CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 Wrap Up

The date of this shot is 12/31/1986... New Year's Eve. Surprisingly, the Mohawk River doesn't look iced over and I see no traces of snow anywhere. There is a lot of motive power on this train, but perhaps Guilford decided to combine several trains to get them over the road before the holiday evening. Mohawk Yard is just to the right of the bridge, and downtown Schenectady and the old Alco plant are just on the left. I think I see six different paint schemes on the locomotives. 

As 2021 draws to a close, I wish all of you a wonderful, safe, and happy new year.

I accomplished several things in 2021:

1.) I scratchbuilt twelve structures for the NMRA "Master Builder - Structures" certificate. As it turns out, only three earned enough points for a merit award but another two more are very close and should be easily augmented to bring up the level of detail. I will likely scratchbuild something new for the twelfth, and super-detail it just for the award. 

It is funny that every all eight pieces of rolling stock I built earned merit award, but I struggled with structures. Sure, I didn't add as many details as I could but I suspect something else influences the judging more: most judges (and most modelers) have built craftsmen structure kits, but few have scratchbuilt rolling stock. As a result, I think most judges believe that rolling stock is harder to accomplish and as a result they judge it more leniently. Everyone can build structures, so they judge them harder. Or that might just be my own perceptions.

2.) I started to seriously explore Hi-rail O gauge. I joined the Empire & Eastern Division of the Toy Train Operating Society and have attended many of their online weekly Zoom meetings, went to a couple of their in-person layout meetings, and even helped them set up at a local train show. I also toured three different O gauge layouts (one in Buffalo, NY; one in Maine; and one in New Jersey) and I had been having a blast with the bigger trains. I also started buying O scale trains that I liked, and have so far weathered about a dozen freight cars and a caboose. I even wrote an article with a major O gauge magazine accepted for publication next year. At this point, I believe that my next layout will be in this scale.

3.) I took a day trip to Maine to ride a 2-foot train, toured a custom layout builder, and had lunch on the Maine coast. Seeing real trains, riding trains, and talking with other model railroaders was great even though I had a very long car ride in the process. It helped remind me of what "normal" looked like before the pandemic occured.

And, I have some things to look forward to in 2022:

1.) The "Springfield" Amherst Train show in January is something I need for my modeling sanity. I couldn't attend the local Great Train Extravaganza earlier this month due to a plumbing problem in the basement, and so my train show itch is still waiting to be scratched. However, with the rise of Covid numbers I fear it will be cancelled.

2.) The Rapido Rohr Turboliner HO scale train which I ordered several years ago may actually be released this year. Yay!

3.) After taking nearly a year off, I am recharged and began working on my HO scale layout again. Most of that will be discussed in a future post, but suffice to say for right now I am excited to at least be doing something with it.

Here's to hopefully a great 2022!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

D&H company service automobile

I am not a car guy so I can't tell you what make or model of automobile this is. But, because it has D&H shield on the side I would assume it was in company service. The slide is dated July 1976 and if you look at the back window of the car you can make out a large American flag. If anyone has more information about this interesting car I would love to know.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas!

I wish all of you a Safe and Happy Holiday Season and a Blessed New Year!

Here is our tree for this year. Bringing out the Lionel Hogwarts set requires 0-48 (diameter) curves, which cuts into our family room carpet where our dog Clover normally plays. As a result, she sometimes knocks the train over as it goes around and around. In this photo, though, she is content to just watch it roll along.

For those who are wondering what to get for model railroaders for Christmas, I believe that this classic Charlie Brown cartoon says it all:

And for the true meaning of Christmas, also brought to you via Charlie Brown & Linus...

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Snowy D&H scene

In this December 1988 shot, engines from the D&H, Chessie, and the Bangor & Aroostook Railroads combine to move a mixed freight. It looks cold in the scene, but I don't see any exhaust from the engines to perhaps they are idling.

Lately I have been reading many books on the B&A and B&M, and I have always thought that the Chessie scheme was pretty sharp, so this image captured a lot of my interests. Except the snow. Oh well, that is what December is known for in upstate NY.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Four generations of locomotive power in Utica (11-25-2021)

While visiting my Grandmother for Thanksgiving in Utica, NY this year I stopped at the Amtrak station. Anytime I go to Utica I drive to the station first, and I have written about the former NYC station here. Because Amtrak's schedule usually has a train arriving around noon, it is usually a good time to catch a train before Thanksgiving dinner.

It was cold this year but I did walk around and took a couple of pictures. While my photography skills leave a lot to be desired, I think I managed to capture something special this year.

The train farthest in the distance is an Adirondack Scenic Railroad passenger train being led by #1845, a Montreal Locomotive Works (subsidiary of ALCO) RS18u built in 1957. This would be considered a second generation diesel locomotive. Trailing that is #1502, an ex-Metro North Railroad Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) FP10 built in 1947. This would be considered a first generation diesel.

The Amtrak train in the center is being pulled by Amtrak #714, a General Electric (GE) P32AC-DM built in 1998. This would be considered a third generation diesel locomotive.

Finally, the steamer in front is a NYC steam locomotive #6721, a B-11k 0-6-0 class switcher built by Alco in 1913. This would be a pre-diesel generation locomotive. This poor engine was subject to a vandal-caused runaway freight car collision in 2015 but thankfully it looks better now.


While the definitions of "first generation", "second generation", and "third generation" diesel locomotives and their cut-off dates isn't always clear, I think I can broadly say that this shot shows three generations of diesel power plus the pre-curser steam locomotive. Four locomotive builders are also represented: Alco, MLW, General Electric, EMD. Not too bad for one photograph.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Then and Now - North Albany CP train

Here is a shot of a northbound train passing through North Albany on August 10, 1991. The large gray building in the background is the Central Warehouse (served by the NYC). The shorter light gray building directly above and behind the second and third engines is the former Albany Tomato Company. I don't know what it was being used for in 1991, but it certainly wasn't tomato red anymore! The brick building behind the lead engine is more puzzling. Ten years ago when I was researching the area it was a tire dealer and a warehouse for party and event supplies. But what was it in 1984? That is a puzzle. In his excellent book Bridge Line Freight 1960-1983, author Dominic Bourgeois opined that it might have been once part of the F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company. 

Not much has changed with the exterior of the building. Here is a shot I took on April 20, 2005. This Norfolk Southern locomotive was actually pulling a contain train. Can you imagine seeing containers snaking through the buildings? I believe that the containers were all single-stacked, but it still made for an unusual sight. And one that hasn't occurred in nearly a decade now that the container cranes were replaced with the oil terminal.

And if you are wondering what those windows are that are facing the tracks, here is a better shot of the building from July 05, 2010.

Friday, December 10, 2021

D&H flanger / caboose #35824 (1984)

Here is a neat image of a D&H caboose taken April 12, 1984 in Colonie Yard. It looks like a transfer caboose but to my knowledge the D&H never owned cabooses specifically set up for this purpose (transfer cabooses are utilitarian to the extreme and are essentially mobile offices with a desk, bathroom, stove, and not much else). Instead, this appears to be an old flanger which originally had steel blades mounted underneath that scraped ice away from inside the rails. There is a lot of open space visible below the deck so I would guess the blades have been removed. I don't know if the D&H used it as a caboose anymore or if it just sat and decayed on a yard track. Online pictures show it staying in Colonie through at least the end of the decade.

I purchased this slide with the idea of scratchbuilding this model, though it looks so ugly that I am not sure I could see myself putting in the effort to finish it. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

D&H Shark #1216 is moved!

Here is a movie of a recent (December 02, 2021) move of Delaware & Hudson RF-16 shark #1216. 

As D&H fans know, their two sharks (#1205, 1216) were built for the New York Central Railroad, then traded in to GE and later sent to the Monogahela Railway. Sold for scrap, the D&H purchased them in 1974 by exchanging $12,000 worth of metal scrap boxcars for the pair. Under the care of President Sterzing and maintenance of Chief Road Foreman of Engines Marv Davis, they worked various jobs including excursion trains, the Slatepicker, and road assignments. 

In 1978, with the D&H under new management, they were sold to the Castolite Corporation (a leasing company) and ended up on the Michigan Northern Railway. After #1205 was damaged in a snow accident, the pair were sent to the Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad. They have been there for over 40 years, and owner John Larkin has kept them hidden (and protected) from the weather, vandals, and a scraper's torch. He announced in 2020 that upon his death they would be sent to museums for future preservation.

We all have dreams for what we would do if we won the lottery. One of mine has always been to purchase and restore these two engines. I don't know why... they were retired and hidden away years before I was even born and I have never seen them run. My favorite steam locomotive is Arcade & Attica Railroad #14, a Baldwin ten wheeler that I rode behind once or twice as a child before it too was locked up in 1988 in an engine house for protection and perhaps future restoration. And who did the A&A buy it from in 1963? Ironically, it was the Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad. 

So, if I won the lottery (and my wife let me) my money would go to restoring several engines that passed through the E&LS railroad's roster. Small world, eh?

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Wrecked D&H boxcar (1976)

We all have bad days. The D&H was no exception. No idea what the story is behind boxcar #23060 but it looks like it derailed and the end was impacted by the other car it was coupled to. In this March 10, 1976 shot in Oneonta it is clearly grounded so perhaps they were using it as a storage shed.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

USDOT special passenger train (1980)

This shot from September 08, 1980 shows a United States Department of Transportation inspection train touring the line around South Danville, PA, which is southwest of Scranton. Perhaps the state was about to award grant funds to the D&H and wanted to tour the line first? I don't know the history, but it would make for an interesting model to run during an operating session.

For a look at a Federal Railroad Administration Budd inspection unit, see here.

Friday, November 26, 2021

D&H wheel car #35413

The D&H's M.O.W. equipment in the late 1970s and early 1980s was painted a striking dark blue with yellow trim (as were many of their locomotives). I have posted previously about blue D&H wheel cars here and here, as well as other blue D&H M.O.W. equipment here. However, even the bright blue paint has a lifespan and by the mid-1980s it faded into a dull, grayish blue. Here is one of their wheel cars (the slide mount says #35413) in East Deerfield, MA on September 25, 1985. 

Oddly, the number #35413 is not in the sequence as the one in the first linked picture above, which is D&H #15961. The number in the second linked picture is out-of-frame, which is no help. I wonder how many blue wheel cars they had? I bet that Guilford kept all of the former-D&H wheels cars in their old numbering scheme, and all of the former-B&M wheel cars in their old numbering scheme. This could account for the disparity of sequencing.

Also, if you want to see a pink Canadian Pacific wheel car, click here.

Monday, November 22, 2021

D&H 44-tonner model

While attending the Albany Train Show at the Polish Community Center this past weekend, I spotted this engine for sale. Despite being in a D&H paint scheme (check), O scale (check), a 44-tonner (check), and nicely done (check), I just couldn't buy it. Everyone has a line they cannot cross, and this was mine. It was a bridge(line) too far.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Former D&H Alcos on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

When I first purchased this slide (dated August 1987) I thought something was off but I couldn't put my finger on it. I mean, I was squinting at a slide roughly 1" square and holding it up to a ceiling light to see what it is (at the noisy Springfield train show no less) so I was just happy to identify it as a D&H train. When I got home and looked closer, I saw the "A&M" on the lead engine's hood and the dark maroon paint scheme of the third engine that had to be the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad. They were, and are, still a big proponent of Alco engines.

So, not a true D&H train per se, but if close enough (if you don't look too hard)...

Buffalo Creek Graphics - rare A&A boxcars

This past year I have been tracking down some commercially available A&A models to include on my blog. In the process, I have met some wonderful people that I am happy to now call friends. Recently, I have been working on finding out more information related to some O gauge cars produced by Buffalo Creek Graphics. (Below are some A&A cars in Frank's collection)

Buffalo Creek Graphics is a company in Western NY (Buffalo and North Tonawanda areas) custom painting O gauge train cars in mostly shortline road names. They are mostly closed for business now.

Light Blue Boxcars (#507, #512, #521)

My interest started when I discovered that B.C.G. produced three light blue A&A boxcars around 2012. Their website had some information about these cars. I have been watching EBay for a long time to buy them but they rarely came up. Finally, I wrote to B.C.G. and asked if they had any left. The company's inventory was sold out, but John Slater offered to sell me the two in his collection (#512 and #517). Terms were agreed upon and the deal was reached, and he was kind enough to send a letter of provenance with them as well as a brief history of the cars.

The history of these cars is this: for the 2013 Nickle Plate Road HTS one of the planned events was riding the A&A. Inspired by that, John wanted to do some boxcars in the A&A's baby blue scheme. He, along with former owner Tom Gascoigne, contacted A&A General Manager George Ling and they all worked on the project together. Paint samples from an old A&A car that was in the yard were obtained by scraping paint from an area that was not subject to sun bleaching to ensure that it was the correct color blue. How is that for correct paint color accuracy? John did all of the artwork for the cars, and B.C.G. produced the cars in three road numbers. As noted, I obtained #512 and #517 from John. So I still needed #521 (though more on that later)

Orange & White MTH Boxcar (#507)

Then, months later while thumbing through an old issue of O Gauge Railroading magazine (Run 214) I came across an article from a layout tour in the 1990s of Frank Battaglia's layout. One of the pictures showed an orange and white A&A boxcar so I looked him up online and called him. We talked for a long time and discovered we had a lot in common, and that led to an invitation to come out and see his layout. Which we did. My wife and I, along with our dog, toured his house and layout he was a wonderful host. I also met Tom at that time, who was visiting that day and wanted to meet me. Did I mention that Frank and Tom were brother-in-laws? Sadly, Frank also wanted to make it out to meet me but couldn't.

It turns out that Frank's orange and white boxcar was actually an MTH car produced in 2002. I own two of them, one of which is the MTH factory prototype sample car. I am not sure why OGR magazine captioned the photo as being from the early 1990s if the boxcar was made in 2002, but oh well. Below are the two in my collection, as well as some other USTTC A&A cabooses. Its inclusion in the article sparked a wonderful friendship with Frank.

Red & Black Boxcar (#411)

I didn't realize there was even more to this story until I went to visit Frank's house and tour his layout in mid-October. Tom showed up because he wanted to meet me, and we started talking. He then proceeded to show me a red and black A&A boxcar which I knew nothing about, and I later learned belonged to Frank. I asked Tom about the history of this car, and here is what I found it. In 2009, in preparation for the 2009 Nickle Plate Road HTS convention being held in the Buffalo area, Tom wanted to do a special boxcar for the A&A as one of the convention events was going to be riding the A&A. 

For this car, instead of using Weaver undecorated boxcars Tom selected Atlas O model X-29 boxcars because that is what the A&A prototypes actually were. And thus this became the first and only B.C.G. car that used an Atlas undecorated model. The run of the cars was limited to 5, and as a result the production costs were high. John did the artwork and graphics, and the painting was done by Weaver Models. Frank got one (which I was shown during my visit), Tom got one (more on this car later), one was given to George Ling, and the other two were given away as raffle gifts at the convention. Below is a picture of Frank's model with the tinplate trucks.

Well, for an A&A guy this was too much to take in! There were now another B.C.G. car that was missing from my collection and due to its scarcity was unlikely to ever turn up. I again offered to purchase it from Frank but he refused, as they were personal gifts to him from his brother-in-law Tom. I did leave him with my business card should he ever change his mind.

A couple of weeks later Frank called with some good news. He had located another blue #512 A&A boxcar in Utica belonging to an old friend, and that guy was willing to sell it to Frank. Then, since Frank was going to still have one of the blue A&A cars in his collection, he was willing to sell me his own #521 to complete my set. So, the next time I am in the area I can swing by to collect it. What a wonderful gesture.

But wait... there's more! Fast forward to mid-November and on Ebay the red A&A boxcar showed up. It was being sold by a company in North Tonawanda. How could this be? Would Frank or Tom actually sell their models of this car a short time after I offered to purchase them and not offer me first rights? And it had scale wheels, not tinplate wheels, which was odd. Out of a 5 car run, did one of them have scale wheels? Well, I called Frank right away and we talked some more. This car wasn't his... he again repeated he would never sell his. Instead, it was Tom's car, because his was the only car with scale wheels. As it happened, Tom had previously arranged for some of his collection to be sold by an auction house before I met them all and this car was next up on the auction block. 

I told Frank I was going to bid on it and not lose it. And I didn't. Thankfully, by now I was aware of its scarcity. Had it popped up on Ebay several months ago I wouldn't have known just how rare it was. Below is a picture of my car. 

Sadly, Tom recently passed away in early December. It is a real loss, because I enjoyed talking with him at Frank's house the one time we met. 

Thus, that is where I am now. It has been quite a journey over the past few months. I have all three light blue cars (two of which came from B.C.G.'s John Slater, and the third threw the efforts of Frank Battaglia), one red/black car (originally owned by B.C.G.'s Tom Gascoigne), and the MTH orange/white factory prototype boxcar (confirmed by Mike Wolf). I also have a custom painted A&A car that isn't prototypical but still very nice. All in all, not too bad for a few months of sleuthing. And, I have met a lot of wonderful people in the process.

Unfortunately, I might need another O scale display case to hold it all!

Friday, November 12, 2021

D&H train outside of unknown tunnel (1984)

As I rake and bag the leaves in my yard, I am reminded of the spring season. This shot from my collection is dated September 1984. It doesn't identify the location, but it appears as though the train is about to enter a tunnel. I don't know which one, and I am not sure it is even in New York State. I do love the trees and yellow weeds in the trackside brush, and that the signal light shows green. Highball!

Monday, November 8, 2021

D&H #5011 switching Binghamton yard (1983)

Here is a shot of Alco RS-11 #5011 switching Bingo yard on October 07, 1983. What drew my attention to this shot was the Chessie boxcar. I have always liked that paint scheme. 

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Single-engine TOFC and COFC trains

I really love Trailer-on-Flat-Car ("TOFC"), also known as "piggyback", trains. I think they are neat with the trailers sometimes perched on top of extra long flat cars with the highway wheels sticking down. Sometimes they look so top heavy that I feared they would tip over. Unlike container trains, which to me always seem to look alike (despite the dizzying variety of container colors nowadays), TOFC trains struck me as different and special. They were the "new" thing to hit railroading when I was a young railfan in the 1980s. I spent a lot of time building models even though I knew they likely wouldn't be run on my layout.

When one pictures a TOFC train they likely think of a hot shot train pulled by three or four engines and stretching a mile or more long. Most TOFC trains were like that. However, sometimes a single road engine would be called to pull a train. These smaller trains are more manageable and look a lot better on smaller layouts.

Even the D&H ran shorter TOFC trains. Here is one from January 1980 showing RS36 #5022 pulling a mixed train with a bunch of TOFC flat cars on the head end.

Here is another picture dated February 1986 showing RS36 #5016 pulling a train of containers on flat cars (COFC). While not as exciting as trailers, it too shows a train being pulled by a single engine. I think this was near Binghamton. Note the amount of filth on the forward side of the cab and battery box of the Alco.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween (and domes "in disguise")!

Halloween means a lot of things to different people, but one memory is dressing up and going to collect candy. My mother sewed us excellent costumes when I was a child. Anyway, the D&H tried its own Halloween magic in 1975 when it decided to push back against Amtrak regarding the operation of the "Adirondack" passenger trains. Though they were jointly run by the two railroads, with funding from the State of New York, it was Amtrak that provided the dome cars in their standard red and blue colors. Usually the rest of the train, including the engines, was in the D&H's yellow and blue as seen in the below show taken in Mechanicville on August 21, 2976. They couldn't fit through the tunnels into NYC so they were always pulled off the train at Rensselaer before the train headed south. Due to the cost of switching them off the train they were always located behind the engine and got filthy from Alco exhaust smoke as a result.

However, some D&H employees thought that the domes would look better repainted in blue and yellow to match the rest of the train. So, for a week at the end of October 1975 the D&H secretly modified the domes between runs by painting over the red Amtrak stripes with yellow paint and even added D&H shield emblems on the sides! Within a couple of days (literally) Amtrak officials saw it while riding the inaugural Lake Shore Limited train (Doh!) and demanded that the red be restored.

Back when I started collecting D&H slides I focused on obtaining one of these illusive dome shots. Why I cannot say, except that they were only available during a five-day window before the cars had their red stripe restored. This is the first "dome slide" I found (dated October 28, 1975) and I was super excited to buy it. It is hard to make out the colors of the stripes on the dome, but they are in fact yellow and blue.

This next picture dated 10/31/1975 shows the yellow and blue stripes along with Amtrak's red and blue "pointless arrow" emblem. The yellow is much more obvious than the first image. I guess the D&H decided not to paint over the Amtrak emblem.

The last picture is only dated "1976". By this time, it is my understanding that Amtrak and the D&H had fought over the dome cars so much that Amtrak pulled them from the trains. The D&H, in response, leased two dome cars from Canadian Pacific. These cars had green glass in the domes and are easier to spot. They were painted in the proper D&H colors.

Though just a footnote in the history of the D&H, I found this story fascinating. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Weedy, overgrown tracks

The next time you accidently sprinkle too much ground foam over your ballast when you are working on scenery, keep this undated shot in mind. I don't know the location or the date but the overgrown track looks like the "Third Main" near Colonie before it was finally removed. Those side tracks aren't faring much better.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Day trip to Maine

While going through some model railroad magazines I came across advertisements for Model Rail Scenes, a company that custom builds train layouts. They seemed to focus mainly on three rail, O scale, layouts, and I found their designs to be pretty realistic and evocative of New England scenery. If I ever did build an O scale layout, I would want mine to focus on the north east. So, I called the owner, Brian Inch, just to talk about basic layout concepts and such. I wasn't planning on hiring him to build a layout for me, but he does things I haven't seen elsewhere and I wanted to pick his brain. He did one better, and invited me to visit his showroom and talk with him in person. Great!... except he was 330 miles away in Augusta, Maine. 

While that was going on, I had a desire to revisit the WW&F Railway in Alna, Maine. I am a member of the organization and read their newsletters but haven't been there in person since 2017. My wife has wanted to take a long weekend vacation in Maine again, but it has been busy with work and the WW&F is located about 300 miles from where we live.

So, these two Maine destinations sat on my backburner until I just decided to go for it. I would go on a Saturday and visit both in the same day, and then drive home. It was an 11+ hour trip covering almost 700 miles, but I figured I could do it. So, I woke up early last Saturday and left the house at 6:00 AM exactly. I arrived back home at 10:45 PM. But, aside from waiting in line for over 2 hours at Red's Eats for a fried chicken sandwich (which I was told they were out of when I got to the front of the line!) it was a good day. Below are some pictures from my trip.

Brian's display layout is 10x16'. There is a lot packed in it. It is considered an "island" style layout in that you can walk completely around it. I really liked his duck scene.

This bridge took up a lot of space but it wasn't forced into the scene, and that is what made it so realistic. Many bridges are shoehorned in by layout builders who want add them just because they look good without giving thought to whether the rest of the scenery would demand such a bridge be built there.

The center area is part of his old display layout that I actually saw at the Springfield, MA train show a couple of years ago. Even the tree-covered forests look good and they aren't those cheap "puff ball trees" that everyone seems to like to build.

Around the layout area were display shelves filled with O scale trains that would have run on railroads in Maine. It was inspiring to see.

After we talked for a while, I drove to the WW&F Railway. They were running multiple trains which required passing each other at their station stop in Alna Center.

The train pulled by B&SR #7 arrived first and took the straight portion of the dual track.

Then, the other train pulled by WW&F #9 (the train I rode earlier) took the siding. While I can't be sure of it, I think they always kept the train pulled by the B&SR #7 engine on the straight mainline portion of the track to keep it off of the reverse curves leading into and out of the passing siding.

The railyard in Sheepscot was jam packed full of trains, including at least two other steamers and a diesel engine. Part of the equipment belongs to the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum in Portland, ME.

Their machine shop filled with equipment looked great.

Their new engine house was under construction. It will be great to have a nice, safe place to store all of the steam locomotives.

Monson #4, which at one time was abandoned in a scrap yard in Rochester NY, was here on loan. I wish I had my picture taken with it here like I did with Monson #3 in 2020. Maybe next time I come up.

The inside scoop on a passenger car being built from scratch in their shops.

One of only two Maine 2-foot gauge tank cars, this one was restored in the past few years here. I took some more pictures as I would like to build a model of it someday.

My very own T.C.D.A. #65 next to the real thing in Wiscasset, ME. The dock was filled with stuff as part of the clean up for the end of season and this was the best shot I could manage.

Saying goodbye to the railroads in Maine... until next time.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Circus Train in Menands (1987)

Who doesn't love the circus? Maybe me. I don't recall ever going to one as a child, though while in high school my youth group attended a Shriner's Circus. I don't remember much about it. I know the Barnum & Bailey Circus used to move from city to city by train (they had a "blue" train and a "red" train), and up until a few years ago those trains were the primary method of transporting the circus equipment around. It was a very long train, at least in my mind, made up of coaches for the employees and extra-long flatcars for holding various wagons and road equipment.

Here is an image of the circus train on May 31, 1987. The slide's location is labeled as Menands, but I can't place exactly where this shot was taken. The power lines on the left should be helpful, but the only possible location I can think of is facing south on the I-787 Exit 6 on-ramp. If true, there was some expert cropping to hide the old William Press building which would be directly on the right. That could be why the photographer framed the image as a portrait and not a landscape.

Regardless, it is interesting for several reasons: the train sure looks long, that it required four locomotives, and there are a lot of trees and growth in the area. For as industrial and commercial as the D&H's line through Albany way, some parts were still wooded and secluded. My "cut corner" section strives to represent part of this.

I do have my own story to tell about the circus train, however. On May 1, 2005, it was a wonderful spring day and I wanted to get away from my studies. I drove to the Port of Albany and came upon an odd looking set of coaches that revealed itself as a circus train. Passenger cars were parked on a couple of sidings (some with access ramps leading to their doors). Extended length flatcars were secured behind wire fences on the tracks alongside the warehouses where the huge transfer cranes are. 

It is my guess that the circus workers actually needed access to these cars while they were parked, hence the need for the ramps.

I don't know if this is the "red" train or the "blue" train, but the red lettering on the side of the car might be a way to distinguish them.

I also assume that the cars were parked on a siding with an access road nearby instead of in the adjacent rail yard because the Albany Port RR didn't want circus employees walking through an active railyard.

Some of the doors look to be non-factory standard. Those baggage doors sure look unusual, as do the windows on the sides.

Behind the fences, 89' flatcars are ready and waiting for the call to be loaded up.

There were a lot of flat cars.

Sadly, the circus train is no more. It is a memory. I remember reading a couple of years ago how the train cars were to be auctioned off. I am glad I took the time to wander away from my studies and explore the port that day. If only I had known when they were loading, I would have cut class again. Oh well...