Old 07-18-2018, 12:41 PM   #1
OBrian Harmon
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Default What got you interested in trains?

Where does your interest in trains/railroading stem from? Friends, family, have you ever worked with one? I'd like to hear some of your backgrounds!

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Old 07-18-2018, 01:43 PM   #2
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I was born and raised 50 feet from the C&O, now CSX Mainline in Southern West Virginia. As soon as I was mobile, I would climb up onto the back of the couch so I could see the trains out the window. The photography part didn't develop into a hobby until 2005, when I bought my first camera for the birth of our first child. I also didn't realize that railroad photography was a thing until I found this place in 2006. I haven't worked for a railroad in a T&E capacity, but I've been fortunate to work with several on various photography projects.

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Old 07-19-2018, 01:32 PM   #3
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I grew up within a few thousand feet and now live a few hundred feet away from the Winston-Salem District, aka Punkin Vine. My grandfather's brother was a N&W-NS employee from 1952-1995 with the last 35 or so being an engineer. When he would come through town he would always add a certain pattern to the toot of the horn and I would know that it was him. I sure miss that. But that got me into really watching trains and keeping up with their movements.

My son-in-law currently works for NS at the Linwood yard and I work at Belews Creek Steam Station, which I would say is one of the larger, if not the largest, power plant coal customers for NS. The plant consumes close to 20,000 tons per day and all that coal comes by my house.

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Old 07-19-2018, 03:03 PM   #4
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Southern RR ran thru my grandma's back yard, so at age 5, I got my 1st HO train set (I still have it). 5 Years later my dad started with the Chesapeake Western RR and I spent my summers riding the rails with my pops on the engine or with my uncle in the hi rail truck. Then the NS merger happened and all that fun came to a stop but I was already hooked so I spent my time doing every book report in school on trains then I got a job and car and that all stopped. It wasn't until I met my 2nd wife that I got back into trains again. She asked me to take a dinner train and well you know my answer to that question. Now she is hooked with me, we ride them, chase them and she even helps me model them, in HO scale still and my first loco still runs, 45 some years later.
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Old 07-19-2018, 06:21 PM   #5
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Went to the Amtrak station in Charleston, SC to drop my oldest brother off for an 8th grade trip to Washington, DC. SCL ran a parade of freights by ahead of the arrival of screaming F40PHs leading the Silver Meteor. I was so excited I could barely speak. My mother realized my enthusiasm, and suggested we get out my brother's Tyco set (it was a CBQ GP20) and run it (because he didn't). I ran it until it burned up, and asked if we could go back to the Amtrak station again. We did, and the rest is history.

The hobby slowed down a bit for me in college because I chose aviation as my career path and I mostly "plane foamed" at Orlando International during those years, but just as soon as flying became "a job" the trains came right back as a strong hobby and nice escape from work.
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:42 AM   #6
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The B&O now CSX rested about 80 feet from where I grew up and I can (vaguely) remember seeing a real B&O unit or 2, but for the most part it was Conrail. My parents used to say that I would watch down the trains from beginning to end, and as a kid I quickly got into collecting models and VHS tapes. It wasn't until I was in my teens until I got serious about taking pictures and recording them.
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Old 07-21-2018, 10:38 PM   #7
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What could be more typical than the Lionel Scout set running in circles under the Christmas tree? The memory is hazy, but I may have had a Marx set before that. Also, it didn't hurt that the Lehigh Valley mainline was visible from the kitchen table!
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Old 07-22-2018, 02:03 PM   #8
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A trainset under the Christmas tree? That MUST be a tradition in the family of any railfan Never have heard of Marx before, but if its anything like Tyco, I'm sure I can relate. Those must have been fun times for you, seeing LV/PC and the whole transformation into Conrail. the Lehigh Valley had a really cool paint scheme, IMO.
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Old 07-22-2018, 04:10 PM   #9
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When I was a not much more than a toddler, my family was living in Nashville, and my brother, eighteen years my senior, got a job as a car knocker on the L&N. My parents would often take him to work, and I was fascinated by the trains. Soon I was frequently going to a spot that overlooked the hump in Radnor Yard with my father to watch all of the wonderful boxcars of the early 1960's get broken out of the train in which they arrived and roll to the waiting track of a train bound for their new destination. The whole process was fascinating.

I also had an uncle who was a brakeman/conductor on the B&O. One of my earliest railroad memories was sharing the fireman's seat of a switcher with my cousin as we worked the yard in Brunswick for an hour or two. Later that cousin and his older brother became my first railroad photography buddies/mentors.

As for toy trains, my first was a battery-operated N-scale (!) Arnold Rapido set that I got for Christmas in 1962. Later, I became the repository for all of the toy trains in the family, including prewar Lionel sets from my uncle and my great aunt, and a prewar American Flyer O-gauge UP 4-8-4 set from my brother-in-law. They are all still on the walls of my train room.

Coupling all of these factors, I have a lifelong interest in trains that goes to my earliest memories.
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Old 07-22-2018, 04:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OBrian Harmon View Post
A trainset under the Christmas tree? That MUST be a tradition in the family of any railfan Never have heard of Marx before, but if its anything like Tyco, I'm sure I can relate. Those must have been fun times for you, seeing LV/PC and the whole transformation into Conrail. the Lehigh Valley had a really cool paint scheme, IMO.
"Louis Marx and Company was the largest toy company in the world in the 1950s." -Wikipedia

The Marx O-gauge trains were somewhat crude compared to Lionel and American Flyer.

Oh, and the Lehigh Valley was the road of many cool paint schemes!
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Old 07-22-2018, 04:43 PM   #11
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...and a prewar American Flyer O-gauge UP 4-8-4 set from my brother-in-law.
American Flyer O-gauge? Wow. Didn't know there were such animals 'til now! Sounds like something super-rare.
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Old 07-23-2018, 01:58 AM   #12
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American Flyer O-gauge? Wow. Didn't know there were such animals 'til now! Sounds like something super-rare.
American Flyer was a Chicago-based company that made O and standard gauge trains starting in the early teens. In the mid thirties, besides having some low-end tinplate offerings, AF had a broad selection that included midrange and high-end items. Most notable were passenger trains that included several variants of a Zephyr, a City of Denver UP streamliner, and a Hiawatha train that rivaled Lionel's.

The Great Depression wasn't kind to American Flyer, and the company was sold to the A. C. Gilbert company (the Erector Set folks) of New Haven Connecticut in 1938. While living with some of the legacy AF line, Gilbert immediately embarked on the introduction of a series of rolling stock that was scaled to 3/16" proportions while rolling on O gauge trucks and running gear. There were pressed steel freight and passenger cars, and high-end die-cast freight and heavyweight passenger cars. To pull them, Gilbert introduced a series of die-cast steam locomotives, including a RDG 4-4-2, a PRR K-5 Pacific, a B&O streamlined Royal Blue 4-6-2, an NYC Hudson, and a UP 4-8-4. In 1941, Gilbert added an NKP 0-8-0. Unfortunately the company was experimenting with metallurgy, and much of the year's die-cast production crumbled, so any extant 0-8-0's are basket cases.

After the war (toy train production was halted during WWII), AF's line was retooled with S-gauge running gear and 2-rail track. . All of the steamers returned, but inly the die-cast Virginian hopper and the sheet metal auto unloader were not converted to bakelite or plastic.

The so-called 3/16 O is a very collectible niche of American Flyer. I've managed to pick up many of the pieces over the years, but I still don't have an 0-8-0.
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:42 PM   #13
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Born and raised in between the CSX Toledo Sub and the NS Dayton District in Ohio. Spent a lot of time growing up riding trains and watching them. I knew I wasn't content just watching them and someday I wanted to work on them.

Just finished training in Mcdonough with NS and I'm going to be working on the same mainline I grew up next to.
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Old 08-05-2018, 04:28 AM   #14
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Born and raised in between the CSX Toledo Sub and the NS Dayton District in Ohio. Spent a lot of time growing up riding trains and watching them. I knew I wasn't content just watching them and someday I wanted to work on them.

Just finished training in Mcdonough with NS and I'm going to be working on the same mainline I grew up next to.
Good for you! Hope it never gets boring.
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Old 08-05-2018, 01:37 PM   #15
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Good for you! Hope it never gets boring.
Thank you! I don't think it will get boring. I'm sure it will be a pain in the ass some days but never boring.
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