Archive for the ‘Railroad News’ Category

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)

 

Rogue Valley Railroad Show 2012

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

This year at the Rogue Valley Railroad Show the top two People’s Choice awards went to some family-created layouts. In first place was Gary Johnston and his nieces Sarah (12) and Rachel (8) with their layout.

Gary Johnston and his nieces Sarah & Rachel take 1st Place in People's Choice awards at the Rogue Valley Railroad Show 2012

Gary Johnston and his nieces Sarah & Rachel take 1st Place in People's Choice awards at the Rogue Valley Railroad Show 2012 - Photo by Cat Cook

In 2nd place was the Lego Train City layout by TR and Kara.

Lego City Train by TR & Kara won 2nd place in the People's Choice awards at the 2012 Rogue Valley Railroad Show

Lego City Train by TR & Kara won 2nd place in the People's Choice awards at the 2012 Rogue Valley Railroad Show - Photo by Cat Cook

Lego City Train

Lego City Train - Photo by Cat Cook

In 3rd place was the returning folks from the Lower Mckenzie Modular Railroad:

Lower Mckenzie Modular Railroad

Lower Mckenzie Modular Railroad took 3rd place in People's Choice at the 2012 Rogue Valley Railroad Show - Photo by Cat Cook

The Southern Oregon Live Steamers were on hand with some awesome locomotives:

One of the locomotives displayed by the Southern Oregon Live Steamers - Photo by Cat Cook

One of the locomotives displayed by the Southern Oregon Live Steamers - Photo by Cat Cook

Art Turner created a 1.5 inch scale model of Western Pacific’s diesel locomotive #805-A from the California Zephyr passenger train.  It has a sound system, air horns, operating lights, and a detailed cab interior and for the most part is completely scratch built. It took him four years to finish and it lives at the Medford Railroad Park.

Art Turner's WP 805-A in the form of a 1.5 inch scale model

Art Turner's WP 805-A in the form of a 1.5 inch scale model - Photo by Cat Cook

The newly opened Jackson County Genealogy Library also had a booth at the show.  They have the largest collection of genealogical information available located between Eugene, OR and Sacramento, CA. From their site: “The JCGL is open from 10AM to 3PM Monday through Saturday except for major holidays. We close the library the week leading up to Christmas and Thursday through Sunday at Thanksgiving. RVGS members have free access to the library, but there is a $5 fee per day for nonmembers. ”

The Jackson County Genealogical Library booth hosted by a smiling Betty Miller - Photo by Cat Cook

The Jackson County Genealogical Library booth hosted by a smiling Betty Miller - Photo by Cat Cook

The Southern Oregon Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society was on-hand providing information and selling their new shirts and hats to raise money for the restoration and operation of Medco 4, a Willamette geared locomotive, and Medco 8, Baldwin S-8 diesel. They hope to begin operating an excursion railroad in the future.

Next door to our booth was Sidetrack Laser who produce various model kits of buildings, etc. mostly inspired from locales in the western United States.

Sidetrack Laser kit of the Beaver Creek Shingle Company - Photo courtesy of Sidetrack Laser

Sidetrack Laser kit of the Beaver Creek Shingle Company - Photo courtesy of Sidetrack Laser

There are lots of train shows happening before the end of the year. To find one near you check our Train Shows page: http://www.theshortline.com/SHOWS.html. We will be at the Great Train Expo in Portland, OR this weekend, December 8th & 9th at the Portland Expo Center. The following weekend (December 15th & 16th) we will be at the Great Train Expo in Puyallup, WA at the Puyallup Fair and Events Center.

Our Visit to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center (Part of our Fall Focus on #4449)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Early this month we headed on up to Portland so I (Cat) could bowl in a tournament and so Don and I could visit the newly opened Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC)! As soon as we arrived in town we drove directly over to the new home of the Southern Pacific 4449, Spokane, Portland & Seattle 700, and Oregon Railroad & Navigation 197 locomotives.  Before heading inside, we saw the familiar Oregon Operation Lifesaver trailer parked outside of some Empire Builder passenger cars and then we stepped into what is now affectionately known as the Doyle L. McCormack Enginehouse. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by friendly docents & volunteers welcoming us to the new facility. There is no admission to visit the center by the way, they rely solely on donations. I donated my folding money right away and started to explore.

The Doyle McCormack Enginehouse doors are the restored former Brooklyn Roundhouse doors which are a generous gift from Darcy Marentette in memory of David. (From a plaque next to the doors) Photo by Cat Cook

The Doyle McCormack Enginehouse doors are the restored former Brooklyn Roundhouse doors which are a generous gift from Darcy Marentette in memory of David. (From a plaque next to the doors) Photo by Cat Cook

Directly in front of you upon entry is the Nickel Plate Road 190, an Alco PA-1 built in 1948. Originally an Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) it was purchased in 2000 by Daylight Locomotive Works and it is currently under restoration with the intent to make it operable once again.

Nickel Plate

Nickel Plate Road #190 at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center - Photo by Cat Cook

There were train buffs old and young wandering the large space and you are presented with a variety of equipment you can get right up close to and experience.

Cat at the controls - Oregon Rail Heritage Center - Photo by Don Cook

Cat at the controls - Oregon Rail Heritage Center - Photo by Don Cook

The building contains Locomotive Inspection Pits so the engines can remain right on the rails after pulling into the engine house, giving the crews access to the underbellies of these historic locomotives.

4449 perched above her Inspection Pit, you can see the daylight coming in through the back door of the engine house at the other end of the Daylight - Photo by Cat Cook

4449 perched above her Inspection Pit, you can see the daylight coming in through the back door of the engine house at the other end of the Daylight - Photo by Cat Cook

Volunteers were busy maintaining the locomotives and moving heavy equipment including Terry Kimzey who you may have seen at train shows in the Pacific Northwest at the Operation Lifesaver trailer or Friends of the SP&S 700 booth. There’s also a video of this operation on our YouTube Channel: http://youtu.be/_5pYsVcqbw8

Terry Kimzey moves some heavy equipment at ORHC - Photo by Cat Cook

Terry Kimzey moves some heavy equipment at ORHC - Photo by Cat Cook

The center is not just great for seeing stationary trains, while we were visiting, we watched a Union Pacific train go by just feet away on the neighboring track and overhead, Portland’s streetcars traveled on the overpass. Here’s a video of the UP going by ORHC on our YouTube Channel:

UP at ORHC

The Portland Streetcar line passes right over the ORHC yard - Photo by Cat Cook

The Portland Streetcar line passes right over the ORHC yard - Photo by Cat Cook

The center also has a gift shop with apparel, books, calendars, pins, and more all providing an important revenue stream to the ORHC.

4449 Wheel

Is it weird that I have a favorite locomotive wheel? Well I do, it's the 4449's Drive Wheels... - Photo by Cat Cook

Now that the holidays are imminent, make sure to ride the Holiday Express if you are able. Scheduled for November 30th through December 2nd; December 7th – December 9th; and December 14th – December 16th you can ride in a vintage rail car pulled by either the SP&S 700 or SP 4449 all decked out with thousands of holiday lights and holiday decorations. The trip is about 40 minutes starting from The Oaks Station across from Oaks Park in southeast Portland just north of the Sellwood Bridge (free parking is available). Join Santa and his elves for one of these trips! Proceeds from the tickets and your donations help fund the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. For tickets or more information go here: http://www.orhf.org/about-orhf/holiday-express/  or call 503-224-8499.

OR&N 197

ORNC's Oregon Railroad & Navigation 197 looking out the front of the Doyle L. McCormack Enginehouse

Happy Holidays!

SP&S 700

ORHC’s SP&S 700 – To see more pictures from our visit please like us on Facebook

To see more photos please visit our Facebook page: The Short Line


 

Veterans Need Jobs and the Rail Industry Has Great Ones

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Whether you are for or against certain (or all) wars, you likely support your country’s troops who bravely serve. One of the greatest struggles these troops have when they return home is finding employment. This Memorial Day, think about how you can help the effort to find every Veteran a job and spread the word when you find companies doing their part. The American Association of Railroads expects to hire 15,000 new employees in 2012 and expect 1 in 5 of those to be Veterans. They have created an online tribute to freight rail employees with military service, highlighting a variety of rail jobs: American Association of Railroads: Military Faces.

According to G.I. Jobs Magazine, five Class I Railroads are on the Top 100 Military Friendly Employers list for 2012 (up one from last year.) They are:

CSX - Rank 3

CSX is at Rank 3 and has 6 Years on the MFE Top 100

BNSF - Rank 4

BNSF is at Rank 4 and has 7 Years on the MFE Top 100

Union Pacific - Rank 28

Union Pacific is at Rank 28 and has 7 Years on the MFE Top 100

CN - Rank 49

Canadian National is at Rank 49 and has 3 Years on the MFE Top 100 (Photo Credit: CN)

NS - Rank 50

Norfolk Southern is at Rank 50 and has 5 Years on the MFE Top 100

Thank you for reading and a heartfelt thank you to all of our Veterans.

 

Railfans & Passengers Recruited to Observe & Report

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Do you love trains and enjoy fighting crime in your spare time? Amtrak and The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) have jobs for you complete with official identification cards! BNSF has been doing this since 2006 under the Citizens for Rail Security program but now Amtrak has joined in with their Partners for Amtrak Safety and Security program. Picture, if you will, a neighborhood watch for railroads where railfans and, in Amtrak’s case, rail passengers report suspicious activities.

Once you sign up online you are able to print out your very own membership card. You are also given some direction about what type of activities qualify as suspicious. This includes things like: trespassers, unattended vehicles, suspicious objects/packages, suspicious activities or people all on or near railroad property, crimes in progress like vandalism or theft, threats against the railroad, gates left open or damaged, track obstructions, potential mechanical problems with trains and illegal dumping.

Nothing to see here, move along. Photo by Cat Cook

Nothing to see here, move along. Coast Starlight, November 2009 - Photo by Cat Cook

So, you’ve seen something suspicious! Both Amtrak and BNSF make it pretty clear, just because you have a special badge doesn’t mean they want you to go take care of it. What they want you to do is report it! This is where the card comes in handy, as it has the number they would like you to call to report your particular flavor of suspicious activity. Before you call they want you to note some specifics first, here it is helpful to pretend you are a newspaper reporter and note the 6 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How.

  • Who is being suspicious? Describe them, their vehicle….
  • What is suspicious? Describe what you saw, what occurred….
  • Where is the suspiciousness? Explain where the issue is, include streets or mile markers….
  • When was it suspicious? Relate when this happened, or when you noticed it….
  • Why/How is it suspicious? How doesn’t start with a ‘w’ but it’s in the list; include any other information that might help the police or railroad personnel.
Watch out! I'm official! My Citizens for Rail Security card.

Watch out! I'm official! My Citizens for Rail Security card.

Now, I know you are really liking this badge situation and feel pretty special. Like you have a special ‘in’ with the railroads but wait! There’s more…. The railroads want to make sure you understand that this isn’t an invitation to trespass. You are supposed to report trespassers, not become one! That would defeat the whole purpose. Don’t trespass even to answer the 6 W’s.  Restricted areas include places like: employee areas, maintenance facilities, unoccupied trains, engines, or maintenance vehicles, office areas, baggage areas, delivery areas, commissaries, right-of-way areas, track areas, and in-service train cars. Then there are the tracks, don’t walk on the tracks! That’s a big no-no. It’s highly illegal and highly dangerous. Only cross tracks at roadway crossings or designated pedestrian areas and when taking photos of trains always do it at least 15 feet from the closest rail.

San Luis Obispo Amtrak Station November 2009 Photo by Cat Cook

Where not to stand when taking a photo. Obviously I hadn't read the rules yet. San Luis Obispo Amtrak Station, November 2009 - Photo by Cat Cook

Of course, we should all be reporting suspicious activity whether we have a special identification card or not.  However, you may want to consider signing up with Amtrak or BNSF since the cards are handy for reminding us of rules around railroads and for providing the phone numbers to contact authorities in case of suspicious activities or safety hazards. Oh, and then there is the cool factor. I printed mine on card stock to give it that extra little ‘something’. Now, I just need a laminator to preserve my fancy ID cards for all time…

Locomotives & Hot Sauce – Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
Locomotives and hot sauce… two great tastes that taste great together? Why not? B&O Railroad Hot Sauce has released 4 hot sauces inspired by the Baltimore & Ohio. This deserves some exploration…
The Four B&O Railroad Hot Sauces

The Four B&O Railroad Hot Sauces

These bottles of liquid fire are licensed products of the B&O Railroad Museum. Their sauces include: Thunder Fire Hot Sauce commemorating the ‘Fire’ that keeps steam trains alive; Iron Thunder Hot Sauce evoking the power of ‘hundreds of tons of iron roaring down the track’ (and into your mouth); and Fire Box Hot Sauce providing a smoky flavor with aged cayenne red pepper & chipotle in honor of the hottest part of the steam engine, the firebox.

Finally, there is Ghost Train Hot Sauce which according to these Hot Sauce folks commemorates the general phenomenon around the world of ‘Ghost Trains’, phantom locomotives that appear ‘out of nowhere and in an instant, consume your senses’ likely, much like their hot sauce. This sauce is made with the world’s hottest pepper, Bhut Jolokia, which is also known as Ghost Chili.

Naga Jolokia - The World's Hottest Pepper (Photo by Peter Baer)

Bhut Jolokia - The World's Hottest Pepper (Photo by Peter Baer)

But the B&O rails have their own haunted history. In the 1800s there was work going on in the Brandy Gap Tunnel (also known as the Flinderation Tunnel) in West Virginia when a train unexpectedly came through startling the workers. One of the workers was unable to get to a safety alcove in time and was killed by the train which then derailed.  The resulting ‘ghost train’ has been the subject of some television shows such as Ghost Stories on the Travel Channel. Reportedly visitors experience hearing the train’s whistle and sounds of metal scraping the walls when passing through the tunnel which is now part of West Virginia’s 72-mile North Bend Rail Trail.

Haunted Flinderation Tunnel - Photo by Jerry Edmundson

Haunted Flinderation Tunnel - Photo by Jerry Edmundson

Each bottle of B&O Hot Sauce sports an eye-catching railroad label designed by artist Rena Debortoli and brand manager Jamie Klim with photos and art work provided by the B&O Railroad Museum. These sauces would make a great addition to a B&O themed gift when accompanied by a train DVD or maybe even some B&O rolling stock.  Since that’s a fabulous idea, check out the B&O featured products at www.theshortline.com where you can now redeem coupon code BLOG1BO during check out to take an additional 15% off B&O related merchandise! (Valid through December 20, 2010)
Happy (Haunted) Railroading!

Farmer Adds ‘Railroad Owner’ to Résumé

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

What do you do when the rail line you use to ship your product shuts down on you? Well, if you are Larry Venell of Corvalis, Oregon, you buy that line and add ‘Railroad Owner’ to your résumé.

After the Portland & Western (PNWR) halted service on the Bailey Branch, also referred to as the Monroe-Dawson line, Larry Venell spent 2 years attempting to purchase the line. Now, following a $750, 000 repair project on his purchase, a 5.35-mile stretch of the line running from milepost 682.25 near Greenberry to milepost 687.6 near Corvalis, the Venell Farms Railroad Company (VFRC) made its first wheat shipment on their own line on August 6th 2010.

Venell Farms’ loads are hauled by Albany & Eastern (AERC) a shortline based in Lebanon, Oregon.

Albany & Eastern Crossing the Santiam River, Lebanon, Oregon Photo by: Bruce Fingerhood July 2002

Albany & Eastern Crossing the Santiam River, Lebanon, Oregon Photo by: Bruce Fingerhood July 2002