Each Christmas season, the Heart Of Dixie Railroad Museum allows people of all ages to ride to the North Pole on the North Pole Express. Families with children board the train and the travel down the tracks to see Santa Claus. Everyone gets to enjoy chocolate milk, cookies, sing Christmas carols, listen to Christmas stories and receive a Christmas gift.
So, I traveled down to the North Pole and took video and pictures of the train leaving the station, arriving at the North Pole, Santa entering then leaving the train, the train leaving the North Pole, and the train arriving back at the station. The families and kids all had smiles on their faces!
If you want to take part in this for the 2017 Christmas season, tickets go on sale in July. And yes, they sell out quickly! To learn more about the North Pole Express go to: https://www.hodrrm.org Enjoy the video and pictures!
On this post, I have got three short video clips that I have uploaded to YouTube. The first clip is two Norfolk Southern Locomotives with the Operation Lifesaver message on the side. The second video is a fire truck wondering what to do at a traffic light that was out because of a power outage. The last video is me playing with Georgina the dog and her peanut butter cookies, enjoy!
Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay once said, “There isn’t a train I wouldn’t take.”
Ken Boyd, environmental specialist for Southern Company in Birmingham, might amend that to say, “There isn’t a train I wouldn’t photograph.”
He has amassed over 400 images of locomotives from across North America and some from Europe, and 188 of those have been published in “The Art of the Locomotive,” a coffee-table book containing pictures of steam, diesel and electric locomotives.
For a book filled with still images, it is a powerful and moving depiction of the history and technology of the locomotive.
“I’ve always been interested in photography,” Boyd explained, “particularly historical subjects and nostalgic imagery. I started photographing trains where Birmingham’s Railroad Park is now, at the old railroad graveyard there.
“One day my wife and I were going through my old photos, which I kept under the bed, in drawers, and scattered about the basement, and she and others encouraged me to consider putting together my train pictures as a collection,” he said. “I worked on scanning those negatives, slides and prints, touching them up and bringing them up to digital-quality standards. When we looked at that collection, we realized it was fairly historic. We started talking about a book project.”
Boyd wrote a proposal for the book, and it was picked up by Voyageur Press. They asked for 150 images, but they wanted only locomotives. That stipulation eliminated some of the photographs of cabooses and other train cars Boyd had hoped to use, and he began traveling the country to find more locomotives.
While most books on trains focus on a particular railroad or region, Boyd’s collection is high level and crosses those more traditional boundaries.
“I didn’t know a lot about trains at first,” he admitted. “The easier way would have been to go local or regional, but I didn’t know enough about a railroad or a local area to go into that much detail. Fortunately, I had documented my work as I took my locomotive photographs – who made them, when they were made, a few interesting facts about them – so I was able to use early pictures from my collection.”
Each picture is accompanied with a short description, which Boyd wrote. But as the title suggests, it is the photographs that dominate. He spends hours preparing each image.
“My approach to photography is not documentation so much as it is fine art,” he explained. “I would characterize my photographs as made, not taken. I pre-visualize what I want, and I try to deliver a high-quality image.”
In other words, he may shoot a locomotive in a museum, but his final piece will have no sign of guard rails or display signs. In fact, the locomotive may even appear on a track or outdoors.
“I like to create a simple, clean image,” he said. “I take pictures of all the components and details, and then I piece them together for a realistic image. While I manipulate the photos, I try to make the locomotive look authentic. I don’t change the locomotive in any way that would detract from it. I just clean up the setting.”
Published in September 2014, about 10,000 copies of the book have been sold so far. Boyd has had to eke out time for book signings and marketing travel in addition to working at his full-time job and continuing with his professional hobby of photography.
Still, he has time periodically to look ahead, and he is already meeting with publishers about other projects: black-and-white locomotive photography or early locomotive history. He also has a collection of photographs of other railroad cars under the bed, where he found the locomotive pictures that started this journey. And he has photos of water and grist mills there as well.
“They were my main interest through the ‘80s,” he said. “I tried for years to get a book published on those, but that is a much smaller audience. Maybe now I can get a publisher who will be interested in that book idea.”
For now, however, Boyd is concentrating on the current project, with the requisite speaking engagements and book signings that come with publishing a book.
For more information on the book or to purchase it, go to Amazon. It may also be found at other bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.
Well, it has been all over the news. Up in Philadelphia, the Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 was going over 100 miles per hour on a section of track with a 50 mph speed limit. You can tell what happened next. All seven cars and the locomotive jumped the tracks, and 7 people are dead with hundreds more injured. How did this happen? And why was a speed control device not along this part of the track? It could have prevented the things we see in this photo below!
Certainly, there are going to be a lot of questions coming from this. For starters, a House committee decided the right thing to do was to cut the budget for Amtrak, what a smart move! And second, this also highlights the need that America has a major infrastructure problem. I might not agree with everything Donald Trump says, and this might not have been a good time to tweet about this, but he is right!
The only one to fix the infrastructure of our country is me – roads, airports, bridges. I know how to build, pols only know how to talk!
All types of infrastructure are in trouble in America. Our roads are crumbling and are overcrowded. Bridges are too old and are collapsing. Fatal wrecks on our railroads are way up this year, including plenty of derailments and explosions. We also have very old water and sewer systems. And our power grids could be wiped out in a terrorist attack. Face it folks, we have an infrastructure crisis on our hands, and our politicians in Washington are too busy catering to lobbyists and donors. Hey, Donald Trump got that one right too!
Remember, politicians are all talk and NO action. Our country is a laughing stock that is going to hell. The lobbyists & donors control all!
Sadly, it is going to take tragedies like this Amtrak disaster, or a major bridge collapsing, and killing many people, before our politicians gets off of their butts and actually do something about our infrastructure! If nothing is done, people will be spending longer time on bad roads, and on unsafe infrastructure like bridges. It’s just like that John Oliver piece about out infrastructure, he nailed it!
So, do I have the confidence that something will be done? Nope! Washington is way too corrupt right now and it might be left to the states to do something about this. We have a major crisis developing, but it is going to take real leaders to get something done! Who knows, if Amtrak had the funds to put in that speed control device on that track curve, some people would still be alive today. It is a shame some lawmakers are using this disaster to send a message to Amtrak that they should have little to no funding. What a stupid move! And with scenes like this, that was not the time to do something like this!
Tonight, I am sharing this video from the YouTube channel containerman2, who caught an epic train smashing through the snow. Darren calls it an epic catch, and it sure was! The crossing was located at Salisbury, New Brunswick and captured the Canadian National Railway locomotive 2304 along the CN manifest train 406 West. As you can see in the video below, the crew had a hard time seeing out of their windows, enjoy!