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Why is your favorite railroad so interesting? Childhood? Location? Operations? History? I want your story!

  • I would love to see people go deep and long on this. I have seen passion around railroads that nearly came to fists at a long ago "Infinity Central Model Railroad" at a Jacksonville, Naval base. One nut screaming at the other nuts (us) that "We are not good enough to model the Erie". Being a teen at the time I always wondered why? What was it that made this guys railroad take on such a "holy" form that he became the high preist...or was he just high on the Erie?

    Myself. I grew up just yards from the ACL Tampa Division Mainline in the late 50¨s and ´60´s, a block or two from the Yukon (Naval Air Station Jacksonville) depot. Only a couple of bike miles from the Seaboard´s Beaver Street shops, Jacksonville Terminal, or the Georgia Southern and Florida (Southern) at Grand Crossing. The US Navy had a "shortline" with a daily run out the South gate and down to the Yukon Station for paperwork then back in the North Gate. There was an interchange with ACL and a line way back into base operations that had its start as Jacksonville Traction Companys Camp Johnson line. All of this and the FEC was just across the St. Johns River. Spending more hours at the Terminals and Yukon Depot then at home I was nearly raised by the railroaders. There was always the morning parade southbound, West Coast Champion, South Wind or City of Miami, The Dixie trains, Florida Special, and with little effort The Ponce de Leon, Royal Palm, Silver Meteor and Silver Star, Palmland, Sunnland and on and on.

    Being both a railfan and a model railroader I could never figure out how to model all of these favorite railroads, they were all a part of me and I feel like I want to keep them alive somehow. Then while wandering in a California Antique Shop many years later I found an old Atlas dated 1924. When I opened to Florida, my fingers following each of "my" railroads around the state. Then there it was! A little line connecting Palatka (just south of my boyhood home) and Ocala (a town where dad visited on business) it passed through Orange Springs and Silver Springs and followed the Ocklawaha  and Silver Rivers. Two of the most scenic and visited rivers in the world.  "OV" was written next to the line on the map which I quickly and correctly guessed as "Ocklawaha Valley Railroad". As I researched the story in Jacksonville´s huge library a hard luck, Southeastern, Yosemite Valley sort of story unfolded. It connected with the FEC, ACL and GS&F in Palatka and the ACL, SAL, OSW and SSO&G in Ocala. In 50 odd miles it tied together ALL of my Southeastern Railroads. Gone today because of the most incredible circumstance, it was STOLEN!

    So you see I have a love for the ACL, SAL, GS&F (SOU), FEC, JT, and a US Navy RR. So it was only natural that I altered history just a bit and brought the OV back to life in the 1950´s in HO scale. I can run engines and trains of all of my favorites and slip back into time when the squeeky screen door ment that "uncle" Pete Rood the Yukon agent was about to hand up orders to ACL 75. In my minds eye the ground shakes, Purple, Silver and Gold flash past and then a stainless steel blur.

    Now, what is your tale?

    For more information on the OV RR see:

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  • Well, I have got quite a tail to tell about my childhood railroad fantices (sp) but, that would take up more than two pages. So, I'll go with the short version.

    My favorite railroad is CSX, however I mainly grew up with Septa (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). As a little girl my mother lived right next to the R7 Chestnut Hill East / Trenton Line on Septa. Every 1/2 hour I would hear and see trains go by, occasonially blowing their horns. Sometimes on warm days I would go outside and climb a speacil tree in which I could get a good view of the next local run by. Then before you knew it I was always at the Stenton Station only 1 block from my mother's house 24/7. Because, Septa's lines run close to CSX trackage in Philiadelphia it grew on me, so then I transfered my favorite road over to CSX; it's been ever since.
    LORD HELP US ALL TO BE ORIGINAL AND NOT CRISPY!!! please? Sarah J.M. Warner conductor CSX

    Lionel collector, stuck in an N scaler's modelling space.

  • I was raised a couple miles from the Canadian National, Kingston Sub, when F7's and GP 9's were common. Some of Dad's share crop land land bordered the CNR, so it was always a treat to go to the fields for the harvest, just to watch trains. With every passing train, all equipment stopped and we watched. Time ment nothing when there was a train to see.

    Today, Dad lives only a few miles from that location, and is right beside the CNR, but I'm over 500 km to the west in a city that hosts both the CNR & CPR. Both are great, but I'll never forget those childhood days nearly 40 years ago. Today, the CPR is my favorate. Mainly because of the way they care for people. Eg. the Christmas train that is passing through soon on it's way across our 2 nations, raising funds for the Food Banks. The CNR is also compassionate, and showed it this past summer when they gave our Children's Hospital (in London Ontario) $250,000 CAN following the Canadian Woman's Open.

    The most incredible Railroad sight was in 1999 when I first seen the CPR bridge in Lethbridge Alberta.

    The most enjoyable Train trip was in 2004 from Toronto Ontario, to Orlando Florida, return.

    All these stories make Rail fanning so interesting, and all Railroads are interesting. No matter where, or who, what name or anything else, Railroading is fascinating. It's very difficult to pick a genuine favorite.

    Take care, and have some fun doing so, Lloyd
  • I would never get into an arguement over "best sites" to visit or model but I can recall very well what got me into railfanning and model railroading as a youngster and still today as a senior citizen. My first railroading experience was when I was a toddler accompanying my parents who were taking the New Hope Local of the Reading RR into Reading Terminal in downtown Philly. It was just after WW II and the Reading was still operating steam on that line, actually a camelback steamer at that. I can still see myself holding onto my mother's hand with a death grip as the huge black monster, hissing steam and belching smoke, pulled into the station. Half of me wanted to hide behind my parents' legs but the other half peaked around to eye this terrifying yet captivating creature whose ringing bell seemed to be beckoning me to climb aboard. I was hooked for life and fortunately my father already had a fascination for trains and we would spend many a day at the Reading's Wayne Junction watching the endless parade of MU's to reading Terminal, G'3s to the coal region, B&O  and CNJ freights and the B&O's crack Royal Blue pulled by the latest EMD E units. As luck would have it my elementary school would be right next to Cheltenham Junction and when the other kids went out at recess and lunch to play tag or throw around a ball I would walk over to the wooden fence and watch the trains. Steam grew increasingly rare as the Alco RS3's replaced the steamers on the New Hope Line and the EMD F3 ruled the freight line though the B&O's E units still pulled the Royal Blue. Once around 1954 I saw my last Reading steam engine. It was pulling a work train complete with a huge crane car. We moved away from that area in 1957 but I still go back there a couple times a year. The old Cheltenham Station was torched by vandals about twelve years ago, replaced by a plexiglass shelter but it's still a busy spot and my old school is still there looking out over a scene now peopled by youngsters who must think that SEPTA and CSX have always been the railroads going past their school. Sadly I have never seen any of these youngsters go over to the fence to watch the trains go by. Perhaps they are just background noise to them. As for me I still spend much of my time trackside in the Philly area and though the Pennsy, CNJ, Reading, B&O and PRSL are just memories my fondest memories and the basis for my railfanning today go back to those first fascinating childhood experiences taking a ride on the Reading.
  • why i love CNW so much and lost a great amount of respect for UP and BN:

    when i was 3, my parents would take me to a railroad crossing at the end of this one road all the time. that was how i learned about railroad tracks and crossings. but that was it for a few days. finally, we got lucky. there it was, a CNW manifest bound for Itasca. i couldnt believe what i was seeing. i fell in love right there and then. i kept seeing them more and more. and it was always CNW. a CNW locomotive registered into my brain as "train" and still remains the most accurate deffinition to this day.

    unfortunately, my family moved to the other side of town. i was separated from these trains for 10 years. when i was old enough, i started going to altoona more and more. then i found this board and learned of the entire fleet of CNWs i saw as a kid were gone because of UP. it drove me to hate UP. i finally took all the bad news in and it sank in only a few months ago. and now i run a CNW HO train in my basement.

    i loved BN as a kid too. a lot. that green just ruled. especially with the striped noses. but i found out that BN killed the CNW main to Itasca and all the daytime manifests through Altoona. i still like them, but i dont think i can forgive them for making me have to go to Altoona at 2:00 AM if i want to see a manifest

    the heartbreaker is that i have no pictures of the CNW i can call my own. i was too young to operate a camera. all my memories are gone forever and can never come back :(

    Your friendly neighborhood CNW fan.

  • The "home road" will always be the Grand Trunk Western in Chicago. It was the first road & closest to my home. I could always walk by & under the tracks (the line is elevated) to see the trains. I always wondered where someplace called Toronto was.

    Later, I enjojed riding the electric L. It seemed like you could ride anywhere for a quarter. Learn to watch for the green "A train" that would take you back home. Since AT&SF & other roads shared Dearborn Station, I considered them part of the family. The NYC station that would take me to NY shared space with the Rock & other cool lines.

    In modeling, there are all these fallen flag Class 1 RR's that don't get a lot of model press & don't have much if any equipment made for it. So ConCor came to the "rescue" by doing the same model with a variety of roadnames. The GP7 was the one wothout DB, while the GP9 had them. How far the hobby has come since then! All these models with more road-specific details! Not to mention motors & lights that make them look like little jewels.

    Here in Nashville, we have 2 choices. CSX runs the old L&N + NC&StL lines. The little independent Tennesse Central went under in the late 60's. I do see a good amount of UP power, but the CSX units get a bit boring. I woudn't mind if the state got into the RR busines by supporting & rebuilding lines like the TC. I like to play a game of what if things had been a little bit different. Could the TC be part of a different  Atlantic-Pacific transcontinental line? Would the state support a Memphis-Nashville-Knoxville-Bristol & Chattanooga passenger system? Bring out the orange/white Rocky Top Lines!

    So as you can see, as I moved, my "home road" RR's moved to the ones I can see everyday. even here, I try to make the world as it could have been when I was 10. It's hard to model a train that never was.
    Glenn Woodle
  • Simple. 2-8-8-4's, SD9's, SD18's, RSD15's, SD38AC/DC's, SD45T-2's, roaring notch 8 up a STEEP grade! Except the Yellowstones (2-8-8-4's), they were used on flat service.

    Mechanical Department  "No no that's fine shove that 20 pound set all around the yard... those shoes aren't hell and a half to change..."

    The Missabe Road: Safety First



    Been around them for most my life.


  • CSX I guess, I think I liked them more because they had all the bright colors on them and that's what I noticed when I was young.
    "It's a great day to be alive" "Of all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, It might have been......"
  • I would say the childhood railroad thing applies to me but not to any one location. I grew up with the SP. But in several different and diverse areas. And SP had variety. From commutes on the penninsula to woodchip runs in the northern Cal. / Oregon. From doublestacks and autoracks on the Sunset to beet racks and unit oil trains in so Cal. The SP was the only show in town and the others were "also rans" at best.