Wednesday, September 11, 2013

St. Charles Streetcar in New Orleans.

This morning, my long-time friend and author, Earl Hampton, photographed this view of New Orleans Regional Transit Authority streetcar number 954 on the St. Charles route. The early morning light enabled Earl to record the current color scheme that the New Orleans RTA uses on their 900 class cars.
Earl Hampton is well-qualified to photograph streetcars in New Orleans. We took streetcar pictures together in high school, railfanning the St. Charles line in its glory years in the 1960s and 1970s.  In fact, Earl included a picture of me in his book, "The Streetcars of New Orleans 1964 - Present"

Earl also wrote "The Streetcar Guide to New Orleans", doing a major re-write of the guide of Louis Costa, Andre Neff and Peter Raarup - all members of our "Krewe" when growing up in New Orleans. Both books are a must read - before your visit to New Orleans. The Streetcar Guide is a very practical book that outlines the sites that usually take a tourist several visits to The Crescent City to find.

Thanks for emailing the photo, Earl. Please send more. We'd love to see them.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Working on the Railroad in New Freedom, PA 7SEP13

Ever wonder what it is like to run a full-sized steam railroad - especially one with a breath-taking locomotive like the Northern Central's "York"?  Imagine you are in the 1860s and this grand example of the art of locomotion builds up steam to take you away on your journey.  Saturday was a beautiful morning in New Freedom, Pennsylvania, as everything gets ready for the 10 AM excursion on the Northern Central Railway.
As the engine crew prepares the engine for operation, the morning run is discussed in the Brass Hat's Office.  Roger Cutter is the Conductor on today's excursion.  He is the on-the-train boss.  But, before he can assume that role, he has to take care of the paperwork and receive orders for the day. You could imagine Model Railroader's Andy Sperandeo writing an article on this part of the operating procedure. Note, too, the copy of Trains Magazine on the desk under Roger's pointing finger.
A steam locomotive is like a large, fine watch. It seems like it always requires some kind of adjustment. Just like in the 1860's, there is some tweaking to be done on some of the connections behind that big driving wheel. The engineer and our boiler expert are on the ground reaching through the spokes and counterweight to make adjustments.   
Another time-honored tradition of preparing a steam locomotive for a run is the oiling. The moving parts need constant lubrication. Here the fireman ensures that the lube cups for the crosshead and  piston rod are full for the run to Hanover Junction. 
The most important part of the excursion is the people who will ride the train. Our beloved passengers fill up the lines getting ready to board their coaches as the Trainmen and Car Hosts start to greet our friends that are riding today. When you ride the Steam Into History excursions, you feel like you are with family and you soon get to know the crew and the other passengers. Reliving that close sense of community is one of the surprising treats of riding the train - and it keeps people coming back for more - "Let's Do It Again". 
The fireman wipes his goggles and with a big smile from Steve, our Engineer, we get ready to pull out for another run on the Northern Central Railway.

The next run that I will be singing on is on Saturday, September 28. It's going to be a fun day and you can book your tickets by clicking here. These two excursions will sell out, so book your tickets online early!!!