Friday, October 24, 2014

Travels with & in Uncle Sam

Over nearly a hundred posts on this blog I think I may have displayed a fairly parochial view of railways.  To recompense, it may be time to  display a broader horizon, starting with my various travels in the United States of America.

I have been there a fair few times - some might say a few too many times. Say what you want about the place, the central place of railroads in modern America has been a particular interest of mine.  The first trip I made around the States taught me a lot about how big and different railroads were over there.

Growing up accustomed to an hourly freight train being a good day on many NSW lines, I remember being gobsmacked at the Transcon in western California and Arizona when first there in 1990.  Seeing four, five and even six diesels sitting on 90mph pacing the Interstate was something you just didn't see anywhere in NSW at that time. With four mates, I did 4,000 miles over five weeks in December 1990. Scenes like the following were, to coin a phrase, a dime a dozen.

The States has many examples of railroad decay - though not as many in 2014 as they did in 1990. One Sunday morning in Alabama the rest of the touring party were in bed while I toured the former station at Montgomery - Amtrak had relocated to a utilitarian building adjacent to this majestic shed.
This was my first train trip in the States - 3 January 1991 on the Texas Eagle.  Over the next eight days I travelled from Texas to Chicago, then to Portland Oregon on the Empire Builder, then back to LA on the Coast Starlight.  A truly great experience, starting with this quick snap of me about to board in Austin on a freezing morning.

Later that day in Dallas I hopped off for a walk to find this crazy guy doing a few running repairs.

I actually managed to fluke a half decent shot of the Empire Builders crossing in the middle of Nowhere.

I saw the snow drifts build up to the window level, so the following shot was pretty mild.

Again, from the rear carriage of the Empire Builder... a view of Nowhere, next stop, Oblivion.

Will finish up with a couple of shots of the Starlight.  The first from Oregon and the second much closer to southern California.

So its been nearly 25 years since my first trip Stateside.  Over the next 100 blog posts I will try to bring you a few other half interesting shots from the Land of the Free.


Thursday, October 16, 2014


On hols at the moment. I checked out the wooden trestles at Lismore. Still there but unlikely to see a train tread safely over them.

Saddest sight in Bangalow must be the railway station. Once was one of the prettiest stations in NSW.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Go bunnies....

Its early Saturday morning, on the start of a long weekend which may see my beloved and most exasperating bunnies win a rugby league premiership for the first time in 43 years. To be honest, its not just the lack of success but the lack of a prospect of success for 41 of those 43 years - in only two years (1989 and 2012) could anyone say that Souths had a fighting chance.
Anyway, to give readers a sense of how long this really is, I thought I would trawl the annals for a few things that were happening the last time Souths played in a grand final.

Steam locos were still in regular serice, like 3102T at Dubbo...

Rail tours weren't called 'heritage experiences' or had diesels pushing from the rear, like this one to Kiama by 3028T in February 1971...

Or this one to Canberra by 3229 and 5274...

Even when they were added to tour trains it was only because a steamie had failed and diesels were then attached to the front of the train so the cinders from a working steam loco had no chance to lodge in the diesel's air intakes. Here was a nicely turned out 3526 at Wollongong, on its way to Joppa Junction in 1971.

And 1971 was a year of decay - most notably at Enfield where the rusting leftovers of 18th century technology awaited a date with an oxy torch, like 1948 and 1903 in the following scene

So I am hoping for a great game tomorrow night. Canterbury will be a formidable and worthy opponent. Win or lose, at least now I won't have to watch replays of the 71 grand final to remember what success means.