Old 08-17-2008, 05:42 AM   #1
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Default What would you do...

With all the driving around that me and AB2 do, we have a lot of time to talk about different topics. I wanted to post one of the more interesting ones that we've been kicking around on here to see what others have to say about it.

We've been discussing what we would do if we gained access to a time machine for railfanning. You have your modern camera equipment with you, and vehicle travel times can be about what they are now (this way, you can chase trains if you want). You are restricted to only one day in an area at a certain time period, but you have a whole week to travel to numerous times and places. (For example, you can visit Altoona in the 1920s on one day and Altoona in the 1950s on a second day, but you can't visit Altoona in the 1950s for three full days.)

After a lot of thought, here is my intinerary, in no particular order, as of right now:

Day 1: Central New Jersey in the early 1940s. I grew up with a train twice a week on the former PRR branch, and would love to see it in busier times. Also would love to catch a couple CNJ freights on their north-south main as well as catching something on the CNJ Seashore Branch on the south side of Raritan Bay. Most importantly, after watching numerous NJT trains on the New York and Long Branch, I want to witness some K4s zip past me at the Middletown station brinign commuters home from NYC.

Day 2: Binghamton and NE PA in 1940. I head north to Binghamton, NY for a day on the Erie and Lackawanna mains through NY's Southern Tier and northeast PA. Also on my hit list is a few hours on the Delaware & Hudson, hoping for a Challenger over both Belden Hill and Ararat Summit. Bagging a train or two on the NYO&W wouldn't be a bad thing, either.

Day 3: Cheyenne-Denver in 1946. Start the day off watching Challengers and Big Boys tackle Sherman Hill. End the day with Rio Grande 2-8-8-2s and Challengers on the east slope of the Rockies. Mix in some Burlington, Santa Fe, Rock Island and Colorado & Southern action around Denver and it's a busy day.

Day 4: East Broad Top and Altoona in 1946. I wanted to break this up into two days, but I didn't want to lose anything else on the list, so I'll start the day with some EBT coal runs and finish off in Altoona and the West Slope. I might even be able to include a few hours on one of the mine branches northwest of Cresson and Gallitzin.

Day 5: After central PA, I head a little further south and a couple years into the future to spend the day in the Cumberland, Maryland area in 1948, photographing the Western Maryland and B&O beasts that lifted trains over the Alleghanies. My targets for this trip are the WM Challengers and 2-8-0s, as well as a passenger train with a WM Pacific. Of course, while I'm in the area, I'll take everything that the B&O can throw at me on their mainline, from articulateds to high-stepping passenger trains.

Day 6: St. Louis in 1956. My one non-steam day finds me parked at St. Louis Union Station to watch a parade of passenger trains from numerous railroads, as well as freights in the nearby Missouri Pacific yard. I won't be taking any black and white shots with all those colorful cab units shuttling in and out of the station. Stopping by the river crossings and the numerous coal docks in East St. Louis will round out the day.

With only one day left, I had some deciding to do. Should I do Kansas City or Chicago, where quantity trumps quality, or do I check out some of my favorite scenic spots, like the ore roads of northern Minnesota or the KCS and Frisco in the Ozarks. Or should I pick someplace in California or the Pacific Northwest, or the parallel CN and CP just west of Montreal, or the 2-foot gauge lines in Maine, or...

Day 7: Ore lines in northern Minnesota in 1950. As you can tell from the rest of my list, I love big steam and the allure of DM&IR Yellowstones lugging ore around northern Minnesota was too great. Even though my focus would be the Missabe, I'd also be able to catch some Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific frieght action, as well as other ore hauling roads. A stop off across the river in Superior, Wisconsin, would net Soo Line, NP, GN and Milwaukee Road trains, along with other roads.

Thanks for indulging my long-winded list, and let's hear your travel plans below.
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Old 08-17-2008, 05:54 PM   #2
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Here's my list, not in any order of preference but just when they came to my mind. My list is obviously quite biased in terms of geographical locations, but oh well.

Day 1: Philadelphia area, late 1930s-early 40s. B&O, Pennsy, and Reading would make for some interesting railfanning.

Day 2: Altoona, early-mid 1940s. What else needs to be said?

Day 3: Allentown/Bethlehem, PA, early 40s. It would be nice to see my local area back when all of the lines were active and passenger trains still ran.

Day 4: PRR mainline in New Jersey (probably Union area) in the early to mid 60s. Lots of passenger action (plus electric freights!) just before the Penn Central merger.

Day 5: Chicago area, mid to late 60s. It would be tough to pick just where, but I'd say Joliet or Englewood would be nice places to visit and see what Chicago was like before the days of Amtrak. I'm sure Union, Dearborn, LaSalle, or one of the other Chicago stations would be a good place to hang out also.

Day 6: Northeastern PA in the mid 40s. D&H Challengers (the most underrated engines on the east coast IMO) on the Penn Division would definitely be the highlight for me. It would also be neat to see the DL&W, Erie, and NYO&W in the Scranton area.

Day 7: Buffalo, mid 60s. Just before things came crashing down with the PC merger and the LV getting ripped up north of Ithaca. NYC, PRR, EL, LV, and plenty of other railroads would certainly provide a lot of variety.
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:43 PM   #3
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My list would probably start with the first days of operation of the B&O or of the first RRs in Great Britain.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:18 PM   #4
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Cool topic. I think if you asked me this question every month, you'd get a different answer every time. But as of right now...

Day 1- Tehachapi in the late 80's. A dozen tunnel-motors lifting heavy freight and the oil cans around the loop, Santa Fe fast freights behind yellow bonnets, Classic SP Power and lash ups, Kodachromes, Sugar Beets, and best of all, you could pretty much go wherever you wanted!

Day 2- Cima Hill and the southern portions of the Meadow Valley Wash (UP's LA&SL) during the late 80's/early 90's. When the export coal, grain and soda ash trains were running, the LA&SL was never busier. Train counts would routinely push 30 a day, way over the 12 we get now. Power was mostly SD40-2s and SD60Ms. The monster APL stack trains had manned helpers all the way from LA to Milford, the longest manned helper district in the world! While I'd spend a lot of time on Cima Hill, at this time the areas from Rox to Carp would still be accessible by driving on the MOW roads.

Day 3- Cima Hill down to Cajon Pass during WWII. Lots of UP steam on Cima Hill in the morning, as I'd focus on the area between Kelso and Cima. Later in the day I'd check out the Afton Canyon before moving west of Barstow to have some Santa Fe thrown in as well.

Day 4- UP through Wyoming and the Wahsatch's, sometime very early in 1970. The greatest diesel show on earth? DD40AX's, DD35 A's and B's, U50s, U50Cs, SD24, GP30 and GP9 B's, and the date specifically picked to include the very last days of UP's Big Blow Turbines and C-855's.

Day 5- Chicago in the Steam-Diesel transition. I'd spend most of my time around the stations and venture to some of the freight yards to check out the steam. Standing at Roosevelt Road for the commuter rushes would be the highlight. I'd also check out Englewood and some of the South Side Junctions that aren't particularly busy today like they once were.

Day 6- New River Gorge/Pokey in the late 1940's. Steam going strong on both C&O and the N&W with some diesels creeping in. I'd focus between Hawks Nest and Hinton as well as the area around Bluefield. I'd also hit Glen Lyn, VA to see the Virginian's Juice Jacks pulling coal over the viaduct with the N&W running underneath.

Day 7- This ones a bit of a wierd one, but I'd hit the Lima, OH area in the 1989 timeframe before moving to Elkhart, IN for the afternoon and evening. Basically just reliving some of my fond early railroad memories. Early CSX with it's myriad of paint schemes followed by a nice dose of Conrail. One of my fondest railroad memories is watching a seemingly endless Conrail stack train rumble past the Elkhart Amtrak station.
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:00 PM   #5
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1) Cajon Pass in the 1993 area. Lots of blue and yellows and Warbonnets are now showing up.

2) Feather River Canyon, 1979. WP is running in it's prime, the GP's and the U-Boats are key.

3) Donner Pass, 1980s. SD45s and Tunnel Motors hauling 8,000 ton freights at 8MPH. What a sound.

4) San Francisco Peninsula, 1960s. All the commute rushes with Trainmasters and Torpedo GPs.

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Old 08-20-2008, 07:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by stevenmwelch
4) San Francisco Peninsula, 1960s. All the commute rushes with Trainmasters and Torpedo GPs.
Don't forget H-12-44's and RS32's in the yards and on locals, F7's crossing the Bay into Redwood Jct and heading up to Bayshore, E's on the Daylight, PCC's on the Muni - wait a minute on that last one!
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Old 11-03-2009, 05:38 PM   #7
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Day 1) Southern Ontario in 1975 in and around Bayview Jct. CN and CP big and small 251 powered MLW's, CP's remaining 244 powered units including RS3's, RS10's, FA and FB2's as well as some F units still in freight service. Passenger rail just before VIA came on the scene, un-rebuilt GP9's, lots of branchline action. N&W (WAB) F7's, PC or CR on the Canada Southern, Chessie on the former PM, TH&B still going strong.

Day 2) Southern Ontario in 1968. First generation diesels mingling with the first of the second generation fleets (C424, C630M, GP30/35/40, SD40)

Day 3) Southern Ontario in January 1957. Transition for steam to diesel and some most welcomed snow.

Day 4) EL in the Southern Tier in autumn 1975. I need not explain.

Day 5) D&RGW in the late 1988 on Soldier Summit. I need not explain.

Day 6) WP in 1979... anywhere on the mainline. I need not explain.

Day 7) Returning home, Southern Ontario in 1985 (I would also bring some $$$ and purchase some MS and Intel stock). Get some pictures of the stuff I grew up with.
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Old 11-03-2009, 06:43 PM   #8
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My first choice would actually be 70s to early 80s Carolinas. Nothing fancy, just seeing stuff that happened in my life time but before I got the bug (not to mention a car.)

-- L&C would be interesting to see when it was still primarily a textile mill railroad with just two SW900s in their fleet and a blue caboose on the back.
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Old 11-05-2009, 05:30 AM   #9
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1910's and follow the Carolina & North Western railroad through Wilson Creek Gorge in NC. I drive the old roadbed once or twice a month and every single time I think of what it would have been like to ride a train through there. Might head up the mountains a few more miles and check out the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina.
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Old 11-05-2009, 07:13 PM   #10
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I like this topic, interesting to see what peoples choices would be.

Mine are;

Day 1: 1940's: Probably would be the Chicago area and catch the action of the late 40's where diesel's were slowly making appearances. I'm not that "clued-up" on RR's in the 40's, I'm only going by what I have seen on DVD's. Chicago looked busy back in those days.

Day 2: Wyoming to Denver in the 1950's. As 'cblaz' said "catch the Big Boys & Challengers up & over Sherman Hill. FASCINATING! I'm not a Big Boy fan myself, but to here & see one of them chug up that Hill would make any man cry (in happiness).

Day 3: Charma, NM to Silverton, CO. Late 1960's. catch the final days of operation along the famous Rio Grande narrow gauge. Nothing would make me happy than to ride that Train which includes the now closed section which separates the 2 RRs (D&S and C&T).

Day 4: Early 1970's: Catch the 'Little Joe's' & 'Boxcabs' on the "Pacific Extension" before the Electrification was uplifted and the line closed. Probably my favourite section of Track in the U.S.

Day 5: Late 1970's: A day on the D&RGW.

Day 6: 1980's: Catch CMStP&P (MILW) before its Takeover.

Day 7: 1990; Probably photograph the BN over Mullen pass or Marias Pass. I love SD40's and the BN was home to the largest fleet, so it only seams right that I photograph BN.

P.S. 7 days is not enough
P.S.S Can we do a Month instead? Just kidding!
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Old 11-05-2009, 09:04 PM   #11
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Mingo Jct/Steubenville in 1958/1959 to see the Pennsy while my Dad was working it, and then the Panhandle Line in Urbana, OH in 1960 for the same reason.

The Erie Lackawanna commuter lines (Bergen, Pascack Valley, and Northern of NJ) in the mid 1960s, and which I did actually witness as a child, but would like to see again and this time photograph.

Then, off the following, all pretty much in the 1950s --

1) Norfolk and Western electrified lines

2) Virginian electrified lines

3) Great Northern electrified lines

4) Milwaukee electrified lines

5) Union Pacific in the time of the Turbines

6) Anywhere I could see PAs pulilng passenger trains.
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:29 PM   #12
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This is awesome.

1) Wyoming to Denver in the 50's. What can I say? It would be hard to beat watching the Big Boys and the Challengers in their prime.

2) PRR mainline action in the 60's or so. Watch a bunch of mainline action with Privately owned Passengers and electrified freights and GG-1s in action.

3) Chicago in the forties with the bustle of trains (passenger and freight) there.

4) South Carolina, 1970s. Chase the Southern Crescent from Clemson at 6 in the morning south. Then, Catch a lot of Southern Fs and Es in action along with some then-newer high hoods with a northbound Southern Crescent in the evening. (I think my timeline is right.)

5) The Santa Fe transcon (anywhere: Chicago, Raton, Cajon, or somewhere) in the 60s with all the early diesel action.

6) South Carolina, Crescent Main, 1940s. Back in the days of steam with tons of steam passenger trains coming through.

7) California, 1940s. I would love to watch the SP Coast Daylight lead by the 4449 and its brethren charging up and down the coast.
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:40 AM   #13
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I could fill a list of seven days of jam packed historical railroading around here.. From witnessing the George Washington blitz past me going well over 100mph here in St. Albans in the 1940's, to riding in the pushers on a train clawing it's way out of the Blackwater canyon on the old Wild Mary in the late 60's...

But.. I'd ask for just one day..

In the 1930's..

On the Manns Creek Railway..

I'd start the day early in the morning, de-training from a C&O local stopping at the Sewell Station, down at the bottom of the New River Gorge. I'd make my way up the hillside to one of the country stores/kitchens for a hearty breakfast of fresh cooked sausage, homemade gravy, a baked potato and some country eggs over easy.. A breakfast like that'd keep me full until supper time..

As the the town comes to life, and the coke ovens start smoking up for the day, I'd make my way over to the engine house at Sewell, to see the railroad getting started.

After a little while of poking around the engine house, I'd go back down to the station, that serves both the C&O, as well as the MCRy, and grab a ticket for Cliftop. Even back in the Manns Creek Railway's heyday, their passenger accommodations were that of the bobber caboose on the tail end of a train heading back up the mountain.

The highlight of the trip from Sewell to Cliftop, other than riding behind either MCRy Number 8, a 2-Truck Shay, or possibly even one of it's other Climaxes before they were scrapped, would be reaching the canyon rim of the New River Gorge, Whistling Curve. While the C&O was only about 50-60 feet above Manns Creek when it crossed over it, the MCRy's roadbed continuing up Manns Creek from the New River Gorge, was well over 700 feet up on the mountainside already, via a Switchback on the other side of Sewell.

The view from Whistling Curve, to say the very least, is indescribably amazing. I have a poem about Whistling Curve, from Ron Lane's book on the Manns Creek Line, that I'll post later.

Pulling into Cliftop, once we get up into town, I'd de-train from the caboose, and head up to the Company Store, that still stands today, at Cliftop. From what I've read, it was almost always shoulder to shoulder there in the heyday of Manns Creek.. So, If I had the change and If I could make it up to the counter, I'd buy an ice cold Coca-Cola in a glass bottle.

A neat note, speaking of Coca-cola, I have a Coca-cola Bottle that I found at Sewell, dated 1934, cast in Beckley, WV.

As I'd be enjoying a cold refreshing Coca-Cola, I'd watch the train I rode up shove a couple box cars into the basement of the company store, for unloading of product, trans-loaded from the C&O at Sewell.

As the evening would come to a close, after riding the train back down from Cliftop, arriving at Sewell, I'd find myself standing on the platform of the C&O and MCRy's station at Sewell, I'd recap all of my adventures for the day, and be thankful, that America has such a rich, and exciting past.

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Old 12-09-2009, 12:30 AM   #14
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Excellent Idea, Mine would probally be something like this...

Day 1, The PRR to catch as much steam as possible

Day 2, My local railroad the M&NJ they used to run 44 tonners and steam and were much busier than now

Day 3, Southern pacific, down in the warm areas of California to catch the cab forwards and early diesels

day 4, North California, donner pass. Catch the old Steam Rotaries and spreaders still steam powered

Day 5, Highland, NY in the 30s or 40s to see Steam crossing the railroad bridge

Day 6, spend in altoona with the shops and such watching repairs going on

Day 7, Port Jervis, NY catching all the steam passenger trains and freight. Watching the old turntable in action.
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Old 01-01-2010, 12:48 AM   #15
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Day 1: Sturtevant Wisconsin in the 1890's

Day 2: Sturtevant in the 1940's

Day 3: Sturtevant in the late 1950's

Day 4: Sturtevant in the 1970's

Day 5: Racine, WI Depot in the 1970's

Day 6: Sturtevant in the 1990's

Day 7: Sturtevant in the year 2000.
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