Tag Archives: history

Photos from the Steamtown National Historic Site

A few weeks ago, my wife and I spent a weekend in the Scranton, Pennsylvania area. This was an opportune moment to pay a visit to the Steamtown National Historic Site. There was not enough time to go on the steam ride to Moscow, PA but plenty to take look around the museum.

Here are a few highlights from our visit:

Baldwin Locomotive Works #8

Baldwin Locomotive Works #8 (click to enlarge)

Lehigh and New England Railroad, Caboose #583 (brake rigging)

Lehigh and New England Railroad, Caboose #583 (brake rigging)

Delaware & Hudson Boxcar 18119 (brakehose & coupler)

Delaware & Hudson Boxcar 18119 (brakehose & coupler)

Louisville and Nashville Railroad, Post Office Car #1100

Louisville and Nashville Railroad, Post Office Car #1100

Lackawanna 664 EMD F3 & Reading 903 EMD FP7

Lackawanna 664 EMD F3 & Reading 903 EMD FP7

United Pacific 4012 Big Boy

United Pacific 4012 Big Boy

DL&W 82209 coal hopper

DL&W 82209 coal hopper

Turnout - notice the missing guard rails

Turnout - notice the missing guard rails

View more photos on flickr.

The First 100 Years of the Pennsylvania Railroad

Currently, I am in the process of reading books about the Pennsylvania Railroad and its successors from my local library. A couple months ago, I found The Pennsylvania Railroad: A pictorial history by Edwin Alexander. The book is from 1947 and chronicles the first 100 years of the Pennsy. The name pictorial history is a bit of a misnomer by today’s standards because there just aren’t that many pictures in the 250-page volume.

More interesting than the pictures are Alexander’s accounts of the PRR’s history, which he lays out very thoroughly from its origins to its development and construction. Further, he describes passenger, freight service, and covers locomotive development extensively from steam all the way to electrics. He closes with a chapter of vivid description of incidents on the railroad including the Pittsburgh Riots of 1877, the Johnstown Flood and the Broad Street Station fire.

I found it a great introduction to the railroad and I was amazed at how many technical advancements were first introduced by the company. The book is out of print but maybe you can still find it at your local library or buy it used on Amazon.

VT 798 blast from the past

My dad sent me two pictures from his archives with his Christmas package. Both depict a late era 4 “Schienenbus” railcar photographed in 1993, shortly before the VT 798 was decommissioned between Seckach and Miltenberg (formerly KBS 566, now KBS 784).

VT 798 in Buchen, Germany

VT 798 railcar in Buchen, Germany. (click to enlarge)

Fast forward to 2010. The manual signals and the turnout in the foreground have been removed and no station personnel works at this post anymore. But hey, at least the trains are still running…

VT 798 railcar near Buchen, Germany

VT 798 railcar near Buchen, Germany.

On this one the railcar is a little blurry, but I like the motion it adds to the shot. This could be anywhere on one of the FREMO:87 modules. Notice how the grass is shorter near the road.

The scene pretty much looks the same today except for the overhead lines, which have been removed a few years ago.

Where exactly is Fessenheim?

A reader sent me an email a while ago asking about my Fessenheim project. It is modeled after Fessenheim, Germany, which is not to be confused with Fessenheim in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.


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Fessenheim is a small town in the Nördlinger Ries on the former branch line of Nördlingen-Wemding (German railway route 884). The line was opened by the Bavarian State Railways in 1903 and ceased operations in 1995.  The station at Fessenheim was located at kilometer number 10.3 of the line and only consisted of a small depot – the standard Bavarian agency building with ramp – and one siding to an agricultural supplies co-op, which is still in operation today. The tracks and the Fessenheim depot were removed in the early 2000s.[1]

Fessenheim in April of 2009

Fessenheim in April of 2009

A FREMO colleague recommended this station because it only requires one turnout. The model will be exactly to scale based on railroad maps and architectural drawings. There are a few drawbacks though – the agricultural supply facility likely didn’t see a lot of freight traffic, and the station, at over 4 meters in H0, is a bit long considering that it offers limited operational functionality.

Nevertheless, I am still excited about pushing ahead and working towards the completion of my first FREMO:87 modular station.

[1] Bahnstrecke Nördlingen–Wemding. (2009, February 22) In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:12 September 23, 2009, from http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bahnstrecke_N%C3%B6rdlingen%E2%80%93Wemding&oldid=57012146

In the neighborhood

With my tools still in transit, I have little to report about ongoing projects. Instead, I will share a little bit about what is going in the neighborhood…

Even though I didn’t grow up near the tracks, I vividly remember the comforting sounds of train whistles coming from the little secondary line going through my hometown in Germany. Subsequently, my wife and I have lived next to train stations or railroad tracks – namely the New Haven – Springfield Line in Hartford, CT and the Baden Mainline (Badische Hauptbahn) in Karlsruhe, Germany – and have enjoyed the sights and sounds of trains as a backdrop to our busy lives.

It turns out that our new home in Manhattan is also located close to the rails and a piece of New York City railroad history – it is literally a stone’s throw away from the former 60th Street Rail Yard. There is nothing left of the yard except two mainline tracks of the West Side Line (NYCRR) going south to Penn Station, which are still frequented by Amtrak and briefly emerge from the ground right near our building.

Amtrak Empire Service 242 and 239 near 59th Street.

Amtrak Empire Service 242 and 239 near 59th Street.

Other remnants of the yard include the skeleton of a former pier in the Hudson River that is left behind as a sort of memorial and a New York Central shunter, which is now on display in the Riverside Park South.  Trains were loaded onto barges at the piers and ferried across the river, saving a 140-mile trip north to the next bridge crossing.

Remnants of the 60th Street rail yard rotting away in the Hudson River.

Remnants of the 60th Street Rail Yard in the Hudson River become a sort of public artscape.

New York Central shunter in Riverside Park South.

New York Central #8625 in Riverside Park South.

To get a better look at my photos, click any one to expand – once in the expanded view, you can shuffle through all the photos. For more detailed information on the 60th Street Rail Yard, see Michael Minn’s website.