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.
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 MTAs 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Please remember to include a stamped, self-addressed envelope so we can return your
contributions as quickly as possible. Also, dont forget to label everything with
your name and address so we dont lose any of your items. Send pictures, stories,
ideas, news, and even questions you would like to have addressed in the column. Thanks.
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
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 dont 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
Joe Romano, CT
Overall, such things dont 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 weve 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 roads 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
Safety is an important issue for everyone who love
trains and are around them often. This months 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
On Friday, July 14th,
during this years National Railway Historical Societys 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 wouldnt 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
Societys Western CT Chapter, and Railpace Newsmagazine. With out their help, this
event wouldnt have taken place.
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
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.
No room for words! - a whole bunch of pictures
just waiting for you to see!!!
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 ORourke, 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
didnt 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 OMalley 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 cant 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 didnt 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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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
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.
Some great pics in this issue!
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
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 email@example.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
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.
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.
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
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
Check out the great pictures this month!
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.
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.
Will be posted soon!
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.
Will be posted soon!
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.
Will be posted soon!
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
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!
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
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
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:
New Jersey Transit:
have to wait and see!
If you have any questions please feel free to
email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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