Late in the 1945, a Navy ship with my father aboard docked in San Diego. The war was over and Dad was going home. A train carried him across the country that he had fought in the Pacific to preserve and protect. He rode through the small towns and the big cities. He watched other servicemen reunited with their family on the platforms of small stations scattered across the nation. He dozed in his coach seat while America streamed by the window. Read more
One day this spring,through a Facebook group, I was apprised that the local short line, Forty Mile Railway, had received empty grain hoppers from Canadian Pacific (CP) at their transfer track just east of Stirling on the former CP Stirling subdivision, and that Forty Mile would be moving the cars sometime the next day. After some text messages to my contacts in Foremost, it was confirmed around 8:00 am on Sunday (which was Mother’s Day) that the Forty Mile train would be heading east towards Foremost. After talking with my wife Becky, we agreed that I would get the morning to chase the train and then the afternoon I’d take her and our daughter Kayla out west to the Crowsnest Pass for a relaxing drive.
I have a fondness for steam radiators. That gentle heat soaks right down to the bone and although the houses I grew up in didn’t have them, the Pennsylvania depot did.
From the time I was five or six years old my dad and I made a pilgrimage to watch trains at the Pennsylvania Railroad depot in Richmond, Indiana every Sunday morning. The waiting room was our refuge from the cold and I was never very far from one of those big radiators.
The main objects of our quest were two westbound passenger trains that were still on the Pennsy’s schedule in the 1960s. My memory is faulty where the early train is concerned, though a check of a 1960 timetable suggests it might have been No. 71 or the Cincinnati Limited. Read more
Heading back home in October, 2014 after three days in Ontario, Canada, I decided to drop off the interstate in Hamburg, New York to see if I could scare up an Alco or two. I knew only two things about Hamburg; first, the Buffalo Southern Railroad had a shop there and second, that shop was home to my favorite diesel locomotives—Alco. It isn’t a big town, so finding the tracks wasn’t hard and they led to a small station, behind which sat a beautifully restored Alco High Hood switcher and an old friend from the Pittsburgh area, a Pennsylvania Railroad decapod (2-10-0), now sitting on display. A few derelict (likely parts sources) 539 powered Alco switchers were there also, slowly rusting away. The Buffalo Southern shop wasn’t here, that was for sure, but there was a hobby shop sign on the station door, so in I went, finding a large “O” scale layout occupying most of the space. Three old guys sat in a corner swapping stories and I asked them if they could point me to the Buffalo Southern shop complex. “Yeah, they’re down behind the Carmeuse plant, but don’t go in there cause they’ll arrest you or throw ya out.” There were nods all around in agreement to that statement, so I thanked them and headed off to find me some Alco’s—I’ve been escorted out of a few places after simply wandering in like a bumpkin, so it was no big deal to take a chance.
This past summer, while on a family vacation in Colorado, we visited the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. As a lifelong train buff, this had been on my bucket list for a long time, and it did not disappoint! The Cumbres and Toltec is really a museum, but it’s a living museum. On the morning we were there, we felt as if we had stepped back to a time when the narrow gauge railroad was a thriving business. If you get to the rail yard early, you can watch the crews getting the locomotives ready, and hooking up the trains for the day. These are the very same preparations that would have been made almost 100 years ago.
Dennis Livesey in the last few years has become a well-known and respected railroad photographer. His new book Smoke Over Steamtown was published to critical reviews in Railfan & Railroad, Railroad Heritage and on Amazon. The book is available at Ron’s Books, Amazon and other fine booksellers. Shortly after the book was published, Livesey’s photographs were introduced to the general photographic community on the Photo District News website as their “Photo of the Day”. His first art gallery show, “Echos of Steam” is on display at the Valley Railroad’s Oliver Jensen Gallery in Essex, Connecticut until 10/22/2017. In conjunction with that, The Friends of the Valley Railroad elected to use 15 of his photographs for their “Railroad Calendar 2018.” His second gallery show, “Smoke Over Steamtown” is on display at Steamtown’s Visitor Center in Scranton, PA until 3/3/2018. Closer to his home in New York City, he has three images with the New York Transit Museum’s Grand Central Annex exhibit “7 Train: Minutes To Midtown.” His work has been recognized by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s John Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program since 2013. Frequently in Railfan & Railroad and Trains magazines, his most notable article was “Transitscapes” in Railfan & Railroad’s August 2015 issue featuring his exploration of the New York City rail scene. Lastly, he was just awarded the Grand Prize in Trains Magazine 2017 “Lucky 7” Photo Contest.”
We recently talked to Dennis about his career in photography and his love of railroading.
Edd Fuller, Editor, The Trackside Photographer – Dennis, it is a real treat to have the opportunity to talk with you about your outstanding work. I suppose the place to start is with your love of railroads. How did that come about?Read more