Monday, August 31, 2015


Where the railroads meet
And the Appalachians touch the sky
Give me a moment
To pause in Cumberland
And I am forever happy

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Drawing of the Day-August 30, 2015 Amtrak Empire Service FL9

Today I drew an Empire Service FL9 for my friend, Amtrak engineer David Todd Magill.  Amtrak Empire Service operates between New York City, Albany and Buffalo.
Amtrak acquired its FL9s in 1978 from Conrail.  The FL9s served for many years in Empire Service.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Drawing of the Day- August 28, 2015 CSX ET44AC General Electric ET44AC Tier 4 Locomotive

Today's drawing is a new CSX General Electric GE Transportation ET44AC.  This CSX ET44AC is from CSX's first order for GE Transportation Tier 4 Locomotives.
The development of the Tier 4 locomotive is a crowning achievement in locomotive progress.
CSX serves the ports, agriculture, industries and communities of the Eastern and Midwestern United States.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Drawing of the Day-August 27, 2015 Amtrak GG1 926

I just drew Amtrak GG1 #926.  This GG1 is owned by the Central New York Chapter of the NRHS and is at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
The GG1 was one of the most successful and popular locomotives ever designed.  The venerable GG1 continued in passenger service well after the inception of Amtrak.  Still very popular, GG1s have found homes at museums and parks all across America.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My New Amtrak America Shirt

I just got the great new Amtrak America that I ordered from the Amtrak Store.  It is truly one of my favorite train shirts I have.
This shirt makes me think of the great scenery and communities that I see while traveling Amtrak.  I can't wait to wear this shirt as I ride Amtrak across America.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My US Map of Railroads

I enjoy visiting railroads and communities all across America.  I find that travel always inspires new drawings.
Years ago, I designed a map that showed the United States with its railroads placed geographically.  I created the map from many of my locomotive and freight car drawings.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Trains of the Midwest

The Midwest has a rich history of railroads that connected its people, places, agriculture and industry.  Historically, many of the Midwest's railroads connected the Midwest with the Gulf Coast, the Northeast, and the West.
Many of the Midwest's railroads have become part of today's Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, CSX, Canadian Pacific or Canadian National.  Quite a few of the Midwest's shortlines and regional railroads remain.  Shortlines and regionals perform much of the key first mile/last mile service in unison with today's Class 1 railroads.

Watching Conrail While Living in Altoona

It was always fun to watch trains while in Altoona.  When I took a break from drawing, often we would go down by the railroad museum and watch Conrail go by.
Westbounds were just preparing to climb the Horseshoe Curve, and eastbounds prepared to cut their helpers off.  After a few hours, I was ready to go back into the studio and draw again.

Drawing Trains On Rainy Days in Altoona

While living in Altoona, Pennsylvania, I loved rainy days where I could sit inside and draw.  The stormy skies reminded me so much of the gray days I saw in my book on the Pennsylvania Railroad by Don Ball, Jr.
As the storms would lift, it was fun to sit and watch Conrail on a sunny day that followed.  Many of my drawings from that era were inspired in such a way.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Drawing of the Day-August 23, 2015 US Steel SW1500 #150

I just drew US Steel SW1500 #150.  It switches at the US Steel Clairton Plant.
The relationship between railroads and the steel industry truly dates back for generations.  The steel industry relies upon railroads to carry coal and iron and its finished steel.  In carrying these raw materials and the finished steel, the railroad truly has one of its strongest customers in the steel industry.
Today's America truly is built of steel.  Many of our buildings, bridges and all of our cars, ships and trains are fashioned from steel. 

A Rio Grande Train at the Moffat Tunnel

A Rio Grande train hustles towards Denver.  Shortly it will enter the Moffat Tunnel.  Its brightly painted freight cars advertise the slogan "The Action Road."
Rio Grande remains a favorite of railroad enthusiasts today.  Its scenic crossing of the Rocky Mountains via Rollins Pass and the Moffat Tunnel has been treasured for many years.  This route, part of the original California Zephyr, remains today as one of the most scenic stretches of today's Amtrak California Zephyr.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Drawing of the Day August 22, 2015 North County Transit District Coaster F59PHI

Today I drew Coaster F59PHI #3002.  The Coaster is operated by the North County Transit District in Oceanside.
The Coaster and Amtrak's Surfliner both give San Diego area commuters a great alternative to driving.  Commuting by train saves fuel, eases congestion and allows us all to get work done while in transit.

Visiting The Historic Chesapeake and Ohio in St Albans, West Virginia

Through the years, I have visited Charleston, West Virginia to see my dad.  It is always great to see CSX and its operations on the former Chesapeake and Ohio when I visit.
One of my favorite places to see trains is St. Albans. I enjoy driving by a car dealership called C and O Motors and thinking about how long it has been rooted in this railroad community.  

Friday, August 21, 2015

My #EmojiScience Kit From General Electric

I recently got my #EmojiScience kit from General Electric.  It is great fun.
Emoji is a great way to communicate ideas and concepts through symbols.  I am just beginning to use Emoji, but the more I learn, the more Emoji is showing up in my ✏️!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Iowa Interstate- Truly A Railroad Success Story

Everytime I head through Council Bluffs, it is exciting to see Iowa Interstate and its intermodal operations.  Iowa Interstate and its operations on the former Rock Island truly stand out among railroad success stories.
Iowa Interstate was one of the first regionals that I drew in 1992 as I began to draw America's railroads.  It is exciting to still see Iowa Interstate going strong over twenty years later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Drawing of the Day August 19- Canadian National General Electric ET44ACTier 4 Locomotive

Today's drawing is a new Canadian National General Electric GE Transportation ET44AC.  This Canadian National ET44AC is from Canadian National's first order for GE Transportation Tier 4 Locomotives.
The development of the Tier 4 locomotive is a crowning achievement in locomotive progress.
Canadian National's transcontinental Canadian mainline serves the ports, agriculture, industries and communities of Canada.  Canadian National also is a key railroad in the United States, serving communities, industries and ports throughout the Midwest, the Northeast and along the Gulf Coast.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Electroliners at Illinois Railway Museum

A Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee Eletcroliner hurries towards Milwaukee.  It races onward, its sleek lines a flash of green and orange.
Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee innovated to compete against the Milwaukee Road and Chicago and Northwestern in the Chicago to Milwaukee passenger market.  Its dazzling Eletcroliners a symbol of modern ideal and design.
Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee Electroliners 801 and 802 are preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Miller's Pub-My Chicago Tradition

Whenever I am in Chicago, I make a tradition to have lunch at Miller's Pub.  Here I am in May while attending Amtrak Train Days in Chicago.
I always order a French dip sandwich with a side of french fries.  I know I have made it to downtown Chicago and Wabash Avenue when I have made it to Miller's Pub.

Chicago-America's Railroad Hub

Chicago is truly America's railroad hub.  Railroads from the Northeast, the Southeast and Gulf Coast and the Midwest and West join at Chicago.  Historically, Chicago's shortlines and belt railroads have served Chicago's industries and have linked the railroads that interchange in the Windy City.
Steel from the Steel mills of Chicago and Northern Indiana provided a key source of traffic to Chicago's railroads.  Steel from these mills helped build America.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Missouri Pacific Train at St. Louis

A Missouri Pacific freight heads south out of St. Louis.  Today's train carries freight bound for Memphis and New Orleans.
Missouri Pacific was known as the "Route of the Eagles."  Missouri Pacific connected the agriculture, industries and communities of the Southern Midwest states and the Gulf Coast.  Midwest became a part of Union Pacific in 1982.

Erie Lackawanna Train at Marion, Ohio

An Erie Lackawanna train crosses the diamond at Marion, Ohio.  We give a wave to the Chicago bound train.
Today's train travels the tracks of the former Erie.  As the caboose passes our vantage, we give the conductor a wave.  Onward the train travels to Chicago.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, Montana-The Place Where I Fell In Love With Trains

The Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, Montana is where I truly fell in love with trains.  Each Burlington Northern train that passed, I knew deeper in my heart that trains were not a passing fad for me.  Trains were not a hobby.  Trains were my life's calling.
SD40-2s thundered down the grade, behind them, one hundred and eight cars of grain.  My eye watched each hopper, Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Frisco, Chicago Burlington and Quincy.  CO-OP Hoppers from throughout the Midwest.  As each hopper passed, I noticed the variances in weathering and shapes and sizes of logos.  These trains told a story of history, geography, of mergers, of the railroad, all in a symphony of rolling thunder as it headed down the track.
These trains became my own personal homework assignment.  By drawing locomotive after locomotive and grain hopper after grain hopper, logo after logo, ladders, lettering, side frames, slowly but surely I taught myself how to draw.  Year after year, the lines got tighter and tighter.
Throughout my teenage years, I returned every summer to the Izaak Walton Inn.  Each summer of train watching led to my drawing another one hundred and eight car grain train.  Finally, in 1991, I drew Burlington Northern's Desert Storm engine, of all things, to pull that year's grain train.  At that point, my mom said, "I think you are now a railroad artist."

Wisconsin Central-One of My First Drawings as a Railroad Artist

On my first big railfan trip to Chicago, I was lucky enough to see a Wisconsin Central train pulled by Wisconsin Central SD45s 6534 and 6510.  That was one of the most exciting trains I had seen up to that date.  As soon as I got home, I drew SD45 6534.
Wisconsin Central was one of the first regional railroads that I drew.  I loved Wisconsin Central's striking paint scheme and "Can Do" spirit as a railroad.
Drawing Wisconsin Central and Montana Rail Link started me on drawing many of the shortlines and regional railroads of the day.  In turn, that was a big start on my becoming a railroad artist.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Western Maryland Train at Hagerstown, Maryland

A Western Maryland train makes its way through Hagerstown, Maryland.  Its three locomotives power loaded coal hoppers for Port Covington.
Western Maryland was a favorite railroad throughout Appalachia.  Western Maryland was a member of the Alphabet Route.

Drawing of the Day August 14, 2015 Port Authority of Allegheny County "PA Train"

When is an F-Unit also a PA? When it is the "PA Train" of the Port Authority of Allegheny County! I just drew PA Train F-Unit #6690 for fans of the PA Train.
I read about the PA Train in Railpace magazine as a teenager and remember seeing its commuter trains side by side with Conrail and Chessie System locomotives.  I thought it would be a great Flashback Friday to draw PA Train F-Unit #6690.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Seeing My First Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Train at Rapid City, South Dakota

It was exciting for me to see a pair of Iowa, Chicago and Eastern SD40-2 locomotives on the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern in Rapid City, South Dakota in 2010.  I had first drawn Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern in 1992 and had yet to see a locomotive from this family of railroads that I liked so much.
I had just spent the morning at the Alliance, Nebraska BNSF yard.  Under a beautiful blue South Dakota sky, I saw my first Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern train nearly twenty years after drawing my first DM and E locomotive.  What an exciting day.

Amtrak and Its Local Trains

Amtrak and the California Department of Transportation offer commuter service on the Capitol Corridor between Auburn and San Jose.  These trains operate through my hometown of Davis. Recently, I took a trip to Raleigh to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Amtrak Carolinian.  The Amtrak Carolinian is sponsored by Amtrak and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Through such partnerships, Amtrak offers many such trains that extend its services for commuters and communities.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Chessie System Train at Cumberland, Maryland

A Chessie System train heads east through Cumberland, Maryland on the former Baltimore and Ohio.  Its carloads of general merchandise and coal are bound for Baltimore.
Chessie System remains a favorite amongst railroad enthusiasts for its colorful yellow, orange and blue paint scheme that incorporated Chesapeake and Ohio's iconic cat "Chessie."  Chessie System merged with Seaboard Coast Line to form CSX.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Grand Trunk Western Freight Heads Towards Chicago

A Grand Trunk Western freight moves auto racks south towards Chicago. Its engineer gives a wave as the train passes.
Grand Trunk Western connected the industries and manufacturing of the North Central United States.  Grand Trunk Western is part of today's Canadian National.

Nickel Plate Road-Route of "High Speed Service"

The Nickel Plate Road connected Buffalo with the Midwest gateways of Chicago and St Louis. A key Nickel Plate Road terminal at Bellevue, Ohio has become the largest hump yard on today's Norfolk Southern.
Nickel Plate Road was well maintained and known for its "High Speed Service". Nickel Plate Road was one of the last railroads in America to operate mainline steam locomotives in regular service.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Boarding The Amtrak Southwest Chief at Galesburg, Illinois

Here I am about ready to board the westbound Amtrak Southwest Chief in Galesburg, Illinois.  Every time I board Amtrak, I anticipate seeing the beauty of America.
The Southwest Chief crosses the Mississippi River and crosses Raton Pass  of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  The vast landscape along the Southwest Chief is breathtaking.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Drawing of the Day August 9th 2015 First Union Rail Corporation SD40-2

My drawing of the day today is a First Union Rail Corporation Leasing SD40-2.  First Union Rail Corporation goes by the recording marks FURX.
First Union Rail Corporation and many leasing companies lease locomotives to America's railroads on a short-term basis to ease motive power shortages.  Have you ever railfanned a FURX Leasing locomotive?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Rio Grande and the California Zephyr

Rio Grande was the "Mainline Thru the Rockies". Its direct route between Salt Lake City and Denver connected Midwestern and West Coast railroads.  
Rio Grande operated the famous California Zephyr with the Western Pacific and Chicago Burlington and Quincy. Amtrak's California Zephyr operates over Union Pacific's former Rio Grande trackage from Salt Lake City to Denver.

Illinois Central-The Mainline of Mid America

Illinois Central was known as the Mainline of Mid America.  Illinois Central served states along the Mississippi River, the Gulf Coast and the Upper Midwest.
Illinois Central was known for its City of New Orleans passenger train that operated between Chicago and New Orleans.  "The City of New Orleans" entered pop-culture with the well known Steve Goodman song. Amtrak's City of New Orleans train between Chicago and New Orleans takes its name from the famous Illinois Central passenger train.

Meeting a Fellow Artist Aboard Amtrak

A great thing about Amtrak is that you meet people from all across America and all over the World. Just outside of Truckee on the Amtrak California Zephyr, I met Stan, a fellow artist from Connecticut.
Stan had grown up along the New Haven Railroad.  It was exciting to get to draw him the historic New Haven logo he remembered from riding New Haven's passenger trains to New York and Boston many years ago.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Amtrak's Former Santa Fe Depot at Raton, New Mexico

Amtrak's historic depot at Raton, NM was built by the Santa Fe Railroad.  Raton is served by Amtrak's Southwest Chief, successor to the Santa Fe Super Chief.  Amtrak travels on the rails of Santa Fe successor BNSF.
Troops of Boy Scouts ride Amtrak from across America to Raton where they disembark to head to Philmont Scout Ranch.  The scenery along the Southwest Chief is truly spectacular.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Great Missouri Pacific Hat and Shirt From My Friend, Zach

Today is not my birthday, but I had to check my calendar to see if it was.  I just got a surprise package from Zach Pumphery and I am in awe!!! I've always loved Missouri Pacific and the Screaming Eagle paint scheme.  It was one of my first fallen flags to draw. Thanks so much for making my day Zach---love the hat, shirt, lantern and vest!!! P.S I just got a new supply of paper and so when my schedule frees up I'll be doing more MoPac!!!

Truckee, California- A Great Place To Visit On Amtrak

As we passed through Truckee, California on the Eastbound Amtrak California Zephyr, I discovered the Truckee Railroad Museum adjacent to the Truckee Amtrak Depot. I am always grateful to see cabooses not only saved but put to a great use.
Truckee is a great town to visit nestled in the Sierra.  Truckee is located next to Donner Lake and countless water sports and Squaw Valley and many other ski resorts in the winter.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Today's Drawing August 5, 2015- BNSF GE Transportation ET44C4 Tier 4 Locomotive

Today's drawing is a new BNSF General Electric GE Tranpsortation ET44C4.  This BNSF ET44C4 is one of the first production GE Transportation Tier 4 Locomotives.
BNSF ET44C4 was built at GE Manufacturing Solutions ultra-modern Fort Worth Facility.  The development of the Tier 4 locomotive is a crowning achievement in locomotive progress.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bessemer and Lake Erie Ore Train at Conneaut, Ohio

A Bessemer and Lake Erie train heads south from the ore docks at Conneaut, Ohio.  Its cargo heads to North Bessemer Yard and a connection with the Union Railroad.
Bessemer and Lake Erie and Union Railroad and sister Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range were all part of the US Steel Family of railroads.  These railroads worked together to haul iron ore from the Iron Range of Minnesota to the steel mills of Pittsburgh.

The Norfolk Southern Whistle-Stop Safety Train

The Norfolk Southern Whistle-Stop Safety Train continues on its tour of Kentucky and Ohio.  Norfolk Southern operates trains such as the Whistle-Stop Safety train in partnership with Operation Lifesaver.
Trains such as the Whistle-Stop safety train carry local first responders as their passengers, giving them an opportunity to see the profile of the track and the location of grade crossings.  Safety instructions are taught by an Operation Lifesaver presenter about how to prevent grade crossing accidents and how to stop trespassing on railroad property.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Great Northern Big Sky Blue and the Izaak Walton Inn

After the era of Omaha Orange and Pullman green, Great Northern ushered in its new livery of "Big Sky Blue."  New locomotives and newly repainted locomotives wore this attractive scheme that complimented the wide open spaces of Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.
The first picture I saw of a Great Northern locomotive was a Big Sky Blue SDP45 crossing Marias Pass in Montana.  Years later, I would take my first railfanning trip to the Izaak Walton in at Essex, Montana.  The Izaak Walton Inn is a bed and breakfast located in a historic hotel that was built by the Great Northern railway in 1939 to house railroad crews.

A Boston and Maine Freight at White River Junction, Vermont

Today, we watch a Boston and Maine freight at White River Junction, Vermont. Carloads of merchandise from across America head towards upper New Hampshire and Vermont.
An empty wood chip car returns to Woodsville, New Hampshire.  Its cargo of New England wood chips will become pulp to create morning papers across the urban centers of the Northeast.

The Art Deco Era of the E and F Unit Locomotive

E and F-unit locomotives are accredited with the era of brightly painted, streamlined passenger trains across America.  The elegant lines of these locomotives complimented the new, lightweight aluminum passenger cars that appeared.
America was on the move, and its streamlined passenger trains took us there.  These Art Deco locomotives stood with the spires and clock towers of train stations and cities from an era that truly marked an elegant age of design.

A Semaphore at the Illinois Railway Museum

I enjoy visiting railroad museums across America. Their collections truly preserve our railroad history.
Here I stand next to a semaphore signal at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois. The Illinois Railway Museum's collection of historic locomotives, traction and rolling stock is truly worth a visit.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

My Mom and Grandma-Why I Am Able To Be A Railroad Artist

Many of you have met my mom, Lynda Fletcher.  With her in this picture is her mom, my Grandma, Mary Sousa.  My grandma's goal in life was that her grandchildren find happiness in discovering their talents.  She worked as a nurse until late in life, bought my first set of pens and encouraged that I draw the trains that I so enjoyed.
To this day, my mom is the key support system to why I am able to be a railroad artist.  Because she handles much of the details from being my agent to where and when we need to be to when I need to order paper and pens, I can focus on drawing. Many of you also know my mom as the person who has taken countless photos along the way.  I would not be anywhere without the love and support of my mom and grandma.

Today's Drawing-August 2nd, 2015 Canadian National 2466 for #EngineerBubba

I just drew Canadian National sublettered Illinois Central #2466 to make a card for Jarret Chord, ‪#‎EngineerBubba‬! The video of Jarret in the cab moved the railfan community Thursday and I thought it would be great to send Jarret a card from all of us wishing him a full recovery!!! I wanted to say Thank You to Canadian National for giving Jarret the chance to live his dream and be an engineer! If you missed the videos please go to Prayers for Jarrett Chord page on facebook.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Amtrak's Heritage Fleet

Amtrak selected five of its P40 and P42DC locomotives and an NPCU to honor its 40th Anniversary.  Another P42DC and an ACS64 were also selected to honor America’s Veterans.  These locomotives are the proud work of Amtrak's Beech Grove, Indiana shops.
    The Amtrak Heritage Fleet visits communities served by Amtrak across America.  Amtrak’s Heritage Fleet attends railroad events such as Amtrak Train Days to promote passenger trains and the railroad industry.
    Amtrak’s Heritage Fleet is a proud symbol of the history of Amtrak, America’s Veterans, and Amtrak’s people who work together to make Amtrak strong.  A dedicated team of men and women keep Amtrak’s locomotives and passenger cars maintained and their trains running so our Amtrak experience is second to none.

Montana Rail Link-The Railroad That Inspired Me To Dream Big

As a teenager, I loved Burlington Northern and taking trips to Essex, Montana in the late 1980s. At this time, Montana Rail Link was becoming a strong upstart on Burlington Northern's former Northern Pacific trackage across Southern Montana.
I was inspired that entrepreneur Dennis Washinton had leased this section of track from Burlington Northern and was starting his own railroad.  At sixteen, I was ready to start my own railroad.
The success of Montana Rail Link drove me to dream. It made me know that I could accomplish things bigger than myself. 
My mom suggested that I send my artwork to railroad presidents.  The many warm-hearted responses I received led me to becoming a railroad artist.  Montana Rail Link President Bill Brodsky, in seeing my ambition, kindly quoted Robert Browning, "Reach beyond your grasp or what's a heaven for?"  I have taken those words to heart ever since.