My professional life and my recreational life are, at times, rather intertwined; I’m someone who loves railroading, and all that goes along with it, and I’ve been fortunate (VERY fortunate) to derive a fair amount of my actual work from that love. Fans of my website will recall some of the work I’ve done with NS, but what I’m going to share with you here is something slightly different- my work with, and for, tourist railroads. The past few years have been wonderful in that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know so many fascinating people involved with the friendly world of tourist railroading. Here are some of my favorites.
This is Rick. Rick runs the Indiana Railway Museum, in French Lick, IN. He’s also the single hardest working, chicken-with-his-head-cut-off, constantly busy dude I’ve ever met. To show Rick at rest would be a gross misrepresentation of the man, so here he is leaning out of a moving coach in 20º weather during Polar Express, doing what he does best- “putting out fires.”
Close on the heels of Rick in the fictitious contest of “He who does the work of twenty people, while getting less sleep than any of those people,” is Rodney at the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railway, in Romney, WV. Rodney does it all, every weekend the Eagle is open, from driving people around, to running locomotives, to staying up late with me to spot engines for a night shoot, to taking tickets from passengers. He’s a guy who will do anything and everything to keep things running smoothly and safely.
This is Allan, he’s the head guy at TVRM’s shops. I mean “guy” because from what I gathered from talking to him, he’s someone who is in on everything from turning the massive drive wheels to UP’s 844 to welding and fabricating the new firebox for the museum’s own steam engine of renown, Southern 4501. He’s a guy with more stories about more crazy train happenings than anyone I’ve met in the business, and I only hung out with him for a few hours! If you ever have the chance to see the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, check it out- it’s an amazingly run place from top to bottom, and Allan is at the top of that list.
Meet Courtney Wilson. He’s the Executive Director of the B&O Museum in Baltimore. If you want an example of a Guy Who Gets Things Done, look no further. He’s got his finger on the pulse of every bit of the Museum’s operations, and just so you know, the B&O Museum is pretty much the granddaddy of them all- huge collection of one-of-a-kind equipment, second-to-none preservation facilities, and all set in a truly historically significant place. Here he is in the Museum’s shop building.
While in Bryson City, NC I had the opportunity to do some shooting on the Great Smoky Mountains RR for RailEvents, during their Dinosaur Train weekend. Here’s the GSMR’s senior engineer, Eric “Spider” Pittman. I shot this in the cab of their venerable GP-7, during a switching move. Between shoves, Spider had a story for every crossing, curve and wayside building- truly a guy who’s “qualified” on his railroad! He answered my copious questions about the history of the line, the lineage of the motive power, and everything else, and if you’ve met me, you know I ask a LOT of questions!
Last but not least, this is Jesse. I’ve been down to the Potomac Eagle a few times, but it wasn’t until recently that I had the pleasure to meet Jesse. He was a longtime C&O employee, who now runs trains on the weekends for fun in his retirement. He and his wife come to Romney from Eastern Ohio multiple times each summer- she works the ticket office, he runs the shuttle trains, and to spend time with either of them is to know what it means to live life to its fullest. Just make sure Jesse gets a cab with air conditioning, and he’ll tell you stories of railroading as it once was until it’s time to head home for the day. A class act, all the way.
So there you have it. To see a few more photos of train stuff, and train people, check out the gallery below.