtrak, setting up Conrail, the combination of Norfolk & Western and Southern Railway to make Norfolk Southern, the subsequent split of Conrail between CSX and NS, and so much more. I will let others who knew him better dwell on this aspect of his life. What I do want to make sure doesn&rsquo...
3

The photographer's best friend

Posted one year ago by Brian Schmidt
It was a dark Saturday in Duluth. The sun was out earlier in the day up on the Iron Range, but downtown on the lakefront, the clouds had won for the day. I was chasing the Lexington Group inspection trip from Two Harbors back to Duluth, and fighting the diminishing light along the way. Luckily, I had an ace up my sleeve for the final shot of the day: a 1.8 lens. I was able to keep shooting until the end of the chase, at a reasonable ISO setting, too. Yes, the classic 50mm f/1.8 SLR lens is a ...
0

Two Superstar Steam Locomotives and their new Documentaries

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
A recent Saturday morning was cloudy and rainy here in southeastern Wisconsin. It was the perfect morning to watch new documentary videos about two of the superstar mainline excursion steam locomotives of our time: Norfolk & Western 611 and Southern Railway 4501. Both locomotives are significant, and both deserve the kind of treatments that videographers Rex Teese (611) and Evan Lofback (4501) have devoted to them. I was glad I took the time to watch. If you’ve ever wanted to follow a...
5

A-No.1 to Sugar Creek on No. 19 ... thoughts on a Pacific Northwest logger heading to the Heartland

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
Yreka Western No. 19’s sale to Jerry Joe Jacobsen for the Age of Steam Roundhouse last week marks the end of an era for this short line Mikado as a resident of the Pacific Northwest and the start of a new chapter for this western logging locomotive as part of a private collection in the Heartland. It is difficult to see locomotives leave their historic regions; I am a big believer in displaying and running them in their native environments; but I am also relieved to see it going to a new h...
13

Of misleading headlines and keeping things in perspective

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
When I was reading about and listening to the initial coverage of last week’s NJ Transit accident in Hoboken, I was on the road and truly worried about the people on board and in the station. I feared that the first reports of mass casualties meant that scores of people were dead. Thankfully, that was not the case. My sympathies to the family of the one passenger on the platform who died; we all want railroading to be safe for every worker and every rider.  The crash generated tremen...
2

Railroad preservation: Group study recommended

Posted one year ago by Brian Schmidt
0-4-0 Minnetonka, the Northern Pacific's first locomotive, and SD45 No. 3617, both significant pieces of railroad history, share a prominent spot at the museum. Photo by Brian Schmidt I had a great time visiting the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth last week – twice. The first visit, on Monday, I toured the museum just after opening and was able to enjoy a relatively quiet facility in a contemplative manner. There were no loud conversations, no rowdy children, just track after tr...
4

An afternoon session with Union Pacific's Lance Fritz: Optimism in the face of adversity

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
If you are in Omaha, Neb., and you have a convention of 1,250 of the railway industry’s leading suppliers and mechanical associations, then you invite Lance Fritz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Union Pacific to be your keynote speaker.  That was that the Railway Supply Institute did Monday, and Fritz, who took his post in 2015, produced a most interesting and enlightening talk in one of the most perilous circumstances for any lecturer: He followed lunch, that period when ev...
8

Be very, very quiet ... we are going Alco hunting ... in Iowa

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
My pecking order when it comes to interest in locomotives goes like this: Steam, cab units, Alcos, and everything else. I imagine you’ve got your priorities, too. Everyone does. This is a tale of good hunting for one of my priorities. On Thursday, on the way to meetings and a trade show in Omaha, Neb., I deviated from my usual journey along Interstate 80 (typically made with hopes of catching an Iowa Interstate train somewhere on the old Rock Island, or zipping up to drive portions of U.S...
8

Trapped in the dentist's chair ... here's where I went while he was drilling

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
I was in the dentist’s chair for a little more than 2 hours this morning. I hate getting numbing shots, cotton in my cheeks, and anyone fiddling around in my mouth. They always say to go to your happy place when you’re in a situation like this. So I gave that a try. It’s hard to mentally transport yourself elsewhere when something like this is happening (echoes of Woody Allen’s famous line about dying: “I don’t mind doing it if I have to, but I’d rather ...
8

Swiss (and German) adventure: the postscript

Posted one year ago by David Lassen
I touched down at O’Hare Airport on Friday afternoon, closing the book on my second European trip for Trains, my fifth journey across the Atlantic overall. As always, I found time overseas to be memorable and enriching, and as always, I was ready to get home. A few final thoughts before getting back to the day-to-day routine, before going to work on the first of a few stories from the trip that will eventually appear in the magazine: • It would be difficult to understate how dis...
10

What excites me about steam in 2017: This (among other things)

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
My good friend and videographer Kevin Gilliam visited the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad shops at Ridgeley, W.Va., on Friday. He’s working on a documentary video for Trains about the restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 for release next year after the locomotive runs in early 2017. He got good shots of the crew working with the steam pipes that lead to the smokebox, the restored tender, and the lead engine being prepped for the day coming soon when the engine will be r...
8

A lend-lease program for rail preservation

Posted one year ago by Brian Schmidt
I was down at the Illinois Railway Museum earlier this month for the annual Museum Showcase Weekend, which sees some of the museum's "best" equipment in operation. For me, that meant a chance to ride the Nebraska Zephyr train set and photograph 2-10-0 No. 1630 under steam. But one of my most-anticipated displays wasn't even part of the special event hype. That was the display of two Chicago & North Western diesels, C44-9Ws Nos. 8646 and 8701, on loan from Union Pacific. I had photographed...
16

Steam, the Internet, and strong emotions

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
A friend of mine restores steam locomotives for a living. He does good work, is a self-confident individual, and enjoys a good reputation. He’s a pretty cool guy, except when it comes to the Internet. He has nothing but disdain for the medium and, as he sees it, people who sit behind computer screens, hide behind made-up names, and critique the hard work that he and others do in the name of fixing and running steam locomotives.  If it were up to this locomotive mechanic, the Internet...
5

Swiss adventure, Part 5: The original Gotthard tunnel

Posted one year ago by David Lassen
The last chapter in this Swiss adventure, which has focused on the new Gotthard Base Tunnel, was a visit to the bore it will replace. On Friday, about half of our tour group visited Goschenen, at the north portal of the 9.3-mile tunnel that opened in 1882, and learned a bit about the high price the engineering marvel of its day exacted on those who made it possible. Historian Kilian Elsasser led us on a walking tour of Goschenen, a village that swelled almost overnight from a few h...
4

Serendipity by Pewaukee Lake

Posted one year ago by Brian Schmidt
As my mind wandered Thursday afternoon I decided to check the status of the westbound Amtrak Empire Builder, just for grins and giggles, and found that it was already more than 40 minutes down at its suburban Chicago stop in Glenview. Seeing this as an opportunity to photograph Amtrak without cutting out of work a little early, I finished up my projects and headed off to Pewaukee, a few miles west of the office and the west end of Canadian Pacific's double track territory. I parked in the munici...
9

On Amtrak, no changes can be nice

Posted one year ago by Steve Sweeney
SOMEWHERE, On the Northeast Corridor — It’s 5:24 a.m. and southbound Northeast Regional No. 67 is loping through early morning dark to get down to Newport News, Va. Me? I’m headed to Washington today for meetings with old-time friends of Trains, and a few people we ought to know a little better. But the train, it’s pretty full so far. The Amfleet coaches are identical to what I’ve ridden on the Lakeshore Limited. About half of the passengers in my car are s...
9

Light (rail) thoughts in Philadelphia

Posted one year ago by Steve Sweeney
Would you believe it? In Philadelphia, streetcars run ... like streetcars: often and quickly. I treated a few of you to my quick pics from the Nos. 11 and 13 lines from Monday on Facebook. And as good as the action above ground is, 30th Street Station underground is where you can see dozens of trolley and elevated vehicles an hour on four side-by-side tracks separated only by an open platform and what appear to be two wrought iron fences — sorry, I didn't cross the tracks to find ...
9

Swiss adventure, Part 4: The tunnel

Posted one year ago by David Lassen
Today I walked around in the Gotthard Base Tunnel. In the very near future, Swiss Railways will hope no one has that opportunity. Because, after November 27 of this year, the only time any passenger should alight in the world’s longest tunnel — a 57-kilometer (35.4-mile) bore under the Alps — is in an emergency. For now, though, this very long hole through the mountains is a tourist attraction. Beginning in August, and concluding in November, it is possible, once a ...
7

Crossing fingers for a good ending to this Philadelphia story

Posted one year ago by Steve Sweeney
PHILADELPHIA — The message came on Monday shortly after I mailed a post card at Benjamin Franklin's original post office, but before I ate an obligatory cheesesteak.  The email was brief, but polite: There was more trouble with the Silverliner V cars over the weekend and I needed to speak with SEPTA's public relations' person. The immediate reason is that I have an interview scheduled this week with a SEPTA manager and the PR people needed me to know that some of the answers to my ...
2

Swiss adventure, Part 3: Golden goodness, and beautiful Bern

Posted one year ago by David Lassen
Falling behind a bit here, so before I get into today’s activities, a few words about Montreux, where I stayed on Sunday night. I can’t really tell you much about the city, since I arrived at 6 p.m. on a Sunday and left at 8:30 this morning. The promenade along the lake (7 kilometers long, according to the tourist literature) is quite beautiful, with extensive gardens along the path. It was alive with people on Sunday evening — families, couples, friends. With c...

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