Richmond Division Recollections

Introduction

Main Street Station, Charlottesville, Virginia -1970

My introduction to a railroad paycheck was during the summer of 1969. During junior and senior high school years, 1967-1968 at Alexandria (Virginia), I frequented Alexandria Union Station to meet Railway Post Office trains. The ticket sellers and baggage-mail porters became familiar and friendly to me. I had found a summer job during June, 1969, at Arrow Moving Company in the west end of Alexandria. It paid two dollars per hour, but only if you went out on a moving assignment. I was thin and immature, so the coordinator would look around the room of candidates and pick those who appeared more athletic. I did my share of moving refrigerators up three flights of stairs, but on many days I wasn’t assigned to a move by 11 a.m. after having arrived at the office by 7 a.m. On those days there was no pay and nothing to do except to go home and try again the following morning.

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Saturdays and Sundays at NW Tower

A diesel coming to tie on and take the train to Brewster.

By the mid 1960s, my father was still working a “relief” job. This meant OW on Mondays, JO on Tuesday and Wednesday, and NW on Thursday and Friday. For several years the railroad was short on towermen, and my dad worked his days off at NW.  Saturday was my big day to go with him. My dad was always a good relief and came in early—most men were. Jim Donahue was the day man and was ready to leave after we showed up and he let my dad know if anything was not normal. That meant with the interlocking machine as well as trains not running in their normal order.

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Wrecking Ball

East Broad Top Railroad yard – Mt. Union, Pennsylvania

I am with two of my best friends. We are riding through central Pennsylvania after a successful visit to the Alco haven of Scranton. Following the Norfolk-Southern, ex Pennsy main is always interesting and by the time we reach Mt. Union we are in good shape for images of big black horses pulling freight.

The object here is to peek into a lost world, frozen since 1956, caused by the shutdown of the East Broad Top Railroad. Mt. Union was the site of the EBT’s major yard and was their interchange point with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Most of the yard, a few structures, plus a load of old narrow-gauge hopper cars still exist here. They are intact (mostly), but the ravages of all these years are slowly dissolving them. Read more

Editor’s Notebook

Rockingham County, Virginia – March, 2018

Do Cameras Matter?

Most of you are probably aware of the flurry of new camera announcements that have come out in the past few weeks. Nikon, Canon and Panasonic have unveiled full-frame mirrorless offerings, and Fuji has once again stepped up the game in APS-C.

Normally, I wouldn’t be paying too much attention to all of this, but recently my seven year old DSLR has been acting flaky which has started me thinking about a replacement. My Pentax MX film camera is still going strong after thirty-five years, so why am I thinking about replacing my digital camera after only seven years? But that is a topic for another day. Read more

A Tiny Rail Tale

Welcome to Tiny Town, Colorado. This wagon is one of the few things that is full size at the park.

The Colorado mountains are full of small towns that have seen their share of boom times and busts. Many of these towns sprang up due to mining, logging, or other industries, and many have turned into ghost towns. On our trip to Colorado in the summer of 2017, we visited a unique Colorado mountain town that has seen booms and busts, but thankfully, is still thriving today. This town however, is very different than any other town. So, what’s the big deal with this town? The big deal is that it is actually a very Tiny Town!

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Brookhaven Out

Brookhaven, Mississippi – 1977

Most of us remember graduating from a Train Watcher to a Railroad Enthusiast. Much like graduating from one school grade to the next, making that transition took education and a drive to learn. Sometimes, locations served as “schools,” helping us move forward. Frequently, those schools were filled with teachers in the form of friends or family who had an interest in railroads. However, there are times when railroad employees step into that teaching role. Such was the case with my “graduation” from Train Watcher to Railroad Enthusiast.

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