Wyoming Weather Skunks Still Photographers as Big Boy Goes Home

Posted one year ago by Arthur J. Miller Jr.
Or, How Fog Killed A Classic Shot ___________________________________________________________  Somewhere in this 114 MB tiff file image are a precious few kilobytes of pixels showing UP #4014. UP #844 is barely visible. The wonderful rock formations towering behind the train are totally obscured. Sunday’s foggy conditions on Sherman Hill made for truly challenging – and a lot of disappointing – photography. Tripod users take note -- when under load, Big Boy can shake t...

When Hollywood Came Calling - The 2004 Golden Spike Reenactment at the Nevada State Railroad Museum

Posted 2 years ago by Arthur J. Miller Jr.
Visitors to the Nevada State Railroad Museum's May 9th and 10th Golden Spike sesquicentennial festivities will see two 4-4-0s with prior experience recreating 1869's Golden Spike event at Promontory Point. This is the behind-the-scenes story of the General Electric Evolution Series locomotive commercial and how the Museum saved the day for the production.  On a brisk December day in 2004, the Dayton and Inyo perform flawlessly for the cameras of legendary commerc...

The Magnificent Leviathan

Posted 2 years ago by Jim Wilke
The first sight of Leviathan was unforgettable.   There it was, on its first debut in Owasso, Michigan, a big, brand new nineteenth century locomotive, standing on the track like a magnificent horse pausing in mid stride.  It's as if a clock was turned back 140 years, and Leviathan - a full scale replica of Central Pacific passenger locomotive originally built in 1868 -  was once again new and bright.   Leviathan gleamed like a new planet.  It was a universe of...

"Jupiter" and other engine names

Posted 2 years ago by Jim Wilke
At Promontory in 1869, bystanders commented that the Central Pacific locomotive Jupiter No. 60 had an “appropriate name” for the ceremonies being completed that day.  Indeed - it seemed as if the great Roman god had personally bestowed allegorical blessings upon the great work.    Locomotive names were a surprisingly important aspect of early railroads, but not every railroad used them.  Facing Jupiter that day was Union Pacific No. 119, a simple numbered engine ...

For Promontory Point Festivities: Take A Lesson From James Bistline

Posted 2 years ago by Arthur J. Miller Jr.
An “office wall” photograph:  In 1976, an eastbound Southern Railway Bi-centennial Special powered by SRR #4501 climbs a grade east of Jefferson City. The photo location was one of three selected in advance by James Bistline. A few days before the trip, Southern Railway maintenance forces "just happened" to come along and cut and remove several dozen bushes and shrubs along the right-of-way at this and one other location.   Photo by Art Miller     &...

Thoroughly Modern Filly

Posted 2 years ago by Jim Wilke
Think early engines were quaint and old fashioned?  Think again.   We often imagine early locomotives of the transcontinental railroad as little more than primitive teakettles, as colorful as they were useless.   True, they did not have all the modern luxuries such as a water glass to determine water levels in the boiler, or the all important air brake, but neither did anyone else.  Crews were skilled, brakemen plentiful, and everyone knew to jump, just in case.&...

What Can We Do? Part Two

Posted 2 years ago by John Hankey
I’m going to come at this question from a different direction. Yes—the 150th Anniversary of the First Transcontinental Railroad is a significant event in American and Transportation History. And we may lament the lack of general interest and formal celebrations outside of the Union Pacific and the major railroad heritage institutions. We should support and appreciate their considerable efforts. But why do so many of us still think that someone else should be in charge, or organize ...

A Year Out, What Can We Do?

Posted 2 years ago by John Hankey
We are a year out from the “official” Sesquicentennial of the connection at Promontory Summit, and probably about 18 months from the close of the “Sesqui Season.” By 2020, I don’t think anyone will be thinking about the Pacific Railroad, and we will be looking forward to whatever it is we might look forward to. 2027 will be the Bicentennial of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and I predict there will be at least three dozen people for whom that will be a significan...

Voices From the Past

Posted 2 years ago by John Hankey
What would you say if I told you that there were people alive today who heard firsthand stories of the construction and operation of the Pacific Railroad ? The mid-19th century seems like the dim, distant past. It really isn’t. Technically it may be six or seven generations, but that is a statistical measure. It is the space of perhaps three lived lives, and much closer to us than we imagine. I firmly believe that there are older folks among us who listened to their elders describe what ...

The Significance of the Transcontinental Railroad

Posted 3 years ago by John Hankey
The United States changed on the morning of May 10, 1869. Around noon local time, a few battle-hardened men laid the final few rails to create a physical link between the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads at Promontory Summit in Utah. The Transcontinental Railroad was by no means finished—it would take years to make it a fully-functional main line. But the rails had been joined. This was never a sure thing, any more than the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House in Vi...

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