Spencer, Steam Locomotives

Transportation museum fires up coal engine!

Source: http://www.salisburypost.com

The Flagg 75 steam engine spits, coughs, breathes heavily and blows off a lot of steam before it finally moves.

In other words, I can relate.

I hopped into the cab of the 1930 workhorse locomotive Saturday morning as Engineer John Barnett of Raleigh backed it onto the roundtable at the N.C. Transportation Museum.

We took about a quarter turn before locking in and heading south on our warm-up run. The white steam we released made us a moving cloud at first.

On the right side of the cab, Barnett manned the throttle. Also within reach were the reverse gear, the locomotive and train brakes, injectors for water and even levers to release sand for more traction on the tracks.

“It’s easy to operate, but they can be temperamental,” Barnett said of these coal-fired beasts.

Going forward, Barnett can watch the tracks ahead through a small window. Or in forward or reverse, he can poke his head out the side opening, much like a happy dog hanging out the window of his master’s car.

Also on board was Fireman Gil Williams of Lexington, S.C., and Mike Stovall of Greensboro, a fireman in training. All three men are regular transportation museum volunteers who love anything to do with trains and their operation.


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Daniel Boone Railroad, Steam Locomotives, Train Rides in NC

Daniel Boone Railroad – More info coming…

The posts I’ve written about the late Daniel Boone Railroad in Hillsborough are some of the most viewed on the site.

Recently, I received an email from a guy we’ll call “Camo” who has fond memories of riding the train, as I do. He has volunteered to take some new pictures of the area, as well as share some of his old pictures of the RR.

I asked, and soon we’ll have a special guest blog post coming soon from our friend, “Camo.”

Here’s a teaser photo for you. Camo in Hillsborough, in front of old Daniel himself.

Check back soon. More to come…

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Train Wrecks, Uncategorized

Union Pacific Disaster: “Rules Are Rules”

Good news: It was a normal day in  Sharon Springs , KS when a Union Pacific crew boarded a loaded coal train for the long trek to Salina.
The Bad news: Just a few miles into the trip a wheel bearing became overheated and melted, letting a metal support drop down and grind on the rail, creating white hot molten metal droppings spewing down to the rail.
The Good news: A very alert crew noticed smoke about halfway back in the train and immediately stopped the train in compliance with the rules.
The Bad news: The train stopped with the hot wheel over a wooden bridge with creosote ties and trusses.
The crew tried to explain to higher-ups but were instructed not to move the train! They were instructed Rules prohibit moving the train when a part is defective!

But….rules are rules!

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Train Books

Awesome List of Illustrated Train Books

The following are books on railroading and Western America by Lucius Beebe or Lucius Beebe and his partner. Charles Clegg.

1. High Iron: A Book of Trains. (New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1938).
2. Highliners: A Railroad Album (New York: Bonanza Books, 1940).
3. Trains in Transition (New York: Bonanza Books, 1941).
4. Highball: A Pageant of Trains ( New York: Bonanza Books, 1945)
5. The Narrow Gauge Railroads of Colorado (Railway & Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin
No. 671, August 1946).
6. Mixed Train Daily: A Book of Short-Line Railroads. (Berkeley, CA: Howell-North, 1947).
7. Virginia City & Truckee: A Story of Virginia City and Comstock Times (Oakland, CA:
Grahame H. Hardy, 1949).
8. U.S. West: The Saga of Wells Fargo (New York: Dutton, 1949).
9. Legends of the Comstock Lode (Oakland, CA: Grahame H. Hardy,1950).
10. Cable Car Carnival (Oakland, CA: Grahame H. Hardy,1951).
11. Hear the Train Blow: A Pictorial Epic of America in the Railroad Age (New York: Dutton,
12. Comstock Commotion: The Story of the Territorial Enterprise and Virginia City News
(New York: Dutton, 1954).


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Museums, Train Industry, Train Rides in NC

Salisbury Post: N.C. Transportation Museum ready for next chapter

Source: SalisburyPost.com

By Hugh Fisher


SPENCER — Roy Johnson, president of the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation, is looking ahead to a bright new year.

Under his leadership, the organization is making changes to protect itself, and is thriving despite a down economy.

“We’re trying to tell the full story of how transportation developed North Carolina,” he said.

The N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation provides fundraising and political advocacy for the 57-acre museum.

In particular, the foundation has helped acquire millions of dollars in historic artifacts for the museum.

Johnson, a Charlotte-based architect, has been president of the foundation since June.

Under his tenure, the museum has weathered continued fiscal belt-tightening by the state of North Carolina, and has seen visitors to the Spencer museum it supports increase by 15 percent.


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Freight Trains, Train Industry

GE Locomotives Go Green

New technology allows the train’s engine to capture the energy it now wastes, store it in a battery and use it for acceleration.

Click on the image below to watch the video. You’ll have to sit through a 15-second ad, but it’s very interesting.

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Christmas & Trains, Traveling By Train

Riding the rails for holiday travel is up this year

By Denis Cuff
Contra Costa Times

George and Georgia Schumann needed to get across America to spend Christmas with their daughter in Fayetteville, N.C., but they weren’t keen about the rigors of a drive or the hustle and bustle and sardine-can packing of an airline flight.

“My husband likes to “… stretch in his seat. It’s not easy to do in a plane,” Georgia Schumann said. “And we both like the window seat.”

So, the retired couple from San Pablo rode the train, an option that more Americans are choosing this year for the holidays.

Amtrak train ridership nationwide rose 4 percent to a record 659,184 passengers during Thanksgiving week, while airline ridership declined slightly and auto holiday travel was up.

All three types of travel are expected to increase over the next two weeks with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays as travel rebounds along with a partial recovery of consumer confidence, according to a poll commissioned by the American Automobile Association.

“We’re starting to see a rebound after some dismal years for travel,” said Cynthia Harris, a AAA spokeswoman in Northern California. “Train travel is a strong part of that rebound trend.”

Some train users said the rail’s relaxed pace draws them into the coaches. Others say they appreciate the nostalgia of a travel mode that helped settle and develop the nation before losing ground to cars and planes.


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Christmas & Trains, Train Rides in NC

The Polar Express – Underway at The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad


 The Polar Express at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Departs Bryson City

“All Aboard” says the conductor, as your train ride begins. Families are sure to enjoy their trip to the North Pole, complete with cocoa and cookies served on board the train, followed by a reading of The Polar Express™ by Chris Van Allsburg.

Upon arrival at the North Pole, Santa will greet the children and each child will receive their own jingle bell, just like in the story. There will be caroling on board the train as your trip returns to the depot. This is a holiday ride the entire family will enjoy.

Ticket prices start at $38.00 for adults and $26.00 for children ages 2-12.

Children under two years old ride complimentary, but must be seated in an adult’s lap. Premium rates may apply to select dates. For more information and reservations please call 800-872-4681 or visit us online at www.GSMR.com.
First Class seating upgrades are available. Each first class guest will receive a deluxe serving of hot chocolate in a souvenir Polar Express mug, and enjoy short breads and other treats in addition to the standard offerings. First Class fares are $57.00 for adults and $40.00 for children ages 2-12. Children under two years old are $10.00.

Call for reservations and details:

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Amtrak, Train Rides in NC, Traveling By Train

Passenger Train Returns to Western NC


Posted by Jennifer Wig
October 27, 2009

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Several years ago, cities and towns in the foothills and mountains of western North Carolina were anxiously awaiting the return of passenger rail service.

In March 2001, the N.C. Department of Transportation adopted a phased plan to extend passenger rail service to Asheville and western North Carolina. Travelers have often listed Asheville as the No. 1 most requested destination in the United States that does not have Amtrak service. The plan called for passenger trains to run between Salisbury and Asheville with stops in Statesville, Hickory, Valdese, Morganton, Marion, Old Fort and Black Mountain.

The plan also included the renovating or building of train stations that would also have other community uses. Both Marion and Old Fort had their depots extensively renovated and these buildings have since become community centers for special events.

However, state budget constraints prompted the state DOT to delay the return of passenger rail service to the mountains. In the meantime, the department will continue to work with communities on stations and rail safety improvements, according to the N.C. Rail Division’s Web site.


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Christmas & Trains, Train Rides in NC

Make Your Plans To Ride The Polar Express At GSMR!


The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Seasonal Service to the North Pole!

Bryson City, NC – In 1985, Chris Van Allsburg wrote The Polar Express, a story of a magical train ride on Christmas Eve. The train takes a young boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa Claus. “The Polar Express,” published by Houghton Mifflin Company, has become a contemporary holiday classic, with over 6 million copies sold worldwide. In 2004 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. reunited the Academy Award-winning team of Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis in an inspiring animated version. That same year GSMR began operating The Polar Express based on the storybook version. Over 40,000 passengers rode The Polar Express with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in 2008.
The 1 ¼ hour round-trip excursion comes to life as the train departs the Bryson City depot for a journey through the quiet wilderness for a special visit at the North Pole. Guests on board will enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while listening and reading along with the magical story. Children’s faces show the magic of the season when the train arrives at the “North Pole” to find Santa Claus waiting. Santa will board The Polar Express, greeting each child and presenting them with a special gift as in the story, their own silver sleigh bell. Christmas carols will be sung as they return back to the Bryson City Depot. 

The Polar Express 2009 schedule is November 6, 8, 12, 13, 15, & 19 departs at 6:30pm. November 7, 14, 22, 24, 25, & 29 departs at 5:00pm & 6:30pm. November 20, 21, 27, & 28 departs at 5:00pm, 6:30pm, & 8:00pm. December 2, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, & 17 departs at 5:00pm & 6:30pm. December 3, 4, 10, & 11 departs at 11:00am, 5:00pm, 6:30pm, & 8:00pm. December 5, 12, & 19 departs at 2:00pm, 3:30pm, 5:00pm, 6:30pm, & 8:00pm. December 18, 20, 21, 22, & 23 departs 5:00pm, 6:30pm, & 8:00pm.

Ticket prices are $38.00 for adults and $26.00 for children ages 2-12. Children under two years old ride complimentary. For more information and reservations please call 800-872-4681 or visit us online at www.GSMR.com.

First Class seating upgrades are available. Each guest will receive a deluxe serving of hot cocoa in a souvenir Polar Express mug, and enjoy short breads and other treats in addition to the standard offerings. Ticket prices for First Class are $53.00 for adults and $36.00 for children. Children under two years old are $10.00.

Smoky Mountain Trains Museum admission is included with all train excursion tickets. Without train excursion admission is $9.00 for Adults and $5.00 for Children.

About the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad:
With 53 miles of track, 2 tunnels and 25 bridges, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad offers a variety of excursions that explore the amazing landscape of western North Carolina. With the romance and mystique of an era gone by, guests on-board the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad will enjoy scenic train journeys across fertile valleys and through river gorges in a spectacular region near The Great Smoky Mountains. Proud member of the American Heritage Railways family. Visit our sister railroads in southwest Colorado at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and in east Texas at the Texas State Railroad.


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