Thursday, February 29, 2024

Pushing the Issue

 We have discussed it before here on the OC blog:  time is our most valuable resource.  And time in your 40's is a fleeting thing.  There never seems to be enough of it to handle all that comes our way.  Family.  Work.  Hobby.  Staying healthy.  Some traveling.  

In that light there are a lot of instances when it would feel more comfortable to stay at home and relax.  However, people are important, and some of our precious time simply must be dedicated to others: spending time with old friends, with distant family, with people who are part of your team even if far away.  And so I decided against odds at work and in lieu of sleep to depart at 0500 on a Thursday morning earlier this month from my friend Jon's home to attend 'Old Timers Weekend' at The Station Inn in Cresson, PA.  OTW as we call it was created by the original innkeeper to bring his friends together, and now has been around for nearly 25 years. I am glad to have attended many of them.  

Jon's idea this year was to railfan our way towards Cresson via Maryland, where we could photograph the Maryland Midland's operations.  We found their rock train, with three big SD's in corporate parent Genesee & Wyoming paint: two former UP nee MP SD50s and a former SP SD45, rebuilt to an SD40-2 internally. Great lashup, and they wasted no time coming up the hill from the quarry south of Union Bridge, MD.  

We chased the train to Union Bridge, a town built to be modeled!  Jon's amazing ability to decipher radio lingo identified MMID train 'UBTT', the local from Union Bridge to Taneytown, MD - and low and behold he had the last remaining Maryland Midland GP38 leading!    What a great start to this little trip.

After that we ended up heading west via county roads and U.S. Highways over the mountains towards Cresson.  We hooked up with longtime friend Mike at Cassandra, PA, as the clouds moved in.  Seeing great friends trackside at old haunts warms the soul.  

A fun shot late at night was four of us trackside in Cresson as train 22X passed us headed east towards New Jersey.  Bright lights from the inn made a neat silhouette of old buddies watching trains together again.  

The next day brought the opportunity to meet some fellow railroaders, where Lou and I posed for a quick group shot in the tiny town.  There are a lot of good people still working in railroading, and we have to take time to appreciate all of that when we can.

As we finished the trip, Jon and I stopped along our route home to visit Todd Treaster, a longtime Conrail and NS locomotive engineer at his home.  He has a truly spectacular collection of N scale trains and his model railroad depicting his version of Enola Yard and the mainline west to Pittsburgh - his home territory.  Jon and Todd traded stories and I was just happy to be there.  

Sure, it was a quick and tiring trip, but in the end sleep we can get when we must and experiences like this come only once in a while - sometimes, only once, ever.  I feel it is important to sometimes insist on going - to push the issue, so to speak.   Thankfully my wife not only agrees but insists: prioritize experiences when we can.  And I am grateful for such a wonderful community of friends that I can join on those adventures!  

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Canyon of Darkness

 Sometimes a grab shot image of the railroad jumps out at us.  Here's one from a recent operation session with SEEL making his daily pickup at Onondaga Yard.  With congestion this night, he ended up working on one of the few open tracks after dark.  

Our train is working in a shadowy canyon of darkness, long after dark on an early autumn evening.  The engineer is running the locomotives while the conductor, hanging on the rear of the cars to be coupled to the pick up, is using his radio to keep the engineer informed about what moves to make.  

This is a lot like the real thing!  

It's just a quick cell phone image, but it's amazing what we can do these days with digital photography.  The color temperature is spot on.  The reflections are perfectly captured.  The details stand out and the whole aura of the image is just what we shoot for during operations on the OC.  

It's just a quick image, of course, but it is hard not to have fun with this hobby!

Friday, February 23, 2024

Springfield 2024 - the Amherst Railroad Hobby Show

Every year in January, much of the model railroad hobby gathers for a few days in West Springfield, MA, home of the long-running Amherst Model Railroad Society's massive 'Railroad Hobby Show'.  It's a big deal in the hobby:  this year, attendance over two days included more than 26,000 tickets, many people attending both days.   Here's a link:

And, here's the map they publish - this year with the Onondaga Cutoff mentioned in name!

For the first time, thanks to a suggestion by Lionel Strang from A ModelersLife podcast, I decided to get a table for the Onondaga Cutoff.  After attending the show it was a really neat experience to be part of it officially!

I made the trip north with Ralph Heiss, a historian and modeler and close friend from NJ.  We set up our booth and got ready for the show.  

Visitors from around the world come for this one.  Here we have NMRA member Martyn Jenkins from Brisbane, Australia at the booth, with Ralph and I.  And more local visitors, too - hundreds and hundreds of people stopped by to say hello.

Matt Paquette and Rodney Kantorsky, both fellow hobbyists who share my fascination with signaling, stopped at the booth as Saturday continued.  

A wonderful gift came from good friend Dave Magill, who arrived at the booth with a relic from the days we model on the Onondaga Cutoff - an Albany Division T-shirt from his collection when he worked the division back in the 1990's.  Talk about a treat!  Complete with classic 90's pastel coloring, this one is a keeper for sure!  

While the show takes a lot of time and energy to pull off, it is very rewarding and a way to help grow the aura of the OC while meeting many fans that have enjoyed the railroad for decades.  It happened a few weeks back and I finally made some time to make a post.   We will be doing this show again, and if you haven't been able to be present at the weekend, give it a try.  It is a fantastic intersection of the people that make the hobby work!