Wednesday, August 25, 2010
A milk train comes into the city. Streets lined with brick tell of the age of this Revolutionary city and age old port on the coast of Maine. The red and gold of the Pine Tree decked Maine Central GP7 tell of the timelessness of bringing milk from rural Maine.
This Louisville & Nashville MP15 shuttles a merchandise train at Corbin, KY. Corbin, once the home of Colonel Sanders, is also a very important junction for the Louisville & Nashville railroad, today's CSX. Coal moves through this city by the thousands of tons, as well as merchandise destined for cities throughout the North and South.
Helpers shove on the end of a squealing train. Coal dust flies through the mountain air as there is a hang of heat and a stillness of the day. The track vibrates into tomorrow as the railroad rolls. Black diamonds take this train towards the shoal. Black diamonds are black ink. The engineer shoves and the draw bars continue at their limit. Up the mountain. Up the grade. This is mountain railroading on the Chesapeake & Ohio.
The Norfolk & Western Class J turned 60 this year, 2010. The Virginia Museum of Transportation celebrates this event all year and everyone is invited to see this beautiful 4-8-4 steam locomotive and her sister unit, the Class A 2-6-6-4, the 1218 at the Roanoke museum.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The Canadian National at Champaign-Urbana Rolls down the former Illinois Central. When I watched the black and red locomotives pull today's trains, I thought for a second of the Mainline of Mid-America and watching the brown and orange e-units and orange and white SD40A's hauling trains down the backbone of America.
I was lucky enough to visit the Monticello, IL Railroad Museum and Depot in the fall of 2009. This museum in North Central Illinois is truly a treasure of restored railroad equipment with a beautifully restored depot. The friendly museum staff is truly helpful when visiting.
An SD40-2 sits in the Del Paso siding on the former Western Pacific in Sacramento. My heart flutters at the approach of a second UP train. Second unit back is a former Missouri Pacific 3300 unit SD40-2. Wow, to a young railfan, this is quite a moment. The seed of train loving is sprouting.
Chicago Burlington & Quincy GP7's haul grain towards Chicago. The year is 1962 and there is a breeze in the air as Great Northern, Northern Pacific and Spokane Portland & Seattle are still independent railroads along with the great Burlington Route. The Way of the Zephyrs still rolls across Illinois.
The Cab Forward shoulders lumber. Up the ridge of Donner. Under the snowsheads and under the snow, this beast of burden climbs. Through the tunnels and upward towards Truckee, the cab forward shoulders its train. A helper shoves on the slack as the cab forward howls and snorts. This is the Southern Pacific, this is California railroading in the Sierra.
As trucks congest our highways, it does my heart proud to see more and more trailers moving on the US rail system. This piggyback pup was moving through Fullerton, California on the BNSF instead of moving on one of Los Angeles's many crowded freeways. Amen to that.
I was lucky enough to see Roy Ward's slide show about the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie. This showed me the history of this great railroad, how it functioned, where it moved, what industries it served. I learned a lot, thanks.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
When one stands at Indiana Harbor Belt in Hammond, the headquarters building is truly situated amongst the railroad. To the west, stands Indiana Harbor Belt's roundhouse, which, itself, is living history. In and out of IHB's locomotive facility ebb and flow locomotives from the Class I railroads as IHB transfers freight and power of today's trains. Indiana Harbor Belt is truly a railroad operation to witness.
Facing northward outside of Chattanooga, at the ford of the Tennessee River, the Rathole line heads northward towards Cincinnati. The line of the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific hauls merchandise towards the Queen City much as it has for many years. This is railroading on the Southern Railway as it Serves the South.
Penn Central trains rolled for a brief moment in time. In Conrail days, the Penn Central's take-over of the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central seemed to be too close of wound for most to enjoy Penn Central's heritage. Now that time has passed, Penn Central and its time stand in railroad history to those who remember it. Let its SD45's growl on forever.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Baltimore & Ohio has a proud history. I cannot even begin to scratch the surface of this railroad that pioneered railroading in the United States. As this GP40 rolls into Cumberland, MD, we see history in the making, another train of coal rolling down the track.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Norfolk & Western has a proud heritage. Long coal trains and steam engines with sleek lines have forged one of America's prominent names. Norfolk & Western was in the business of railroading. Coal rolled from the Appalachians to Norfolk. Coal was responsible for much of Norfolk & Westerns success, much of Norfolk & Western's black ink. Such is Norfolk & Western.
EMD is at the top of its game. A new locomotive tours North America. What is this cleanly sketched out demonstrator. Nothing but the GP35. A sharp locomotive with a bright future for many of America's railroads grangers, heavy haulers, shortlines, you name it. The GP35 will get the job done for generations to come. Today, the GP35 is demonstrating its muscle for the railroads of tomorrow.
Fast trains running on schedule, that is the Florida East Coast way. From the time of Henry M. Flager to the Rail America takeover, Florida East Coast was an independent. It survived as a Class I inside of the state of Florida in a nation of giant interstate systems. The Speedway to Sunshine is truly a survivor and is often overlooked.
Friday, August 6, 2010
When the ties and rails need replacing or repair, I am proud of the men and women of maintenance of way. Trains do not roll unless the track is laid to perfection, and this often takes toil in adverse conditions. Thank you maintenance of way for your help in keeping America's trains rolling.
The Portola, CA Western Pacific Railroad Museum is truly beautiful and takes one back to a time when the Western Pacific ruled the rails through the Feather River Canyon. However, as summer is hear, one further joy to partake amongst its trains is the Run-a-Locomotive program. I had the joy of operating a former Southern Pacific TR6A, which is truly an experience to behold. Headed to Reno, run a locomotive and truly have the railroad experience you've been waiting for all of your life.
Radford, VA is truly a town situated in history. It sees four or so trains a day on the former Norfolk & Western Bristol Line. As I stood beneath the block signals of the former N&W, I felt as if I had stepped back in history as today's Norfolk Southern passed by.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Amongst all of the beautiful equipment at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, including the Class J #611 and Class A #1218, their are quite a few additional historic locomotives, including Norfolk & Western C630 #1135.
Champaign-Urbana is a classification yard on the former Illinois Central now owned by Canadian National. I got to see cars getting classified over the hump here in Illinois. Note the former Grand Trunk Western unit, as well. The crew tipped me off to a passing Amtrak. I am always grateful to friendly railroaders.
It was great to see the Norfolk Southern from Coffee's Cliff overlooking Debutts Yard, Chattanooga, TN. My tour guide, Robert Duncan, took me to a spot where a local railfan, a Mr. Coffee, used to mow the grass and keep the place tidy for railfans so that they could watch the north end of Debutts yard. It is quite a view. Thank you Robert and Mr. Coffee.