Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Burlington Northern SD40-2 on Marias Pass

This Burlington Northern SD40-2 begins the ascent of Marias Pass at Two Medicine Bridge. A heavy lumber train rolls down the track enroute from Seattle headed to Chicago. The carloads thunder through the mountains and over the Flathead River, echoing through the Rockies. The audible groan of locomotives 6818 and 6820 shoving on the rear sounds in the distance as the train continues on its way.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rutland RS3's With Milk Train at White River Junction, VT

Autumn is in the air. A pair of Rutland RS3's carry today's milk train at White River Junction, Vermont. Destined for the urban centers of Boston and New York City, these Milk cars give us a taste of New England railroading on the Rutland.

Santa Fe F7A&B on Super Chief at Needles, CA

These Santa Fe F7's lead the Super Chief at Needles, California. Their westbound trek has just entered the Golden State after crossing the painted deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. From the vantage of a Superdome, travelers have seen Route 66 and its namesake roadside attractions come and go along the route of the Santa Fe.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"American Rails" Chapter 9 "Missouri Pacific Geeps at the River"

A pair of Missouri Pacific GP7's got a heavy grain train underway at Memphis.  Headed towards the barges, these GP7's struggled towards the river.  Their cargo destined towards New Orleans.
Grain from Oklahoma rolled onward.  Each car rolled onward in cadence, cathud, cathud, as the heavy train made it past the vantage.  The geeps climbing towards the river.

"American Rails" Chapter 8 "Casey's Next Move"

Casey looked at the Gulf Mobile & Ohio timetable.  He had always wanted to go to Memphis.  Blues music and good food lured him there.  He picked up his satchel of brushes and, having made a few sales that week, decided to get going.
Music rang from every street corner.  Men played six-strings with tin-cups.  Casey dropped a penny or two here and there as the blues rang.  At a hardware store, he sold a few wide brushes and found a place for the night.  The Mississippi River drifted down to New Orleans.
The Illinois Central City of New Orleans made its station stop, and he thought of getting back on the train and going all of the way south.  The sleek lines of the passenger trains always inspired him.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

American Rails Chapter 7-Passing a Cotton Belt Freight

The Abraham Lincoln departed.  A Cotton Belt F7 headed south towards Texas with carloads of manufactured goods transferred from the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Its carloads, marked with slogans such as Merchandise Service told of cargo headed from the great lakes region and the steel belt on its way to the rural areas of Texas.  Tractors on flat cars and various appliances made up part of the train's freight.
The Black Widow units headed the hot shot on its way.  Agricultural goods would make their way back up from Texas to the North, such as cotton and grain on this trek from States such as Arkansas, Missouri and Texas.  The train rolled on and was gone, carrying its cargo to its corner of America.

Chapter 6-Casey's Gulf Mobile & Ohio Pass

Painting Johnson's office was a great opportunity for Casey.  He now held a pass for the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad.  At Union Station, Casey picked up a timetable and saw its route, which headed to cities such as Memphis, New Orleans and Montgomery.
Casey pictured his ability to stretch his territory.  He had been to New Orleans twice and had seen the brightly painted buildings.  He knew it would be a great city to be able to visit.
He saw that Gulf Mobile & Ohio's Abraham Lincoln could get him back to Chicago.  Having made a few sales and having received the great asset of the pass he held, Casey smiled as he the conductor called, "All aboard."
The brightly painted red and maroon E7 rolled eastward.  Casey sat in the diner and watched the countryside roll by as he thought about where the next year might take him.

American Rails Chapter 5-Casey's Next Job

Casey knew a hardware store on Ferry Street.  A good man ran it.  He usually bought four or five brushes.  The bell on the door clanged as Casey walked in.
    “Howdy, Hank,” Casey said.
    “Good to see you, Casey,” Hank said.
    “How’s business been?”
    “Can’t complain.  Could use your help.”
    “Sure, in what way?”
    “A man from the railroad came in the other day.  The Gulf Mobile & Ohio across town.  Said they were painting there offices.  Needed a man who could paint it.  I thought of you.  Funny you should show up.”
    “I could use a few extra dollars.”
    “Man by the name of Johnson.  Here is his phone number.”
    “I’ll give him a call.”
    “Said he could pay the person with an annual pass on the railroad.  That might be of use to you.  I know you could use the money.
    “I could, but I could stand to expand my territory a little, too.  See where this Gulf, Mobile & Ohio goes.  That could be great.”
    “You go see him.  Johnson’s his name.”
    “Thanks for the tip, Hank.”
    “As I said, Casey, I thought of you when he came in.”

American Rails Chapter 4- The Smith Family Christmas

The Concourse of Union Station stood towering above our travelers. Jack shook Casey's hand and walked towards the awaiting Yellow cabs. He glanced at the newsstand. The day's headline always helped break the ice with Uncle Jim over egg nog.
Casey headed to the bank of phones and took out his ledger. "Stevens, this is Casey. You got any leads for me while I'm in town. Running a little short in Chicago. Might be here a few days. Be over at Annabelle's boarding house as usual."
The Smith family Christmas tree awaited Jack.  Truly the end of the line from his Wabash Christmas train.  His brother and sister hugged him and asked how the year had been. 
“I can’t complain,” Jack said, “especially since I am here.  Got something for Jerry.”  Jack handed the wrapped Cubs jersey to his sister, Kathryn.  Jerry loved anything from Uncle Jack’s big city of Chicago.

    One time, little Jerry had gotten to ride the Chicago Surface Lines trolley with Jack.  “Tell me where we are going,” Jerry asked.
    “We are going to see a baseball game.” Jack said.  “The Cubs playing the Cardinals.”
    “Wow.”  They ate peanuts and sat in the summer sun.  Ever since, Jerry said, “When are we going to Chicago?” every time he saw Uncle Jack. 
    Jack said, “You can see baseball in St. Louis, too.”
    “I want to ride the trolley,” said Jerry.
    “We’ll ride it again,” said Jack.  “Next time you come and see me.”

Saturday, November 19, 2011

American Rails Chapter 3- Casey's Story

Casey sold brushes.  Mostly in Illinois and Indiana.  He spent much of his time in Chicago, but, when business slowed, he took the train down to St. Louis or Indianapolis.
    You name the brush, he sold it.  Mostly to hardware stores.  He liked most of his customers, but business had slowed at the moment.
    This found Casey on the train to St. Louis.  Several accounts were in good standing.  Casey figured it was a good time to get on the Wabash.
    Sometimes Casey found himself getting off of the train in the smaller towns, but today, his ticket was punched for Union Station.  He had a boarding house he would stay at and then, in the morning, it was time to visit some hardware stores.  Casey knew a few art supply stores, as well, so he brought a few finer brushes to pad his potential commission.
    Casey was not a cut-throat salesman.  It was not about the bottom line for him.  He just liked walking past a building and seeing it shining in a fresh coat of paint.  It made him think that maybe one of his paint brushes had done a good job.  Casey liked things that worked well.  Casey liked to close the deal, but he liked happy customers.
    In his pocket, he carried a Mercury Dime.  The commission from the first sale he had made.  Casey was a sentimental man.  He flipped that dime through his fingers as the train rolled on down the tracks.  He thought of St. Louis, and how it might look nicer if a few buildings were painted brighter.

American Rails Chapter 2- Casey

Jack was fascinated by the people he met on the train. Minutes turned to hours on the train. Towns big and small all had their stories. At this time of year, much of the way glistened under a fresh blanket of snow.
As the Banner Blue rolled onward, Jack gazed at passing freight yards and side tracks, where idle cars awaited there call to the morning local. Jack began a conversation with the man across the isle.
"Headed home for Christmas, you?" Jack said.
"I take the Wabash whenever I can," the man said. "Name's Casey.
"I take these trains all of the time. Chicago down to St. Louis and over to Indianapolis. Mighty good ride, the Wabash; they treat you right. Monon's good too, when I head on down to Indy. You get down that way much?"
"Sometimes," Jack said.
"Good town, Indy. I try to get there whenever I can."
Jack headed to the diner at Decatur. Carloads of grain sat on inbound tracks at the mills. At this key junction, the crew changed. Passenger's debarked, and many began their journey.
"How 'bout them Bears?" said Casey. "I hope they make it all of the way."
Jack had only caught a game or two at Soldier. "Yep," he said. But we've got to look out for the Lions."
"Yeah, them Lions look pretty go...od this year. Detroit is where its at. You seen the new Dodges this year."
"I'm thinking about getting one. After Christmas, of course."
"That's a pretty nice car, that Dodge."
"Yeah, it is."
"My dad had one. Used to drive us up to Terre Haute in it. See his mom. Good car that Dodge."
Highball sounded, and the Banner Blue began its journey once again.

American Rails Chapter 1- Boarding the Banner Blue

Christmas lights shined at Dearborn Street Station, Chicago. Jack Smith prepared for departure on the Banner Blue to St. Louis. Under his arm was tucked a Chicago Cubs Jersey for his nephew. The remnants of Chicago Style Pizza left a pleasant taste. 
Christmas always meant riding the Banner Blue back home to St. Louis. Jack found Chicago exciting. So much to do and see. Catch a Bears game. But Christmas meant a train ride home. This was his favorite time of year. It all started on the Wabash.
Chicago stood as a way of life. The hustle and bustle. Jack rode the L-Train everyday. At Christmas, the sound of bells rang throughout the streets. It rang charity in his heart.
Jack dropped a quarter now and then as he saw the Salvation Army man. His shoes covered with salt, he walked up Dearborn Street. He knew it was time to head to St. Louis. Pies of all kinds waited.
Jack loved to see... the freights come and go as a flash of color out the window of the Banner Blue. They all headed somewhere. At the Holidays, he wondered what cities and towns their cargo was destined for. What they carried and to whom. The train excited him.
Sure he rode trains throughout the year. To places much further than St. Louis. Much, much further. But somehow, the Christmas train home was special. He clutched the ticket in his hand.
 And there stood the Banner Blue in all of its grandeur. The lead E8 prepared for departure. Jack read the word Wabash and thought of home. The sleek lines of the streamlined locomotive stood prepared to take him to see his family.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Delaware & Hudson Snow in the afternoon

A Delaware & Hudson GP39-2 hauls it's timed freight at Scranton. A dusting of snow glistens on the ground from an afternoon snow and makes The Electric City alight. Eighty cars head for Binghamton on this February day in 1978.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lehigh Valley C628 in Sayre PA 1972

It is a cold morning in Sayre, PA.  In the lead is Lehigh Valley C628 #637.  Its train and crew, bound for Buffalo, brave the weather and the Noreaster that has blown through the night.  Unfortunately, this train is headed towards the lakes and the snow, and the trip will only get colder in the cab of this Alco.  There will be frozen switches and air hoses to contend with as the train heads on its way.  This is railroading on the Lehigh Valley in the Great Lakes region in the 1972.

Santa Fe SD40-2's at Kingman, AZ

We stand at Kingman, Arizona.  The grind of four SD40-2's gets a merchandise train headed east towards the desert romanticized in travelogues of the Santa Fe as the West.  Eighty-seven carloads roll past our vantage as the blue and gold locomotives work their way with their train onto the loneliness of the night's desert crossing.  On towards Winslow and New Mexico beyond.

Wabash E8 at Dearborn Street Station, Chicago, 1955

  Chicago. 1955. We stand at Dearborn Street Station at 4:35 in the afternoon. Wabash E8 1011 leads the afternoon Bluebird to St. Louis. The many landmarks of Dearborn Street pull our eye. The row of parked cars leads our eye to the train shed, its corrugated face guarding Dearborn Street's clock tower. Perhaps, however, to all who have stood or viewed this scene, the Lee Overalls man, who stands guard, as yet another train rolls to its destination.