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Cook Pots and Cabooses

Many have heard of the exquisite and luxurious five-star meals that were served on some of the most elegant and prestigious passenger dining cars for nearly a century. Meals prepared by gourmet chefs with years of culinary training, served by waiters on linen as clean and white as freshly fallen snow. The tables set with…

The Makings of a Country Song – “The Wreck of the Old 97”

Throughout the early days of railroading, there were many accidents and derailments and let’s face it, more than a few people died because of a train. In fact, by 1893, there were more than 400 railway accidents a year in the United States alone! So, what made a particular accident special and recognized above all…

Riding in Style

In the early 1930s, the Great Depression caused a catastrophic loss of business for American railroads. Passenger service had been losing ridership to the fledgling automobile industry since the mid-1920s, and the railroads needed something to catch the public’s eye in order to compete. Railroads needed to lower operating costs of passenger service and boost…

Riding in Style

Riding in Style   In the early 1930s, the Great Depression caused a catastrophic loss of business for American railroads. Passenger service had been losing ridership to the fledgling automobile industry since the mid-1920s, and the railroads needed something to catch the public’s eye in order to compete. Railroads needed to lower operating costs of…

Railroad Mergers: Hits and Misses

Almost since the dawn of the iron horse, there has been an urge to merge railroad companies. It has not always been out of sheer competition, but a way of economy and streamlining business. However, many of these mergers have also driven out the competition. Let’s explore the reasons behind mergers and look at a…

Wartime Restrictions on Passenger Travel

Stuck in the house and can’t travel anywhere? Wondering what the limitations are on seat availability when you can travel again? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? While the cause for travel restrictions today is due to a pandemic, during the late 1930s to the mid-late 1940s it was caused by war. During World War II, passenger…

Stopping a Train

It takes a lot to stop a train—distance, speed, and most importantly, the brakes. Throughout the early days of railroads, more than 650 patents were given to inventors for train brakes. Some were effective, others not so much. In the mid-1800s, railroads relied heavily on handbrakes and sturdy brakemen to bring trains to a stop….

Bridging the Gap

Railroad bridges and train trestles can trace their roots back to the industry’s beginnings. Initially built using stone or wood and later using iron or steel, engineers have designed some quite stunning, sometimes harrowing bridges that not only hold a person but heavy trains as well. Thomas Viaduct One of the first railroad bridges built…

Rollin’ and Regulation

The 1800s were a booming time in the history of the United States railroad industry. The nation was expanding west, and the frontier began to close. Following the Civil War and the Transcontinental Railroad completion, a major driving factor in the country’s economic growth was the railroad industry. Privately owned and unregulated, railroads controlled the…

Union Pacific Challenger: Big Boy’s ‘Little’ Brother

The Big Boy is by far Union Pacific Railroad’s most notorious steam locomotive. From its sheer size to the strength the engine boasts, it is a favorite engine for many railroad fans. However, the Union Pacific Challenger would pave the way as the ‘little’ brother for the famed steam engine.  Looking for new locomotives that…

Clearing Snow, Railroad Style!

Snow removal on the railroad is a job that has been around since the earliest railroads themselves. Railroads were expensive investments; it was a given that they should operate all year long. However, once Old Man Winter starts spreading the snow around, it is exceedingly difficult for trains to run on the rails. Some trains…

Tracks Around the Tree

Many of us have seen the familiar sight of the toy train around the Christmas tree, most often making its way about its infinite oval, sometimes passing a few buildings and observers along the way. A few of the outstanding ones had real smoke coming from the stack and the familiar “whoo-whoo” that would ward…