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These are the text portions of my column. If you want to use part of them for what ever reason, you must have my and Railpace Company express written consent before doing so. Thank you.

 

June:

 

My name is Charlie Albanetti and I am a 15 year old sophomore in high school. I have had a fascination with trains all my life. My grandfather was a boilermaker for New York Central. My great-grandfather worked for the New Haven firing up steam engines at Danbury. My father grew up in a house on a hill above the yard in Danbury. My favorite railroad is the New Haven and that is great for me because the New Haven is still very evident in my town through the Danbury Railway Museum and MTA’s FL9s.

One of my favorite places to be is the Danbury Railway Museum because I get to be with trains all the time. I volunteer there multiple times per week in the summer and occasionally during the school year. I basically have learned everything I know about trains from that museum whether from books I bought there or being on the trains themselves. At the museum, there are many restoration projects and other educational railroading exercises that are fully run by volunteers.

 The best railroading experience that I have ever had was attending RailCamp 99 at Steamtown in Scranton, PA. After getting cab rides in the steam engines and taking a trip to the CP facility in Binghamton, NY, I was the happiest person in the world! I am hoping that I will have the opportunity to attend again this year.

 Another aspect of my railroad life is the National Railway Historical Society. My chapter, the Western Connecticut Chapter, will be holding the annual national convention of the NRHS in Stamford, CT this year. I am on the committee for the youth event that will take place at the Danbury Railway Museum.

 I would like to thank Aaron Keller for allowing me to continue the teen column legacy through The Teen Track. This is a great opportunity and I am so happy to be doing it. I look forward to sharing in your railroading activities and adventures.

 Since my column, and the whole magazine, is made up of contributor pictures and stories I would like to encourage every young railfan to send in his/her pictures (preferably slides, but not necessary) to me at this address which can be found in the magazine

 By the way, my email address is: theteentrack@aol.com. Please remember to include a stamped, self-addressed envelope so we can return your contributions as quickly as possible. Also, don’t forget to label everything with your name and address so we don’t lose any of your items. Send pictures, stories, ideas, news, and even questions you would like to have addressed in the column. Thanks.

-Charlie

 

July:

October 2nd and 3rd was the 150th anniversary of the Hudson Line of New York Central. In honor of that anniversary, Metro-North painted two of their FL9s, 2012 and 2013, in NYC lightning stripes. The problem with this is that New York Central never used or owned an FL9 and especially not these ones. Though this is a fact, rail enthusiasts are somewhat in favor of the decision due to their love of New York Central. I have listed below, a few comments from various teens about the repainting.

 “I think that repainting the New Haven FL9s to a New York Central paint scheme is a good idea. It brings back memories of old New York Central.”

Adam Sullivan, MA

“I believe the engine should have been painted to preserve its historical significance as a New Haven engine. People who visit the engine, and don’t know any better, may get the idea that NYC had FL9 units. I think this is a horrible thing that has been done to this engine and I hope it will be painted back to New Haven. If Metro-North was commemorating NYC, they could have used a NYC engine.”

Joe Romano, CT

“Overall, such things don’t bother me a lot, as long as there is no implication that there was such a thing as a NYC FL9. My layout has a NYC museum and we’ve pulled such stunts from time to time.”

Tim and Sherrie Vermande, TX

 

“I really like the NYC colored FL9s. I think that lines with rich heritage like BNSF should take new units and paint them in each of their earlier road’s colors. You know, GN (Big Sky Blue and the older orange and green) and stuff like that.”

Andy Inserra, MN

“The FL9, without a doubt, has lasted the test of time! The reliability of these machines continues to prove their usefulness into the 21st century! Very rarely do we get the opportunity to see vintage diesel equipment in regular service, but the FL9 is one of the exceptions. Painting the FL9s in both New Haven and New York Central colors will reflect the great heritage of both railroads and the history they represent. A wider variety of equipment provides a very interesting railfan day!”

Newton Vezina, MA

August:

 

Safety is an important issue for everyone who love trains and are around them often. This month’s column will talk about safety at public highway-rail grade crossings.

 The advance warning signs are the first sign you will se when approaching a crossing. It will alert you to slow down, look, listen, and be prepared to stop if a train is coming. The pavement markings consist of an R X R design and a stop line closer to the crossing. Stay behind this line when waiting for a train to pass. Crossbuck signs are yield signs.  You are legally required to let the train go. The sign below the crossbucks indicates how many tracks that will be crossed. The flashing red signals are at many highway-rail grade crossings and have lights and bells. If the lights are on that means a train is coming and you must stop. The gates are also at many crossing. Stop when the bells and lights go off and stay until the gates go up.

 Remember not to get trapped on a highway-rail grade crossing and never drive onto a crossing until you are sure there is no train coming. If your car stalls on the crossing, get everyone out of the vehicle and move them far away from the tracks. Then call 911 for help. When you are at the crossing with multiple tracks and the last car of the train you have been waiting for passes, stay attentive. Watch for another train on the other track. Racing a train to a highway-rail grade crossing should never be done under any circumstances.

 I hope that these tips will make you more aware of the dangers at crossings I would like to thank Connecticut Operation Lifesaver for providing these tips to you and the  public.

 Your contributions are needed for this column. Please send your slides, prints, stories, ideas, news, and questions to my address in the magazine.

Be sure to include a stamped, self-addressed envelope, so your contributions can be returned as soon as possible. Also, label everything with your name and address so nothing gets lost. You can also send me an email at TheTeenTrack@aol.com

 

September:

 

On Friday, July 14th, during this years National Railway Historical Society’s annual convention, New Haven Rails 2000, a youth event for children ages 10 – 18, took place at the Danbury Railway Museum in Danbury, CT.

 We started our day at the train station in Stamford taking a train to South Norwalk and then transferring to a train bound for Danbury. When we got to Danbury, we walked over to the Danbury Railway Museum where a bag from Railpace was handed out, which included a Railpace hat, a disposable camera, and a magazine. Then a representative from Connecticut Operation Lifesaver gave the children a talk on safety. When that was through, we walked down to the turntable area where Danbury Railway Museum engineer, Tom McCullough, taught us about track work. The 1205th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion also took a part in this event by sending out SPC Kevin Sauter to demonstrate the track work. After the demonstration, the kids got to try pulling up tie plates, moving ties and rail, and hammering spikes into the ties. After all this work, the kids were hungry so Railpace treated them to a pizza lunch, which was eaten in the restored 1944 New Haven caboose. After lunch, they learned about air brakes. A diagram was used to help the kids understand the complicated system better. They also got the opportunity to connect the air hose from the engine to a freight car. They had to learn and understand this information so they could do what came next: operation of the RS-1. Every kid got his or her turn to climb up and run the locomotive and two cars up and down the yard. After this, not one of them regretted coming to this event. At the end of the day, we took the train back to Stamford.

 Even though there were only 8 children that attended the event, they all had a great time and wouldn’t hesitate doing it again. The New Haven Rails 2000 convention committee would like to thank the following organizations: Connecticut Operation Lifesaver, 1205th Transportation railway Operating Battalion, Danbury Railway Museum, National Railway Historical Society’s Western CT Chapter, and Railpace Newsmagazine. With out their help, this event wouldn’t have taken place.

 

October:

America's highways and roads are becoming overly congested, which causes more accidents and very high rates of pollution, especially here in the Northeast.

The average automobile, with 120 horsepower might carry four people - about forty horsepower per person. But in many cases especially during commuter rush-hours, the average vehicle occupancy is even lower, about 1.7.

Freight and passenger trains provide significantly greater fuel economy, moving more passengers and freight per gallon or fuel that motor vehicles. A freight train using four 3000 horsepower locomotives can pull 200 truck trailers - a savings not only in fuel, but also in labor, and highway congestion.

Regrettably, American transportation policy seems more concerned with moving vehicles, rather than goods and people. The inherent efficiencies of the steel wheel on the steel rail are not optimized.

Part of the problem is the railroad industry today is logistically challenged - their focus is on operating  the rairoad rather that focusing on customer needs, which include speed and reliability. The most successful transportation companies, such as FedEx, UPS, Schneider, and J.B. Hunt are those who concentrate on logistics and customer service.

Perhaps the time has come for a logistics company to aquire and operate a railroad, leading the industry into a new age of growth and profitability.

RAILCAMP 2001 PREVIEW - There will be two "Basic" Railcamp sessions at Steamtown in 2001. Any intermediate/Advanced sessions will be deferred until 2002, when there is a "pool" of eligible attendees ince again - as was done in 2000 from "Basic campers from 1998 and 1999.

The Dates for Basic Railcamp 2001 will be July 22-28 and August 12-18, 2001. These dates have been confirmed by the Park Service and the University of Scranton.

 

November:

No room for words! - a whole bunch of pictures just waiting for you to see!!!

 

December:

Intermediate Railcamp 2000

 

I have said in the past that the best railroading experience I have ever had was Railcamp 99. This statement was correct up until July 29th, when I was able to experience Railcamp 2000. 

During the Week of July 23rd, railcampers from 1998 and 1999 were able to experience a more in-depth and comprehensive program that put emphasis on what they had learned in the previous years.

As the campers arrived from all over the country on that Sunday, counselors Larry Eastwood, Marie Eastwood, Bruce Hodges, Ervin White, Marty O’Rourke, and Sam James waited in the lobby of what would be their home for the next week, Gavigan Hall at the University of Scranton. By 4:00 all the campers had arrived and Larry was ready to give the safety speech that we had all heard before but didn’t mind hearing again. When that was through we had dinner at the Gunster Center, the university cafeteria, where we would be having breakfast and dinner all week. By now, all the campers had settled in and were ready for a great week. Tim O’Malley then gave a very interesting slide show and speech about the history of Steamtown and its mission to preserve steam locomotives and rail history.

 Monday started off with a trip to the trolley museum next to Steamtown, where we were given a tour of the    museum and restoration facilities. We also learned about how their new excursion line was just built and how they can’t use it due to its crossing over mainline tracks. After learning about the trolleys we were ready for the trains! Patrick McKnight had prepared a great exercise about a small consist of a steam locomotive, a baggage car, and a passenger car. Our job was to scour the equipment looking for as much information as we could. We learned that McKnight was putting together a report on the equipment to clarify the possible ways it could be restored. This led us to the library and the other research offices that McKnight utilized the services of to write his report. We then had a tour of the donation room, where everything that the Steamtown museum receives is stored until it can be displayed or used.

After having lunch in the Maintenance of Way lunchroom, we had a presentation by Glenn Smith, who told us about the plans for the new education center. We learned that Steamtown has ample room for the project on their grounds, but didn’t have the finances in the budget to put it together. They described their plans to get the money needed, and how they were based on the local politics. This was a very interesting presentation, and taught us how hard it is to get the money for a dream you have, even if the dream is a great idea.

Next on the agenda was a real treat, a photography seminar by Kenny Ganz. He taught the campers the basics of photography and how to use the cameras they had. They learned about F-stop, shutter speeds, and the use of lighting available. Then we were taught how to make effective brochures and other advertisements. This included the topic of publishing pictures to the internet and the differences between a good picture for an album and a good picture for the web.

That night was the start of a large HO scale layout on the floor of the lounge of the university. The yard had many sidings and even a couple branches. Staying up late to finish the yard was not that great of an idea since we were to get up at 5:30 the next morning to go to The Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad. This was our field trip of the week. Our first event there was a ride on their eight-mile line with an O&W NW2, three coaches, and a D&H bay window caboose from Milford, NY to Cooperstown, NY. On the ride, we learned all about the pitfalls of running a tourist railroad and how different your projected annual profits could be from your real ones. There have also been problems with advertising since the government wants to keep the roads beautiful. Our counselor, Bruce Hodges, is the president of this operation and the president of the Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society. This fun day ended with a video provided by a camper called “Why Trains Crash.”

On the days of Wednesday and Thursday, our group of twenty-four, was broken up into two groups of twelve. One group went to the locomotive shop, while the other went to the restoration shop. This switched for Thursday. In the locomotive shop, we first learned about lubricators, mechanical and hydrostatic, from Roger Samuels. We then went on to cut the boiler tubes out of Baldwin 0-6-0 #26 which was in for its comprehensive five-year inspection. Couplers and wheels were next on the agenda, where each camper took apart a coupler and put it back together, then going out to the “wheel graveyard” and using a gauge to measure how bad the wheels were. In the Restoration shop we worked on the Jim Crow car, a half baggage, half passenger car with segregated passenger seating for race. Each railcamper was paired with a Steamtown worker, which were assigned by Steamtown worker George Canavan, and given many different jobs including hot riveting, welding, plasma cutting, grinding, torch cutting, hole punching, chisels, taking paint chip samples, and use of the needle gun.

Wednesday night was the baseball game at Lackawanna County Stadium, home of the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. The home team lost to the Columbus Clippers 3 – 0. The Columbus Clippers are the farm team of the New York Yankees, so there was no doubt they would win.

Friday was Railroad operations day, the same as in basic Railcamp, but this time with many more hands-on activities. The day started with inspection of the 2317 and the GP9, which is necessary before operation. We tested the air brakes, all bolts/rivets, and the mechanical aspects of the engines. After making sure the engines were sound, we went to the Railroad Operations room, where we used radios and an O scale layout to perform switching maneuvers, while learning proper use of the radios and how to operate Lionels. The army was also there to describe job opportunities. Major John Pajak of the 1205th TROB gave the presentation, which included videos of their work. Steamtown Volunteer/ Amtrak engineer Tom Wyatt, not only told us about a job with Amtrak but also talked with us about the Acela. Our last outdoor activity took place when we used radios and the techniques described to actually operate the GP9 with cars and play the roles of conductor and engineer. The group shot at the Big Boy 4012 was next, and then the awards ceremony and barbeque at the MOW building. A delicious dinner cooked by the Steamtown Workers.

Saturday was the end to a great week at Steamtown, and with many friends and family present, we had to say goodbye to our new and old friends who all carried the proud title of Railcamper, and this leaving everyone of us thinking “when we will be able to do it again?”

On behalf of every Railcamper, I would like to thank the counselors of Railcamp for keeping us inline the whole week and putting up with us; the Steamtown workers for teaching us their incredible skills; Steamtown NHS for providing us with a place to learn; the NRHS for sponsoring the event; and the CCV for hosting us at their railroad.

2001

January:

We're on the Web!

The Teen Track's official website is now up and running! You can find us on the World Wide Web at  www.trainweb.us/theteentrack. Your new website includes a section for featured pictures, previous column texts, other information related to this column, along with a guide for contributors. One of the most exciting interactive features is the web forum, which allows any reader to leave their comments, questions, and stories for other teens to read and comment upon. here you will be able to enjoy discussions with fellow readers to expand your railroad knowledge and friendship. 

I have not found many rail-related web sties that are oriented toward teens and younger railfans. Here are some train sites that are geared towards kids and teens. 

Railkids.com - www.railkids.com - this is a great website for the younger railfan. It features games, jokes, puzzles, contests, news, and stories.

TAMR - www.tamr.org - The Teen Association of Model Railroaders is a great organization that has many conventions and modeling clinics for its teen members. The website offers news and info from various members of the organization.

TGV Paper Models - www.trainweb.us/tgvpages/papermodels.html - Not necessarily just for kids, this site has challenging paper models that you print and then build to make a paper TGV set. This is a lot of fun and a challenge even for an adult.

Trainscam - www.trains.com - this site is one that I have found to be very popular among younger railfans who can't get out and railfan as much as they would like. This is a webcam sponsored by TRAINS magazine located at the BNSF/UP diamond crossing in Rochelle, IL, where it is possible to see a train every 15 minutes.

And of course, Railpace at www.railpace.com. Our own site has the most up to date news on the Web. You can also check out the extensive list of links to more great railroad-related sites.

 

This article is on page 28 of the January 2001 issue. Please go to p.29 to see Luke Irvine's feature article on "A Visit to Alstom." Great job and congratulations, Luke!

February:

The inauguration of the new Acela Express high speed trainsets has brought with it political controversy about rail passenger service. In reading about the first run in newspapers and mainstream newsmagazines, I found a disturbing number of articles and reports with headlines such as "Amtrak's Last Chance," and "Amtrak's Last Train." This is disappointing because the Acela should be showcasing advancement of railtravel. It is about time for what is supposed to be the most advanced country in the world to catch up with the rest of the world with modern intercity rail service.

One of the positive articles I found was entitled Acela Express: Forerunner of High-Speed Rail Corridors? by Neal Peirce, who is syndicated columnist working our of Washington, D.C. In the article, Peirce talked about how proud he was to be an American when the Acela made its first run. In mentioning Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and how he stopped plans to invest in high speed passenger rail transportation in Florida, Peirce lets the readers know who is not in favor of the growth of the rail industry in the country. The syndicated story, which appeared in many newspapers, illustrates the importance of the Acela project to the country, and how important it is to support it.

Upon reading this article, I sent a note to Mr. Peirce thanking him for his positive outlook on the future of rail service in our country. I have also sent letters to the editors of the publications which printed negative articles about the Acela. I would encourage all of the teen readers of this column to make sure they do the same. Write to people with whom you disagree, and tell them why. You may be able to change the way they think about trains and encourage them to understand the economic, social, and environmental benefits that can come with a modern intercity high-speed rail network. It is equally important to write to those with whom you agree, to let them know they have support! This will encourage them to keep pushing for funding and political support. A well written letter or email can really get your point across and make a difference.

March:

In the past few weeks there have been several accidents involving passengers and trains. One occurred when a woman was running to catch a SEPTA train and fell under it, losing her leg. Another happened when a woman was trying to get aboard a moving train and was then struck. Her foot was crushed. Yet another happened with a  man who was taking pictures of Amtrak along the Northeast Corridor in Delaware, and was hit from behind by a train. he lost his arm.

This is a good opportunity to reaffirm the importance of safety awareness when you are our taking pictures of trains. There could always be a late train, or one that isn't scheduled, that you aren't expecting. Stay as far away from the tracks as possible. Always look both ways before crossing the tracks, just as you would when crossing a street.

There are many ways to have a safe day of rail photography ands till get a great shot. Be sure that you are always aware of what is moving around you. Keep in mind the old adage, "Expect a train on any track, at any time..." The consequences of not paying attention can be painful, but could also be deadly.

On a side note... last month's issue of Railpace featured A Visit to Alstom, by Luke Irvine. Luke has put up a new website, and invites you to visit. The URL is: http://www.trainsonline.cjb.net. If you are interested in seeing your own "mini-feature" in Railpace, get in touch with me and we will discuss it!

April:

RAILCAMP 2001

The National Railway Historical Society, and the Nation Park Service's Steamtown Nation Historic Site in Scranton, PA, will operate two "basic" Railcamps this summer, NRHS Senior Vice President Larry Eastwood announced recently. This will be the fourth year for the successful Railcamp program, with a total of 48 slots available in two separate one-week sessions.

"Basic" Railcamp 2001 dates are July 22nd-28th, and August 12th-18th, 2001. Tuition will be $550 per student, a slight increase from the first three years. this amount represents only a portion of the actual cost of conduction each session, with the National Railway Historical Society providing additional financial support as a means of developing future rail history preservationists.

Railcamp 2001 will again be held at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA. Railcampers will be housed and fed on the campus of the University of Scranton, a Jesuit school located in downtown Scranton, within walking distance of Steamtown. Lodging will be in air-conditioned dorms. Room and board is included in the Railcamp fee. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from Scranton prior to and after the week long session. Pick-up and drop-off will be coordinated for students arriving at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport, or via bus at the Martz bus terminal in downtown Scranton.

The Basic RailCamp program includes detailed instruction by Park Service rangers on various restoration skills, roundhouse operations, railroad operations, historical interpretation, and subjects connected with maintaining and promoting railroading's rich heritage. Included in the one-week session will be a field trip to a working railroad location, as well as tours of the Lackawanna Coal Mine and the Anthracite Museum, both of which vividly illustrate the magnificent but gritty history of Northeastern Pennsylvania's Lackawanna Valley. After -hours social activities may include a Scranton/Wilkes Barre Red Barons Triple-A minor league baseball game at Lackawanna Stadium. Additional support for the RailCamp concept has been provided by Canadian Pacific Railway through its Police Service, which provides an Operation Lifesaver program to the Rail Campers.

Each one-week session has 24 slots available, and the second session will be operated contingent upon demand. Reservations from NRHS Chapters, many of which sponsor a student "scholarship," other rail organizations, and individuals will be accepted through May 1, 2001. Organizations wishing to reserve a slot pending selection of a candidate need to immediately communicate in writing to Basic RailCamp 2001, National Railway Historical Society, PO Box 58547, Philadelphia, PA 19102-8547. E-mail reservations will be accepted at nrhs@compuserve.com. Additional information is available from NRHS National Office Manager Lynn Burshtin at the above address, telephone 225.557.6606, Fax 215.557.6740.

RailCamp attendees produce results, according to NRHS' Eastwood. One previous attendee has recently been elected vice president of a major NRHS Chapter, another writes this column for Railpace Newsmagazine, one is attending college in Kansas to pursue a career in rail transportation, and a fourth is working in train service for Conrail Shared Assets in northern new Jersey.

Basic RailCamp will be directed again this year by Larry Eastwood, who also serves as Senior Vice President of the NRHS> He will be joined by Assistant Director and NRHS Corporate Secretary Bruce J. Hodges of Oneonta, NY.

RAILPACE WILL AGAIN SPONSOR A RAILCAMPER THIS YEAR

Railpace will again sponsor a student to RailCamp this year. RailCampers must be between entering 9th grade in Fall 2001, through graduating high school this spring (generally, ages 13-18).

To be considered, write a short letter indicating your interest, and the session you wish to attend, and mail it to RailCamp 2001, c/o Railpace Newsmagazine, 210 Perrine Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854.

Your request must be received by May 15! Railpace will cover the $550 fee for the RailCamp program, which includes room and board at the University of Scranton. The student is responsible for his or her own transportation to and from Scranton prior to and after the week long session.

May:

Some great pics in this issue!

June:

RailCamp Scholarhsip Still Available

The National Railway Historical Society, and the National Park Service's Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA, will operate two "Basic" RailCamps this summer. This will be the fourth year for the successful RailCamp program, with a total of 48 slots available in two separate one-week sessions.

"Basic" RailCamp 2001 dates are July 22-28, and August 12-18, 2001. Tuition for Basic RailCamp is $550 per student. This amount represents only a portion of the actual cost of conducting each session, with the National Railway Historical Society providing additional financial support as a means of developing future rail history preservationists.

RailCampers will be housed and fed on the campus of the University of Scranton, a Jesuit school located in downtown Scranton, within walking distance of Steamtown. Lodging will be in air-conditioned dormitories. Room and board is included in the RailCamp fee. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from Scranton prior to and after the week long session. Pick-up/drop-off will be coordinated for students arriving Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport, or via bus at the Martz bus terminal in downtown Scranton. 

The Basic RailCamp program includes detailed instruction by Park Service rangers on various restoration skills, roundhouse operations, railroad operations, historical interpretation, and subjects connected with maintaining and promoting railroading's rich heritage. Included in the one-week session will be a field trip to a working railroad location, as well as tours of the Lackawanna Coal Mine and the Anthracite Museum. After-hours social activities may include a Scranton/Wilkes Barre Red Barons Triple-A minor league baseball game at Lackawanna Stadium. Additional support for the RailCamp concept has been provided by Canadian Pacific Railway through its Police Service, which provides an Operation Lifesaver program to the Rail Campers. 

Each one-week session has 24 slots available, and the second session will be operated contingent upon demand. Reservations from NRHS Chapters, many of which sponsor a student "scholarship," other rail organizations, and individuals will be accepted through May 1, 2001. Organizations wishing to reserve a slot pending selection of a candidate need to immediately communicate in writing to Basic RailCamp 2001, National Railway Historical Society, PO Box 58547, Philadelphia, PA 19102-8547. E-mail reservations will be accepted at nrhs@compuserve.com. Additional information is available from NRHS National Office Manager Lynn Brushtin at the above address, telephone 215.557.6606, FAX 215.557.6740.

Railpace will again sponsor a student to RailCamp this year. RailCampers must be between entering 9th grade in Fall 2001, through graduating high school this spring (generally, ages 13-18).

To be considered, write a short letter indicating your interest, and the session you wish to attend, and mail it to RailCamp 2001, c/o Railpace Newsmagazine, 210 Perrine Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854.

Railpace will cover the $550 fee for the RailCamp program, which includes room and board at the University of Scranton. The student is responsible for his or her own transportation to and from Scranton prior to and after the week long session.

July:

GRADUATION DAY... to slides!

Thanks for all the great contributions during the recent months. The one area of improvement I would like to see is a greater use of slides.

While many young photographers are inclined to use prints, to show their friends and relatives, and because they don't have access to a slide projector and screen, the problem is that prints are not well suited for publication in magazines and books. Prints often appear less sharp, and the color isn't nearly as good as with slides. A print can never match the resolution (sharpness) of a slide.

This June, why not "graduate" from prints to slides for your next railfan trip. Following are some helpful hints as you hit the tracks this summer!

1. The color is much truer with slide film verses print (negative) film. Films like Kodachrome have near-exact color representations - what you see is what you get. If you like greater color saturation ("richness") you might want to try one of the Ektachrome films, or Fujichrome Velvia.

2. Slide storage is easier than prints. You can store 600 slides in a metal Logan slide file box, less space is needed to store the photos. Slides also have space to write on without harming the image. if you write on the backside of a print, the impressions will show through, or the ink may offset to another photo, ruining the print.

3. Although you may want to casually show pictures to your friends - and prints are better for trackside or diner viewing - you can't show them to a large group of people, or do any form of a show, as you can with slides.

4. It is less likely that you will end up with cheap "drug store" film processing when shooting slides, since most drug stores don't process slides. you will usually get Kodak processing or that of a professional color lab, producing better and more consistent results.

5. Sharpness is one of the most important issues when it comes to photography. With a print, you are getting the second generation image, the negative being the original media. On top of this, transparency film (slide film) is sharper than negative (print) film. No matter how good the equipment used, except for digital images, each time a picture is reproduced, the quality lessens.

6. Your chances of your photos being published in a magazine greatly improve when you submit slides. This column is the only one in Railpace that frequently uses prints, and eventually you will want to "graduate" to the main news columns. It isn't any more expensive, and the quality of your work is amplified with slides.

August:

An American Icon Lives!

When most people think of steam locomotives, they envision something of the past. Steam locomotives are quite rare today , and are becoming harder to find operating, or even in a cosmetically restored state. But if one looks hard enough, you can find steam locomotives in museums, and even quite a few running on various tourist and excursion railroads.

Steam engines were the first type of motive power used on the railroad. George Stephenson's design of the Rocket, in England, and Peter Cooper's Tom Thumb, for the Baltimore and Ohio, heralded a spectacular era of loud, smoky, sooty machines that would rule the railroads for over a century. Mathias Baldwin had a major role in the development of steam locomotives, after building his locomotive, Old Ironside.

The American Locomotive Company was also responsible for some of the larger steam locomotives to hit the rails. Lima of Ohio made a big contribution of streamlined steam locomotives, such as Southern Pacific's Daylight fleet. Legends like the Allegheny, the Big Boy, and the Challenger all have a special place in the hearts of older railfans who were blessed with the opportunity to view such masterpieces in steam.

Unfortunately, most younger railfans don't get the opportunity of riding behind locomotives like these, or even getting the chance to see them. And if today's younger railfan can't see the smoke, feel the rumble, or hear that distinctive steam whistle, how can the next generation of railfans fully understand the history of what we enjoy?

The best way kids today can understand the important role steam played in railroad history is to see it in action, so that they might be able to get the same thrill their parents and grandparents got when they experienced and rode behind these enormous kings of the rails.

The fact is that with a little planning, a young person can gain an understanding of the importance of steam power in American railroading. Many museums feature great selections, and among them, one can probably see almost every type of steam locomotive ever made. Places like the B&O Museum in Baltimore have many steam engines that have been cosmetically restored. Other sites such as Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA, have an operating steam locomotive for excursions. Many shortline railroads also use steam, such as East Broad Top in Rockhill Furnace, PA, the Strasburg Railroad in Lancaster County, PA, the New Hope & Ivyland in New Hope, PA, the Black River & Western RR in Ringoes, NJ, and the Valley RR in Essex, CT. And that's just a few of the operating museums and railroads in the Northeast!

To make your search for steam a little easier, check out the Empire State Railway Museum's Guide to Tourist Railroads and Museums. Inside this publication you will find a listing of every museum and tourist railroad in the country, along with a short description, roster, and operating hours. You should be able to find a copy of this excellent publication at your local hobby shop.

There are many places throughout the country where today's younger railfan can learn the exciting history of steam locomotives.

September:

Check out the great pictures this month!

October:

After listening, night after night, to railroad retirees tell their wonderful stories about their experiences, I decided to finally get some of these stories on tape. I regretted that no one in the past had been able t accomplish this project with any sort of success, and thought of how I would be depriving my children of all these great stories if something weren't done. So I borrowed my local railroad museum's video camera and made an outline of a video that I though would be interesting, and more importantly, tell the story of railroading.

We made a date to go to Maybrook, NY to talk to three railroaders who once worked for the New York, New Haven, & Hartford out of Maybrook. They talked for two hours in front of the camera, providing exciting and dramatic stories to provide an idea of what their lives were like. Next, we interviewed an elderly trainman for the New Haven, who had a short, but full career working between Danbury, Poughkeepsie, and Pittsfield. He too was able to what his life, while working for the railroad, was like. There are quite a few more retired railroaders who I plan to interview soon, and I am really looking forward to what I can learn from them. A two-hour videotape is inexpensive and a video is easy to make. Setting the camera on a tri-pod and interacting with the speaker - asking questions and listening to answers - can heighten viewer interest.

I would like to encourage teen readers to try and get what you can out of the old-time railroaders who are still around. It is really important that you get these projects done before there isn't anyone left to interview. Even if you only know one person, interview him or her, and learn what you can learn from them. A project like this is one of the best ways YOU can make a positive contribution to railroad history - and society.

November:

I recently have received a few letters in reference to the column I wrote for the July 2001 issue of Railpace. These letters asked me to embellish a little upon the differences between the various types of slide film on the market today. Choosing a type of film, for most people, is like choosing a brand of camera - you will probably stick with it for the rest of your life. This is why it is so important to make sure you try every type of film so you can look at the results and choose which is best for you. I am going to focus mainly on the two chief Kodak products, Kodachrome and Ektachrome, first, because they are most widely used, and second, because I don’t have all that much experience with anything else.

Seeing as I am sure you have all “graduated” from prints since the last time I discussed this topic, I want to give a little background on film ASA. This is also known as the “speed” of the film. The most commonly used ASA for railfans is 64 with Kodachrome. ASA 100 is probably the most common for Ektachrome. Although you normally hear about Kodachrome 64, it also comes in ASA 25 and 200. There are two factors that need to be considered when choosing which ASA film you will use. Since the speed of the film will reflect on how long an exposure you must take, it is pertinent that you use a high-speed film along with a flash for indoor shots. But since you will be taking pictures of trains, which are usually outside, a 64 ASA film will be just fine. The advantage of using a slower ASA is that the sharpness of the transparency is greatly increased. This factor alone should tell you that a slow ASA is the best choice for railfans, and if you can, go for the 25 since it will be all that much sharper.

Now you have to decide which brand of film you use. Kodachrome will give you the absolute most accurate color a film can give you. This can be good or bad, depending on what color you are shooting. If your pictures are of people, Ektachrome is better, since it is great for enhancing skin tones. But for the bright colors on trains, Kodachrome should be your choice. Another factor is age. Of course any slide film will last much longer than any print film. Ektachrome is rated at about 50 years before the color gets really bad. Kodachrome will last for at least 100 years before you will experience any problems. This is important to consider, since your goal in taking pictures usually isn’t to have them published in Railpace, but rather to preserve railroad history. Having a film that lasts long with the most accurate color is the best way to do this. But, if your only purpose is to have your slide published, you need to think about processing. You can have your Ektachrome processed in an hour at most photo imaging stores. As always, we frown upon this because 1-hour processing doesn’t always have the same quality as Kodak processing that can be done in a couple days. This 1-hour processing concept is the same for slides as it is prints. Unfortunately, Kodachrome takes a very long time to be processed – about a week in most cases. This is because of Kodachrome’s special K-14 processing that only Kodak can do. If you are lucky, your local photo shop may have one of the machines that can process this film, but they are very rare and it is most likely that you will have to send it out. If you have to see your pictures right after you shoot them, Kodachrome isn’t for you.

Hopefully this information will help you make an educated decision about what slide film will suit you best. The best advice I can give you, though, is to try the different types yourself. See what each one does for you and go with whatever is best for your needs. Your first hand experience will really help you with your choice.

December:

Will be posted soon!

2002

January:

There is one more important aspect to photographing slides that is too important to leave out – labeling and storage. Often the experienced photographers I know will tell me how mad they are at themselves for not labeling their slides as soon as they had come back from the photo lab. They now have stacks of slides to label and it is very hard for them to remember what the caption is. To label a slide, you want to include the date, time, and location. The date is always a significant partner to a photo and a specific date can be a really good clue when you are doing other research projects. The time is important to record because you may want to go back to the location again in the future and want the same lighting. On the bottom of the slide mount, list the caption information, like locomotive numbers, locomotive models, or the event that you are attending. With all this information recorded directly on the slide, you don’t have to worry about forgetting the specifics.

Storage of your slides is also very important. Eventually you will get a collection of thousands of slides and you will want to find a specific one. If you start with a good system of storage, you will never fall behind and always be able to find the slide you want. The way you store them is strictly personal preference. Some people like to store by date, others by location, others by railroad. This choice is yours, just stick with the same system. It is also important how you store your slides. Make sure they aren’t stored in a damp location. This will discolor you slides very quickly and cause mildew problems. It is best that you don’t leave them out on a shelf that is in direct sunlight, as they will fade quickly. You want to get something to store your slides in. This could be a page that has slots for slides and can be placed in a three-ring binder. Another possibility is to invest in metal slide boxes, which are very good for keeping out light and keeping your slides dry and cool. Unfortunately these can get a little pricey. Either way, just make sure they are organized.

Hopefully you now have enough information to start a fun hobby the right way. Just remember to label and be organized and you will enjoy your work for many years to come.

February:

Will be posted soon!

March:

For many young railfans, the experience of riding in the cab of a locomotive is, for whatever reason, not possible. This is unfortunate because for kids, the thrill of a cabride could really spark their interest in the hobby. Although the following is not a sufficient substitute, it is a pretty good temporary one that will prove to be a lot of fun – even for adults! It is the ever-growing hobby of “virtual railroading. 

Virtual Railroading seems to have really taken off within the past year. No doubt it was significantly helped by Microsoft’s release of Train Simulator. The game has six different routes, all over the world, including the Northeast Corridor (Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia) on which you can run the Acela or an HHP8. Other locomotives are a GP38-2, a Dash 9, a Japanese RDC, and the Flying Scotsman to name a few. The other routes included are the Marias Pass in Montana, the Orient Express in Germany, and two Japanese Routes. When playing the game, you must do everything the engineer would have to do to move the train. This includes braking, using the reverser, the throttle, the sander, and even the horn at crossings. While the train is in motion, there are multiple views that the player can watch through. They are in the cab, looking at the locomotives, looking at the rear car, sitting inside a passenger car, the trackside or “railfan” view, and an overhead view for easy coupling.

In response to the overwhelming interest, many private outfits have produced websites that offer free downloadable add-ons for the game including new routes, new locomotives and cars, and new scenarios. Many of these websites can be found just by searching “train simulator.” The game was made for expansion and versatility, as it comes with a route editor and an activity editor to change the way you play, or to create new ways to play for yourself.

There are also quite a few other train simulators on the market that are also great. They are advertised in many railfan publications. Check out The Teen Track website (address below) for a section of links to these pages. One warning though, it can be very addictive. So if you don’t have access to a real train to ride in, why not try out Train Simulator and get a touch of what it is like to ride in the cab of a locomotive.

April:

Will be posted soon!

May:

Most railfan organizations are geared towards adults. This can be discouraging to teens that want to get involved. Many organizations meet in places that are not accessible without use of a car, or at times when it may be hard to get a parent to drive a young member to the meeting. Involvement of youth in railroading activities is often limited due to arbitrary age restrictions.

Situations like these arise quite frequently in the railfan community. Kids are ignored and thus discouraged from our hobby. At train shows, teens that are often very knowledgeable are yelled at by an exhibitor for examining a piece for sale. The fact is that although teens may have a little more activity about them, they present a vital role in the preservation and education of the history of trains. They are important because they are the future of an organization and the hobby.

On the other hand, I have seen many instances where adults take kids on railfanning trips, give them photography tips, and teach them about various locomotives. These people should be commended for their actions because preserving the interest of the youth is as important as preserving railroad history itself.

My message to the teen readers is to not get discouraged by adults who may not fully appreciate your contributions. It is important that you persevere and maintain an active interest in the hobby. Go home, read your train books and magazines, and continue to learn all you can. Your persistence and increasing knowledge will demonstrate your sincerity in participating, and your ability to do so. 

Lastly, to the adults, please consider the importance of teens in your organizations. If you don’t teach them well there is no way they can continue the hobby successfully. Don’t let these dedicated kids get away; utilize them however you can. They are the future.

June:

Will be posted soon!

July:

Will be posted soon!

August:

The hobby of railfanning mainly consists of watching trains, photographing trains, and appreciating their beauty from the outside. Therefore, opportunities to ride trains are neglected because one’s ability to photograph the train from the outside is hindered. Since getting pictures of trains is so important for historic preservation of the railroads, it is hard to bring oneself to ride a train when there is opportunity to get photographs of it.

This situation is unfortunate for two reasons. First, we must support the railroads financially by purchasing their services. There is no way they can survive if people take pictures of trains and do not pay to ride them. Second, passenger trains are a huge part of the history and hobby which we are so interested in. We cannot enjoy the hobby completely if we do not understand and experience the hobby completely. Furthermore, one can also benefit from riding a train. There are often better views of yards and other railroad facilities from the train, views that are impossible to find or access by car.

Older people in the hobby have lived through mergers, sellouts, and bankruptcies many times. Other than Conrail (which wasn’t a bankruptcy), Amtrak’s current financial situation is a first of its kind for our generation. It seems impossible for a situation like this to occur; the loss of the only national passenger rail system in the US. A shutdown of Amtrak would devastate the country, not only for the many people who ride it for transportation, but also for all the employees and people whose jobs rely on Amtrak’s business. Other railroads, such as New Jersey Transit, would also suffer immensely by the loss of Amtrak.

Once again, I must urge you to write letters to the various people who have an influence on Amtrak’s funding. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, your Senators and Congressmen, and President Bush all need to know what you think about the situation. Write them letters and tell them that Amtrak is a necessity for the US. Their addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers can be found on their websites. For more information on this cause, check out the National Association of Railroad Passenger’s website at www.narprail.org. Thanks for your support!

September:

Railroad Careers

One of the best ways for teens to further their avocation of railroading is to consider employment with a railroad. Many railroads are currently hiring, and they provide geat benefits and pay to a good worker.

There are two different “tracks” in railroading – passenger and freight. With passenger, you will probably start in a mechanical department or as a ticket collector/assistant conductor. You are more likely to have a regular assignment, or a somewhat predictable work schedule. If you work for a commuter agency, you’ll be home every night.

In freight service, you will likely start as a brakeman/conductor trainee. There jobs are not particularly glamorous, but will allow you to get your foot in the door – that is half the battle. On freight railroading, especially on Class-I roads, be aware that your work schedule will be largely unpredictable; you will likely work nights, weekends, swing shifts, seemingly “8 days a week.” And on road jobs, you can be away from home, sleeping in a motel on alternate nights.

Railroad employment is based on a seniority system, which gives job preference to employees that have been with the railroad for the greatest number of years. As you work, you gain seniority, thus allowing you to advance on the roster and eventually allowing you to choose the runs and jobs you want. When bidding a job, you can sometimes plan you work schedule and increase your income, since different jobs/runs pay differently. Generally, with more seniority, you will be able to make more money.

Other than operations and mechanics, there are a few jobs on the railroad that may suit someone with more business-oriented goals. Involvement with railroad management usually requires a college education, unless you have been with a company for a very long time. There are accounting, legal department, customer service, marketing, and other office jobs that suit people that don’t really want to be out on the road, or work odd hours.

Whatever your employment goals are, stay in school as long as you can. Most railroads have a huge pool of applicants, so any way that you can make yourself look better is a plus. Don’t leave school until you definitely have a job, since it will be tough to go back.

A key to gaining railroad employment is to present yourself as reliable and “marketable.” Start building your resume now, no matter how young you are. Having work experience is good – having a good reference is better. You should also consider volunteer work, especially with a railroad organization that operates trains, such as a tourist railroad, museum, Steamtown, etc. This will show your prospective employer that you are indeed committed, and that you already have some experience and a background in railroading.

If you sincerely are interested in working for a railroad, check out these websites for more information about railroad employment:

Amtrak: http://www.amtrak.com/about/careers.html

CSX: http://www.csxt.com/jobs.htm

Norfolk Southern: http://www.nscorp.com/nscorp/html/jobs/index.html

Metro-North: http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/mnr/html/employment/index.html

New Jersey Transit: http://www.njtransit.com/an_corporateinfo_careers.shtm

Union Pacific: http://www.uprr.com/employment/

October:

You'll just have to wait and see!

 

 

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If you have any questions please feel free to email me at: theteentrack@aol.com

 

 

Published in Railpace Newsmagazine

 

To get back HOME - Click here!

 

Don't Forget to send me contributions at my address in the magazine. Questions, ideas, and comments can be emailed to me at theteentrack@aol.com. Thanks!

 

Webmaster - Charlie Albanetti

 

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© 2002 by Charlie Albanetti. All Rights Reserved. For use, contact me at theteentrack@aol.com.


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