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Author Topic: What connection do you have to railroading?  (Read 1670 times)
HO-N-Engineer

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« on: December 21, 2017, 12:59:08 AM »

When I was young, a long time ago, I actually worked on the rails for a few days. My father's employer was President of the Lamoille County Railroad at the time and needed people to pick up ties and rail on the section through town. The work was typically dirty and hard, but it sparked an interest in the line that I never thought about before then.

There wasn't much choice at the time for what model railroading you could do, only HO was available in town so that's where I started. I didn't really have the ability to do much other than run a starter setup. Then came the girlfriend years and model trains were not a top priority.

What next? Well, I went into the Air Force and my first base had some of the oldest training devices still in the inventory. Toward the end of my time at that base I was lent out to the B-52 and KC-135 "flight simulators" in the rail cars. You read that right. We had stationary simulators in modified railroad cars. I'm sure a lot of you aren't surprised.

I got out of the Air Force in 1990 and went to work for a gun importer working in, what else, a railroad paint shed. Yes, it was bit different than some you may have seen because it was closed up for security reasons and the tracks were long ago abandoned, but still there.

How does that relate to model railroading? Well, once in your blood model railroading doesn't go away. When my first son was bore I started thinking about model railroads again, but it took some time to find what I wanted, of course in HO. We had a small setup in the basement where we lived then and we really didn't go into much more than rearranging the track in different layouts to make it a little more fun. Then we moved and the set has been "lost" to storage ever since. It really irritates me that it isn't where I can get to it. I actually tried to look for it a few years back, but there is no place to start that isn't hard work for a week. I'll get it out some day.....

Now I have a second son. Late in life baby that he is, he lags his closest sibling by 11 1/2 years and his oldest by 19 years, so it's time for Dad to do something we can both enjoy. He's 6 now, but this is something for both of us, and since we don't have much room, I've decided to go N Scale. What about all my real connections to railroads? Well, I have a railcar coupler knuckle from one of the Lamoille County Railroad cars that I got to use as an anvil. That's my keepsake from my short days working on the rails.

I guess some of us bleed oil and grease and breath smoke and fire. I also stuck to some of my other bad habits in electronics, radio, and firearms. Metal and all forms of fire just go together.

Thanks for having me.

What's your story?
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dutchbuilder


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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2017, 05:34:55 AM »

The only connection i know off in my family is that my fathers grandfather was steam locomotive engineer on the "Nederlandse ijzeren spoorweg maatschappij"The Dutch iron railway company in the 1920's.
My interest for model trains started when i was very young because my dad had a Fleischmann model rail way.
I still have several of his early models.
They still run after 61 years.

Ton
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 10:45:14 AM by dutchbuilder » Logged
Trainman203

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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2017, 09:01:06 AM »

Two of my relatives were T&NO employees in the steam days. 

A great uncle I never knew was a railroad “bull”.  I wish I could have interviewed him .  I had another  uncle who had been a locomotive fireman.  I did get to talk to him as a youngster over 50 years ago and got two good stories out of him. If only I could talk to him again.

My father was a contractor for both the T&NO and the MP.  Our town was on the T&NO mainline and was a branch line terminus for both the T&NO and the MP.  There were a lot of railroad employees in town and my dad knew them all.  When I was 5 he had a steam engine cab ride arranged for me and I was too scared to go.  Oh man 😫😭.
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Trainman203

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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2017, 09:22:02 AM »

I think my father was some kind of closet railfan although we almost never saw him, he was gone working all the time.  He used to talk a lot about the Southern back home in Virginia.  He also used to run my Lionel train with me when he was around. 

One other distant connection that I didn’t find out about until fairly recently.  Some of you may have heard of the wreck of the old 97.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wreck_of_the_Old_97  .  A relative named D T Flory was one of the RPO fatalities.
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Len

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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2017, 10:54:07 AM »

My first involvement with trains was as a kid growing up in poor area of Missouri. When it was winter, while taking on water at the local stop, the fireman would "accidentally" kick some coal off the tender for us kids to take home. When I got older, I worked for Pfizer Chemicals filling tank cars with citric acid slurry headed for Canada.

Len
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Trainman203

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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2017, 11:27:03 AM »

Steam engines burned oil in my part of the country but I’ve heard of the “accidental” coal off-kicking before ..... and how anyone caught doing that would be fired on the spot.😱😖
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ebtnut

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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2017, 11:48:04 AM »

My dad spent a couple of summers while in high school working at the coaling tower just west of Warren, PA.  They would drop off 50-ton hoppers to load up the bin.  There was a powered capstan that would drag the cars by cable to the dump and the skip elevator took the coal up to the top and dropped it in.  I vaguely remember the coal tower from early visits to his parents  when I was about 4-6 years old.  The facility was on the old Pennsy main line from Erie, and was primarily used by helpers for the push up the hill to Kane.  I do remember steam on that line from that early time period.  His house was only a block from the tracks and I'd run over to the grade crossing almost every time I heard a whistle.
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Trainman203

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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2017, 04:42:59 PM »

Man.... working at a coaling tower.....  I can only imagine.  

I worked on offshore oil rigs 50 years ago. We got just as dirty.  Every day they washed our work clothes in gasoline and had them ready for us next day.
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Terry Toenges


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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2017, 07:42:18 PM »

My dad had a few different trucking driving jobs. One of those he had was unloading semi trailers off the piggy back cars. He took me to work with him one time and I was able to sit on the side and watch him do it. I guess I was about 8 or 9. I can't remember anything else about it.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 07:46:53 PM by Terry Toenges » Logged

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RAM

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« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2017, 11:27:22 PM »

Well my first 12 years of life I lived in a house in NJ.  When I heard a train, I would run outside & around the house, & there was the railroad. The first train of the day had a pusher.  The helper would return in an hour or so.  The second train was empty hoppers, it would return about 6 hours latter. The third train was a local.  It would take 1 or 2 hours to return.  The local had 4-8-0 cb.  The rest were all 2-8-2s.  CRRofNJ
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HO-N-Engineer

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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2017, 12:35:48 AM »

Well my first 12 years of life I lived in a house in NJ.  When I heard a train, I would run outside & around the house, & there was the railroad.

I hadn't thought about it until you mentioned that you remember hearing trains. The track in my town ran behind my house when I was 3-5 years old and I will never forget the whistle as they came to the road just down from my house. It's a real part of Americana that is missed by those of us who know that sound coming from near or far. I don't think anyone having heard that lonely sound from far away can forget what it was like. So many rails have been torn up in Vermont that we're in danger of floating off of the planet.  Cheesy
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Trainman203

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« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2017, 09:09:18 AM »

Yes, I too remember the steam whistles on the railroad.  Nothing in modern times can ever replace that sound, the sound that built America and created much of its music.  The T&NO and the MP both had relatively high pitched 5 chimes, I know now that our  end of both railroads generally got the older, smaller, run-down hand-me-down power that mostly had these screamers.

I remember on one especially hot summer afternoon, hearing a very distant and faint one drifting in from the northeast,  coming and going with the wind.  It haunts me to this day.  That far off hogger blowing for a country crossing had no idea what he was doing to a 5 year old kid.

There was a regular westbound through freight, no . 239, that would come through about 10 or 11 at night, and sometimes I’d be awake and could hear it.  But one night, very deep in the wee hours, I remember a beautifully deep toned 6 chime drifting in that I now know was eastbound no. 6 at 3:10 AM, a Houston-new Orleans mail run.  The T&NO/ SP in general in the earlier days had put deeper toned whistles on engines that protected passenger service, to not be as annoying to passengers I once heard.

I heard these sounds from Day One, and they had everything to do with directing me into a long life with the railroad.

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Bipeflier


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« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2017, 09:21:12 PM »

Nothing except growing up in a small town where the Rock Island and Milwaukee crossed just west of town.  Lots of trains everyday in the 50's while I was a kid.  Vaguely remember the very last of steam on the Rock.  One of my buddies dad was the last station agent in town.  I was always amazed at the moving mail pick up and the agent tapping away on the telegraph.
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rogertra


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« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2017, 10:24:38 PM »

Not actual railroading but I was an active volunteer at Expo Rail, south of Montreal, for ten years.

I helped lay track, instal a turntable, restored diesels to operation condition, did maintenance on diesels, operated diesels switchers during yard service, ran CN 15824, a  doodlebug and other diesels in passenger service and ran a steam loco on  demonstration runs.   I did this for just over ten years.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Roger Traviss
« Last Edit: January 17, 2018, 08:41:23 PM by rogertra » Logged

jward


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« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2017, 07:39:24 AM »

I grew up in a family of railfans, I am a third generation railfan. Trips to the tracks, and model railroads in the cellar were an integral part of my childhood.

Later, I was fortunate enough to work for the railroad for several years. I was involved in the daily operation of the railroad, and learned a lot during those years, including how rough a life where you're constantly on call can be. During this time, NS had taken over Conrail, and I had a front seat view of the problems of a botched takeover, the erosion of service, and the subsequent rebirth of my railroad.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
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