Model railroading is an effort to capture in miniature the essence of what fascinates us about trains. This can take a variety of forms: there's collectors, there's builders, there's operators, there's historians...and plenty of other approaches. The trains are central to it all of course but railroads are part of western civilization, and so there are many ways the interest manifests itself.
A challenge for serious hobbyists, though, is to keep a vision on what we set out to accomplish in the hobby. We can loose sight of what really inspired us to get into the hobby in the first place. That's where looking through old photos and notes can help.
|Conrail TV-13, CP 286 at East Syracuse, NY, March 1997
In researching the C30-7A kitbash article for submission, I went looking for slides in my collection of prototype C30-7A's, and found a few that fit the bill. I scanned them and noted how the image brought me back in time - it was exciting to see the image and imagine the sound, remember the scent, see the dynamics - I could almost feel the ground shaking as the train accelerated past.
For those of us into the operation, all the rest of what we do in the hobby is in service of operations - the vision of an operating railroad, complete with the role-playing game that is required to make it run. Operations is fascinating for many reasons and for me, capturing the essence of what Conrail was doing on the Chicago Line in the 90's is the goal. Many diverse people from all sorts of backgrounds came together 24-7-365 to move trains, and they did it safely, with pride.
|Conrail TV-24, East Syracuse NY, March 1997.
Take some time to look through your old books and photos, notes, and trip logs. We can't go back in body, but we sure can go back in mind. Bring that to an operating session featuring a railroad in the past, though, and we can for a few hours travel in body back to a miniature world gone by. That's a joy of the hobby for me, and a goal of the Onondaga Cutoff is to share that with others.