random thoughts on railroad photography, railfanning, technology, and such

Entries in Blogger (2)


BLOGGER SPOTLIGHT: Provincial Supertramp

provincialsupertramp.blogspot.comI was contacted by “Provincial Supertramp” due to my work as a rail advocate and a rail-centric blogger. In her email she detailed her intention of traversing America by train and disclosed her desire to blog about her travels, trials, and tribulations - but that’s not all.

Provincial Supertramp, a twenty-something female from Sacramento, California, and a self-professed rail enthusiast, hopes to help change the perception of rail travel in the process. Not only will this blog appeal to anyone interested in railroads and the state of train travel in America, but Provincial Supertramp is one of those “artsy” writers that have a unique blend of perspective, insight, and honesty. 

According to the first post on her blog she will make a difference:

“How could we, as a nation, have forgotten so quickly something so glorious as all that? 110 years after the first train ran in the United States and the railroad catalyzed the country’s industrialization, modern commerce, vast geographic expansion, and the development of our national identity, our modern railway system appears to have been sidelined by an American obsession with the speed, control, and cutting edge technology of automobiles and jet airplanes. While we relied almost solely on railroads for intercity travel and freight until the 1920s, and they played an important role in all of our most crucial moments in history, in the past 60 years trains have rapidly lost their place of honor amongst American modes of transit. Seeing this travesty, I have taken it upon myself to endeavor to single handedly restore the honor and glory to this historic institution.”

Wow, that is a lofty, and noble, cause. I wish her the best of luck. As someone who firmly shares her opinions regarding the value and worth of rail travel, I support her. As such, I encourage you check out her blog and travel with her as she “sees America,” both visually and socially, from the best vantage point possible - on a train. “All aboard!”


Train, Talent, Tangent, and Tribute

THE TASK AT HANDI just took a trip.  It wasn’t a trip I intended to take but sometimes you just go there.

It started with an innocent email from a fellow train enthusiast named Linda Leinen.  I frequently get emails from visitors to ChasingSteel.com, which I love by the way, commenting on the site or seeking train or railfanning information.  I had read Linda’s email and it seem typical in all respects.  It should have had the words “TICKET” printed across the top.

Linda had expressed her desire to go and see UP’s No. 844 as it ran through south Texas this weekend. She stated that she had made “a zillion inquiries” to ascertain the Valley Eagle Heritage Tour’s arrival time and departure route as No. 844 moved south.  I didn’t particularly know the details she sought but I love to help, if I can.

At this point I was, and continue to be, engrossed in my new iPad.  I thought that I would use it to research the details that Linda asked about and test my iPad at the same time.  So I went to the UP Steam’s GPS tracking site which shows the route in detail on the map when you have fully zoomed in.  I discovered the track routing out of Houston and then proceed to make a map for her showing the general route to Bay City that No. 844 would take.  I did this on my iPad in a cool drawing program I purchased for it.  So far so good.

I sent a reply to Linda’s email, which I used Pages to pen, and attached the map I created.  I gave her some advice on the chasing aspect and asked her to thank any crew members she encountered for their dedication and service to railfans everywhere.  

In her reply, she said she would.

She also graciously thanked me for helping her and detailed her plans for the chase.  She also took the liberty of including a URL to a recent blog post she has written about her childhood and her attraction to trains.

I  began to read her blog entry and was quickly taken by the fluid imagery and precise prose that held me captive.  Wow, “she can write,” I thought. Her blog, entitled “A Task at Hand,” is subtitled: A Writer’s On-going Search for Just the Right Word. I’d say she has found many of them. It is a very compelling post and a great blog that is certainly worth a read.

In her post she describes some of the railroad-themed music that she enjoys.  One notation, in particular, took me back to my time in the Army.  

I was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii in 1984 and thought of little else than being a good soldier and all of the women vacationing down at Waikiki.  Having been bitten already by the “train bug,” I did experience a departure from my idealistic pursuits briefly when I attended a Boxcar Willie concert on base.

For the uninitiated, Boxcar Willie was a persona created by Lecil Travis Martin and a legendary “hobo music” artist and a member of the Grand Ole Opry.  A truly talented singer and songwriter, he is best known for his uncanny ability to imitate a steam whistle sound with just his voice and a microphone.

As I read Linda’s post I clicked on the various links and took the “journey” she laid out for us. When I clicked on the Boxcar Willie link I smiled and got lost.  I clicked on link after link after link highlighting the various songs that Boxcar has performed. I had forgotten about his stirring talent and soothing sounds. Thanks for the memories Linda.  I learned more and more about Boxcar and discovered that he had succumbed to Leukemia in 1999. I feel fortunate that I got a chance to see him perform live and meet him.