Old 10-14-2007, 08:02 PM   #1
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Default If you could travel back in time....

Jim's comment on another thread

Originally Posted by JimThias
I've been a shooter for about two years and a watcher for about 38. I wish it were the other way around. Oh, how I wish I had pics from the 70's and 80's.
got me to thinking about a thread I've wanted to start for some time now. If you had a way back machine and could go anywhen in time, what time period would you go?

I know a lot of folks will want to go back to a period in steam history, but my first choice would be the 80s and here's why. I would have loved to have been around to catch some high hood B23-7s wearing their Southern tuxedos. I wish I had shots of Southern power on the SB line in Lancaster now owned by the Lancaster and Chester. Every once in a while, the Blacksburg spacer car made it's way through Rock Hill and onto Kershaw.

I think it would have been cool to see all the crazy early CSX lash ups lash ups. Seaboard System, Chessie, Clinchfield and all the rest would have come through near where I lived in Lancaster.

I wish I had paid more attention to the Lancaster and Chester in their old two tone blue and grey paint scheme on their two SW900s -- their entire fleet of power back then, a far cry from today. I wished I had also paid more attention to how they worked the various Springs plants too, all of which are now closed and some of them torn down.

I hate I missed the last days of various ACL/SCL branches before CSX sold them off. I think it would have been cool to see the Carolina Southern, Pee Dee River, Carolina Piedmont and South Carolina Central as they were being worked by CSX back then. And also, I missed the Aberdeen & Briar Patch before it became the Aberdeen, Carolina & Western.

I'm sure I could go on, but do you guys ever think about your own way back machine?

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Old 10-14-2007, 08:03 PM   #2
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Early to mid-50's. We had everything then...steam, deisels, passener trains...and LOTS of railroad tracks EVERYWHERE. That is what I lament over the most when I come across old RR grades...and even more so when I see old bridge/trestles converted to bike paths. ( ) I wish I could have been alive to see them in use.

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Old 10-14-2007, 08:04 PM   #3
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A friend of mine has a pretty cool take on the hobby from this perspective.

He likes to find old photos from 60's and 70's and go back to the same spot and reshoot them. Regardless if there is still a railroad there or not.

Might undertake this myself someday. If I had to pick, I'd agree Joe, late 70's early 80's, when CONRAIL was in her infancy.

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Old 10-14-2007, 08:15 PM   #4
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It's hard to detach the question of what I would want to see in general from what I would want to see again. So my first thought is that I would want to redo my late-70s Pittsburgh years but with more knowledge of both the railroads and of photography. With focus on the Chessie System - best paint scheme ever! - and Conrail.

Aside from that, I would want to go see a busy, busy major passenger terminal at the height of that activity, at a station that was both beautiful and allowed plenty of trackside access. And I'm not a passenger fan, really; I just like complexity of operations and trackwork. Double slip switches, galore!
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Old 10-14-2007, 08:34 PM   #5
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I'd go back to the 80's when I was a kid standing by the tracks watching CONRAIL rumble on by and tell myself to stop watching and to start taking photos.

As a kid, I watched alot of trains, but can't share those experiences with anyone else today...
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Old 10-14-2007, 09:19 PM   #6
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I'd love to go to Sandpatch in the 80's and see all those crazy chessie lash-ups.
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Old 10-14-2007, 10:45 PM   #7
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The Streamliner era - 50's.

PRR T-1's, CB&Q stainless steel Zephyrs, Milwaukee Road Hiawatha's, NYC Lightning consits - PLUS, you get to see the tail end of steam - D&L Challengers, UP Big Boys, Western Maryland Challengers on Helmstetter's Curve, and even Virgininian 2-6-6-6's. Rio Grande Narrow Guage Circle is still in tact....

Is this a trick question???

Maybe instead you need to narrow it down to a time and PLACE.

That would be tough - Santa Fe double headers on the Pass, PRR S-1 6-4-4-6's ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRR_S1 ), or C&O Chessie Turbine ( http://www.dself.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEU...b/chesturb.htm )!

Think Big!

'Course, I'd like to see the UA Turbo train jet by too.
I'll have to keep waiting for George Hamlin to dig some more up.

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Old 10-15-2007, 01:35 AM   #8
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That is a trick question, the more history you learn and photographs you view, the more places and eras you wish you could visit! I suppose if the time machine worked only one time and I only had a day to visit I would have to choose the early sixties, say 1964. I would love to walk through third and townsend station and see the FM Trainmasters and GP9's lined up, and I would probably ride one to Bayshore to see the huge yard when it was still intact. To see Alco's still on the SP would be a real treat and I especially would enjoy all the Coast hotshots powered by four axle diesels, GP9's 20''s and 30's, even RS11's and 32's. South San Francisco would be a point of interest as there was a lot of industry back then to be switched, but I've seen surprisingly few photos of it from back then. Maybe Drew Jacksich, Steve Schmollinger, or a few others I can't remember at the moment will turn up some images pre-1980 from there. Anyway I could type a huge reply to what all I would like to see but that's probably not what was intended here. Maybe a poll of what decade to visit would have been good too!?
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Old 10-15-2007, 01:39 AM   #9
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Id like to have been born back in the steam days. I really enjoy steam alot!!
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Old 10-15-2007, 03:06 AM   #10
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I would have like to been around during the late 60's to early 70's. It woulda been great to see CNW SD45's and GP30's operating next to F and E units. Also it would have been possible to see some great passenger trains such as "The 400" before Amtrak took over. To bad my relatives who worked for the CNW didn't take any photos . (There are some steam era photos though...)


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Old 10-15-2007, 04:01 AM   #11
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The late 1940s, to witness a pair of H-8 Alleghanies drag 140 loads of black diamonds from Hinton to Clifton Forge WV. Then for a followup, a single H-8 fly down the straight stretch @ Boilerhouse (outside Alderson, WV) at 60 mph with a 22 car George Washington.

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Old 10-15-2007, 05:18 AM   #12
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I've always thought I belonged as a teenager in the 60s...growing up watching steam and then early diesel, and of course I would have the same camera since the one I'm using now dates back to that time period
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Old 10-15-2007, 07:34 AM   #13
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I got seriously interested in UK 'modern' motive power around 1977 (although I'd always liked railways all my life) and was fortunate enough to have a decent camera from the early 80's onwards.

I'd really like to go back to the late 60's/early 70's to see the Western Region's diesel hydraulics in action, but also the Somerset and Dorset pre 1962 and maybe the Great Western around 1910

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Old 10-15-2007, 05:03 PM   #14
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Harry Truman era. 1948-1952. Lots of reasons.

Big steamers hauling coal on the Reading, C&O, B&O, and N&W
Baldwin Babyfaces on the CNJ and Sharks on the PRR
EMD E and F units taking center stage
Reading Blueliners and Pennsy Owls in suburban Philly
GG1s between NYC and DC
Alcos everywhere

...you get the picture.
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Old 10-15-2007, 05:48 PM   #15
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I've often said I was born 10 years late - if instead of '55 it was '45 then when I became really interested in trains at 14 years old I could've been watching, chasing, riding and photographing the following:

UP's amazing array of steam power over Sherman Hill
UP's experimenting with gas turbines
All those classic passenger trains running in their prime everywhere...
The introduction of diesels - the F unit in general is my favorite!
Happening railroad depots throughout the country...

Best of all - being able to go almost anywhere to take photos without hassle!

If I had to pick one specific time and place I'd like to join O.Winston Link on one of his night shot projects - setting it up and being there when the picture was taken...
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Old 10-15-2007, 05:51 PM   #16
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I'll bet you that a lot of the answers to this question hit at about ten years before the particular railfan starting taking pictures.

Many of us regret not getting those things that we just missed.
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:00 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Arne H. B.
That is a trick question, the more history you learn and photographs you view, the more places and eras you wish you could visit!
True, I always wished that I could go back to the 1950s and 1960s in the UK, or even go back to when I was in school, in the 1970's, with the knowledge and camera equipment that I have now.

Since seeing more of Europe, there are plenty more places that I would like to return to in a different timescale. Portugal 35 to 40 years ago when the English Electric diesel locos were being delivered, Germany when the V200's were plentiful and Austria 30 to 40 years ago.

One common thing about these wishes - they nearly are all within my lifespan. Can't say that I ever wanted to go back to a time before I was born, just really wished that I could go back and see things that I missed or was too young to appreciate properly.
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:39 AM   #18
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How did I miss this thread?

I know exaclty where I would go... Marias Pass, Montana, 1971. Dawn of the Burlington Northern, plenty of SD45s, F45s, F Units, etc, and I absolutely love the area.

I would also bring along $7000, and while I was there, I would also visit a Dodge dealer, and buy me a 1970 Hemi Challenger... but thats another dream!

Close second, go to Colorado and witness D&RGW Narrow Gauge steam in revenue service.
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Old 10-18-2007, 12:33 PM   #19
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I don't know how I missed this thread, either.

I'd also like to return to 50's and 60's Britain, before the 'Beeching Plan' took effect. What a pity I wouldn't be able to take my modern day camera back with me!
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Old 10-18-2007, 03:52 PM   #20
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1860 to 1999!

Okay, okay, I'd probably go back to the 1940's or 1950's where steam was at its biggest and diesels were just breaking the surface. If I was given multiple chances to visit historic time periods I would have to go back to the "Old West" in the 1920's and 1930's. It is the one time period/location that cannot really be reproduced today due to development and farming. If I was given a third opportunity, I know I'm greedy, I'd love to 'fan all the lines in NJ whenever the most lines were in use. I believe that would be from 1930 to 1950. To put into perspective where I live, my house is about 4 miles from the route of CNJ's Blue Commet. Just imagine how sick of seeing photos of that you would be if I were around then.

Great thread! (Although kind of depressing thinking about what 'we' missed.)
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:56 PM   #21
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I agree that this question is about impossible for a straight answer, and that the more I delve into railroading's past, the more items of interest I find. Additionally, even getting a taste of past eras would only whet my apetite, not satisfy it. I once answered to this question that I would like to see Chicago in the steam to diesel transition, but that hardly even covers my other areas of interest in the past.

So while trying to pin down times it occurred to me that I wish I had a camera at all times of my life, especially my youngest days, photographing early CSX freights and Conrail locals at NS Tower in Lima, Ohio.

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Old 10-18-2007, 08:04 PM   #22
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For me it would be the PRR in its prime.

I swear that the goal of that company was to build the most complex, expensive and massive railroad structure it possible could.

Think of any major PRR junction in PA. Most railroads would just build a tower and a couple turnouts and call it day. The PRR engineers would look at the same junction and say "what he need here is a few triple track stone arch flyovers with 25 foot clearance, two towers, ten signal bridges, a new technology to govern train movement at this location, and since we're in the area lets double track every line within a 25 mile radius."

I would really like to see what a company with kind of mentality and pride it is supremacy would be like first hand.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:31 PM   #23
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I think I would go back to the late 1800's-early 1900's when times were tough, and life was tougher. Most of history's great railroads were just starting. People worked hard for what they needed and wanted instead of relying on handouts from everyone else to provide it for them through today's government. I don't mind helping someone, but helping means that the recipient is working for the outcome too. Not sitting back and whining about how everyone else is doing all of the work. Sorry I ended up off subject, but sometimes ya just need to vent. I've always thought I would want to go back to this time period not related to RR anyway.
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:58 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by jdirelan87
For me it would be the PRR in its prime.
I was born in 1950, and I think I would like to go back to the 50's, when my father worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad at the Pitcairn freight yard in Pennsylvania. He often would catch a train downtown to work, and another to return home. In my mind's eye I can still see his railroad cap sitting on the kitchen counter, starched and stretched over an upside down cooking pot so it would sort of stand up when he wore it.

We used to take the train from the town where I grew up in to Pittsburgh to watch the Pirates play baseball at old Forbes Field. In those days we could travel anywhere the railroad ran for free on my dad's pass.

I still have faint memories of steam running the PRR mainline near our home. I also can remember looking out the coach window on the way to Pittsburgh as we passed what looked like a large yard full of steam power. I could see the smoke and sparks from the torches and other equipment being used to scrap the steam locomotives as we raced by.

I wish I could see it all again as an adult with a DSLR. What a trip that would be
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:59 PM   #25
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Maybe the mid-to-late 1900's on the Soo Line...
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