All 60‑foot RPO cars built after 1912 were of all‑steel construction. These cars were used for the distribution and handling of mail only; the interior had built‑in letter cases and pouch and paper racks, plus overhead boxes.
The cars were heated by steam heat, with long protected steam pipes along the baseboard on each side of the car, except near the doorways where there were large upright protected radiators. During the advance distribution of the mail at the initial terminal, the car’s steam line was connected to permanent terminal steam lines, when needed. En route, the steam was furnished by the locomotive, whether it was diesel or steam powered. Read more
I have never lived in the Shenandoah Valley, but my grandparents did. I remember traveling up and down the Valley on Route 11 with my parents in the 1950s. It was a different time, and when I visit the Valley today, some of those memories come rushing back.
Matthew Malkiewicz is a widely recognized photographer who specializes in steam railroading history, or as he says, “keeping a window to the past open for us to see.” His work has appeared in both print and online venues, and he is the recipient of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s prestigious John E. Gruber Creative Photography Award. He is a Hasselblad Masters of Photography 2016 finalist, and has been published on CNN International, The Weather Channel, DPReview and PetaPixel websites. Most recently he was an honorable mention in the 2017 Monochrome Awards in both the professional fine art and landscape categories. His work is currently featured in a gallery exhibition, “The Art of Trains,” at Old Dominion University through July 15, 2018. A resident of New Jersey who has also called California and Colorado home, Matthew is the senior resident electrical designer at a petroleum refinery. His entire portfolio can be viewed at the popular “Lost Tracks of Time” website.
Over the last few years I have been seeing some great photos coming out of the Assiniboia area, particularly of the Great Western Railway (GWR) operations. On our own photography trips to Saskatchewan we would always be on the fringe of the GWR operations, but never see much of actual train movements. I had hoped this trip would be different. Read more
The first record of rail transportation of mail in the United States was in 1831, when a mail contractor utilized the service of the South Carolina Railroad. It was in the shift from stage to rail that a new job or profession appeared—that of the “route agent,” the forerunner of the railway postal clerk. On the old stage lines, a local postmaster, who usually had his office in the tavern, opened the carrying case containing the mail and exchanged “mails” while the stage driver changed horses. On the railroads, this could not be done, and a man was soon assigned to accompany the mail on the train; a separate compartment was set aside for the mails, beginning in 1835. This agent usually rode in the baggage car, and was at first the baggage man or other employee of the stage company or railroad.
A trip to Saskatchewan in late June, 2015, afforded a chance to do—what else?—a bit of railfanning. It started with the journey along the Trans-Canada Highway from Winnipeg. For many kilometers along the way the highway parallels the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) mainline and, in a few places in Manitoba, the Canadian National (CN) line. In some places, the tracks are very close to the highway. If you are lucky, you will come across trains in those places. I was not very lucky on this trip, seeing only a few trains up close.
Our destination was Swift Current, with a side trip to Saskatoon. Read more