Finally! Holy cow this is huge news. Beginning on September 23, 2019, Amtrak will offer weekday nonstop service from the nation's political capital to its financial and media capital. Washington DC to New York and NYC to DC, weekdays only. Read the rest
Rotary car dumpers (aka wagon tipplers) are used for quickly emptying coal and ore from hopper cars. Traditionally, hopper cars emptied from the bottom.
Enthusiast Chester Hill praises Pittsburgh-based Heyl & Patterson, who build these behemoths:
This is the Single Rail Car Dumper that has been in operation over 15 years. Drummond Coal purchased Heyl & Patterson Equipment, and are now building the the first Quad Car Coal Dumper at the Drummond Port in Santa Marta, Colombia.
Here's a longer clip from a different type that shows the entire process, not just the dumping:
• Heyl & Patterson - Single Coal Rail Car Dumper - Santa Marta Colombia (YouTube / Chester Hill) Read the rest
When I was a kid growing up back East, my parents would bring me to a place called Edaville Railroad. It's a theme park now but, back then, the main attraction was a train that went through a track in cranberry bogs. During the holidays, they turned those bogs into a sort of winter wonderland with bright lights and festive sculptures. Passengers were the audience, and the decorated bogs became a kind of "stage."
I remember it being a lot of fun.
Well, for three days in late August, a group of artists in Germany took this idea to a whole new and incredibly impressive level. I love this so much!
Over 500 volunteers and residents in the "Bewegtes Land" art project entertained passengers with a super fun and quirky art performance, all happening along the train's nearly 19-mile route.
Watch the video to see how they surprised their moving audience along the way.
The route went from Jena to Naumburg, a quiet area in the Saale valley's countryside not known for tourists.
All I have to say is that someone really needs to do a U.S. version of this. Pretty please.
(TwistedSifter) Read the rest
The fine folks at Super Deluxe mounted a camera on a train traveling through the desert, and it's as relaxing and scenic as it sounds. Read the rest
For nearly an hour, this steam train from Brienz to Rothorn ascends a steep mountain and navigates narrow tunnels amid spectacular Swiss scenery. In addition to driver POV, YouTuber Timsvideochannel1 also got footage of the views: Read the rest
Dutch photographer Brian Romeijn takes haunting shots of abandoned buildings, but his striking shots of the famed Orient Express train capture the sense of a lost era. Read the rest
On a train from Portland to Oakland last week, my husband and I were startled to pass the rotting carcasses of dozens of battleships, moored together in clusters in a still, reedy bay north of San Francisco.
Turns out, our Navy stockpiles warships the same way we stockpile nuclear weapons. These boats were, originally, meant to be waiting in reserve, ready to go fight when needed. At the peak, there were 400 of them in Suisun Bay. But that was a long time ago. Today, the ships rusted hulks that leech heavy metals and other contaminants into the surrounding water. Their numbers have been shrinking in the last few years as ships were moved and dismantled for recycling. Fewer than 55 remain today. By 2017, they should all be gone.
In 2011, photographer Scott Haefner published a series of photos taken over the course of two years as he and two other photographers managed to slip past the ships' security detail and document the ruins, inside and out. At his site, you can see the photos (obviously much better than mine, above) and read the story of how the shots were taken (it involves reconnaissance missions and the purchase of an inflatable raft — not to mention whole weekends spent living aboard the ghost ships). The results are fantastic.
Thanks to Graham Coop for the link to Scott Haefner's photos!
Read the rest
Check out this great interactive map of the London subway system, showing the real-time location of the giant boring machines that are currently digging new tunnels beneath the city. (Via Nicola Twilley) Read the rest
During World War II, a time when most manufacturing was concentrated on the war effort and Americans were living with ration books and scrap metal drives, advertising became a very strange thing. Companies wanted to make people aware they still existed, even though they weren't currently offering much for sale and unnecessary consumption was being discouraged. More importantly, the companies wanted Americans to associate their brand name with the promise of life after the War. So, what you got, were a lot of advertisements touting what this or that company was going to do just as soon as the Germans and Japanese were defeated.
The image above comes from a 1944 advertisement by the Association of American Railroads. That room is actually the lounge car on a train — or, rather, the hypothetical lounge car on an imaginary train that might be built after the War is over (provided the development of air travel and the construction of the interstate highway system don't doom the train industry to a slow decline). Basically, you had a lot of time when companies had little more than dreams to offer, so the dreams just kept getting bigger and bigger.
At the Paleofuture blog, Matt Novak writes about this ad as part of a larger trend, and offers up some examples of how the tendency to make big promises about the future of technology was being heavily critiqued even as it happened. Novak's posts help make sense of some of the more-ridiculous branches of midcentury futurism. Read the rest
For those of us who saw Mark's post on the train simulator game and thought, "Man, I want that," here's a couple more bits of train-related goodness.
First, back in February, I rode Amtrak's Empire Builder from Seattle to Minneapolis and did my best to live-tweet the whole, multi-day adventure. It's an amazing route, full of buttes, mountains, and some truly dramatic prairie landscapes. This video by YouTube user domtak doesn't quite capture how great the view out the window of the Empire Builder truly is, but it does give you a nice overview of how varied the geography of the United States really is. This 6-minute video covers a whole Portland-to-Minneapolis journey on the train. (With thanks to Thanland!)
Second, I didn't realize this until my friend Andrew pointed it out to me, but did you know that Reddit has a Train Porn page? Prepare to lose approximately five days of your life. Read the rest
This customized 1957 Pontiac was used by the Erie Mining Company to transport supervisors up and down the company's 74-mile-long Mainline railroad, which shipped taconite from mines in northern Minnesota to coastal ports and processing facilities on Lake Superior.
Every day, seven 96-car trains full of taconite travel down this rail line. The Pontiac was tricked out to allow it to drive on both roads or on the Mainline rails, themselves, with rail wheels that could be raised or lowered. You can see the rail wheels in the photo below.
Both photos come from my visit to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth last month. Read the rest
Last Monday, I spoke to the Boston Skeptics about energy, infrastructure, and my new book, Before the Lights Go Out. After that talk, I met Erik "Skippy" Sund, a guy who is about to embark on an amazing adventure that he's hoping to crowd-source.
Erik is planning on traveling across the United States by train. His itinerary starts in Boston, heads south to Florida, west to Texas, up to Colorado and west to California, north to Washington, and the back East, through Illinois and and Ohio. It's not a commuter trip. It's not even like my recent train experience—where I chose to choo-choo directly home from a conference in Vancouver. Instead, Erik is trying to recreate the American travel epic, a story as old as the founding of this country.
The impetus behind this trip consists of some assumptions about the way we have come to travel the world around us.
Read the rest
1. Traveling is simply the utilitarian process of getting from point A to point B and is not regarded significantly as an event in itself. I hope to flip this assumption by showing the benefits of choosing a transportation method that encourages a greater interconnectedness with fellow passengers and the environment.
2. We accept that in the United States we have freedom of movement. As a developed country this implies access to a well organized, affordable and user-friendly transportation infrastructure. I intend to explore the infrastructure and see how it affects the lives of travelers. In particular I will be traveling frugally and in a minimalist nature, taking only 2 carry on bags and riding coach.