Archive for the ‘Movies/TV About Trains’ Category

Natural Disaster Consist

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Like many of you, natural disasters are on my mind a lot lately. Close to home here in Oregon there are wildfires seemingly ‘everywhere’ and throughout the west. At the same time, hurricanes of historic strengths have been and are still hitting the American south. When that seemed like more than we could handle at one time, Mexico got hit with an 8.1 earthquake spawning tsunami, reminding us that anything can happen. It’s daunting to say the least. Once we’ve donated what we can to the American Red Cross (or other organizations, I’ll post a list of good options at the end of this) what can we do to process the destruction and uncertainty? For me, I have been feeling compelled to write about railroads. I’m weird.

At the end of July our extended family had a once in a lifetime vacation together in Yosemite. It was grand and a privilege for four generations to share a house together in Wawona on the South Fork of the Merced River and explore the park and surrounding goodness including the Sugar Pine Railroad. Right before we arrived, the park had been inundated from smoke from the Detwiler fire. Right after we left, the South Fork and Empire fires broke out prompting evacuations of the very location we had been staying. And then the Railroad fire broke out, named after the very Sugar Pine Railroad we had just recently enjoyed an excursion on. It should be noted that this fire broke out near the Railroad but the cause is still listed as unknown.

Shay #10 at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad Photo by Cat Cook

Shay #10 at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad – Photo by Cat Cook

Here is a video posted by the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad of the fire inspection on September 3, 2017.

Video of current Railroad fire inspection on 9/3/17

Posted by Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad on Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Then, thanks to kids throwing fireworks off a cliff in the Columbia Gorge for kicks, the Eagle Creek fire was sparked along the Columbia River east of Portland, OR. It became so big so quickly it crossed the Columbia River and spread to the Washington side. If you are familiar with the train lines along the Columbia that means it moved from the Union Pacific/Oregon side of the river to the BNSF/Washington side of the river.

Some of you may also know that the SP&S 700 and the SP 4449 occasionally run excursions along the Gorge. It’s special railroading country to many. We were fortunate enough to meet up with the 4449 on one such excursion in 2011.

4449 at Wishram WA (attempt at tilt-shift photography) - Photo by Cat Cook

4449 at Wishram WA (attempt at tilt-shift photography) Photo by Cat Cook

Seeing before and after pictures of the Gorge and the fire helps to give some context.

Before and after photo of the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia Gorge - Photo by James C. Kling, appearing in the Camas-Washougal Post-Record

Before and after photo of the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia Gorge – Photo by James C. Kling, appearing in the Camas-Washougal Post-Record

All of the above got me thinking about railroads and natural disasters. Sometimes trains cause natural disasters, sparking fires through derailments or even just passing through trackage surrounded by tinderbox-like conditions. Other times, railroads are affected by natural disasters just like the rest of us and our infrastructure whether that be fire, flood, earthquake, what-have-you….

Railroads can also there to save the day with firefighting trains that either help put out fires or prevent their trains from sparking fires.

A BNSF firefighting train working the White Lightning fire in Oregon in 2010. Photo credit unknown.

A BNSF firefighting train working the White Lightning fire in Oregon in 2010. Photo credit unknown.

When disaster strikes a railroad, I luckily have a massive library of railfan DVDs that I can turn to and visit these places close up. I’m going to share some of them that I’m watching right now.

 

Ride tourist logging railroads including the Yosemite Sugar Pine

Ride tourist logging railroads including the Yosemite Sugar Pine

 

West Coast Railroad Logging Volume 1

West Coast Railroad Logging Volume 1 (Yosemite Sugar Pine included)

 

Sierra Shortlines - Volume 2 (Yosemite Sugar Pine included)

Sierra Shortlines – Volume 2 (Yosemite Sugar Pine included)

 

Columbia River Gorge Part 1 - Union Pacific's Portland Sub

Columbia River Gorge Part 1 – Union Pacific’s Portland Sub

 

Columbia River Gorge Part 2 - BNSF Railway's Fallbridge Sub

Columbia River Gorge Part 2 – BNSF Railway’s Fallbridge Sub

 

Gorges and Mountains Volume 1 - The BNSF (Columbia River Gorge)

Gorges and Mountains Volume 1 – The BNSF (Columbia River Gorge)

 

Gorges and Mountains Volume 2 - The Union Pacific (Columbia River Gorge)

Gorges and Mountains Volume 2 – The Union Pacific (Columbia River Gorge)

 

Daylight Freedom Special (Columbia River Gorge)

Daylight Freedom Special (Columbia River Gorge)

 

Columbia River Gorge Volume 1

Columbia River Gorge Volume 1

 

Columbia River Gorge Volume 2

Columbia River Gorge Volume 2

 

Steam to Spokane (Columbia River Gorge)

Steam to Spokane (Columbia River Gorge)

 

Tough Times on the Southern Pacific (Assorted problems including natural disasters)

Tough Times on the Southern Pacific (Assorted problems including natural disasters)

There are many more on both of those locations but those are some great ones to explore if you haven’t already. I promised some disaster/emergency relief organization information for donations. Aside from the American Red Cross which assists with all of the disasters mentioned in this blog and more, here are some others:

Both Hurricane Harvey & Irma:

Hand In Hand: A benefit for hurricane relief

Hand In Hand: A benefit for hurricane relief

Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 8/7c, all the major networks will be broadcasting a celebrity-studded fundraising telethon, Hand In Hand: A Benefit For Hurricane Harvey Relief.

Hurricane Harvey:

The Greater Houston Community Foundation

The Texas Diaper Bank

Best Friends Animal Society

Lone Star Legal Aid

Houston Humane Society

United Way of Greater Houston

Hurricane Irma:

GlobalGiving Hurricane Irma Relief Fund

Best Friends Animal Society

Eagle Creek Fire (Columbia Gorge):

Friends of the Columbia Gorge

Hood River County Sheriff and Search and Rescue: Immediately following the rescue of 153 hikers from Eagle Creek, Friends of the Columbia Gorge launched a social media fundraising campaign to support these heroes. We raised over $30,000 in less than a week! A memorial fund has since been created in honor of a recently deceased sheriff deputy. The Hood River County Mike Anderson Search and Rescue Fund will directly support the county’s search and rescue efforts. Donations can be made at any U.S. Bank branch or can be delivered or mailed to: 601 State Street, Hood River, OR 97031.

Railroad Fire (Near Yosemite):

This is almost contained now and I can’t find any specific need to donate to so how about a more general suggestion for keeping Yosemite awesome with the Yosemite Conservancy.

In general if you are ever donating to an organization be careful not to be scammed. Charity Navigator is a great site for getting an objective rating for non-profits before you donate.

I’d be interested in any of your stories of railroads and natural disasters. Feel free to comment! Stay safe out there.

~Cat

 

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Big Boy 4014 Restoration Underway!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

If you haven’t heard already, Union Pacific is in the process of restoring a Big Boy locomotive for operation. This is pretty exciting news for railfans, especially foamers (I use this term affectionately) with a penchant for steam locomotives. So far, UP 4014 has been moved from the RailGiants Train Museum at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, CA to Union Pacific’s steam locomotive shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming. UP anticipates the restoration will take about 5 years; they are hoping to have it operational in time for the 150th Golden Spike Anniversary in 2019.

UP Big Boy 4014

No. 4014 Big Boy, Pomona, Calif., July 2013 (Credit: UP Steam Media Kit of uprr.com)

What makes Big Boys unique? The Big Boy was originally designed by the American Locomotive Company as an articulated, coal-burning, 4-8-8-4 to power wartime tonnage over the Wasatch Mountains and Sherman Hill. In fact, originally it was going to be called the Wasatch locomotive but one of ALCO’s mechanics working on the project wrote the words ‘Big Boy’ in chalk on the boiler and the name stuck. There were originally 20 built for Union Pacific with an additional order for 5 more to handle the increasing loads required by the war effort. Due to the impending switch of the industry to Diesel engines, there were no more produced. Only 8 of the Big Boys survive and all are in various states of (dis)repair in static (non-operating) display.

Once Union Pacific decided they wanted to restore a Big Boy, their Steam Operations Team went to visit all 8 remaining Big Boys to determine which was in the best shape to be restored to operation. They decided upon Big Boy 4014 owned by the Southern California Chapter of The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society where it had been on display in the mild climate of Southern California since 1962. To lessen the blow of taking Big Boy #4014 off their hands, UP gave the museum a freshly painted SD40-2C Diesel Locomotive (UP 3015), UP insulated boxcar #453665, and a CA-13-2 Bay Window Steel Caboose (UP 24567). The RailGiants Museum blog has many pictures and reports of the play-by-play action of the Big Boy moving out and the replacements moving in.

UP Bay Window Caboose

UP Caboose #24567 (Photo by Danny Mouawad)

Pentrex was also on hand for the elaborate process of moving the 4014 out of its Southern California home and onto the rails.  Their new DVD, Big Boy 4014 Update gives some history of the Big Boy locomotive including some nice vintage footage. The majority of the DVD is detailed coverage of  how the Big Boy #4014 made its way from its home of 52 years back onto the tracks so it could be relocated to Wyoming. The DVD shows a front-end loader towing 4014 from its static home at the RailGiants Train Museum through the parking lot using pre-built panel track sections (just like snap track!), to the San Gabriel Metrolink line. Then it joined a Special made up of UP Heritage 1996 (SD70ACE), 7 flat cars (6 empty and 1 carrying a vehicle and supplies for the Steam Operations Team) and UP 4014 (a diesel locomotive specifically chosen to help the Big Boy 4014 head to UP’s facility in Cheyenne, WY which took it onto the mainline.)

Big Boy 4014 Update

Big Boy 4014 Update DVD from Pentrex (Released June 2014) Click for more info or to order.

The first half of the DVD has almost constant narration about the logistics of each step of the elaborate move. The 2nd half of the DVD shows many long run-bys (including some nice footage on Cajon Pass), train meets, and the crowds of fans who turned out along the way to get a glimpse of this historic locomotive and its journey as it passes through Southern California.

More Big Boy

Products

From Pentrex:

Big Boy Combo Part 1

Big Boy Combo Part 1 DVD (Click for more info)

Big Boy Combo Part 2

Big Boy Combo Part 2 DVD (Click for more info)

Union Pacific Big Boy Collection

Union Pacific Big Boy Collection DVD (Click for more info)

Big Boys, Cab Forwards, Challengers & Daylights

Big Boys, Cab Forwards, Challengers & Daylights DVD

Union Pacific Classic Collector's Series Combo

Union Pacific Classic Collector's Series Combo DVD

From Greg Scholl:

Big Boys & Challengers

Big Boys & Challengers DVD

From Sunday River Productions:

Big Boys and Brothers in the '50s DVD

Sunday River Productions just released Big Boys and Brothers in the '50s on DVD, August 2014

For HO Modelers, from Rivarossi:

Union Pacific Big Boy Steam Engine #4008 - DCC Ready (HO)

Union Pacific Big Boy Steam Engine #4008 - DCC Ready (HO) from Rivarossi

Show off your Big Boy enthusiasm with this great Big Boy T-Shirt:

Big Boy at Night (Glow in the Dark T-shirt)

Big Boy at Night (Glow in the Dark T-shirt)

Child Sizes $12.99

Adult M, L, XL $14.99

2X $16.99

3X $18.99

LINKS

To read more about Big Boys here are some links:

UP’s 4014 Page with TONS of info

RailGiants Train Museum Big Boy Page

RailGiants Train Museum Big Boy News

The UP 4014 Project – Memories of the Move (YouTube Video from Union Pacific Railroad)

 

Beam me up! Train layouts hide all sorts of goodies at Monroe WA show

Friday, February 24th, 2012

A few weeks ago was not just Superbowl Sunday but it was also a gem of a model railroad show, the 21st Annual Train Show & Swap Meet presented by the United Northwest Model Railroad Club in Monroe, WA at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds.

When trains crash, United Northwest Model Railroad Club figures congregate to discuss the cause, to scale.... - Photo by Cat Cook

When trains crash, United Northwest Model Railroad Club figures congregate to discuss the cause, to scale.... - Photo by Cat Cook

We had heard from lots of folks that this was a great show and they were right. It filled a large hall with lots of vendors and layouts, many of whom I hadn’t the pleasure of seeing before.  First up allow me to present the 4th Division of the Pacific Northwest Region of the National Model Railroad Association.

Half Circle Farms module by Al Lowe of 4DNTrak - Photo by Cat Cook

Half Circle Farms module by Al Lowe of 4DNTrak - Photo by Cat Cook

My favorite part had to be Rob Jones’ logging module though, not just because I like logging themes but because of the Star Trek easter egg!

McCullough Logging module by Rob Jones of 4DNTrak featuring Star Trek away team - Photo by Cat Cook

McCullough Logging module by Rob Jones of 4DNTrak featuring Star Trek away team - Photo by Cat Cook

Also, showing off their handiwork was the Boeing Employee’s Model Railroading Club O-Scale Division.

BEMRRC

The Boeing Employee's Model Railroading Club O-Scale Division gets some attention - Photo by Cat Cook

Another nice layout was had by Tacoma Northwestern Model Railroad Club.

Tacoma Northwestern Model Railroad Club Layout - Photo by Cat Cook

Tacoma Northwestern Model Railroad Club Layout - Photo by Cat Cook

scenery shot TNWMRC

Scenery shot of Tacoma Northwestern Model Railroad Club - Photo by Cat Cook

We also met Linda McCune who was in the booth next to us. Linda was on hand to share the Don McCune Library which she established to preserve the works of her late husband Don McCune. Don McCune created many radio and television documentaries and was perhaps best known for writing and narrating over 400 episodes of Exploration Northwest. After being exposed to some of his excellent work we have decided along with Linda to add some of the episodes to our library of train-related DVDs. They aren’t on our website yet but they will be very soon. For more information on Linda McCune, Don McCune, and the Don McCune Library you can visit www.donmccunelibrary.com.

Linda McCune of Don McCune Library

Linda McCune of the Don McCune Library at the show! - Photo by Cat Cook

Next show is the World’s Greatest Hobby on Tour show in Portland Oregon, February 25th and 26th at the Convention Center. We hope to see you there or at another show in the future!

 

 

 

 

‘Hell on Wheels’ premiering this Sunday on AMC

Monday, October 31st, 2011

I’ve been aware of and anxiously awaiting the upcoming TV series Hell on Wheels for about a year. Finally it will make its debut this Sunday on AMC at 10/9c.  The show depicts post-civil war life on the front lines of the constructions of the transcontinental railroad. The railroad promises to be the star of the show which is exciting for railfans like me.

Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) in Episode 1

Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) in Episode 1

Watch the trailer here: Hell on Wheels Trailer