Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trainstar: Review of Unstoppable

Trainstar, says that Unstoppable is "great train porn." While I may not agree with her wording, it's a great way to sum it up. Check out her review. With two of my own favorite actors, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine (Sgt. Getraer's son, Captain Kirk) in the lead, I realize it's about time that I check it out.

POTD - One Train, Part III

Continuing with part III of this week's theme:

Perhaps the most classic pictures known in railroad photography circles are the approach photos, where a train is approaching on a single set of rails toward the photographer's position. It's a simple shot that a lot of photographers rely on as their "go-to" shot when capturing a train. It doesn't depend much on topography or distance available, unlike the previous two POTDs.

The feeling is one of imminent anticipation. The train is a traveler, passing in only moments. It bears a load from incognito toward parts unknown. It is arriving in only seconds, unrelenting and unhesitating toward its eventual destination. In the moment, it is everything we know of railroads.  It can be a brawny diesel, like this one, or a speeding 4-8-4, a miniature 4-4-0 of the wood-burning, narrow gauge variety, or an F-7 (or even an E-8) with the graceful curves and beauty that made her an icon of American railroading.

By stepping down next to the right of way, Kevin Morgan has put the point of view into the same vantage point most of the world sees trains in their most powerful and acclimated setting. 

Headed by locomotive 5338, a BNSF double-stack intermodal train comes in
for a meet, holding the main with a rather quiet train tied down on the siding
Photo: Kevin Morgan

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

POTD - One Train, Part II

This week's theme is:

I have always been an acolyte of long lens work. There's something about being able to take a great distance and smash it into one 2-dimensional image. It's photography doing what it does best, and photographer Kevin Morgan makes it work well here.

In this case, a telephoto shot that doesn't close the distance, but instead takes a great distance of rail (a half mile?) and shows all the wobbles, variances and sags in something that--at least conceptually--should be stable, straight and strong. The haze on the horizon and subtle air distortions close to the rails makes the shot feel all the more heat laden as the rails all but melt into pools of silver.

A BNSF stack train trundles along under an ardent August sun
toward a meet over rails that look too hot to ride this afternoon
Photo: Kevin Morgan

Monday, August 29, 2011

POTD - One Train

I've had this idea for a theme of POTD, and I'm going to try it out. It's simple:

One train.

That's it. One train for the week. Obviously, we'd need five photos, and not just any photos. Five good photos that show different aspects. What's even better? The guy doesn't even know he did it for me.

Kevin and I have spoke very seldom, but he knows I am a fan. If you've read here for any period, you'd know it too. His web exposure is great because he has his own web site. This site lets you do searches by railroad, location, and even by weather. He e-mails his subscribers when he has new work, describing--sometimes in great detail--his shots and the stories behind them. He's doing what he can to get a core of loyal followers that take an interest in his work. Is he a regular producer? No, but if your work is of sufficient quality, that shouldn't matter. My point in this little diatribe is that it takes more than a good camera and average skills in railroad photography to make things happen.

In the decades before the internet, it took photographers the effort to find receptive clubs to come display their work, to sit down and organize their slides in trays, then haul them off in their car to the club meeting place, usually in the dead of winter, set up a projector and sit in the dark with a bunch of other grown men, and even women, and put your talent on display in front of everyone. Today, it requires a little less physical work, but effort is still a vital part. Learn how to use the tools like Blogger, Twitter, Flickr/SmugMug, Facebook, FeedBurner, Constant Contact, web forums and other, often free tools to increase your ability to interact and bring out your better photos. Making full use of the internet can change everything for you as a photographer and artist.

Diatribe over. Thanks!

Today's Photo of the Day is the basic high-angle, shot from a hill, overpass or other feature that enables a high view showing the tops of the locomotives and cars. Shot usually from the same side as sunlight, the effect is to show the train in the context of it's route. Interesting features of landscape fall second to the features of the train itself. This particular shot has the added benefit of the train curving between two trees that create a natural frame for the shot. The train is now part of the land, not just passing over or through it. What looks like just a shot of train at first glance is instead a carefully composed subject in its context.

Time: 11:52 AM

BNSF Double stacks are rare on the Front Range of Colorado
but this train seems as much a part of the land as the earth itself
Photo: Kevin Morgan

Friday, August 26, 2011

Amtrak's California Zephyr Hits Crane, Derails - 22 Hurt

Photo: Nebraska State Patrol
Amtrak's California Zephyr left Colorado and ran into a crane. That's essentially what happened to Thursday's train out of Denver in the early morning hours of today in Benkelman, Nebraska. At least 22 people were injured. The AP has the complete story.

POTD - Beneath One Bridge and Over Another

Rounding out this week's theme for Photo of the Day of Tennessee Pass, Carl Weber returns to Colorado Railroads with a worthy photo indeed! How could I not include Red Cliff? Those who haven't been, should, despite the lack of rail traffic. The town is as aptly named as any. Good way to go out on a Friday.

It's September 4, 1990 and the warmth belies the proximity to autumn and aspen gold.
Rio Grande SD40T-2 5379 passes beneath the soaring US 24 bridge at Red Cliff, Colorado
Photo: Carl Weber, B_And_A_Fan collection

PS: If you love Tunnel Motors, check out 5379's factory fresh paint job in 1977.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

POTD - Minturn Years Later and Months Before

We are in Minturn for the second time this week for Photo of the Day and our theme of Tennessee Pass. This time, however, we are only a few months away from the Southern Pacific merger with the Union Pacific, 5 years to the day before 9/11.

The sun glares off the remarkably clean and unaltered nose of Geep 3099 as
she leads a colorful consist and train into the yard at Minturn in July 1996.
Photo: John Jauchler

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

POTD - At the Summit, Cresting the Continent

Colorado Railroads continues the theme of Tennessee Pass for Photo of the Day by going to the summit of Tennessee Pass, where a tunnel pierces the divide, emerging after half a mile on the other side of the pass.

Railblazer is a veritable shrine to the Rio Grande. It hasn't been updated in 4 years and the photos are small by today's standards, yet I can't help but go to it to find vintage photos of the Grande in her glory.

Geep 3117 a GP40-2 is westbound on Tennessee Pass in September 1980.
In seconds, she'll plunge with her stable-mates into the tunnel beneath the summit
Photo: Railblazer

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

POTD - Has Anyone Seen My Right-of-way?

It's hard to believe that only 10 years before this photo was taken, this right-of-way was part of a well-maintained transcontinental railroad system, a vital national link carrying goods and commodities from Pueblo and points east to Salt Lake City and points west. In 2006, It's hard to see it among the weeds as nature attempts to reclaim the land for its own use.

A ballast train eases itself along the weed-choked main at first is east of MP 325
east of Eagle,Colorado on June 29, 2006. Rusted rails makes you go slow as snails
Photo: Todd Busse
PS: If you'd like to see more of Todd's trip, he posted some of his photos on

Mudhen 463 Frame Mated To Boiler In Mammoth Crane Event

Some great news has come out of Monte Vista this month! Denver & Rio Grande Western steam engine 463 has taken a major step in her return to steam. The frame and boiler were finally mated back together at last. Everything appears to be on schedule for the K-27 class Mudhen to return to steam at the beginning of the 2012 Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad summer season.

Monday, August 22, 2011

POTD - Theme of the Week - Tennessee Pass

This fourth week of August, our POTD theme is Tennessee Pass. I know that a lot of folks would like to see the line return to service. Conversely, I know a lot of Eagle valley residents would just as soon it never run again. Yet Minturn was a railroad town from the start, and that's where we start today. Tomorrow, we'll visit Eagle.

EMD SD45 #5319 pulls into Minturn, a crew change point, on 11/12/76.
Rebuilt to SD40M-2 by MK Rail, she now works for the UP as 4704.
Photo: John Carr, CarrTracks Data: UtahRails.Net

Friday, August 19, 2011

Colorado Railroad Museum To Lay 300 Feet of Track August 27th

This next Saturday, August 27th, Colorado Railroad Museum will be laying 300 feet of track in one day, with some help. Here's the news straight from the Telegrapher,
FasTracks West Rail Line Contractors and Denver Transit Construction Group are donating all the materials, including track, ties, and ballast, equipment, and labor to build 300 feet of standard gauge track in a single day.