Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out and Back, part 1, Alexandria

I begin my Washington out and back with arrival in Alexandria. My parents moved to northern Virginia while I was in college, so I would go home to there. At that time, Alexandria station was primarily a Southern RR station. Though, technically, it was a union station, jointly used with the RF&P. But at this time, it was only Southern and Amtrak that used the station. RF&P had turned over their few remaining trains, to Amtrak. Southern still ran the Southern Crescent, which stated as two trains, the Southerner and the Crescent, Limited. One was a Pullman train and the other coach only. When Pullman had to give up with monopoly. SRR bought the Pullmans and combined the two train into the Southern Crescent, an overnight train from Washington to Atlanta, with three trains a week going on to New Orleans.

I first saw the Crescent as  I was going home for a break from Virginia Tech. I followed the Southern RR for a portion and happen to see the Crescent on its way south.  In addition to the Crescent, the Southern was still running a daylight limited train called the Piedmont. In fact, the Piedmont, today, is a NC supported train running on NS tracks. I don't recall if it continued on to New Orleans.

In fact, when I first started watching, in Alexandria, SRR was running locals. If you saw these in Alexandria, they were one car, an old heavyweight.

South of Alexandria, the locals took on more engine power and a string of piggybacks.

to be continued

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

First Days

My Christmas time began as always, with visit with family. Christmas eve until Sat. after. My tradition is to return to Richmond, VA to commune with my home church. I stay until Jan. 1 enjoying new years eve with old friends.

Following Church, I went to lunch with an old friend. She had to work that evening so I drove to one of my favorite watching site, Hermitage Rd. crossing the CSX.  When I lived in Richmond, 25 years ago, it wasn't my favorite. I don't think that I thought much about watching that site. For one thing, it is within view of the Staples Mill Station.

When I lived in Richmond, I loved the RF&P Shops. It was a fascinating shop in the pre merger and early merger days. You had every kind of paint. RFP, SCL, ACL, B&O, C&O, all together. It was also before the loss of the caboose and you had the caboose line, to view. Now it is all CSX. I did go over to Fulton, but that is gone these days. My favorite crossings were at Mountain RD or Laural. but today there is no place to park.

I arrived, to find that Silver Star more than 2 hours late. I was just leaving the station and I did not get to set up, to video. Almost behind it, the NE Regional arrived. I did get in position in time. I got to the Hermitage Rd crossing only a few minutes later,

On the heels of Amtrak, or rather shortly after came a southbound Pig train.

EOD (end of {trainwatching} day)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

More Planning

It took a bit of speculation and adjusting to get the best itinerary for DC. By the time I get to Washington, all VRE have run and only a few run until evening. The same is true of Silver Spring MD, all the outbound are evening and all inbound morning, before I can arrive. So here is the plan. Arrive via northeast regional into Alexandria. I will only see a couple of VRE trains and a couple of Amtrak.

After a couple of hours, I will take the DC Metro to New New Carrolton, station where I get MARC and Amtrak, under wires. I will see some Accelas, as well. Back into DC and a couple of hours for watching the new streetcars. Well, that is if they are running. Than the remainder of the afternoon to Silver Spring to watch the diesel MARC and one Amtrak. Now for Richmond. VRE to Fredericksburg and Amtrak to Richmond. So all told, I will ride MARC both under wires and diesal, Amtrak, and even VRE. A long day but should be worth it.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Planning Ahead

It has been a few months since my last excursion. Of course, I keep an eye on the local rail traffic. I live close to the route of Amtrak's Silver Star and listen for it's whistle when it is due. I have been looking toward vacation this summer. I have narrowed it to New England but more on that later. First, I need to get past Christmas. As you remember, I take some time and go to Richmond, VA. I spent a number of years living there and the weekend after Christmas, I spend in Richmond. I will add days until New Years Day, to that.

Several years, I began a new tradition. As you recall, Norfolk, VA began their new light rail, The Tide. I wanted to see it in operation so I took a day trip from Richmond to Norfolk to see the Tide. Last year, I continued with the tradition and took a day trip, by train, to Baltimore to see the B&O Museum. When I thought about this year, I had several options open. One was not a rail fan option. I could spend the day in Williamsburg, touring Colonial Williamsburg. I spent almost 20 years in Williamsburg, with 10 years with the foundation. I was a costume craftsman in the bookbindery. I have spent more than 25 years away from Williamsburg and have been in the Restored area only once since I left. And, that was not to tour. So this would be touring session in town.

I notice that DC has streetcars on the agenda. They were supposed to begin in November, but I have not found were they have actually started service. I could take my day trip on the chance of seeing them in operation. It could be like the Atlanta trip, all over again. I did plan a full fan trip, just in case. Perhaps to replace the streetcars.

Washington, Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland, as the following rail watching opportunities. Alexandria, Va train station. Now Amtrak, it was once a union station shared between the Southern and RF&P Railroads. I is primarily in the style of Southern Stations, complete with under the track walk through. The classic is Washington Union Station. I has been remodeled over the years, but still a classic. Rail service includes The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) offering commuter service to Manassas and Fredericsburg. DC Metro offers subway and third rail service in the District and suburbs. Of course course, there is the Maryland commuter Rail (M.A.R.C.). One the corridor, they use electrics and on the other lines, they use diesel.

Two good locations for the MARC would be New Carrolton, on the Corridor and Silver Spring, on the Brunswick line and powered by diesel. Three locations would be ideal. At first, there wasn't a good way to take in all three.

Monday, August 25, 2014


As I reflect on this vacation, I first reflect on what did I miss. First I missed Nashville and Memphis, TN. This was a planning thing as I chose before leaving not to go that direction. Nashville may never be seen, as the closest Amtrak stop is almost 200 miles. Memphis would be interesting. Overnight to Chicago, overnight to Memphis, overnight back to Chicago and overnight back home. I had speculated that hitting all my railroad targets in Chicago could be done in one day. Memphis could be done in less than a day but could be stretched to a full day if I explored Mudd Island. Of course I could expand Chicago to two full days, if I included some train riding as a part of the targets.

Atlanta streetcars just were not running because of construction delays. Interesting that in my first plans, Atlanta was a stop because it was on the way. It was only later that I learned of the streetcars. This remind me of one of my first chases. I learned that Amtrak had ordered the SPV2002 for use on the New Haven to Springfield run. The SPV2000 was an update RDC, styled like Amfleet. They were designed for branch operation and afterward be connected behind Amfleet, for through car service. They speculated they would be online by the end of April. I arrived in New Haven on April 22 and was to return on April 24. I arrived to find the old RDCs still in use and nothing of the SPV2000s to be found. I arrived home without seeing them. My next issue of Trains had pictures of the SPV2000s in service, on April 26, two days after I left. PS. It was a great excuse to go back a year later. And I did get pictures of the RDCs.


SPV 2000

When I began watching trains, the train chase was when I would watch a train pass, taking pictures as it passed. Than I would jump in the car and work to get ahead of the train so I could take more pictures as it pass by again. This was repeated often, for a particular consist. When I first used the title The Great American Train Chase, I was using a railfan's title, but not a real train chase. As I was thinking about, a train chase is anything that we view a runby and run to catch another, such as my overnight to Boston. Even that three days in CT and MA

The streetcars are projected, now, to start operation at the end of  November. I could return to see them. Atlanta is an easy overnight from Washington, DC. I have done it a couple of times before. The first was when Southern was still running it and again a couple of years later, when I wanted to go to Atlanta to take a steam excursion. I might even find other targets to see when there.

I did miss the SunRail in Orlando and the Skyway in Jacksonville, FL. I had done a projection for a Northern Fl, chase via Amtrak and found Tampa to Orlando to Jacksonville would be a problem. After getting home, I did the projection for Jacksonville to Orlando and found it to be tight, but when I change the projection for Orlando to Jacksonville, the chase became very doable.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Public Art and Spaces

Public Art and Spaces

Those who have seen my blog before know that I have a thing for public and art. Some are monuments but still art. The first is at Chattanooga Choo Choo

In Atlanta the primary examples that I pictured was in one square

Stone Mountain had this item

Of Courss there is the monument itself

Tampa had an beautiful designed Plaza and the Convention Center.

Of course Tampa had some good expamples of public Art

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 7 & 8

It was the night of the sixth day. I arrived in Orlando, FL rather late. I bypassed Disney. The skyline of Orlando was very attractive, however, due to traffic and lighting, I did not get any pictures. I just looked on the web and here are a couple:
Past downtown, I did have the opportunity to pace the Amtrak Silver Star as it left Orlando. This was only by chance.

So! It is morning of Day 7. My plan was to go by the Amtrak Station and watch mostly the SunRail, Orlando's new commuter rail. I was about a block from the station when the question came to me, did SunRail operate on Sundays. Well! It did not.

Now, onward to Jacksonville. In Jacksonville was the JTA Skyway, I stopped by the Colosseum station, and (guess what), it did not operation on Saturdays or Sundays.

Now, onward to Savanna, GA. It was almost halfway home and a good end to the day. There is the Riverside Streetcar, which runs on weekend and in the afternoon. I arrived after 1 and it was not running.

Day 8 is on the road home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day 6, Part 2, Tampa, FL

After the S.A.M. Shortline's excursion left the station, I preceded to Tampa, FL. First destination was the airport to view and video the airport's people mover, a monorail.

During my visit, I took the orputnity to go to one of the gift shops and get my Florida. Tampa is only to watch trains so it is not a destination needing a mug. The parking deck was a very good location to view and photograph the skyline of Tampa:

In addition to the people mover, I wanted to watch the TECO Streetcars, downtown. I set up near the convention center:

at the stop called Dick Greco Plaza Station.

I took video here and other locations, close by.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 6, Part 1, Cordele, GA, S.A.M. Shortline

After my Stone Mountain day out, I drove to Cordele, GA to see the S.A.M. Shortline, which runs excursions several times a week. I drove downtown, but the way was blocked by a train. It happened to be a Norfolk Southern, waiting to cross the diamond. However, before crossing, a CSX freight approaches the diamond. There they spare because the signal was not working. The NS goes first:

Than the CSX. I had time so I went to the gift store an bought two patches, one for the shirt and one for the display. They did not have mugs.

While waiting, came the SAM Excursion, waiting to be placed.

And finally another CSX.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 5, Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain Park was more of an afterthought. In the current plan, I decided to make it a destination. All that I had learned, in my initial research, was that it was the site of a civil war memorial, on an order of Mount Rushmore. There is the Stone Mountain Railroad, a scenic railroad, encircling the park. It was the remains of the quarry railroad, when there was stone being extracted from the hills. To make things more interesting is the skyride up the mountain and the high view, with a view of Atlanta, in the distance. OK, it is worth a try. I have a emotional problems with civil war memorials. I use to be very interested in the Civil War. I had be been to Appomattox a number of times. In fact I had an ancestor who had land four miles from the surrender site. In my childhood, I was a proud Southerner. My problem is as an liberal white man, I have a guilt associated with the South's defense of slavery. I have the problem in that it is a grave injustice perpetrated by my ancestors. I have several where it is documented, who owned slaves. I can't just say to myself that it was not me. But they were family. The other problem is that it is history, get over it. Hardly!!!! The question is how to deal with it.

I arrived early, before the attractions opened. I had a chance to walk around before crowds got heavy. That made it nice as far as picture taking. Yes! I did get a picture of the memorial, but not the Memorial Hall.

I made my way to Crossroads area. I was the second car there. I walked around and perused the gift store and got my mug and patch. It was here that the train would leave. Not a very good place to picture the train.

I videoed the first train out and found a good crossing. One problem, the visitors at that point were hiking to the summit or returning. Some were circling the lake. They had no respect for the train watcher, I was. Here are my views of the train:

OK! Finally then skyride. I did not take to the summit but did get these views:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 4, Atlanta

The original plan was to visit Rock City on this morning. However, I thought that I would forgo that for this trip. So now I leave Chattanooga early and not head for Atlanta, GA. I made one major change in my itinerary. I had, originally planned to park, one stop from the airport, and use that as my operation center. From there, I would do my visit of the Plane train at the airport and than take  MARTA down to Peachtree Center to look at the progress on the streetcars. I was not sure of what to expect but suspected that the streetcars were yet to run.

I took MARTA to the airport. MARTA is identical to the Washington Metro and come under my heading of subway, although above ground for most of its paths. It is third rail with its own separate line. It if for that reason that I do not have any pictures or video of MARTA. Arriving at the airport, I went to the SkyTrain and took it too the rental car facility. There, I too a series of videos from different windows. They are pasted together here:

I had considered getting an Atlanta mug while there, but Atlanta was only a rail watching destination, not a destination destination. I only looked for railroads, except for some public space art and the streetcar line. And at a couple of stops, the view of the Atlanta skyline.

I was tempted to do a slideshow of the last two frames and label it the Atlanta Streetcars operating on July, 2014. Yes, they were not running, as yet. I talked with someone who would know and he said that projected, they are not to run until end of November. Merry Christmas, I guess.

I arrived back to Perimeter Mall and proceded to Stone Mountain. I had made hotel reservation near the main gate. There I spent the night before visiting the park, the next day.

There was a good reason for parking at the Mall rather than near the airport. Stone Mountain is east of Atlanta, the northern par of Atlanta. The mall would mean a more direct path to the park. Besides, I would not have to backtrack on my way south.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dsy 3, part 2, Chattanooga Choo Choo and beyond.

The Railroad Museum was worth the stopover in Chattanooga. On the way back to Lookout Mountain, I took a very short detour to visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo, It is a nice hotel in the old Chattanooga train station. To keep with the theme they have railroad cars and railroad themed attraction out back where the platforms use to be. Some of which are still standing with gardens.

In one of the gift shops that inhabit the place, I got a mug and patch. It not being a railroad place, I only got one patch for my dispay wall.

My plan was to return to Lookout Mountain and take the incline to the top. Again, I chickened out and just videoed it from the base. I did get a patch for the Incline in their gift shop. I had gotten the mug, yesterday.

These past two days proved to be good. I did not go up the incline but did make it to the top of Lookout Mountain. It was not a photographic view. It was still nice. The Museum was very good.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day 3, part 1: Tennesee Valley Railroad Musuem

About 35 years ago, I came to Chattanooga to take a steam excursion. The afternoon before the excursion, I was exploring and drove past the Lookout Mountain Incline RR. I didn't have time to take it and I had the excursion, the next day, so I put it off one more day. The morning, I was to take it, it was foggy. On this trip, my original plan to go up the incline, today. Yesterday was sunny. Guess what? This morning is (wait for it) foggy. Thank goodness I went to the top of Lookout Mountain, yesterday, when I arrived. However, my plan was to go up in the afternoon and maybe the fog will burn itself off before then.

First stop on my plan is the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. I arrived early and was the first car in the parking lot. I took a look at the static display as I waited for the first excursion of the day.

The Norfolk Southern past by the Museum, There were a few freights passing and I would loved to videoed them but I was always in the wrong place. For instance, I was in the gift shop, getting my two patches, two styles, and my mug, when one came by.

Now is time for the excursion. In this case, because of the turntable, and the fact that the whole excursion would amount to an hour or so, I decided to ride, for a change. One note, I did not tour the shops but held back to video the reconnect of the engine for the return:

After the return, I waited for the next excursion, while having lunch. I saw it leave:

Note that there was a switching operation behind the train and I got a part of that, as well:

To be continued.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Day 2, part 3, Lookout Mountain Incline Railway

I arrived in Chattanooga, much earlier than my prospectus. I had planned to arrive and go to Ruby Falls. I dove up to Ruby Falls, went into the gift shop and bought a mug for my collection. I remembered coming to Chattanooga many years earlier. I did see the falls but had a problem with my claustrophobia. The close in nature of a full elevator was a problem, but the real was the cavern, with no ready exit. That is the true nature of my claustrophobia, not so much the small space but the lack of control on exiting the small space. I had seen the cavern and falls so decided not to do that again.

My prospectus had my now travel to a bridge crossing the incline railroad on Lookout Mountain. There was a gift shop next to the overlook. I found in the shop a mug for Tennessee, and Chattanooga, as expected. But was pleased to fine one for the incline railroad and, to my surprise, one for Georgia.

I spent some time filming the incline railroad. I did get more on the next day and this video combines all:

Since I had gotten here earlier than anticipated, I drove all the way to the to of Lookout Mountain. It was a nice high view my not photogenic. I have learned that in the past that not all pretty views are photogenic. I drove back to the motel and had dinner and a restful sleep.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Day 2, part 2, Some Odd Equiptment

My time at Copperhill, GA appeared to be ending but as I heading out of town, there was a RR yard. In the year were interesting equipment. Two caught my attention. The first was an engine painted and labeled the N.C, & St. L. That one was new to me. I got some pictures and video, before heading on my way:

That night, I searched the Web and found that the Railroad was thr Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway. And 710 was painted by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. I learned in Chattanooga, that they occasionally run excursions to Copperhill, that is why the engine is there. Also, I learned that they own and maintain the Southern heavy weight.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day 2, part 1, Blue Ridge Railroad

My night stay was less than an hour drive to Blue Ridge, GA, all I needed this morning. An early start arrived me in Blue Ridge well ahead of the scheduled excursion. I got some picture of along side the railroad with some added structures to the old station. There wasn't much beyond the excursion train at the station. So I begin with slides of the area:

Now, I took a look in the gift shop. It was typical of scenic railroad gifts. There is the required Engineers caps with RR logo. A variety of tee and sweat shirts are everywhere. Glassware like shot glasses tumblers and mugs become a staple. We find various toy trains, Brio and the like, with the most popular being Thomas the Tank Engine. Of course we find patches for the railroad. I got my patch for the RR shirt and one for my display wall. There was a mug that I had to have. Here I found the railroad patches for those that I don't have, the ones that are sewn to my RR shirt. I use to collect 4 from each excursion and museum. I have most of the large railroads, including the heritage.

I had not planned on chasing the train to Copperhill. The first route, according to Google, did not even come close to the tracks. One of the suggested routes did cross the tracks at one point. Google indicates that the drive would take 20 minutes. According to the website, the excursion to Copperhill would take an hour. So, could easily make the crossing and be in Copperhill in plenty of time for the train to arrive there.

I set up in a parking lot just north of the station, waiting for the first runby. After the train had passed I made my way to the crossing. I was doing well for in less than a mile, I had almost passed the train. I had plenty of time at the crossing. I set my camcorder on a fence post and stood back to watch for the train. The next runby came by chance. My planning through Google street view, found a nice side road which ran beside the railroad, with time, I followed about a mile and found a Church yard over looking the tracks and up hill.

So here is the chase:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 1: Reflection

All in all a good experience. I did make a mistake in the schedule and thought that there was the second excursion. Even before taking pictures, I took a stroll into the gift shop. This is a railroad destination so I got a patch for my excursion shirt. It is also a destination so I got a patch for my wall display. OK, I got a mug, for my collection of mugs, but it was a extra, not standard souvenir.

Reflecting back on The Great Smokey Mountain RR, there would be some possible changes. In reality, I prefer to watch or chase rather than ride. I left Bryson City and went through the gorge to Blue Ridge. I spent the night half way between Bryson City and Blue Ridge. I found the gorge pretty and watching the rafters and kyakers was fascinating. If I had the chance to go again, I more likely arrange to take the gorge trip, just for the fun.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day 1, Great Smokey Mountain Railroad

My plans are always changing, being fine tuned. In the end, it is just a plan subject to change as I go. As I begin day one, I note that I have started each day, in my plans, at 9:00. However, my day may start earlier, therefore more might be done than planned. Day one actually started at 7:45 rather than 9:00. I got things done faster and earlier than I gave myself allowance.

This meant that I arrived at the Smokey Mountain Railroad, around one o'clock rather than 2 as originally been speculated. The trip of the Gorge was due so I took some pictures around the place:

Than the Daily Excursion returned and I got video:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Planning Vacation, part 6b

When it comes to railfanning, I am as much a sportsman as anything. There is nothing more thrilling than the train chase. Even when I go and stand beside the tracks, waiting for a train to pass, it is a form of chase. In fact, most railfan excursions have all the elements of hunting. We have targets to hip, trains to see. Very often it is watch here and get to another place to watch there.

I have other interest, as well. I do pay attention to "Public Art:" Sculpture, painting, architecture, public space layout, and (yes) graffiti. When I see it on vacation, I will take pictures and will talk about it in this blog. I guess, in a sense the rock sculpture of Stone Mountain is public art, although I am ashamed of the subject matter.

Stone mountain has the sky ride which I find interesting and the high view. In one picture file on my computer is the category :High view at Cass. View of scenery over the valley and mountains of WVA (from nearly 35 years ago.) Remember the view of Pittsburg from the mountain or the view of Boston from the Prudential Tower.

Of course, there is my love of Skylines, cityscapes. In this way the top of Stone Mountain will give the high view and a high view of the skyline of Atlanta (so I am told). And of course there is the Stone Mountain Railroad.

I have done more detail planning, such as my time spent in Chattanooga. Most is centered around how best to get the most of my time, more than a real detail plann.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Planning Vacation, part 6a

Initial planning for Vacation 2014 began early in the winter, maybe earlier. I went through a number of out and back excursions for train watching. To that I added a few week or two extended railfan trips. All this was simply to keep my sanity on cold winter nights, alone. Most were merely project with no real intention of doing. I told how this evolved for this vacation. It started as a excursion across Tennessee. When it decided to take this trip this summer, I added Atlanta, GA because Google Maps put the fastest return trip from Memphis, as being through Atlanta. From there the evolution of the excursion developed. Even in the last several weeks, there was further refinements and changes made. I did add the Memphis stop to the Chicago out and back. And, soon, I will be packing the car and heading out.

These are the last minutes preparations for an unmarried railfan and his vacation. Remember that I have other interest in addition to railroads. In fact, this vacation is more railfan than I usually do. Being alone, I have certain things I do not like to do. Amusement parks are one. I might find their park train or monorail or streetcars interesting, but that is not enough for me to spend a day's admission to enter. If there is a way to see them without going in, I will. Remember my video of Tweetsie RR, last year. For that reason, I have not planned any side trips to Disney World, while in Orlando.

I use to love Civil War sites, in my younger days. I do have many slides of Appomattox, seeing that I went past there  between my home (at the time) in Richmond VA and my Grandparent's in Lynchburg VA. There are other sites I would love to see. But, now I am a suffer from single white man's guilt, which makes Civil War Sites not so interesting. When I go by them, it is more an act of repentance than anything else. That is why it took me so long to decide to go to Stone Mountain. It being almost a shrine to that part of American Shame. I am not talking about the war but the main cause: the enslavement of humans in bondage, based on race.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Planning Vacation, part 4

The entire trip would take 10 days, by my planning. If I deleted northern Florida, the trip would take only 7 days. However, I would miss one people mover, one streetcar, one commuter rail, and one monorail. You notice that I did not include Disney World, in my original plans. It was not really worth the time and money, for just the monorail. I am not a big amusement park person.

If I delete Nashville and Memphis, I only loose one streetcar, one monorail and one commuter rail. However, it will take 8 days. Nashville's commuter rail would be lost. As to Memphis, we have a lot, not just streetcars and monorail, However, we could add it to our out and back to Chicago, later. Of course, I may never take that trip, but it could be hoped for.

So! my original Tennessee trip plus two scenic railroads, turns out to omit all of Tennessee except for Chattanooga. I can live with that. So the new trip plan includes Chattanooga, Atlanta (including Stone Mountain), and coming across Florida. One other thing, a stop around, Savanna, GA would break up the trip, nicely.That will give me a chance to see their River Street Streetcar.

Now that I have my plan, I did look ahead to see about souvenirs. In my discussion of them, I collect on trips a mug for each attraction, city in which I explored, and state that I visited. I don't collect one in states that I just pass through or cities that I just watch trains, for the most part. However, if it was more than just train watching or passing through than, of course, I will get one. For train related attractions, such as scenic railroads, railroad museums I will get a patch for my excursion shirt and one for my display. For parks and some museums, I will get a patch just for the display. The one attraction that is difficult to decide is incline railways. I would call it a mug occasion but also a patch occasion. They are railways, but not museum oriented, unless preserved. When in Pittsburgh, last year, at the top of Duquesne Incline, there was a gift shop which had mugs but not patches. I chose the mug but found a patch on EBay. For future use I have urges on both. A patch would be best but in reality is a basic attraction. I have decided to make it a patch occasion. A mug might be gotten as an extra.

Just for fun and interest, I looked at the potential sties and looked at which I might get where. Remember, all this is just a project, projecting potential and when reality hits, I will make last minute changes.

 Shirt   Stretcher   Mug 
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, Scenic Railroad, NC yes yes  
Georgia     yes
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Scenic Railroad, GA yes yes  
Tennessee     yes
Chattanooga, TN      yes
Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, TN      yes
Incline Railway, Chattanooga, TN    yes  
Chattanooga Choo Choo, Chattanooga, TN    yes  
Battles For Chattanooga Museum, Chattanooga, TN   yes  
Tennessee Valley Railroad, Chattanooga, TN    yes  
Point Park, Chattanooga, TN    yes  
Rock City Gardens, Chattanooga, TN      yes
Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, TN        yes 
Atlanta, GA     yes
Stone Mountain, GA   yes  
Stone Mountain Scenic RR, GA yes yes  
S.A.M. Shortline, GA yes yes  
Florida     yes
Savanna, GA     yes
Vacation is planned, dates to be announced afterward to protect myself, as you might see.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Planning Vacation, part 3

So! I have set start and now need to look at finish. A Google Map search, for directions from Memphis to home, takes me though Atlanta GA. From what I would like to see, as far as railroads are concerned, there is a people mover at the Atlanta Airport. We find that public transit also included MARTA. I label this form of rail as third rail. Like Metro in D.C. It is similar. When I began planning, I first learned of proposed streetcar, under construction (back in February). It was proposed for start up in May. This would be great, to watch and video fresh tracks.

Near Atlanta, is Stone Mountain Railroad, a scenic railroad around Stone Mountain. The railroad is pulled by diesel but still nice to view. Not only that, they have a cable car to the top of the mountain with a great view (I like scenic views) of Atlanta skyline (I love scenic views of skylines). The only drawback is their is a carved relief on the side of mountain of Southern Civil War generals and leaders. That bothers this old guilty white liberal southern man. It is partly in guilt over the whole notion of enslaving whites. To make matters worse, we had to fight a civil war to try to preserve such vial practice. And now to commemorate such and such.

On one hand, it is history not current events. I am too old to know the realities of slavery. However, it was my white ancestors that enslaved, abused, and profited off the flesh of others. The war was history. Another way to look at it is such monuments are monuments of reflection for the forgiveness of our sins. Bringing candles and offerings of penance for an ancestral life lived wrong. A place where we wow to never let that happen again, and to do all within our power to prevent it from happening. I look upon Memorial Day as a day of penance to mourn the sin of war and our unwitting or willing complicity. I had more I could say but will put aside that for now. South of Atlanta is the S.A.M. Shortline, another scenic railroad. Another place to stop to see the train.

Atlanta would have been good, if including Stone Mountain. However, Atlanta is a fairly close drive to Tamp, FL and a drive across northern Florida through Jacksonville before heading north to home. Tampa has a plane train to enjoy. Besides that, we can see street car action in town. Jacksonville has a monorail as public transportation.

Trying to update things, I learned that Orlando was beginning commuter rail in May.....WOW. Another new thing to see.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Planning Vacation, part 2

So! I will drive across TN as my vacation, I emphasis, for the most part, will be the watching of trains: one commuter Rail, one set of light rail, one incline, and one museum. Of course, there are sites not associated with railroads. My next step is to set up getting there and getting home. In looking at Google Maps and laying out my trip to Chattanooga, My first look, add 10 minutes to the trip, I end up going past Bryson City. Bryson City is the home of the Great Smokey Mountain Scenic Railroad. From Bryson City to Chattanooga we could swing by Blue Ridge and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad, an addition of only 30 minutes to the travel.

When it comes to scenic railroads, I have mixed feelings. I do love to see them and video and photograph them. When it comes to riding, I have the questions. Steam excursions are one thing. I will ride behind steam. Railfan excursions are another. The become fun because of the mutual interest of the riders as well as the occasional photo runby, along the tracks. My favorite is the Cass Scenic Railroad Railfan Weekend, every April. They had three days of riding with the Shays and four or five runbys on each trip. Besides these, they had a night photo session.

When it comes to Diesels, I am particular. Unless there is something photogenic, I am not prone to take the time to ride, but will chase, if I can. These two scenic railroads would fit into this last category. In looking at both, The trip to Chattanooga plus the bypass to see both the Blue Ridge and Great Smokey Mountain Scenic Railroads, would only be one day longer than the travel from home to Chattanooga, alone.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Planning Vacation, part 1

I planned out some good train watching, over the past years. These were done only as "projects'" something to do on boring evenings or when I got obsessed over watching. I have taken one as my plan for vacation. In laying out the original, I began with a location. In this case I am looking to Tennessee. I have created a list of railfan destinations so I go to that list and look up Tennessee. It contains list of shortlines, scenic railroads, Light rails, and monorails. In my interest I set aside shortlines as they are not a priority during vacation, maybe watched on a daytrip.
There are three locations that are good. First is Chattanooga where there is, of course, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Another place is the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway. I remember,when I first went to Chattagooga, back in the early eighties. I went, primarily to take a Southern Steam Excursion. I got there early, the day before and decided to explore and found myself at Lookout Mountain and the incline RR. It was too late to ride it, and I had the excursion the next day so I put off the mountain another day. The day came and the fog was all the way down to the base of the mountain, so I never did ride the incline but did get to see Ruby Falls and one Civil War site.
I remember all those barn roofs with the advertisement for Rock City and think that might be interesting. My interest, other than railroads, include scenery. I use to like Civil War sites but in my recent white man's guilt, I don't seek out civil war sites but see them as my might as well sites. That is, since I am in town I might as well look at a civil war site. From Chattanooga, my attention go the the next place on my list, Nashville. Nothing there except commuter rail. It would be a good overnight stop and it would give me the chance to video the commuter rail. A major highlight of this trip would be Memphis. It has one of the few hanging monorails in the country. Besides there is light rail, streetcars, and a few other places of interest.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Souvenirs, again

Following my visit to Baltimore, I began to think  about souvenirs, again. I collect a souvenir from states, cities, restaurants, and attractions. State souvenirs are only collected is I stop in the state for an attraction. If I just spend the night, than not. Cities are collected if I came to look at all of the city or more than one attraction. As a railfan, watching trains in a city does not warrant a souvenirs, unless another attraction is visited. 

As I mentioned before, I collect both mugs and patches. Patches are collected for parks, living museums (restored villages), some restored homes and other museums. Of course I get a patch for a scenic train and railroad museum. However, occasionally, I get the mug and an optional patch or get the mug and an optional patch. I might even get two or more.

Since vacation, I began to realize that I don't always have the opportunity to purchase my souvenir on site. It might take some looking to find it or I do not have time to look. I am not looking back afterward and filling in the gaps. I do this usually by looking on line. I am even going back to early vacations and looking.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Monday to Baltimore, MD, part 2

After the museum, I was time to head back to Penn Station in Baltimore. I took the bus to the light rail. Than north to Cultural Center station stop. I chose a good spot to set up for video. I did not setup a tripod but set the camcorder on a bench. I started the video and stood back and watched.
For the time that I watched, I was not approached by police. I say that in joke. I was wearing my Virginia Tech cap. I so happens that every time I got approached by police, I was wearing that same cap. I caused me to think that there was something about that cap. Besides, Baltimore has a reputation for police mistrust of railfans. It may have been the lack of tripod, and my not handling the camera that was the key.

Monday to Baltimore, MD, part 1

The original plan, to visit Baltimore, MD, centered around the light rail. It would have been nice to see MARC both desiel and electric. Since I would be close, the B&O railroad Museum would be a good visit. I hand been to the museum, thirty or so years ago. There has been many changes and event since then, such as the collapse of the roof of the old roundhouse. I took the northeast regional from Richmond. I arrived and boarded the light rail. The operator of the car, I was on, gave me good directions, as to bus transfer. I arrived at the museum and spent several hours, watching. I got video of the exhibits and the train rides.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sunday afternoon

After church and a nice dinner, I headed to the heritage toad crossing to watch trains. I arrived in time for 80, Amtrak Carolina's. The same as I saw in Cary, BC a couple of days earlier. I was not really chasing the same train. When I checked the status whole a dinner, it was behind by 10 minutes. When i got to the crossing, it had dropped to. 25 minutes late. That caused CSX to push a freight ahead, a container freight.
The Carolina's was in the station at the time. So, the Carolina was held until it passed. Now the Amtrak fell to 45 minutes late.

Sat. Trip to Richmond

My tradition is to worship at a church I attended, while living there, more than twenty years ago. I went by way of Keysville, VA. Years ago, the southern railway came through here. As merger with Norfolk southern progressed, this line was found as not worthy to keep. The tracks were taken over by a short line called the Virginia southern. The line is now a part of the Buckingham branch. No operation at the time. I got slides, however.