Showing posts with label Trains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trains. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The History of Trains

Narrow gauge steam locomotive train -  Photo: Wikimedia
Today you see trains carrying cargo and people all over the world. They are also used as effective ways for people to commute to and from work instead of using the roadways. Looking at the efficiency of trains today, it is sometimes hard to imagine how different they were back in the 1800’s. While many different inventors attempted to create a train in the last 1700’s they weren’t successful.

In 1825 the first locomotive was successful in its attempt to safely transport people from two points in England. The popularity of this mode of transportation quickly made its way to the United States in 1830. It wasn’t long before the industrial revolution was born since trains could be used to transport materials faster and easier than ever before. By 1833 there were 380 miles of railroad tracks in the United States. Today there are more than 300,000 miles of track around the United States.

The United States government made good use of the trains during the Civil War to move troops to new locations and to get the supplies. This was the main reason behind adding more miles of railroad tracks from 1861 to 1865. By the end of the war, there were more than 30,000 miles of track available.

By this time railroads were considered to be the main means of transportation. Plans were in place to continue building faster locomotives and to clear areas for more tracks to be put into place. These early trains were powered by coal and steam. This process of expansion in the railway industry continued into 1916 with more than 250,000 miles of track laid out in the United States. 

One of the most historical locations along these miles of railroad tracks is in Utah and identified by a spike made from pure gold. This was to celebrate the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. This particular location was the connecting point between the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads. This remains a historical site today with thousands of people visiting the very location of that golden spike. 

Even with all the miles of railroad tracks by 1916, many of them are in poor condition. It is not uncommon for many trails to derail due to these conditions. Private owners of the railroads have invested so much money in the expansion they can’t afford the repairs. 

The repairs that do get done are the result of the United States government needed to repair them in order to move men and supplies during World War I. Even so, the growth of the railroad is significantly slowed forever around 1940. The Great Depression has made it difficult for the railroads to survive. There is also competition now with automobiles being manufactured. 

Yet the railroad industry sees renewed life in the late 1950’s when the retired steam-powered locomotives and replace them with diesel engines. In 1970 the United States government steps in again to take control of Amtrak. They still oversee it today but most of the miles of track that they operate on belong to other railway companies.

With modern technology, trains are able to operate more efficient today than ever. They are used to transport large amounts of merchandise, food supplies, equipment, hazardous materials, and even people. Trains offer a great way to get items delivered efficiently without having to place more of a burden on the trucking industry. Many travelers enjoy the convenience of taking a train instead of driving themselves or riding in an airplane. 

There have been plenty of advances in the area of trains and the railway industry in the last 100 years. It will be interesting to know how things change over the next 100 years. Luckily there are wonderful train museums that take the time to preserve all of the histories of trains from the beginning. This way future generations will be able to look back on it as well. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Santa Fe Railroad

ATSFa Railroad - Photo: Wikipedia
One of the most popular railways in history was known as Santa Fe even though its official name was Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. From 1859 until 1996 this railway provided numerous services for hauling materials and maintaining miles of railroad tracks. It became one of the largest and most profitable railway companies during its prime.

The Santa Fe Railroad took a very entrepreneurial approach to their services. They purchased large areas of land from the government and then built their railroad tracks through them. They took the remaining land and sold it to businesses and individuals looking for a place to build a home or to operate a farm. They knew that by bringing people to these areas they would soon need supplies to be brought to them via the railway.

In addition, they implemented the concepts of adding buses and ferries to their passenger railway services. Since they couldn’t always reach the passengers by train they had locations set up where people could use the ferry or the bus to reach the train as part of the price of the train ride. This idea was an immediate hit and increased the number of people that began using the Santa Fe railroad for their transportation needs. 

In 1872 the Santa Fe railroad took advantage of the cattle industries in both Colorado and Kansas. They were able to ship live cows on their trains as well as to transport meat from the processing and ship it to other areas. Some businesses felt this concept was a double dip for the railway while others felt it was the genius idea that offered them plenty of profit without having to build more train tracks to reach it.

Yet the real money for the Santa Fe Railroad came with the discovery of gold in the mountains of Colorado around what is today Leadville and Cripple Creek. The railroad was able to bring supplies to the area for those looking to strike it rich. They also hauled the gold for the various companies mining it and charged a hefty price for doing so.

With the earnings that the Santa Fe railroad was making from the gold rush, they decided to expand their railway tracks into new territory. They faced many challenges getting them built along Raton Pass into New Mexico. There were simply too many hills and mountains to make this an easy job. 

Between 1965 and 1945 Santa Fe had become the most profitable railway in the country. They started out with only 62 miles of track and had grown to more than 13,000 miles. As the years went by Santa Fe continued to be a very profitable company, yet they had many competitors to contend with as well. This bit into their profits and they decided in 1983 to merge with Southern Pacific. 

The merger was never completed though as it was denied by the Interstate Commerce Commission. They felt that this merger would result in too many duplicate routes being in place by the railways. Many people were surprised when Santa Fe merged with one of its biggest competitors in 1996. Burlington Northern has always been well known for acquiring other railway companies. With this acquisition through their name took a change as well and became known as Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). 

Yet both of these individual companies found that they were offering the same services, had similar goals, and wanted to offer the best possible training for their employees. They found they both had some strengths and some weaknesses but by joining forces they could emerge as the very best railway company in the world. 

Today BNSF is the most profitable railway in the business as they are able to offer competitive rates and they have thousands of miles of train tracks to incorporate various routes. They work hard to educate the public about safety issues and concerns. They also offer competitive wages and require all of their employees to engage in regular training. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Collectors who Collect Classic Toy Trains

A toy train
A toy train (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been said that collecting classic toy trains in the world's greatest hobby. Many of today's collectors received their first toy train set when they were young, often as a Christmas or birthday present. Collectors claim that the toy train set gave them an opportunity to imagine a whole new world, one that revolved around a steaming locomotive. When they become adults, the collectors of classic toy trains claim that working on their model's layout is a way to relieve stress and escape from the pressures of day to day life.

Toy train collectors are an interesting a varied group of individuals. Some of them spend the better part of life, looking for the perfect train set creating model after model, thrilling in seeing the miniature world take shape.  This type of collector pours over catalogs, agonizes at toy train auctions, and continually shops at eBay stores that sell toy trains. Others never touch a model train set, they prefer to read books on the construction and collecting of toy trains, they might even attend the toy train shows and auctions This type of collector is happy to sit back and dream about someday building a toy train model. Some collectors spend hours fiddling with the scenery, touching up the paint and designing structures, this collector thinks of their classic toy train model as an art form. Another type of classic toy train collector is fascinated by the mechanical aspect of the toy train, they spend all their time working on the mechanics of their model that they never even bother to add scenery. The thing all these collectors shares is a genuine love of classic toy trains.

Very few collectors start out designing a large layout. The average size of the collector's classic toy train layout is 4X8 feet. This starter layout is typically an HO gauge. They add some scenery and a few buildings as they go, gradually expanding on the layout. Most classic toy train collectors will say that no layout, large or small, is ever complete.

The layout of toy trains and their railroad tracks consists of scenery and landscaping. The structures are commonly made out of plastic or bits of wood. The mountains are made out of painted pieces of plaster or foam, while the rivers are created by plastic resin.

Classic toy rain collectors who are also fans of gardening can combine their hobbies with a garden railroad. A garden railroad is a toy train that runs on a railroad that is routed through your garden. A railway garden is a garden that is planted with miniature plants and landscaped to accommodate a garden railroad. People who design a garden railroad enjoy facing the same types of challenges in landscape and topography that the railroad companies face when they build new rail lines. Most railway gardens are designed with roadbed. A roadbed is a material, most often a ballast created out of rock dust and crushed rocks, that supports the track and allows for drainage. Some people who lack the time, patience, or ability to garden have been able to enjoy a garden railroad by incorporating it directly into their landscaping. Fans of garden railroads say it is a great way for the entire family to bond. Some ambitious railway garden designers have created water features in their gardens that include ornamental fish and live plants.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Burlington Northern Santa Fe

Burlington Northern Santa Fe - Photo: Flickr
One of the most profitable railways in the world is Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). They have been hauling goods for more than 150 years and have one of the best safety records in the train industry. They also offer some of the best prices on freight out there, making it very easy for them to obtain new contracts and to maintain those they already have in place.

The origin of BNSF is a long journey that involves acquiring many small railway companies over the years. One that took place more than 20 years ago was with Santa Fe, thus the changing of the company name. 

As a result of these buyouts, BNSF has been able to continually expand the number of miles of quality railroad tracks they have available. They have gone the extra mile on their own to place railway tracks where it is difficult but necessary even though it is expensive and there are plenty of challenges to completing such projects.

BNSF combines the very best equipment and technology with highly skilled employees. All of their train cars and engines are in top working condition to help reduce downtime and accidents. They also have skilled employees to investigate railway crossings and the tracks themselves. 

There is always plenty of ongoing training taking place for BNSF employees so they can keep up on the latest technology, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and continue to be motivated to strive for excellence in all that they do. BNSF has a very rigorous employment screening process. They check references and criminal backgrounds. They also contact previous employers to determine a person’s level of responsibility and reliability. 

As a condition of employment, each person must consent to a drug test and a physical exam. Should the drug test come back positive the person will not be hired? They also have a random drug testing policy that all employees must agree to during the term of their employment. If an employee files a workman’s compensation claim they are mandated to submit to a drug test as well.

The physical examination is required to ensure the individual is healthy enough to take on the responsibilities of working for a railway company. This includes a hearing and vision test as well. There is simply too much at risk if a person isn’t healthy enough to be engaging in the various types of employment offered by BNSF. 

If you are interested in finding out what positions they have available and the locations, go to their website. You will find plenty of quality information about the business as well as an application you can complete online. This is one of the best railway companies to work for because they are dedicated to excellence with their employees, their shipments, and the public. 

They take pride in offering a diverse group of employees as well. They appreciate the fact that each person can bring unique qualities to the workplace. They encourage suggestions from their employees to make the railway business safer, faster, and more profitable. Today more than 38,000 people are employed by BNSF. Most of them find the experience to be very pleasant. They enjoy being part of the BNSF team. 

BNSF continues to strive for excellence. They are dedicated to offering quality train services to those businesses that need goods to be moved. They are also dedicated to providing a safe way to do it. They work hard to prevent accidents among their employees, on their train tracks, and with people who happen to be crossing at various train intersections.

There is always plenty going on at BNSF to help make their trains operate faster to get the deliveries done in less time. They have won numerous awards for their excellent service, implementing the latest technology, and always putting safety above making a profit. They also give plenty of money back to communities in the way of charitable events that support various causes. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Mystery TRAINS

Photo: Wikimedia
Trains have a very exciting feeling that comes with them. If you enjoy solving mysteries then you may find a mystery train is a fun way to spend your time. You can make reservations with a group of your friends or you can go alone and meet new people who share your same interests. Mystery trains generally operate at night so that you can spend your time in an atmosphere that fits well with the scenario being played out.

Many of us remember the popular board game of Clue where you had to guess who committed the murder, what room it was conducted in, and with what weapon. Many of the mystery trains are set up with a similar type of layout taking place. Some mystery train games only last for the evening while others may last for two or three days. It all depends on how much time you want to invest in this fun activity.

Some of these mystery trains take place is places you would love to visit including the Rocky Mountains, Alaska, and even New York. If you aren’t interested in helping to solve the crime but you would like to see it take place, you can find mystery trains that offer a fantastic dinner. The murder mystery is performed while you enjoy your food by actors up on the stage. Sometimes they ask for audience participation to help keep everyone interested but it depends on the particular production you are taking part in.

In order to get the best prices on mystery trains, look for those that run all year long. This means that many of the local people will have already had a chance to take part in it. It also means not everyone will be fighting for the same tickets on set days. You will generally find mystery trains are less expensive during the week than on weekends. Those that offer a fine dining experience are going to cost more too because of the atmosphere and the food offered. 

Since there are so many different types of mystery trains out there it is important that you get all of the information in advance. Find out what will be taking place and what your role in it will be. Ask how long the actual mystery takes to unfold so you can plan in advance for it. If the mystery train is several days long find out about the meals and the sleeping quarters. The more information you have the more likely it is that you will thoroughly enjoy your mystery train experience.

Taking a train adventure to enjoy a great mystery that you take part in solving can be a wonderful vacation. The internet is a great place to find the various mystery trains that are offered as well as there locations. These types of events get wonderful reviews and the mystery trains fill up fast. You will want to plan your trip and secure reservations early in order to ensure you can attend the one you want. 

A mystery train can be a great way for a group of adults to spend a couple of days together. It also makes a wonderful birthday or Christmas gift for a friend or family member who is always watching those movies on TV where they solve the crimes. This is one gift that they would always remember. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Steam Locomotives

A recreated CP # 60 steam locomotive at the Golden Spike National Historic Site in Utah - Photo: Wikimedia
The first steam locomotive was introduced in 1804. Everyone was very excited about what it could offer in regards to moving materials and even people. By today’s standards through the first steam locomotive was nothing impressive. The top speed was five miles per hour and it could haul up to 15 tons of material. Yet you have to remember that this was before automobiles so the steam locomotive offered fast speeds and more power than anything else during that period of time.

As time went by steam locomotives were able to become more powerful and move faster. This was due to new designs for both the steam engines and the tracks. From observing what wasn’t working inventors and scientists were able to implement new strategies that were quite effective. 

One thing you will immediately notice about the steam locomotives is their unique wheel design. This was done to resolve the problem of keeping a steel train in steel rails without slipping. Each steam locomotive actually features two sets of drive wheels. Even with the usefulness of steam locomotives, it took plenty of time to build them as well as to lay the tracks. The first railroad wasn’t ready for operation with the steam locomotives until 1825. 

Steam locomotives were the main type used for the railways from the early 1800’s until the 1950’s. It was at that time the majority of them were replaced by engines running off of diesel fuel. Steam locomotives are large, powerful pieces of machinery that were made from steel and heavy iron. The majority of them can only be found in various train museums today. There are still a few early steam locomotives in use for various types of recreational trains out there. 

If you visit steam locomotives featured in the various museums you will quickly notice all of the differences they offer. Each one was custom made for the railway company it was going to be delivered to. This is why the controls can be found in various locations, the sizes of the smokestacks are different, and even the type of steam whistle to let people know about approaching trains are different.

The concepts behind steam locomotives were very advanced for the 1800’s, but as technology advanced they were replaced by faster trains that could run on diesel fuel. Still, they are a vital part of the foundation that was built long ago for the railway industry. It is rumored that one day in the future steam locomotives will be making a come back. The cost of diesel fuel continues to rise and it does create a large amount of pollution for the environment. 

Of course, these new steam locomotives would have all of the latest features. Don’t expect to see a couple of people shoveling fuel into the compressor in order to generate enough steam to power it. All of the movement would be able to be done by the use of advanced parts that would allow this process to be automated. 

There is plenty of history to be found in the steam locomotives of the past. They provide us with useful information about the early development of the industrial revolution. The fact that early inventors were successful in building these steam engines with limited technology or information is amazing. It just goes to show you that great ideas can happen at any time.