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  • Like trains?

    We live about 3/4 mile from the CSX double track main lines (Martinsburg, WV). They run a lot of trains. We often have to stop when trains are crossing. Fairly often we catch trains going both ways at the same crossing. I often count the rail cars just to kill time at the crossings. Yesterday I think I have the highest count yet. The gates were closing and I was the first car at the gates. So, the first thing that caught my eye was that this train had three locomotives (very unusual) so I counted the cars (all coal cars). At 121 cars there was another locomotive in the train, Then I kept counting and ended up with 239 cars in that train (not counting the four locomotives).
    Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
    '64 Daytona Wagonaire, '64 Avanti R-1, Museum R-4 engine, '72 Gravely Model 430 with Onan engine

  • #2
    I had the good fortune of living in rail center locations my whole life and having my relatives work on the rail roads. Always liked trains and took every opportunity to get close or hook rides when I could. My ideal job was to have been an engineer but my crappy eye site knocked my chance for that career in the toilet.
    As to being the first car at the gate (s) many years ago I was the third car back in the line (and I was pi**ing & moaning about my position to my wife) when the track split about 500' from the crossing. The site was wondrous with all the stuff flying around......till it took out the 1 st car and really dented up the second car. So from then on when I was 1 st at the gates I would leave two car lengths no matter how many time the car behind me honked.


    • #3
      Sure. I spent a fair amount of time a my Grandma's house in Whitefish, MT when I was growing up. Listening to BNSF's westbound trains pulling out of the station and climbing the slight grade as they left town, from across the lake, was quite the aural experience; especially at night. There was also a viaduct over the yard, which allowed you to stand right above the locomotives and look right into their bellowing exhaust as they moved about the yard. The viaduct was eventually replaced with a new, widened and taller overpass that doesn't afford you the full diesel-fumes-in-the-face goodness, but it's still a neat area.

      Also have explored the Flathead Tunnel near Trego, MT on numerous occasions. It's a hair over 7 miles in length, and there are a couple of rather serious ventilation fans and related infrastructure at the east portal. It wasn't too hard to dodge the security cameras and climb all over everything pre 9/11. The west portal is open, and there is a possibility that I've ventured inside a bit further than most would dare go.

      Haven't found many places to watch trains in Tucson, though the railroad goes through part of town and parallels the freeway for a distance on the north end.
      Whirling dervish of misinformation.


      • #4
        If you like "mechanical" stuff in general, visit a train museum. Seeing all of the VERY mechanical steam and early diesel engines in both restored and unrestored is really a great time.
        In my travels for work the last year or so before I retired, I got to visit a couple of train museums. Those things put together with 2" dia. nuts and bolts, all of the linkages that turn the varying sets of wheels.
        Restored engines, lounge cars, caboses, various other cars that they may have.
        It's really a cool couple of hours if you can do it.



        • #5
          I think the best train story in recent years is the Restoration of Union Pacifics Big Boy 4014, Look that one up I'm sure you'll be impressed , Ed


          • #6
            Been a rail fan for a long time. Can recommend a number of really excellent RR museums: Steamtown in Scranton, Strasburg RR also in PA, B&O RR museum in Baltimore, and National Museum of Transportation near St Louis. Steamtown is a National Park, and devotes a lot of attention to tracing the history and technology of the railroad. It usually has an operating steam locomotive, and has a sister (inoperative) to the recently restored UP Big Boy #4014. The St Louis museum has one of the largest collections of important/milestone RR equipment in the world, though much of it is outside.

            Will guess that the CSX coal train was heading east. The use of coal for generating power may be down in the US, but the US still exports a lot of coal though the ports of Baltimore and Norfolk.
            Skip Lackie


            • #7
              You can also watch the coal trains in Kenova, WV, where Kentucky, Ohio, and WV borders meet on the Ohio River. Stay at the Trainmaster's House bed & breakfast for a treat. The owner has a great collection of train stuff, has even built a replica of an old station waiting room and ticket office on the 2nd floor of the house, including the telegraph operator's desk. We had a fun stay there a few years ago.
              Gary Ash
              Dartmouth, Mass.

              '32 Indy car replica (in progress)
              ’41 Commander Land Cruiser
              '48 M5
              '65 Wagonaire Commander
              '63 Wagonaire Standard
              web site at


              • #8
                I wanted to post in this thread earlier today. However, the only recent pictures I had of the building were videos and I have not learned how to post videos on this forum. So, I had to go out and take this horribly backlit photo due to the time of year and time of day. Although it is a very sunny day here in South Carolina, at eleven o'clock this morning the temp inside my building had made it all the way up to 34F. (I know...a heatwave for you Northern guys)

                Not sure if this will post, but I might qualify for being a fan of trains.
                Click image for larger version

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                John Clary
                Greer, SC

                SDC member since 1975


                • #9
                  If you are in northern Illinois, visit the Northern Illinois Railway Museum in Union. Lots of things to see and much of it is inside. Speaking of long trains, I saw a BNSF train going west through Kingman, AZ a few days ago that had the normal four locos on the head end and another four in the middle. I didn't get to see the end of the train as I was in moving traffic at the time but it was a really long train, far longer than normal.
                  Kingman, AZ


                  • #10
                    I normally (not this year) winter close to you in Topock Arizona so the BNSF tracks are only a few miles away. We often drive into California near where General Patton trained troops at Camp Ibis during the war and the tracks are very close. I too count engines and I believe I have seen 8 , four at front and four midway. These are extremely long trains with over 125 cars and the extra engines are required for the long climbs through the Mohave Desert.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sasquatch View Post
                      If you are in northern Illinois, visit the Northern Illinois Railway Museum in Union. Lots of things to see and much of it is inside.
                      Absolutely. The Northern IL Railway Museum is a wonderful museum complex. If you're a rail fan, you can spend the entire day there. I'm not a rail fan per se, but my wife and I spent four hours there in summer 2019 and that was a fast visit. Great place; highly recommended. BP

                      We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

                      Ayn Rand:
                      "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

                      G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.


                      • #12
                        Well talking about rail museum's.......doesn't South Bend have a New York Central RR museum ? And of course I am a NYC fan and I have not made it to the place, always too much Studebaker stuff to see. And Green Bay has a very nice National Rail Road Museum with a static UP Big Boy and President Eisenhower's European WWII command train, guess they have some sort of athletic team here also bu,t that maybe just a rumor.


                        • #13
                          When 4014 came through Minnesota, a couple of friends and I chased it from down near the Iowa line all the way to the St. Paul yards.
                          As one wife put it, "Three old men went out to chase trains and 3 little boys came home."


                          • #14
                            I got hooked on a show on Prime called Have Steam Engine Will Travel. It’s about a father son team that owns a couple of steam engines and travel the country pulling trains for rail museums and clubs. Fun show. There are some episodes and videos on the youtube as well.