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flimsies 2/16/2017

Book Review: The Virginia Creeper in Ashe County

Yet another in the IMAGES series, this book is, like the others, a series of capsulized historic monographs surrounding the real treasure - collections of very well reproduced, high quality, old photographs.

Each chapter seems to have been written apart from every other one, and they all spend a lot of ink covering the same ground about how important the logging industry was to the area, how the railroad opened it up, and where the tracks ran. The chapters are titled geographically, based on the town along the line, and the book's authorship is credited to a society rather than to any individual, so it might have been written by a committee of separate people copying each other unintentionally.

Book Review: Pacific Electric's 500 - Class Cars

This focused and intensive book chronicles the technological and operating history of the Pacific Electric Railway's 500 class cars from inception through retirement and rebirth through replication.

Smatlak places the evolution of the cars within the framework of the changes undergone by the Pacific Electric system and the greater Los Angeles region as an organic part of the whole. Thus the book, while full of technical details about the cars, their equipment, and mode of use, also provides the contextual basis for understanding the wider and richer history of the railway system. It is profusely illustrated with historic photographs to build on the context, as well as illustrate the technical evolution of the cars. Along with the historic photos of the cars in use, drawings, shop documents, even the original bills of sale for the cars makes this one of the most complete histories of a single class of rolling stock I've had the pleasure of reviewing.

Book Reviews: Yakima Valley and Philadelphia Railroads

Yakima Valley Transportation Company is a fortunate choice. The historian knows his history, there are many images covering a lot of ground to choose from, and the company lasted from the early days of the trolley era right into the recent preservation era, making a lot of interesting changes along the way.

Philadelphia Railroads is different - its structure is as much about the context and infrastructure and economic railroading history of Philadelphia as the rolling stock, of not moreso. One of the authors is an architectural historian, and the content is richer for it. Of course, it would be difficult to find a more fertile ground for railroad related history taken broadly in the US than Philadelphia.

Book Review: Vis Major

This is story of men and of their epic battle. The men are railroaders of the Great Northern Railroad; the battle is with an unprecedented snowstorm in Washington's high Cascade Mountains. Through the author, the reader grows to know these men too.

One hundred years ago (March 1, 1910) the tiny railroad town of Wellington, at the west portal of the original Cascade Tunnel, was struck by a massive avalanche during an unrelenting snowstorm. Two passenger trains and other cars and equipment, stranded in the tiny railroad yard, were swept away at the cost of ninety-six lives.

Book Review: Old 97 Saves the Day

J.David Conrad, for those who don't know, was the author of The Steam Locomotive Directory of North America, a virtual bible for those interested in the topic. He is also the Chief Mechanical Officer of the Valley Railroad and has been involved in steam locomotive restoration for over 40 years. This time his efforts have produced a different type of work, a children's book.

Old 97 Saves the Day is a Christmas story, and the locomotive in the story is based on a real engine, in this case the Valley Railroad's 2-8-0 No. 97, which the author maintains.

Book Review: Civil Engineering for Outdoor Railroads - Volume 2

This volume is companion to Volume 1, previously reviewed here. Like Volume 1, it is self published and bound with a plastic comb between clear acetate covers. 203 pages, with many illustrations, diagrams, tables, etc. Building on college level computer programming in engineeering stress analysis in the late '70's – early '80's, Doug has developed a program by which structural analysis of railway bridges can be calculated. A CD is included in the back cover, which will aid in computing the stresses in bridges or other large structures.

Doug organized his book progressively, such that terms and concepts are presented, then joined in application, which helps in comprehension a great deal. Once structural analysis topics such as stresses , reactions and failure modes are covered, examples of calculations from structures Doug built or engineered tie it all together in very practical ways.

Book Review: Scranton Railroads

This is a recent installment from Arcadia Publishing in their IMAGES series of compilations of chapters of captioned images following short historic monographs. The high quality of reproduction and familiar page layout found in all Arcadia IMAGES books is evident throughout.

Crosby has chosen a particularly fertile ground for his pictorial historical overview – Scranton was home to an interesting and diverse collection of railroads and facilities from shortly after the town was founded as an ironmaking center, through the Anthracite age, and into the present. Starting in 1829 with the Delaware and Hudson, Crosby follows the fluctuations of railroading fortune in the area through present day operations at Steamtown NHS.

John Helmstetter Farm Fund

Following the July 12th fire that destroyed the historic barn at Helmstetters Curve near Cumberland, MD, many people have asked - "How can we help our friend, John Helmstetter?"

Friends of John Helmstetter have established the JOHN HELMSTETTER FARM FUND to serve as a central point for collecting donations and organizing fund-raising events to aid John in getting back on his feet. His surviving cattle need shelter and food, and John lost many pieces of equipment in the fire. He was burned in an unsuccessful effort to save his some of his livestock and his best friend, Teddy, his black-and-white border collie. You can show your appreciation for John's past efforts of supporting the railfan community.

103 Leaves Essex for a New Home

After spending the last 38 years at the Valley Railroad in Essex, Connecticut, steam locomotive #103 moved to its new home on Thursday June 25. At 9:15 pm that evening, 103 touched down on the rails of the Naugatuck Railroad in Waterville, Connecticut. The "Naugy" is the operating heritage railroad of the Railroad Museum of New England.

103 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in November 1925, for the Sumter & Choctaw Railroad, a small logging railway in northern Alabama. It has a 2-6-2 wheel arrangement. The engine worked there for over 30 years, and was sold in 1962 to the Empire State Railway Museum of Middletown, NY. 103 operated at Middletown until late 1966, and was moved to the new Valley Railroad at Essex in early 1971.

Book Review: Pelican Road

We seldom see any fiction based in the world of historic railroading, and what little does get published is usually fraught with inaccuracies that spoil it for those of us with some understanding of the subject.

Howard Bahr has provided us with a book that takes place in a world we can understand without such problems, and with a richness and depth of color that brings us into his world. Bahr was a railroader and seaman before giving up honest work to become an academic, and his experience graces every page with gritty reality.

Book Review: San Francisco’s Market Street Railway

A cross section of rolling stock is included, from the mid 1920's through the mid 1950's, with cable cars, Birney style city cars, and PCCs all appearing. The context of the included streetscapes is rich and colorful even in black and white, showing locations still existing today as well as landmarks long gone.

This series is comprised of collections of reprinted vintage postcards, offered in packages according to subject matter. This collection is comprised of 15 postcards, each of which can be mailed, packaged in a protective self-sealing plastic envelope.

Book Review: The Santa Fe Railway and the Lost Locomotives of Topeka

This paperback volume tells the tale of the Kaw River flood of 1951, the worst flood, damage wise, in Kansas history. In July, 1951, the Kansas (locally known as the Kaw) River crested nearly 15 feet above flood stage, causing nearly one billion dollars damage in 1951 figures in the Kansas/Missouri region. The area's railroads were devastated, with the worst damage at Topeka, where both the Santa Fe and Rock Island railroad bridges were lost.

Two Mikados and one 2-6-2 were lost, the Prairie type and one 2-8-2 sinking close by. The other Mikado was apparently swept further downstream and was never located. Many "lost locomotives" are merely tall tales that have been expanded over the years, but this one is true and there are many rare photos in the book to illustrate the fact.

The Anatomy of a Locomotive Restoration: Getting your feet wet

This installment of the restoration of SRR E8 #6914 at the Tennessee Valley RR Museum, will attempt to document the early stage of its second team effort. This began during the spring and summer of 2004, roughly 16 years after its arrival, by TVRM member Robert Frye.

When the locomotive arrived in 1988, it had seen nearly 35 years of service, and taken on its share of wear and tear. Most certainly during its service life, it has undergone numerous running repairs and overhauls, but one thing it suffered badly from now was wiring fatigue. We cannot be sure how much, if any, of the wiring was ever replaced, but these problems were very evident in the electrical cabinets.

Endangered: France's most beautiful railroad!

What started in 1870 as a means of transporting coal northwards from Alès in the Cevennes to Paris, has become a vital life-line for the peoples who still populate France's most remote mountain region. Yet a country that is rightly envied worldwide for the quality of its public services, is in danger of wielding the axe that would not only destroy a national railroading gem, along with the livelihoods of all those dependent on it, but also explode any pretensions France might have towards a commitment to sustainable development.

The Cevennes railway, or 'Le Cévenol' as it is affectionately known, is located in south-central France. It links Nimes to Clermont Ferrand, a distance of around two hundred miles, in five hours. The railroad is a cross country, non-TGV route, and forms part of the longer Paris to Marseille line along which trains run daily to the Mediterranean port. It took between six and seven thousand men a total of six years to build, at a cost of 520 million francs (120 million USD). That sum is almost impossible to equate to modern-day values, but was considered staggering by commentators of the day.

The Anatomy of a Locomotive Restoration: An Introduction

Like all stories, this one should start at the beginning. Here, the beginning is in 1953, about 5 years before I set eyes on this planet, let alone a train. The place is the erecting floor of a famous mid-western city, LaGrange, Illinois. Production that year included order 2063A9, which became a sleek E8 for passenger service in the employ of the Southern Railway as locomotive #6914.

Now, fast-forward around 34 years, and this locomotive faced permanent retirement after working for a few more owners and traveling many miles. After purchase by TVRM members, this is the story of where and when its restoration began, and where it continues today.

Mid Continent 2009 Steam Calendar

Mid-Continent Railway Museum has released its Whistle on the Wind calendar for 2009. Individual calendars are $8.95, plus $2 shipping and handling for each calendar. For orders over two calendars, contact their office for shipping and handling costs.

All profits from sales will be used for the museum's expenses of reopening after the extensive flooding in June 2008. Estimated damages may reach $3 million. Contact the Museum at P.O. Box 358, North Freedom, Wisconsin 53951-0358 or at www.midcontinent.org.

Pullman Hobo Festival

Things are gearing up for this year's Hobo Gathering! A great historic site has been added as our hobo jungle (campsite), new walking & rail tours, replica of 1900's railroad town & ticket office, and "Chicago's Largest Mulligan Stew Ever!"

The friendly Pullman community hosts a free welcoming dinner on Saturday evening prior to the Hobo Concert at historical Greenstone Church. Luther the Jet performs on the church's renowned Stearns & Turner pipe organ. Hobo minstrels and Chicago talents share stories and song.

Book Review: Horseshoe Curve

Texas & Pacific #400

IRM on the Web