Tag Archives: John Losh

LOTR Reviews Volume 1 Trains & Locomotives TV Show: The Blue Mountains

I have been meaning to start this series for quite a while and glad I finally got around to it. I have been a fan of the Trains & Locomotives TV Show, watching it on RFD TV for a long time. So, I’d say it was about time I started reviewing some of their episodes.

Episode 101 The Blue Mountains from 7Idea Productions first aired on 4/23/05. It features Union Pacific Trains out of the 100,000 square foot Hinkle Yard that was completed in 1998. It is located in Oregon on Union Pacific‘s Northwest Corridor, on the Lagrande and Huntington Subdivisions.
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https://www.7ideaproductions.com/shop/union-pacific/blue-mountains

https://www.youtube.com/user/7ideaproductions

The Blue Mountains episode is a very enjoyable one for any railfan, especially those who have a particular attraction to Union Pacific. It features a wide variety of Union Pacific Trains, from grain, dirt, and stack trains, half stack/half auto racks, to only auto racks, and mixed freights. The power on the trains ranges from Pre-9/11 units, to the Flag Units that came out after 9/11/01 that I dedicated a Facebook Group to: Union Pacific Flag Units. There is even a Canadian Pacific and a Patched Southern Pacific motor in the mix here and there. There are a couple trains that have UP Units as Mid-Train Helpers (another Facebook Group page I have). In addition to the flat cars aka “bare tables”, center-beam cars, covered hoppers, and tankers, and miscellaneous box cars, there are also many of the box cars that I have another Facebook Group page for: Rail Box Freight Car Fans.

You see the trains in various types of weather, on flat stretches, on bridges, at the base of the Blue Mountains and going up or down various grades. I know that you will enjoy Trains & Locomotives The Blue Mountains, so check it out today!

I’m John LoshThe Losh-Man“, encouraging you to continue to follow the Lord Jesus Christ every day of your life, and wishing you and your family a very Happy and safe Thanksgiving. And when it comes to trains and everything that is railroading, continue leaving Legacies…On The Rails!

 

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September Is Busy Railfan Month In Missouri And Kansas

The month of September, 2017 was an active one for me as far as rail-fanning goes. It began on Labor Day Monday 9/4/17 as my wife, daughter and I went to visit the Grinter Sunflower Farm located just west of Kansas City in the city of Lawrence, Kansashttp://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/article170172727.html It is famous for its vast stretch of large sunflowers. We then walked around in Downtown Lawrence and caught this Prairie 2-6-2 Santa Fe #1073 on display.
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Then after  having lunch at Noodles & Company, we headed to the Lawrence Amtrak Station.https://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServerpagename=am/am2Station/Station_Page&code=LRC There, I was able to take pics of the interior and exterior of the building but also caught Amtrak P42DC Engines # 174 & 200 that pulled into the station with several passenger cars behind them just seconds after I arrived. They were there only minutes before pulling out again, which I also caught.

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The Kansas Pacific Railroad opened a line from Kansas City to Lawrence, Kansas in 1864. According to the Kansas Historical Society, the first locomotive to operate south of the Kaw River, the “Ottawa” crossed it in Lawrence  November 1st, 1867. To qualify for bonds, the Leavenworth, Lawrence And Galveston Railroad had to lay track from Lawrence to Ottawa by January 1st, 1868. It was completed just one day ahead of the deadline.

Next up was a Sunday 9/10/17 visit to the city of Mulberry, Kansas where my Father-In-Law Bill Mapes grew up and where his father William R Mapes Sr and some of my Father-In-Law’s brothers worked (and one still does) for the Kansas City Southern Railroad. We had been invited to attend a birthday party at the home of Denise’s Aunt Connie Bright. While I was there, I visited a couple of local crossings (shown in pics below) but missed a couple of trains that came through.

Mulberry (formerly known as Mulberry Grove: again according to the KS Historical Society) was founded in 1866 by N.W. Taylor and was originally on the Cherryvale Division of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad.

On our way back to Kansas City, we passed through nearby Arcadia as well as Fort Scott, Kansas where I took these pics.

Arcadia, Kansas began as Hathaway, after its founder Phil Wing Hatahway in 1857 (later changed to ArcadiaRural Beauty” at the suggestion of Hathaway‘s sweetheart from Chicago. The story of how present day Arcadia was established is through the legend of the “Nighttime Post Office Switch.” It involved the railroad being extended from Fort Scott to the coal fields of Crawford County, missing Old Arcadia by about 1/25 mile. The coal company put in a coal loading switch, naming it Finley after Captain George Finley who helped build the station. Where mailbags were picked up and dropped off later led to a post office getting the name of Arcadia rather than Finley literally overnight.

The next time I had a weekday off with no other plans, I finally made it to one of the many Missouri towns I had been meaning to visit (as far as rail-fanning goes), as I used to attend weekly sales meetings there when I was in toner cartridge sales with Laser Supercharge back in the early 2000’s, Pleasant Hill. The Missouri Pacific Depot there was constructed in 1903. Like other cities in the KC area, such as Parkville, Lee’s Summit, and Weston, in addition to displaying many original railroad artifacts, the depot is also the current office of the Pleasant Hill Chamber Of Commerce. Pleasant Hill (that started on a bet according to local historian Jeff Wilson (that I was introduced to by Tina from the Chamber Of Commerce) was originally platted in 1844 and was moved to its current location when the railroad was built through, in 1865.

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Jeff owns two local businesses, Resto 101 and Retro On The Rails (and that one is also located in the Depot building. Check out both on Facebook. I felt like a celebrity as once Tina introduced me to Jeff, I was allowed tours of Retro On The Rails as well as the Bally Peddler next to it that were not even open that day. I promised to return with my family some weekend as these businesses are only open Thursday thru Saturday. I also offered to help in any way I can with any railroad related special events they hold in the future. I caught two Union Pacific trains, one likely a grainer and the other a mixed freight (and appropriately enough it even had some Missouri Pacific gondolas in the manifest. )
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Next up was Blue Springs, Missouri after I attended a Kansas City Chiefs Red Friday Pep Rally hosted by Community America Credit Union on Friday 9/15/17. I caught a Kansas City Southern train headed through town with two Gray Ghost locomotives on point as the downtown area was just opening its Fall Festival.

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Here is another episode of a railroad related Old Time Radio Show
https://www.oldtimeradiodownloads.com/crime/calling-all-detectives/calling-all-detectives-48-10-14-286-suicide-on-the-great-valley-railroad

Here is a recent posting from our friend Nick Ozorak and The Roundhouse Podcast:

Today’s Railroad Equipment Profile is this box car from the Texas, Oklahoma & Eastern Railroad that I found on the south side of the North Kansas City, Missouri/Avondale, Missouri Norfolk Southern Yard
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Here is what Wikepedia had to say about the Texas, Oklahoma & Eastern Railroad

The Texas, Oklahoma and Eastern Railroad (reporting mark TOE) is a Class III short-line railroad headquartered in De Queen, Arkansas.

TOE operates a 39.8 mile line in Oklahoma from the Arkansas state line (where it interchanges with De Queen and Eastern Railroad, an affiliate with whom it shares its headquarters) to Valliant, Oklahoma (where it interchanges with Kiamichi Railroad).

TOE traffic generally consists of forest products. TOE was incorporated in 1910.

Hope you have enjoyed this look at my September In Railfanning, sorry it took me so long to get around to it. I’m actually disappointed that though I have more than ample time to work on it these past three weeks, I just couldn’t get motivated. It’s a long story, but it got done in the end. I’ll get you up to speed on October and November soon.

But, for now, I’m John Losh, “The Losh-Man“. And, as I always do, I want to remind you to follow the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart each day of your life, and when it comes to trains and everything that is railroading, continue leaving Legacies…On The Rails!

 

Vacation Trips Yield Less Live Rail-Fanning Than Usual

On my trips in July from Friday 6/30-Sunday 7/2/17, as well as Wednesday 7/12-Friday 7/15/17, live trains just weren’t happening for me. This was despite the fact that I made my usual solo trip to the Losh/Worley Family Reunion (that I have not missed since I first attended in July, 2010), and went track-side in Willow Springs, Cabool, Fordland, Seymour , North Diggins and Mountain Grove, Missouri (as I stayed in Mountain Grove for my 2nd year in a row), and Springfield, I settled for just pics as in some locations my wait left nothing to show for it, and in others, the BNSF trains I found idling on the tracks never moved, and my time or patience ran out. I did catch one that was moving south through Seymour, and initially paced it, getting some video, but there were too many obstructions for me to feel it was even worth keeping or sharing the video.

I did, however try to follow the example of the site I covered earlier here on Legacies On The Rails, The Trackside Photographer, and at least took pics of the railroad landscape. Signal towers, signal boxes, tracks, crossing gates, etc, understanding that just like some of the locomotives, rail cars, etc that I am normally so busy catching in pics and video, these features may not always be around, therefor preserving a bit of history by getting those shots.

I then started vacation on Saturday, July 8th but never went anywhere until Wednesday, July 12th, as my wife, my daughter and I had to get some much needed painting done on our house. But on 7/12, my wife Denise and I headed to the Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska area. But, when I am with her, I normally spend little time if any sitting track-side unless I am approaching a crossing as we go from one place to another and a train just happens to be coming, or already on the tracks. Then I may get video, or a few pics. But on this trip, I was always too late at the crossings to catch approaching trains and settled for freight car or covered hopper pics, but no live locomotives.

On July 12th, we ate and Dan & Jami’s Railway Bar & Grill in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The food and service were good and though it was right next to the tracks, despite my mad dashes out the door to try to catch trains we heard coming, I always settled for various freight car pics. We later visited the Grenville M Dodge House (one of the architects of the Union Pacific Railroad) also located in Council Bluffs. We also stood at the Lincoln Monument, the site where President Abraham Lincoln stood and declared (referring to the aforementioned Union Pacific) “This is where I will build my railroad!”.

On July 13th, we visited the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs, and the Durham Museum that located inside the Omaha, Nebraska Union Station. I also got my pic with the Golden Spike Monument in Council Bluffs, the site where the Union Pacific Railroad began building westward, to eventually meet the Central Pacific Railroad, completing the Transcontinental Railroad in Promontory, Utah on May 10th,1869.

Dinner that evening was at the Old Market Spaghetti Works in Omaha, after we visited Hollywood Candy & Antiques, and a few other antique shops.

On July 14th, in Omaha, we found a pedestrian bridge that goes over railroad tracks at Lewis and Clark Landing and then discovered that the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (aka the “Bob Bridge“) also had the same tracks running underneath it. While we were on the “Bob Bridge“, Denise took a video of me clowning around, paying tribute to the character of “Achoo” played by Dave Chappelle from the 1993 movie Robin Hood: Men In Tights as halfway across the bridge, you can stand with one foot in Iowa, and the other in Nebraska. Unfortunately, despite waiting a bit on the bridge at Lewis & Clark Landing, I again failed to have any trains come my way and settled for pics of some some covered hoppers parked on a nearby siding.

We also took a riverboat ride on the River City Star, also located in Council Bluffs, as this is another of our favorite pursuits while we are on our various trips. We have also taken boat rides in our hometown of Kansas City, as well as in St Louis, Missouri, Hannibal, Missouri, Branson, Missouri and in one city in Texas.

We also took in the Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Omaha. We also frequent the one in Odessa, Missouri.

The only real quality pics I ended up with on this trip came when we visited the Railswest Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs also on 7/14.

Dinner that evening was at Romeo’s Mexican Food & Pizza in Bellevue, Nebraska as we were staying the night at the Surestay Plus in Bellevue that I mentioned in my earlier blog on Presidential Trains that both my wife and daughter stayed at earlier in the year. We were in the Andrew Jackson Room. It was a really clean, impressive facility.

However, doing rail-fanning in Council Bluffs and Omaha, and Bellevue put me up to having done rail-fanning in 70 cities over 10 states since March, 2008. 21 cities over 4 states in the 2nd quarter of 2017 May through August thus far.

I did try to do some brief track-side time the morning of Saturday 7/15/17 before we headed home to Kansas City, but again settled only for pics I caught earlier before heading track-side.

Later that day we visited the Walnut Creek Recreation Area and the Nebraska Crossing Outlet Mall both in Gretna, Nebraska and the Strategic Air Command Museum in Ashland, Nebraska, (I will be covering that and another smaller air museum in Council Bluffs that we visited on my Military Air Fan blog here on WordPress) and finally the Finders Keepers Antique Mall/ Coffe Shoppe in Percival, Iowa.

I also had the week of July 16th-July 23rd off though my wife did not, and while I could have gotten in a ton of rail-fanning that week, it was so hot out (100 plus most days) I hardly wanted to get out. I did get one Norfolk Southern video on Monday 7/17, and a few videos in North Kansas City, Missouri and at at Kansas City Union Station on Friday 7/28/17 as I attended my very first meeting of the Kansas City Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society, that meets most 4th Fridays in the 3rd Floor Kansas City Terminal Railway Boardroom at Union Station: (check out my Facebook group Fans Of The Kansas City Terminal Railway) I have since started a Facebook page for them: see Kansas City Chapter NRHS. I planned to attend again on Friday 8/25/17, but something came up. Hopefully I will be back with them on 9/22/17. We were on vacation the week of  8/12-8/20/17 but I tried to concentrate on time with my family and did not get out to do any rail-fanning. That was my last vacation for 2017.

Here are my latest Legacies On The Rails Fan Videos from You Tube:

I hope that as I always encourage you to do that you are in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and pursuing Him daily through His Word, prayer, and active fellowship in a local church. And when it comes to trains and all things railroading, that you continue leaving Legacies…On The Rails!

Great Rail Sites Volume 2: Delay In Block Productions

Welcome to Great Rail Sites Volume 2! When I am not out in the field taking constant rail photos and video, or writing this blog (in rough draft form on paper, then here on the site), or uploading all my pics to Facebook from my phone, videos to You Tube from my phone (sometimes through the Viva Video Editor) or  to my computer, then to Facebook, from my camera, and later to this site, I love to watch other railfan videos on You Tube.

That is where I found videos by today’s featured site Delay In Block Productions. http://delayinblock.com/ Using the term that means “If you stop or slow your train to below ten mph, you have to be prepared to stop at the next signal”, in late November 2011, Drayton Blackgrove of Jackson Michigan, who has had a lifelong love of trains started Delay In Block Productions. It was officially licensed in 2013. The goal? Very simple: to produce and share the best quality railfan videos available on the internet. And if I might add, not just videos of current railroads transporting their goods and passengers from Point A to Point B, but also to share the history, the heritage, and the people of railroading.

Since 2011 Delay In Block Productions has gone on to involve over 30 professional photographers. A few of them are listed on their website and you can visit it to view their full profiles, but they are: David Ferrell, Chris Campbell, Jim Stanton (who along with Drayton is one of my Facebook Friends), Jordan Hood, and Connor Short.

Delay In Block Productions website and You Tube channel feature trains from steam to diesel, streamliner to modern. They feature mainline railroads to excursion trains, passenger trains to freight. They feature current day railroads to fallen flags. Very simply put, no matter what you are looking for in railfan video entertainment, Delay In Block Productions that as of this writing had 421 You Tube videos and 321,150 subscribers just on the main channel not to mention their Trains For Children channel, has something for you! My favorite thing they do, is the narration. And, although I do my share of posting here on Legacies…On The Rails, as well as on my You Tube channel which is nearing 300 LOTR Fan Videos, and Legacies On The Rails Radio (Podcast), if I had the knowledge, skills, software and time that Delay In Block Productions‘ staff put into their work, there are some sites out there whose quality I  hope to someday see Legacies…On The Rails eventually emulate, and Delay In Block Productions would definitely be in my top 5. They definitely get 5 out of 5 LOTR Railroad Cross-Bucks!

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But I think the very best way to share with you their origin and ongoing work is to share some of their You Tube Videos, beginning with Drayton Blackgrove‘s own story.

 

 

 

 

This edition’s Equipment Profile is this boxcar that I recently photographed at the North Kansas City/Avondale, Missouri Norfolk Southern Yard from the “Fallen Flag” railroad of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad.

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The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad was, as Trains Magazine‘s April 10,2012 edition called it:
The railroad Abraham Lincoln so ardently championed in the 1800’s had changed dramatically in the ensuing century. On a mainly double-track speedway (enhanced with Automatic Train Stop in Illinois), diesel locomotives rushed goods from Gulf Coast ports and farms to a heavily industrialized North. Perhaps most surprising, the mighty Illinois Central by the mid-1970s was a cog in a larger machine — one component in a merged railroad (Illinois Central Gulf) that itself was part of a giant conglomerate with interests in real estate (La Salle Properties), financial services (Benjamin Franklin Savings), consumer products (Midas Muffler shops), and manufacturing (Waukesha Nuclear Castings). The railroad accounted for 31 percent of the income of parent IC Industries in 1973, a year when the ICG posted an all-time high revenue, thanks to strong grain, coal, and chemical traffic.

It ran from the Northeastern US to tthe Midwestern States from 1881-1988.

I am always encouraging you to accept and pursue a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ here on Legacies…On The Rails and hope you are doing that. I started attending a Men’s Study at our local Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (I am not a student, but simply attend a function there now and then) last night and it has me getting deeper into scripture to prepare to participate in the discussion. No matter how often you read God’s Word, you will always get more and more out of it!

I’m John Losh, “The Losh-Man” and until next time, when it comes to trains and everything that is railroading, just keep leaving Legacies…On The Rails!

Rail Fan Update: First Four Months Of 2017

LOTR Post 17-2014

I am happy to say that in addition to now having posted 13 previous blogs on this site compared to only four in 2016, and having become much more diverse in what I am posting about, this has been a very busy first four months of 2017 on the Rail-Fan front.

So far, it has had me in 12 different cities between the states of Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas:  In Missouri: Birmingham, Buckner, Granby, Kansas City, (and several areas in Kansas City) North Kansas City, Parkville, Sibley, and St Joseph. Just Wichita in Kansas thus far. In Arkansas: Eureka Springs, Rogers, and Springdale. I also took note of cities that I could identify as having rail lines by seeing tracks from the highway, as well as other cities I want to check out either in person or via the internet eventually to see if they do anytime I was not the driver on our trips to Wichita, Kansas and Arkansas this year. I noted 42 on the recent trip to Arkansas. So, this leaves a lot more cities to visit on my upcoming yearly pilgrimage to the Losh-Worley Family Reunion that will take me from Kansas City to Willow Springs, Missouri July 30th to July 2nd, and then vacation time I have from July 10th-22nd, 2017. There are many more sites in Kansas City, proper to check out as well as cities I want to return to.

I have photographed and/or filmed 20 different models of locomotives thus far, not to mention passenger cars, freight cars, coal cars, tankers, bare tables, covered hoppers, center beams, coil cars, empty or loaded Intermodal well cars, etc. The locomotive models are: Diesel: AC4400CW, ALCO C420, ALCO SW1, C449W, C4460AC, D840CW, D944CW, ES44C4, ES44DC,ET44C4, FP-45, GP38-2, GP40-3, GP50, NW2, SD70ACE, SD70M, SD75M, steamers: 4-4-0 and 4-8-4.

I have photographed and/or filmed 35 different railroads or companies with rail equipment, current as well as Excursion Trains and “Fallen Flags“, Heritage Units, display or in current road or yard use: Arkansas & Missouri, Burlington-Northern, BNSF, CB&Q, Central Kansas Rwy, Canadian Malting Co Ltd, Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Caterpillar, Citirail (CREX), Chicago-Northwestern, Conrail, CSX, Denver & Rio Grande Western, Eureka Springs & North Arkansas, Ferromex, Frisco, GATX, GMTX Locomotive Leasing Partners, Grand Trunk-Western, Hannibal & St Joseph, KC Power & Light, Kansas City Southern, KC Southern De-Mexico, Kansas & Oklahoma, Kansas City Terminal, New York Central, Norfolk Southern, Rail Box, Rail Link Of Montana, Santa Fe, Soo Line, TTX, Union Pacific, Wabash. Now, mind you, these are just the ones I have been able to positively identify, but with all the various equipment you see on trains, it is sometimes hard to catch Reporting Marks on everything, or have time to look them all up.

In January through April, I did 29 of my now 36 Legacies On The Rails Fan Videos on You Tube. I was up to 261 LOTR Fan Videos overall by the end of April and am now up to 266 overall since the beginning of May. I also recorded Episodes #13, 14 of the Legacies On The Rails Radio (Podcast). You may recall my mention in my last posting that Episode 14 (in 2 parts) was recorded while riding a passenger car on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad!

So stay tuned to Legacies…On The Rails the Blog, the Podcast and the You Tube for more! I’m John LoshThe Losh-Man” reminding you that nothing truly matters in life outside of a daily relationship with Jesus Christ and that knowing Him as your Personal Lord & Savior is the only way to know for sure you will spend eternity in Heaven. So follow Him each day of your life through His word, prayer, and involvement in a Biblical local church. And when it comes to all things railroad, continue leaving Legacies….On The Rails! I’ll see you next time!

27th Anniversary Trip Yields Excursions And Makes Me A Frisco Fan!

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LOTR Post 17-013

As I have traveled to the Losh-Worley Family Reunion in Willow Springs, Missouri http://www.willowspringsmo.com/ from Kansas City, Missouri since July, 2010, and it involving so much time on the road, I had been getting frequent pics of Frisco Railroad cabooses in towns like Osceola, http://www.cityofosceolamo.com/ and even in Willow Springs, but initially to me, they were well preserved railroad rolling stock that I could get up close and personal with, and that was cool. I had even picked up an HO Scale Frisco Box Car on one of my trips from the Moccasin Trails Antique Mall https://www.facebook.com/OsceolaAntiques/ in Osceola.

But until the trip my wife and I took our recent trip to several cities in Arkansas http://www.arkansas.gov/ for our 27th Anniversary, that had us first landing in Eureka Springs, Arkansas http://www.eurekasprings.org/ on Sunday 4/23/17, later taking us to Rogers http://visitrogersarkansas.com/ Springdale http://www.springdalear.gov/ Bentonville   @ http://www.bentonvillear.com/and various other nearby cities, I never stopped to consider the true impact of this “Fallen Flag Railroad” known as the St Louis-San Francisco or simply just “Frisco“, whose motto was “Ship It On The Frisco“, and whose logo was patterned after dried raccoon hides, that at one time were being sold at some old time depots in the road’s early days.

According to Wikepedia Incorporated in Missouri 9/7/1876, and formed from the Missouri Division of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, The Frisco operated in the Midwestern and South Central U.S. from 1876 to April 17,1980 (how appropriate that our trip was also in April.) At the end of 1970 it had 4.547 miles of road on 6,574 miles of track not including its subsidiaries Quanah, Acme & Pacific Railway, and the Alabama, Tennessee & Northern. It was absorbed by one of my family connection railroads, the Burlington Northern on my wife’s birthday 11/21/1980. The Frisco one of only two railroads (the other being The Katy) that were authorized to build on Indian land.

The city of Frisco, Texas http://www.friscotexas.gov/ is named after the railroad and as the aforementioned Frisco logo is patterned after dried raccoon skins, the Frisco High School mascot is the Fighting Raccoon.

The Frisco had 16 steam locomotives #19, #1351, #1352, #1355, #1501, #1527, #1529, #1621, #1625, #1630, #4003, #4018, #4500 and #4524. In its time of operation, it also operated several stream-liner diesels. Today, the road is operated by the Burlington-Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF).

On Sunday, 4/23/17 after arriving in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, we checked into the Green Tree Lodge http://www.eurekaspringslodge.com/ where the owner graciously upgraded us to the Honeymoon Cabin at no extra charge once she found out it was our anniversary, and I have to tell you the cabin was extremely luxurious, and even included a jacuzzi tub, a back deck, and we felt really spoiled. She also found out that I am a huge rail-fan, and directed us to the location of the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railroad that we could walk around and take all the pics we wanted to.

Later that evening, we visited the Lake Leatherwood City Park in Eureka and I recorded one of my Moments Of Tranquility Videos, at a nice waterfall area. I encourage you to check out this growing series on You Tube, as I encourage anyone feeling overwhelmed by life to “Take 5 and have a virtual sit” by streams, creeks, ponds, fountains, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, from our various travels as well as our local Kansas City area and to focus on a scripture verse about water.

We stayed there Sunday and Monday nights. Later, we realized my wife had left her glasses behind and we called the owner, she had found them, and fortunately, though we were in Bentonville at that point, we were returning to Eureka Springs the following weekend for their City-Wide Garage Sale, as well as to ride the aforementioned Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railroad https://www.esnarailway.com/ as it was only running Saturdays in April, so we were able to pick them up then. I am giving the Green Tree Lodge 5 out of 5 LOTR Railroad Cross-Bucks.

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Our next hotel stay was the Super 8 in the aforementioned Bentonville, Arkansas. You can find it on pretty much all the booking websites. It was clean for the most part, except for one area of the bathroom on some vertical support type structures attached to the tub, and we had some issues with getting the TV to operate properly. I am giving it 3 out of  5 LOTR Railroad Cross-Bucks.

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On Tuesday 4/25/17 we were in Rogers, Arkansas. First order of business was lunch after visiting with Ashley Matsumara at the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber Of Commerce http://www.rogerslowell.com/ where she presented me with a very cool Rogers Arkansas Chamber pin in the shape of a steam locomotive, and we both agreed that every railroad town ought to have something like it to present to visitors. I am giving the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber Of Commerce 5 out of 5 LOTR Railroad Cross-Bucks.

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Lunch was at Pop’s Hog Wild Barbecue https://www.facebook.com/popshogwild/ just across the street from the Chamber as the wonderful smoky smell that every barbecue lover knows, was wafting across the street and was not to be denied. Gary took really good care of us there. I had a pulled pork sandwich meal and Denise had the pulled pork nachos. It was a gorgeous day to sit outside and enjoy some Arkansas barbecue! I even took pics of Gary’s tattoos (though I am normally not a tattoo fan) because they were Batman and The Joker and I included them in a new Facebook Album I started (one of many I started on this trip) called The Batcave. I give Pop’s Hog-Wild Barbecue 5 out of 5 LOTR Railroad Cross-Bucks.

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And as we began to walk around the town of Rogers, with me in my Kansas City Southern Locomotive t-shirt, people immediately gravitated to us and realized I am into trains and began to share their stories of family members that worked on railroads and how much of a Frisco town Rogers is. I have not had that kind of welcome by so many people in any town we have visited in all our travels over the years. We certainly appreciate their very generous hospitality! The people of Rogers, Arkansas are definitely in a class by themselves and I give them 5 out of 5 LOTR Railroad Cross-Bucks.

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Folks that we met included Myra, the owner of The Trolley Line Bookshop https://www.facebook.com/Trolley-Line-Bookshop-221526167897843/ . She grew up with her father and several other relatives working on the Union Pacific Railroad and when she found out it was our anniversary week, she presented us with a gift in a mystery book that was written by a local author and takes place on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad, that is also carried in the railroad’s gift shop. While we were there, Character Actress Sondra Torchia https://www.facebook.com/sondra.torchia stopped by. She calls herself “a Katy Brat” as her father worked on the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad.

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So, of course, for her wonderful Rogers, Arkansas hospitality, and the cool name of her store, I give The Trolley Line Bookshop 5 out of 5 LOTR Railroad Cross-Bucks.

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We also visited The Rusty Chair Antiques  https://www.facebook.com/rustychair/ where owner Julie Loose made us a sweet deal on an AT & SF Caboose print, and she had a couple other AT & SF items in the store including a caboose heater and a bucket.

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Here is another railroad themed business in Downtown Rogers, The Rail: A Pizza Company https://www.facebook.com/The-Rail-A-Pizza-Company-127680870619752/

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And the Iron Horse Coffee Company https://www.facebook.com/Iron-Horse-Coffee-Company-114000608623293/

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Tuesday evening, we checked in to the Super 8 Hotel in Bentonville, where we would stay Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and we headed to the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad facility in Springdale where I took several pics and a short SD70ACE power move video, and ordered our tickets for the excursion trip we were to take on Wednesday evening.

Wednesday started out rainy, foggy and a bit chilly. I was told they had several inches of rain overnight, and when we attempted to visit the War Eagle Cavern, check them out http://www.wareaglecavern.com/ as we love doing cave tours and had done the Cosmic Cavern http://cosmiccavern.com/ in Berryville, Arkansas http://www.berryville.com/ earlier in the week, but due to all the rain, water levels in the cave prevented them from giving tours but they did let us take the trail that leads to a cave exit so we could see the water pouring out and all the streams that run along the outside. I recorded another Moments Of Tranquility video there as well.

From there, we headed to the War Eagle Mill, https://wareaglemill.com/ hoping to take the tour there, but they were just closing up, again, due to rising flood waters. Upon our return to Kansas City, my wife found pics online that showed the War Eagle Mill, and other areas we were in on the trip, including the Beaver Bridge http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/beaverbridge.html  in Beaver, Arkansas http://www.beavertownarkansas.com/ that we had crossed twice trying to get home on Saturday 4/29/17 during heavy rains and rising waters under water. Didn’t realize until I started working on this posting how much of a landmark the Beaver Bridge is.

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The War Eagle Mill just after we returned to Kansas City.

And, of course, Wednesday evening, we took our train ride on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad. These folks were also extremely gracious in the fact that there had been a change in their schedule so that instead of just a regular excursion that evening, there was a group of 60 children from a local school that were now riding as well. And as with the Green Tree Lodge upgrading us to their Honeymoon Suite, the Arkansas & Missouri gave us a train car “The Explorer” pretty much to ourselves, except for the Conductor, Christopher and one of the other train crew being with us for a good portion of the time,  and in addition to more pics and video, I recorded a two-part Episode 14 of the Legacies On The Rails Podcast with Christopher.

Thursday, 4/27/17 we were back in Rogers, Arkansas, and checked out The Cottage At The Barn Antiques https://www.godowntownrogers.com/cottage-at-the-barn anbd had a picnic lunch at The Railyard Bike Park http://rogersar.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/The-Railyard-57 and I got to go catch a very short Arkansas & Missouri Railroad freight train. Then we walked the trail that ran from The Railyard to Lake Atalanta https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/arkansas/lake-atalanta-trail that has a stream that runs along the trail and empties into the lake, so I took the opportunity to record my third Moments Of Tranquility video that was then posted to You Tube along with the Legacies On The Rails Fan Video of the train.

Later in the day we visited the Crystal Bridges Museum Of Art http://crystalbridges.org/ in Bentonville.  We later checked into our final motel of the trip, the Country Mountain Inn http://countrymountaininn.com/ back in Eureka Springs. The owners are a wonderful Christian couple that we had a great time of fellowship with as we checked in.

On our anniversary Friday 4/28/17, we rode the Eureka Springs Trolley http://www.eurekasprings.com/transportation/transport.html originally meaning to use it to get to the various locations that the City Wide Garage Sales were going on, but quickly figured out that wasn’t happening because if we got off at stops that were not assigned Trolley stops, it would be even longer and harder to get back on each time. So instead, we chose to get off in Downtown Eureka Springs and walk around the various shops there. We later returned to the Country Mountain Inn and retrieved our car and took it to catching the last two hours of the garage sales. Dinner that evening was at the Forest Hill Restaurant http://foresthillrestaurant.com/. When we first arrived and for most of our meal, we were the only ones there except for the staff. The facility was clean, the staff was friendly, the food was good. There is a gift shop that you pass through as you enter that looks like a part of a Christian bookstore. I give the Forest Hill Restaurant 5 out of 5 LOTR Railroad Cross-Bucks.

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Later that night, we enjoyed having a bonfire with the owners of the Country Mountain Inn.

On Saturday morning 4/28/17 we headed back to Downtown and rode the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railroad. And, who knew that on the trip with us would be another couple from our native Northland area back in Missouri with their anniversary being the same day as ours but Jimmy Jay and his wife Sabrina Jay from Excelsior Springs, Missouri who had been married since 4/28/01, and are also our Brother/Sister in Christ were on the train with us. Jimmy and I are now Facebook Friends and hope to eventually get together for further rail-fanning! It is truly a small world! We were riding the ES&NA Passenger Car #2585 and were pulled by the former Missouri Pacific Alco #2742 that has 600 tracktive effort horsepower.

But there was a challenge that lay ahead for Denise and I that I eluded briefly to earlier. It had rained all night in the area we were in and rain had steadily picked up as we were riding the train and as we headed back to Missouri. The route our GPS (nicknamed “Dorothy”) was taking us kept leading to nearly flooded or already flooded roads during torrential down-pouring rain. We were really scared of getting trapped and were both getting frustrated but God was faithful and we eventually found our way out but it had taken us 4 hours to reach 71 Highway when it should have taken just 1. Here are is a pic Denise later posted of the Beaver Bridge that we had to cross twice that was later quickly under water.

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I’m John Losh “The Losh-Man“, and I pray that with all the references I make to it here in the blog and on my videos that if you had not already done so before reading any of my posts that you have now entered into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and are experiencing the joy of following Him each and every day.  If you haven’t, you can still do so! And, when it comes to trains and all things railroading, Continue leaving Legacies…On The Rails! I’ll see you next time!

 

Presidential Trains Take Us Back In Time

A few weeks ago, our family was planning a trip to San Antonio, Texas to watch my youngest brother-in-law’s youngest Son graduate  Basic Training for the National Guard. None of us were able to get enough time off for that distance, and as  is often the case, I was unable to get any of the time off, so  instead my girls chose to travel to Omaha, Nebraska for the weekend. Since I was not along for the trip, and I know rail-fanning can get old for those that are not “into it”, I really did not expect them to do anything train related.

But wouldn’t you know it, they stayed at the Sure Stay Plus at 305 N Fort Crook Rd, directly across from active railroad tracks, and among other places, they visited the  Omaha Union Station, taking pics of several pieces of equipment from models to real, steam to diesel. Those units included Union Pacific 4504 (SD70M), UP 5733 (AC4400CW), UP 6053 (AC4400CW), UP 7370 (ES44AC). Union Pacific CA-8 Class Caboose 25559 built October, 1964 (the year my Paternal Grandfather passed away) and retired 08/11/1986. Union Pacific Steam #1243 (4-6-0 built October, 1890 at Cooke Locomotive & Steamworks. A model of UP steam 9000 (102 foot long, 782,000 lb coal burning prototype 4-12-2 built 1926-1930: the real one  is on display at the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona, California. They also caught a ‘Fallen Flag” in a Southern Pacific Box car, that along with an ADM Tanker and lots of assorted covered hoppers, were on a mixed manifest.

The Sure Stay Plus is also unique in the fact that all the rooms are named after various United States Presidents. They stayed in the Warren G Harding Room.

As I am trying to be more diverse in what I bring to you, the readers here on Legacies…On The Rails, it got me thinking as I not only love trains, but I love history, so Presidents….and Trains…..Hmmmm! So let’s look at some connections of our Presidents and Trains, starting with the aforementioned Warren G Harding.

Built in 1911, The Superb was President Harding’s personal Pullman railroad car in his cross country tour in 1923. It was that year that he drove the final spike completing the Alaska RailroadThe Superb is the 2nd oldest steel private car in existence. The Superb had also been used by President Woodrow Wilson. It also carried President Harding‘s body from San Francisco to Washington DC by way of the Southern Pacific and the B&O Railroad. after his death on 08/02/1923. He had traveled hoping to improve his health and his image with the American people as his administration was was plagued with scandal in The Tea Pot Dome.  But high blood pressure, an enlarged heart, pnuemonia and an obvious stroke (though many speculated as  to a heart attack or food poisoning, even trying to cast guilt on Mrs. Harding or the Mob)  took his life. Mrs. Harding did not allow an autopsy of the President’s body. The Superb was temporarily renamed Pope Pius XI for his train from New York City to Chicago.  The Superb  was later an office car for the Charleston & West Carolina, Atlantic Coast Line, Seaboard Coast Line railroads.

The Superb was donated to the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, Georgia and opened to the public in 1995 after a 20-month restoration. It was placed on the National Registry Of Historic Places on 03/09/1998.

President Franklin D Roosevelt made use of United States Railcar #1 in late 1942. It was later a part of his funeral train. He had traveled 243,827 miles in 399 trips by rail in his life. It is on display in Miami, Florida. President Harry S Truman later inherited US Railcar #1, used it for his 1948 “Whistle Stop Tour“, and enjoyed running it at 80 mph. The iconic pic of President Truman holding the famous “Dewey Defeats Truman” copy of the Chicago Tribune was taken at the St Louis Union Station.  The term “Whistle Stop” was actually coined by Robert A Taft as an insult to Truman.

President Rutherford B Hayes was the first President to travel Coast To Coast in 1857 after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

President Abraham Lincoln  used a train trip for his inaugural trip in 1861. It took twelve days, and 23 railroads. He later used the Executive Coach “United States” that was built for him in 1865. He was also the first President to use a train for Military purposes as he used it to visit Civil War Battlefields, including to deliver the Gettysburg Address which he put the finishing touches on during the train ride. Like President Harding, and others, it later carried his body home after he was killed by John Wilkes Booth.

On May 28,1886 President Grover Cleveland got engaged, and would later travel with his new bride to their honeymoon spot aboard the B&O Railroad.

President Zachary Taylor rode a riverboat from Louisiana, then a stagecoach to Uniontown, Pennsylvania, by horseback to Cumberland, Maryland, and the B&O Railroad to Washington

In 1853 President Franklin Pierce and his family were traveling on the B&O Railroad, when it derailed, and his son Benny was killed. The White House was always a sad place during his term as a result.

In 1857, President James Buchanan (who succeeded Pierce) rode the B&O Railroad to his Inauguration

President James Garfield was shot twice by Charles Guiteau in July 1881 at the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad station-planning to board a train for vacation but was without his security detail.

President William Henry Harrison was the first president to campaign on a train, as his 5 predecessors never rode them. He also took a train to Washington after he was elected in 1840. But John Quincy Adams was the first to actually ride a train.

President Theodore Roosevelt (before he was President) took lots of train rides on behalf of President William Mckinley. After Mckinley was killed in New York, in 1900, he rode a train to Mckinley‘s funeral. Roosevelt would become the first President with an entire train at his disposal, then dubbed the “Potus (President Of The United States) Train.

The Ferdinand Magellan is a Pullman Standard observation car refitted to serve as living quarters and office for Presidents from 1943-1958. and is on display at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Its last official use was by 1st Lady Mamie Eisenhower in 1954 on her way to cristen the world’s 1st Nuclear Powered Submarine the USS Nautilus in Groton, Connecticut.  President Ronald Reagan used it for a one day tour on 10/12/1984, traveling 120 miles in Ohio, from Dayton to Perrysburg doing Whistle Stop speeches.

President Dwight D Eisenhower campaigned aboard a train. On March 28th, 1969, he died of congestive heart failure. His body was carried aboard a military train on a B&O Railroad baggage car.

President Elect Barack Obama traveled part of President Lincoln’s Inaugural Route in 2009. He used the Georgia 300 car built in 1930, that was also used by President Gorge H.W. Bush for campaigning in 1992.

Prince Charles did a 5 day Whistle Stop Tour of the United Kingdom on 09/06/10.

I hope you have enjoyed this little Whistle Stop Tour back in time looking at connections to our nation’s leaders and the trains they rode.

I’m John Losh, “The Losh-Man“, and as always, I hope that the very first priority in your life is a living, breathing, active relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and if you have never come to know Him as your personal Lord & Savior, my prayer is that you will do that today!

And I’ll see you next time here on Legacies…On The Rails!

Joseph (Joe) Henry Witten: Conducting Family Legacies…On The Rails!

Legacies…On The Rails Volume 17-011

Welcome back to another 2017 Blog Edition Of Legacies…On The Rails! Today, I have another awesome family story to share and want to thank my new friend Lee Witten that I just connected with via You Tube this week, for graciously allowing us to share in his Father’s Legacies…On The Rails and for his expedient response to my inquiry as I send out nearly daily invites via Facebook, Linked-In, You-Tube, Twitter and more and sadly only a few respond here and there, but I figure those that the Lord wants to have the stories shared of, he will prompt the right folks to respond, so I’m ok with that.

So, I won’t waste any more time but let me introduce you to Joseph (Joe) Henry Witten:

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Joseph (Joe) Henry Witten, was a Union Pacific Railroad Employee for 30 years. He was born in Ogden, Utah, June 5, 1914 and became a Union Pacific Brakeman on the Wyoming Division, 8th subdivision on August 14, 1936. He made Conductor on November 10, 1943. He was 19th in seniority at the time of his death October 15, 1974.

I had inherited his final Freight Conductors Train Book covering the 6 month period of April 17 to October 14, 1974.

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Seeing that it contained specific data for each trip, I decided to do an interpretation of these last 6 months by transcribing the information into a computer data base and augmenting with what supplemental material that related to this time period as a snapshot of his career on the railroad. I have endeavored to find as many photographs of the cabooses he worked on as well as the head end power on each trip.

The locomotive and caboose numbers were critical in identifying the type of locomotives and cabooses on each trip. By researching books, railroad museum archives and the internet, I was able to find many of them though not all. However, there is enough representatives to give a good idea of their physical appearance.

A copy of this material has been donated to the Utah State Railroad Museum archives so that future generations can have a record of the work of a railroad trainman during the era just prior to the end of the use of cabooses on major railroads.

In 1945 a Union Pacific photo journalist did a story about a day in the life of an engineer named E. H. Cook. Dad happened to be part of the story as Cooks Conductor. Two photos included dad as seen here giving engineer Cook his orders in front of Big Boy #4020 and with his brakeman on the caboose leaving the Riverdale Yard for Green River, Wyoming.

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After my fathers death, my mother passed on to me his final Conductors log book, one of the few pieces of memorabilia that she had. I was given his last railroad pocket watch as well.

I didnt understand some of the data such as the codes for the train types, but other railroaders at the museum including a fellow who actually worked with dad, filled me in. One thing led to another and I began to create a computer database of the information in his log book.

From the caboose and locomotive numbers I searched through our library and the internet trying to find photos to include in my computer transcriptions. Then I found ARCHES, an organization devoted just to cabooses! I quickly joined up and received the Captive Cabeese publication. What a great resource to help me locate any still existing cabeesethat dad had worked on during those last 6 months of his life. Then Don Strack came out with his book on The Union Pacific Caboose and I gleaned more information including a few photos.

In the summer of 2003 I was able to visit 3 of dads former cabooses. I visited two places in the Midwest that were identified as having a caboose with my dads numbers. The first was in Falls City Nebraska. Ive never been there before so I stopped at the town hall and found a local Policeman in the hallway who told me he thought the caboose I was looking for was down by the old UP Depot on the edge of town.

I followed his directions and there it was, UP #25241 sitting on a section of display track coupled to an old flat car and box car next to the depot. The windows were boarded up, paint was peeling, rust was building up but it was still intact. Dad worked on this caboose June 18, 1974 on an east bound trip to Greenriver, 61 car Los Angeles Extra (LAX) train pulled by two UP Centennials, 6927 and 6909 with an EMD DD35B unit.

The disappointment of that experience was soon changed to elation when I reached Abilene, Kansas and found UP #25466 still in operation on the Abilene And Smokey Valley Railroad, a little tourist line that runs out of Abiliene about 10 miles.

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I arrived at 10 minutes to 3 and went into their little ticket/gift office in a converted box car and introduced myself. What makes this caboose extra special is that it was the last one that dad rode, October 14, 1974 and he died October 15. The train was a 63 car Los Angeles Forwarded (LAF) westbound Greenriver to Salt Lake. Head end power were two SD40s, a DD35B unit and a GP30. At Curvo they had an air hose break between cars #31 and 32 at 3:45 a.m.and were back up running at 4:10 a.m.

I showed the crew the binder with all the information Ive been compiling and the last entry with UP #25466. They seemed very pleased about this bit of history of their caboose and I was given a ride on it for their 3 p.m. run.

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The emotion of being in that caboose overwhelmed me for awhile. I had a few private moments inside to collect myself then enjoyed the ride sitting up in the cupola with the conductor and trading stories. He was a retired school teacher so we had even more in common to chat about. On the way back they let me ride in the cab of their Alco S1 locomotive.

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Finally on June 28, 2004 my mother and I drove the 200 plus miles from Ogden to the West Central Utah town of Lynndyl where I believed we would find UP #25280. Lynndyl is a little railroad town on Union Pacifics Los Angeles Line. We had no trouble finding the town park where UP #25280 sat next to a children’s playground.

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Dad rode UP #25280 on June 5, 1974, Salt Lake City to Greenriver. The train was an ore drag with 102 cars. There were 5 SD40s on the head end.

We took some photos and found that the door had been broken open so went inside and looked around. There was some grafitti here and there but it was in pretty good shape. im worried that its not being well taken care of and just eroding away.

Here is a narrative that can be derived from the information on the log sheet to the left.

June 1, 1974, Eastbound

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Joe reported for work at 3:50 a.m at the Salt Lake City Office. Picked up train LAD 31, Los Angeles to Denver. Left the station at 6:20 a.m.. Engineer was F. Hicks, Head Brakeman Regnier and Rear Brakeman, Stamey. There was no Fireman. Lead locomotive was a DDA40X #6930 Centennial. There was one second unit, Centennial #6938.

The train had 21 loaded and 35 empty cars for a total tonnage of 2830. In North Salt Lake they picked up 17 cattle cars at 952 tons at 6:25 a.m. In Ogden they picked up 18 loaded, 20 empty cars for 2247 tons between 7:20 and 9:35 a.m. At Mile Post 888 there was an air hose problem on the 49th head car RBCS 2666 X box car for Golden, Colorado. Time to repair air hose from 12:45 to 1:15 P.M. Arrived Green River at 2:35 p.m. with 55 loaded and 53 empties with total
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I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this trip back in time with Lee Witten‘s Dad Union Pacific Conductor Joseph (Joe) Henry Witten as much as I enjoyed being honored with the humble privilege of receiving it from Lee and sharing it with you!
Got a story of your own, or one of a loved one like this that you would like shared here on Legacies…On The Rails? Email me at legaciesontherails@gmail.com and I’ll be sure to share it with all the rest of your railroad family around the world!
Today’s Railroad Equipment Profile goes to this New York Central Railroad Swift Stream car that I recently caught at the Kansas City Union Station. As you know, the New York Central Railroad is one of the most recognized and iconic railroads in history, usually in direct competition with the Pennsylvania Railroad. This post World War II model is one of an 11 car order that he NYC got from The Budd Company in 1949. But instead of indulging in too much info myself, I am going to invite you to visit this fellow WordPress Rail Blogger‘s page which at this time appears to be the most definitive source of information out there on these fabulous cars. http://nycswiftstream.com/ .
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For today’s Railroad Old Time Radio Feature, instead of just a solo episode, I am choosing to invite you to visit the page the features all 26 Episodes of 1930’s broadcasts of The Green Valley Line. https://archive.org/details/GreenValleyLine . I’m having trouble getting You Tube Videos to post correctly, so going to forego our ending theme song and a You Tube Video the Green Valley Line I wanted to share.
But want to remind you that the most important pursuit in your life each day should be staying faithful to a walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. I finished the book of John yesterday for 2017 (reading New Testament books in reverse order) and started Luke today so I’m right in the thick of the story of John The Baptist‘s ministry, Christ‘s birth and the start of His ministry. I try to read through scripture cover to cover or find devotionals to go through for half the year, then start reading as many scripture books as the rest of the year allows and it never gets old. There will always be something new for you to learn and grow from no matter how many times in your life you read it on your own, or in church, group Bible studies, etc.
I have a weekend all to myself this week and plan to do lots of rail-fanning in it and look forward to sharing what happens in our next visit!
Well, this Sunday is the 1st of the three yearly times that the Mid America Train & Toy Show comes to the KCI Expo Center here in Kansas City, and I’ll be there, looking for good buys, covering it for the blog, recording some podcast material, and hopefully seeing some of you. Here is the link: http://www.midamericatrainandtoyshow.com/
As always, this is John Losh, “The Losh-Man“, “Mr Legacies…On The Rails” saying may God bless and keep you and those you love until next time, and if I don’t see you here, if I don’t see you there, I hope one day I’ll see you In The Air!
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Railfan Focus: Jim Matuska: Capturing The Railroad Passion on Canvas

Welcome back! This is my 8th Edition of Legacies…On The Rails for 2017 and my 35th overall which I am very happy about as I was disappointed in only having done 8 last year!

I have another treat for you today as I have been given the privilege of sharing the story of my good friend, Facebook Friend, Brother in Christ and fellow passionate railfan, Jim Matuska! There is not a day that I don’t scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook looking to enjoy the latest railfan pics, or latest railroad artwork from Jim! We also share common ground in our health situation, and enjoying tracking our steps as part of staying healthy.

So, I will let Jim take it from here. I know you will enjoy his story as much as I have, especially since it starts out with the railroad my Grandpa John Losh and his brother Leonard Losh worked for, so it is my first favorite out of all those I have family connections to!

My passion for trains started back in the early 1960’s when my Dad held me up to the window as the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Town Job would rumble by our house on the south side of La Crosse, Wisconsin. The train usually had one SW1 Switcher and as many as twenty cars for the industries along this spur line. It ran from the CB&Q’s north La Crosse yard to CTC Herrington, which was located in the southeastern part of town. As time passed, I became friends with all the crew members on this switch job, so much so, they stopped the train and let me board the wooden CB&Q way car. I rode along as they performed their duties at the local industries. More time passed and soon I was assisting in the switch moves themselves, under the watchful eye of the Town Job’s conductor.  These experiences meant more to me than anyone could know, a young kid that liked trains, running an SW1, blowing that Blat single chime horn and ringing the bell, I was hooked for a lifetime.

This particular crew enjoyed the fruits of my Mother’s labor as I traded homemade strawberry jam for fusees and railroad chalk.  Imagine my Dad’s dismay, when he wanted fresh jelly on warm toast and all he found was a bunch of chalk and fusees! Soon enough school took me away from the Town Job and the crews retired or took different jobs, so I peddled my bike to the Northside to sit and watch the trains in and around Grand Crossing.  I hung around the now Burlington Northern roundhouse and took many photos at the time. I wish I knew now what I didn’t know then about all that first generation power, the pool power, and the different paint schemes, and so on. More time passed and I now traded my bicycle for a car and set my sights on the Grand Crossing interlocking tower; where the Milwaukee Road’s double track crossed the BN’s single track at grade with all the operations being controlled by the man in the tower.  Soon enough I was throwing the levers and bending the iron and the tower man was handling the radio work, talking to the trains and dispatchers. I was hanging orders for the Milwaukee Road trains and hooping up orders to the Chicago & North Western trains that ran between Winona and Tunnel City on the Milwaukee Road. If there were issues with the interlocking, I would walk the intended route and flag the train through, two short whistle blasts told me they saw me and they were moving. What a life for a kid that loved trains, the working man and the railroads.

I took a Watercolor class and as the teacher painted flowers, I was painting diesels.

During High School, I was in the Boy Scouts and completed my Eagle Scout where you have the opportunity the spend a day with an employer of your choice, I chose the Burlington-Northern Railroad. The Boy Scouts set me up with the Road Master of Engineers and Firemen based in La Crosse. He had arranged for me to take a train from La Crosse to Prairie Du Chein and back. After introducing me to the crew, I was sat down at the controls of two SD40-2s and 120 cars and proceeded to run it to Prairie Du Chein. What a thrill! The train I was supposed to bring back was late so I had to ride in the Road Foreman’s car back to La Crosse, I really didn’t care I was in heaven! After High School I worked various odd jobs and then I received the call of a lifetime, the BN called and offered me a job as a Brakeman and the same day Dairyland Power Cooperative called and offered me a position within the utility. Talk about a difficult choice. Soon I was working in the Transmission Engineering area of Dairyland Power, enjoying the trains in the Grand Crossing Tower on the weeknights and weekends, I had the best of both worlds!

All good things slowly come to a close, the Towerman I shared my time with retired and the now Soo Line closed the Tower. It was moved to Copeland Park next the CB&Q Steam Locomotive #4000, the Aeolus, Keeper of the Winds, and a wooden Milwaukee Road caboose. While at the power utility, I used my free time to draw trains in both pencil and ink. It was then I tried my first watercolor, but decided to stick with black and white artwork for a while. I drew up a set of seven pen & ink scenes and these were so well received, I did another set of three and started the model train show scene. Soon I tried watercolors again, it wasn’t pretty. I took a watercolor class and as the teacher painted flowers, I was painting diesels. There have been so many changes in the railroad scene in the last 40 years. This explains why I paint what I do: the history, what once was common, the railroads before the mega-mergers, the depots before they were torn down, steam before diesel, and diesels that were unique all to their own.

I accept all commission work if someone has a particular scene or railroad they are fond of and would like to see as a piece of quality art that makes any railroaders or railfan’s day. I have done many retirement paintings featuring the railroad where the retiree started with, and their name on a station sign somewhere in the painting itself. Almost all of my artwork can be seen on Facebook under Matuska RailArt page, feel free to stop by and take a look, I’ve also painted trucks, cars and vintage WWII Aircraft as well.

About the Author Jim Matuska

I’ve lived in La Crosse,Wisconsin all my life and recently retired after 39 years in the Civil Engineering field, which gave me my eye for details that cover many steam and diesel locomotives. My wife, Dorothy works at a local Bank and my son, Andrew, is a Locomotive Engineer for the BNSF Railway based out of La Crosse. I’ve always thought that Andrew is living out my dreams, but I have the memories. My artwork is all original, and I don’t make prints of my work because I want the person who purchases an original to have “the original”, not a copy. I paint what I feel unless it’s a commission where then I’ll do what I am asked. I like to paint the diesels and steam locomotives of the older Fallen Flag Railroads the best as they seem to bring back the best memories. I paint on 300# Paper which stands up quite well to watercolors and depending if I use hot or cold pressed paper, the desired effect of the colors being put down.

Here is some of Jim Matuska‘s artwork for you to enjoy. God has truly gifted him as an artist, and I’m sure I speak for all railfans in saying we are thrilled that he uses that gift to capture the history, the spirit and the passion that is railroading!  I also want to express my deepest gratitude to my dear friend, for allowing me to share his story here on Legacies…On The Rails! I’m honored and humbled! Please go check out the Matuska Railart page on Facebook, send Jim a Friend Request, and maybe have him commission some artwork for you. And as I’m famous for saying (because I truly believe it), You’ll be glad ya’ did!

 

As always, this is John LoshThe Losh-Man” reminding you that today is the day of Salvation! Jesus Christ gave His life for you on the cross of Calvary so that all of us can be forgiven of our sins and spend a wonderful eternity with Him in Heaven. But you aren’t born with it. We are all born in sin, in need of a Savior and though the gift is free, we must ask for it. We must ask Christ to come into our hearts and let Him be the Lord of our lives.

Revelation 3:20 says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock (He won’t force His way in, but He loves you and wants to be in your life). If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will (it’s a promise) come into him and dine with him and he with Me.”

So, accept His gift if you haven’t already, follow Him each day of your life through His word, prayer and a solid, uncompromisingly Bible believing, Bible preaching, Christ exalting church, and when it comes to trains and everything that is railroading, continue leaving Legacies…On The Rails! God Bless, and if I don’t see you at the railyard, if I don’t see you here…I hope Jim Matuska and I will see you In The Air!

 

 

Great Rail Sites Volume 1: Nick Ozorak: Master Of The Roundhouse

Welcome To the 7th installment of Legacies…On The Rails for 2017,and my 34th overall edition.  Glad you have again joined me and I have a real treat for you today! I had said I wanted to be more eclectic with what I shared here on the blog, and one of the directions I am going is to review other cool sites that I know you will enjoy.

I could not start this any other way but to share about my Facebook Friend Nick Ozorak, a lifelong railfan from (and who resides in) Meadville, Pennsylvania and is a 2013 graduate of Allegheny College with a degree in Film Study.  For over 10 years, Nick has been igniting the passion of railroaders and railfans alike with his websites  like his first one, At The Railyard http://attherailyard.com/ and his You Tube videos by the same name. The At The Railyard site and most of his videos are dedicated to profiling railroad simulators.

My favorite so far of those is the Monon (Hoosier Line) because, though this may seem insignificant to some, I have a small personal connection to it. Though I mainly concentrate on collecting items related to the railroads I have family connections to, I also pick up random pieces here and there to not only have a more diverse collection, but also for the history lesson, and I happen to own a Hoosier Line box car. I thought I had a pic handy to share but guess not. But I can certainly share Nick‘s video.

And while Nick has been doing At The Railyard the longest, before I knew about that site, I had been for quite some time, listening to and thoroughly enjoying his railroad podcast known as The Roundhouse Podcast http://theroundhousepodcast.com/ . Nick started The Roundhouse Podcast in 2015 with (as he shares in his very first episode) three specific goals in mind.

  1. Create episodes with meaningful content
  2. Explore new topics in the hobby
  3. Connect with all of us as railroaders and railfans and connect all of us as  a community

Well, for now 54 episodes since the inception of The Roundhouse Podcast, Nick has done a superb job of doing all that and more. He has covered freight roads, passenger railroads, excursion railroads. Logging railroads, and rail related special events. Railroad hotels, restoration and preservation of historic railroad equipment, and railroad films.

As you see above, episodes of The Roundhouse Podcast can also be found in video form on You Tube.

Starting with Norfolk Southern, he has gone on to cover such topics (always with very interesting and engaged guests who interact with him very well, as he is great at scripting the interviews so it makes things flow very smoothly). Nickel Plate 765, (which, again, I have a personal connection to. Since my opening theme here on the blog and the LOTR Podcast is The Wabash Cannonball, if you search images of the Wabash Cannonball, the NPR 765 is the one that appears the most, and I use it as wallpaper on my phone).

The Norfolk & Western 611. Chris Eden-Green‘s (another mutual Facebook Friend) Steam Locos in Profile. I recently posted a pic of a t-shirt my wife got me,on Chris’ Facebook page, thinking the steam loco looked European, asking if Chris could identify it. Brian Mcdonnell responded that it is the N&W 4-8-0 #382 on the Abingdon Branch in Virgina: affectionately known as The Virginia Creeper.

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He has covered the Strasburg, Pennsylvania Railroad, President Lincoln’s Funeral Train, The American Freedom Train. I also happen to own a collector plate from said train and have also photographed one of the steam locos that led it. Nick has covered the restoration of a Royal Husdon steam locomotive. The model train manufacturer Rapido Trains, and so much more. He has done all this from his studio, as well as from inside passenger train cars, the cabs of steam locos, diesel locomotives, and track-side.

Nick’s iconic Roundhouse theme is “In days past, the roundhouse was where the railroad worker united with the steam locomotive, both to prepare for the journey ahead. Today, it’s where we examine the history, the industry, the machines, the hobby, and the passion behind railroading. News, interviews, stories and more. So climb aboard! This is…..The Roundhouse!”

Nick always includes a “Question Of The Day” on The Roundhouse Podcast, and asks us as listeners to interact with him, and that he will (and faithfully does) share the best answers on the following show. His very first Question on Episode 1 was “What railfan activities are you most looking forward to in 2015?

In Episode 9: You Career With Norfolk Southern Part 1 was sharing answers from Episode 8’s Question: What news are you most interested in sharing? In Episode 20: Restoring A Royal Hudson, asked the Question: What aspect of Canadian railroad history fascinates you the most? I think you kind of get the idea of the interesting interaction Nick creates for us as the listeners with this method.

In closing, though he did not state this goal in his opening episode, I believe Nick Ozorak has a 4th goal for The Roundhouse Podcast, At The Railyard and everything he does, that he not only strives for, but succeeds in doing. So I have to say that Goal #4 is to strive for a level of quality that always makes you want to keep coming back for more. He is one person that makes me want to do better with the Legacies On The Rails Blog, the Podcast, and my videos, and I will continue to keep coming back! I hope you catch The Roundhouse Podcast soon. You’ll be glad ya’ did!

Nick sums up how he brings us all together as a railroad community in this, “Remember, The Roundhouse…Is Our House!” I am giving Nick Ozorak , At The Railyard and The Roundhouse Podcast my Seal Of Approval with 5 out of 5 LOTR Railroad Cross-Bucks!
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Well, in addition to the Facebook pages I have mentioned previously:

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (Burlington Route)

Railroad Bridges, Related Photos & Video

Rail Box Freight Car Fans

Union Pacific Flag Units

Railroad Auto Racks

The Wabash Cannonball

You can now also check out:

Caterpillar Train Collectors

If you would like to send me a story, or suggest a topic, or be featured on the Legacies…On The Rails Blog or Podcast, or even if you live here in Kansas City and want to get together for some railfanning, email me at legaciesontherails@gmail.com .

As always, this is John LoshThe Losh-Man” reminding you that if you haven’t already, seek a relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ, and follow Him each day through time in his word, prayer, and involvement in an uncompromisingly Bible believing and preaching local church.  It’s the ONLY WAY to truly stay On Track!

As I read in I Corinthians this morning, Chapter 9, Verse 16 stood out. “If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast in, for necessity has fallen on me. Yes, and woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” And when it comes to trains and everything that is railroading, continue leaving Legacies…On The Rails! I’ll see you next time!