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.



  1. Don,
    Interesting timing. I am reading your post in a hotel room near Dallas Fort Worth Airport.

    While here, I have heard suggestions that it is another golden age for railways (freight). UP and BNSF dominate. We also heard some grumbles suggesting that because there is so much oil being moved, other freight particularly farm produce was being delayed. It's a long wait at a level crossing if you are there at the wrong time.

    cheers Phil

  2. Hi Phil,

    I hope it is another golden age - tme to get those old SP SD40s out of moth balls once more.