Hostling on the Road to Paradise

Waking a steel horse from her slumber

The morning of July 16, I got up with the sunrise to the sounds of a local radio station’s morning show. The sun had not even risen above the horizon, but there were already some wispy clouds illuminated in a magenta color.  I had no time to waste; I had an 8:00 a.m. rendezvous with my friend Ross Gochenaur at the Strasburg Railroad enginehouse. Ross has worked for the Strasburg Railroad for twenty years as an engineer, fireman, and shop worker. Today, however, I would get to observe and photograph the hostling of the engine pulling the railroad’s hourly train for the day.

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Legacies

We stand on the shoulders of the great men and women who have gone before. Their legacy is a gift that lights our way forward.

The first in our Legacies series of videos features the work of William Henry Jackson who lived from 1843 to 1942 and was one of the first photographers to extensively record the early days of railroading. For a little more background information, see here.


If you haven’t visited our YouTube channel, check it out. We are just getting started but plan to have more video content in the coming months. If you enjoy seeing this type of work, let us know by subscribing to our channel.
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Editor’s Notebook

Legacies

Mexican Central Railway train at station – between 1880 and 1897

It is often said that knowledge and art advance as we stand on the shoulders of the great men and women who have gone before. Their legacy is a gift that lights our way forward.

Legacies are built on legacies, and in a new series of videos, we will meet some of the photographers who influence and inspire.  Some of these photographers are well known, perhaps even legendary, but others are more personal, a father or mentor who helped us see the possibilities, and how to realize them. Read more

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Connected to Trains

Staying connected to trains helps me stay connected to my father and the good times we shared around the tracks.


Once the site of a major roundhouse and repair facility, the Salem Depot now sits unused, with an historical plaque marking the spot where the railroad was the center of town activity.

Salem, New York, has always been a special place for me, and the former Delaware & Hudson Washington Branch that ran through here played a big role in that.

Railroading was a major industry in the town going back to the mid 1800s. A roundhouse and large repair facility were once located off to the right of the tracks near the white buildings. Now an historical marker tells part of the story of this sleepy spot where the old depot sits. Jim Shaughnessy goes into fascinating detail in his book Delaware and Hudson, which I recommend highly. Read more

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Their Work Remains

On a hot summer evening last month, I stood beside the turntable at the East Broad Top Railroad and tried to imagine what it was like to work there.

It was hard work. It was dirty, heavy, often dangerous work. It was work done to feed a family and put kids through school. It was long hours six days a week. It was coming home at the end of the day blackened with grime and coal dust. Even for the workers who loved the railroad, there was nothing romantic about it. It was hard work. Read more

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Until It Does

Everyone knows the train
does not run anymore. Until it does.


Mike Futschik climbing back on after flagging the crossing.

Railroad Museum of New England

The first passenger train to Torrington ran last night. Three more Wednesday evenings it will happen unless it rains. We have been there before on event trains, and it’s always the same look at the people’s faces. They want their picture taken in front of the train. Many see the RR track crossings every day, but everyone knows the train does not run anymore. Until it does. You see one of our volunteers at the crossing, and you should see the people in that brown house each time we go by waving and yelling to us. I see young and old people just stop and everyone takes out their cell phone to take a picture of the old train that’s in a place where everyone knows there are no trains anymore—not since the 1960’s.

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