The Rail Philatelist March 2001 Newsletter
Volume 6 ............... PRICE $1.00 (10 ISSUES FOR $8.00)................Number 4 March 1, 2001
Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
Like the butcher who backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work, I can't seem to keep up, let alone catch up. Because of that and the preparations for my Ogden - San Francisco show trip, I'll have to delay MAIL BID SALE #3 consisting of French Imperforate stamps until April. There were no new issues to report on but I couldn't get the specials together either. I did manage to get most of the major database, spreadsheet, photo and text files transferred successfully from the Mac to the PC over President's weekend, so I've made progress on that front. However, working on two computers at the same time causes other problems as I'll explain another time. Now if I can keep up with the orders and get the new issues out ... Some 48 hour days and extra hands would probably help. Thanks for your patience. Keep those orders coming - put me to the test!
SUPPLEMENT #1 TO ATA HANDBOOK #138: By the time you read this, the first supplement to ATA Handbook #138 WORLD RAILWAYS PHILATELIC by Norman Wright will be available from the American Topical Association. Norm sent me a preview copy and I must confess I was astounded at all the additions and corrections - 120 pages worth! The major additions besides new issues for the millennium, Sidney Olympics, big stamp expos overseas, etc. appear to be Postal Stationery, particularly from Romania, Great Britain and a few other countries, hence the indicia from a ROMANIA postal card as the stamp on the cover. Another Herculean effort by Norm and his associates! This is another "MUST HAVE" if you are trying to keep your collection current. The new loose-leaf pages will be printed on pastel green paper so they are easily identifiable when inserted in the original handbook. Future supplements will be printed on different colored pages each year (a great idea!). ATA will be printing the supplements "to order" so don't expect same day service on your orders. Price will be $16.00 plus postage. Send orders to Paul E. Tyler, ATA Executive Director, P.O. Box 50820, Albuquerque, NM 87181-0820. Or let me know you want one and I'll submit a bulk order about March 20. (Don't send me any money yet).
FEBRUARY TRAVEL: Wednesday, Feb. 7, was a beautiful, sunny day, perfect for travel except the high winds wrecked my gas mileage as I started the Anaheim trip. The derailment of 15 coal cars in downtown Colorado Springs Sunday night had the "Joint Line" still closed Tuesday, so I hoped to see a line of empty coal trains Northbound as I drove to Trinidad, but the backup evidently cleared overnight because I didn't see a single NB. Saw an EB manifest waiting at Pueblo Junction, a SB coal train stopped at Walsenburg and a SB manifest stopped at Trinidad. Thus, I was thrilled when I caught up with the WB "SOUTHWEST CHIEF" part way up Raton Pass. I paced her awhile then raced ahead to a turnout with a good view of the tracks. Had my ham salad sandwich and caffeine-free Pepsi at 12:15 while watching Genesis Locos 56, 57, & 89 plus GE Dash 8 #507, all nose first (elephant-style), struggle up hill with a baggage car, seven assorted Superliners, four Express boxcars and eleven Roadrailers. QUESTION: If two thirds of the cars and probably most of the revenue are freight, is it really a "passenger train"? Maybe a return to Lucius Beebe's "Mixed Train Daily". I paced her up the pass at 35 mph until just below the summit, then went on ahead. I took my time gassing up in Raton and hoped AMTRAK #3 would catch up with me somewhere in the wide-open spaces before I reached Las Vegas, NM but no such luck. I did attain a new first - a coal train waiting on the Cimarron mine spur! The lead units were partially hidden by the I-25 overpass but the train stretched out to the west as far as I could see. There were four mid-train locos and I presume a couple on the rear that I couldn't see. Two Union Pacific maintenance vehicles on a truck that passed me near Wagon Mound reminded me of something that has bothered me for some time. Over the years, I have seen numerous trucks hauling railroad equipment, particularly wheel sets and traction motor sets. Can't the railroads deliver equipment to each other in a timely and economical manner? Do they really have to give business to the competition? Or is there some government regulation that requires it? Anyone know? Speaking of Wagon Mound, I was happy to see the semaphore signals were still working there. I have read that BNSF is replacing the semaphores between Raton and Albuquerque with signal lights. Just south of Watrous, I saw a couple technicians working on a new signal light installation so the semaphore days are indeed numbered. Seeing two Cascade Green helpers at Las Vegas made me think they might be waiting to help the coal train over Glorietta Pass, although, with all that power, I think it goes east over Raton. Maybe the helpers were waiting for AMTRAK to clear before proceeding north to help over Raton. I considered waiting for AMTRAK to catch up but realized that I would have better train watching west of Albuquerque the further ahead of #3 I stayed. Turned out to be a good decision, since I had my best train watching day ever between Albuquerque and Gallup - 19 trains in 127 miles! Eastbound, there were seven stackpacks, one TOFC, and five manifests. Westbound, three manifests, a coal train, a gondola train and a dinky crane. At 70 mph you'll notice I didn't catch up with any high priority stackpack or TOFC trains -they do at least 70 on that stretch too! The WB coal train came by while I had my Carl's Jr. Double Cheeseburger dinner in Gallup. I had a good view of the tracks from my motel room as I typed this, entered my expenses in Quicken and reorganized some databases in preparation for transferring them to the PC. Of the 19 trains in three hours, six were stackpacks (4EB, 2WB), three TOFCs (2EB, 1WB), nine manifests (2EB, 7WB), and AMTRAK #3 roared by at 8:20 PM, over an hour late. It also seemed to have left four of the Roadrailers in Albuquerque. A really good train day!
What a difference a day makes! The light bedtime rain was heavy snow when I woke up at 4:30 AM, so I went back to bed after watching two trains roll by. Up again at 6 AM, I got ready for the day, checked my email, and, listening to my inner voice that said "head West", canceled my plans to go back an exit for breakfast at Crackerbarrel. With three inches of snow already down and more falling fast, I joined the single file line of trucks heading west at 35 mph. Fortunately, the snow let up about 8 AM, in time for me to see three stackpacks and a manifest, all EB, plus three more WB trains stopped, waiting to get through Winslow, AZ - one was a TOFC that had raced past me like I was standing still during the snow storm, another was the stackpack I had seen while checking my email and the other stackpack was new to me. As I left Winslow, I could see the headlight of another WB in my rearview mirror, but I concentrated my attention on the slow-moving WB manifest I could see ahead of me. Just as I caught up with the engines, I was startled as the EB AMTRAK #4 hurtled by - four Genesis locos, a baggage car, seven Superliners, ten express boxcars and one Roadrailer. Ten minutes later I was in blizzard conditions again - the joys of winter travel! The snow had stopped and the roads were clearing when I reached Flagstaff so I stopped for my Crackerbarrel breakfast there. The "Peach Sampler" (two eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, hashbrown casserole, and pancakes with peaches) was more than even I could eat - I left half the pancakes. Saw two trains in Flagstaff and three more on the way to Williams, all EB. Since the sun was out and the roads were dry when I descended into Ashfork, I took Old Route 66 at Seligman and was immediately rewarded. First, a manifest led by three warbonnets - they seem to have been relegated to lower priority service as the "pumpkins" (Heritage orange, green and yellow) take over the stackpacks and TOFCs. Then, a stackpack and a train of empty TOFC cars, all EB. Caught up with a WB manifest at Peach Springs, then the gondola train I had seen yesterday although with added cars and an extra loco was waiting in the "hole" as an EB manifest approached near Valentine. Met another manifest at Valle View, followed by a stackpack, then a grain train just leaving Kingman while passing a couple manifests waiting to get into Kingman plus another stopped in Kingman. Six more EB between there and Needles, CA - four stackpacks, a TOFC and a manifest. Then I turned back onto Old Rout 66 for the drive to Ludlow. Passed idle and engineless concrete tie laying and ballast trains on the way to Goffs where I caught up with a WB manifest. After bouncing across the world's worst grade crossing, I kept company with the three loco, 79 car train at 60 mph for the next hour. We met an EB TOFC at Essex and a stackpack just east of Cadiz where we lost contact as the road went over the hill while the tracks went around. I saw his headlight in the far distance as I crossed the tracks again at Amboy, but he evidently had to slow down since I caught up with a stackpack "crawling" along at 45 mph about five miles up the road, then another with a BNSF "rainbow" loco lashup - a BNSF "pumpkin", a Santa Fe "warbonnet" (most now say "BNSF"), a BN cascade green and a SF "blonde". They were being held up by a slow moving manifest with three locos on the point and two on the rear as an EB TOFC raced past us. Seven more trains on the way from Ludlow to Barstow including a couple of "blondes" switching a string of empty hoppers at the gravel pit east of Daggett. After the obligatory drive-by of the old Barstow station, I headed for my spot behind the Toyota dealer to check on the yard action. 4:10 PM was both a good and a bad time to get there - bad because I had to stare into the sun as it set directly in line with the yard tracks but good because at 4:15, all four sets of yard "goats" - two pair of geeps and two geep/slug sets - started pulling strings of cars from the hump yard classification tracks and putting them in departure tracks on the north side of the yard or in temporary holding/blocking tracks on the south side of the yard. At one point, all four loco sets were pulling long strings of cars toward the yard throat - it looked like a jail break. Sure would have been handy to have had a map of the yard, copies of the switch lists and my scanner working so I could have listened to the yard tower directing traffic. Hard to tell the players without a scorecard! While all this action was going on, cars continued to roll over the hump in the distance, a stackpack left EB on the Northside run-through track and another pulled up to the refueling pipes while a third stackpack departed on the Southside run-through track. By 5:30 the sun had set behind the San Gabriel Mountains and I decided to make my way back down the rock strewn hill before it got too dark to find my way safely. No train action on the way to Victorville and only two SP locos sitting there as the UP helpers for Cajon Pass, the usual BNSF pair must have been working elsewhere. I was too tired to drive to Marie Callendars or Olive Garden (my usual choices there), so I settled for the senior pot roast dinner at Dennys, next to my motel. Spent the evening watching TV and typing this (actually spent two hours typing and the computer crashed so I lost it all and had to start from scratch!).
Friday morning started well as I looked down on a TOFC climbing Cajon Pass as I descended and met a BNSFstackpack as I took the Palmdale exit for my breakfast stop at McDonalds. Another BNSF stackpack was easing down the pass as I left and headed for my perch on the pass. Got there at 8 AM as a UP manifest started its descent with the two SP helpers from Victorville on the point to help with the dynamic braking. Turned out to be a fairly slow train day on the pass - only 13 trains in five hours (7EB, 6WB -four stackpacks, six TOFCs, two manifests and one helper pair running light EB - eight BNSF, five UP). The slow train pace gave me time to read two days worth of USA TODAY plus fool around with my scanner. I finally got it unfrozen and operating about noon (as usual, a day late and a dollar short!). I also had time to count cars on all the trains but I won't bore you with those details. I waited for the 12:49 PM WB stackpack to disappear from view, then drove down the hill to McDonalds for lunch, arriving in time to watch the UP stackpack I had just seen on top roll by. No other train action, but I eavesdropped on three N-scale modelers in the next booth talking about plans for a Caliente to Tehacapi Loop module - they were on their way to the same place I was. I stopped at Cleghorne road for a little more train watching. The convoy of three N-Trackers stopped there briefly also but left before one of those rare train-watching moments occurred. At 1:50 PM, I heard train whistles but it wasn't the BNSF stackpack I saw approaching on the "down" track - it was a UP manifest racing down the "up" track. The manifest rounded the S-curve and the two trains ran side-by-side toward me. At the same time, a WB borax covered hopper train with five SP locos came by on the old SP line! The BNSF stackpack stopped just in front of me as the UP manifest rolled on to crossover to the "down" track. As soon as it had cleared, a BNSF stackpack came roaring up the "up" track. I had planned to wait until 2:15 PM but the BNSF stackpack started rolling at 2:10 so I paced it down the pass. We met a UP stackpack part way down the pass and a BNSF manifest and TOFC at the bottom of the pass - seven trains in thirty minutes and three at once twice! That had me charged up for the drive toward LA. Both the EB 91 and NB 57 looked like parking lots even before 3 PM but my lanes ran smoothly. After checking into the Super 8, I went to the convention center but was delayed at the gate about a half hour as two helicopters landed in the parking lot - evidently for a show on the upper level. I was able to drive right to my table so the unloading was as easy as it gets. After getting set up, I renewed acquaintances with some dealers I haven't seen in several months. My friend George Voightman, dba Gandy Dancer Videos, said that the shows thus far this year have been his best ever - both St. Louis and Louisville were fantastic. I hope this one follows form. After a salmon dinner at Coco's, I caught up on my finances and relaxed watching TV.
The show was well attended both days but my Saturday sales were poor. The highlight of the show for me was the prime-rib dinner at Coco's with Bill Chappell, President of the Casey Jones Railroad Unit of ATA. In addition to train stamps, we talked about his recent trips on the Trans-Siberian Express and the Polar Express to Churchhill, Canada to see the polar bears, also his upcoming steam trip in Cuba. The time went much too fast. When the credit card from my largest sale of the day was declined, I was suddenly extremely tired, probably more from depression than fatigue, so I turned in at 8:30 PM. Up at 5 AM in plenty of time for 6:45 Mass at St. Boniface, then breakfast and a couple hours typing before show-time. Thanks to Bill and a couple other mail order customers who came to the show, my Sunday sales were almost enough to make it worthwhile. Move-out was a challenge - my dolly had a flat tire again. With half the usual load distributed properly, it worked okay as a three-wheeled cart, but it took over an hour to get loaded since I couldn't drive close enough to my table to do without the dolly. I did see four trains in the dark near Palm Springs and Indio as I drove to Blythe for the night.
On to Phoenix (Scottsdale), where I spent five hours at Molnar's Stamp & Coin. Found a few things, but not nearly the quantities as in past trips. Still, it was good to visit with Joe, Gary, Harry and a couple customers who seem to be there when I am. Then, on to Flagstaff for the night. When I checked into the Motel 6, the room I normally get was being renovated, so I asked for the room below it. The girl said "You don't want that one. The computer says it faces the tracks. You'll get all the train noises". I said "I know - that's why I want it." Saw about ten trains (mostly stackpacks) including AMTRAK #3 at 10:10 PM with four Genesis locos, a baggage car, seven Superliners, eight Express boxcars and eight Roadrailers - seems only the freight cars change.
Up early for breakfast at Denny's (Crackerbarrel has no trackview). Saw a stackpack and two autoracks on the way to and during breakfast. As I was heading East watching a WB TOFC, AMTRAK #4 raced by so I didn't get a good look. Fortunately, she had slowed down in the clear near Wynona - Genesis locos #8, 37, 821 & 871, a baggage car, seven Superliners, eight Express boxcars and ten roadrailers. Passed two WB stackpacks on the way to Winslow and AMTRAK passed me there while I refueled. Between there and Gallup, I saw two manifests (one with two locos on the rear so they must be experimenting with distributed power on long manifests too), a stack pack, two coal trains, a work train, a TOFC, an Autorack and four locos running light WB. Saw some work equipment near Grants, otherwise nothing until two WB TOFCs near Albuquerque. As I crested Glorietta pass, I heard AMTRAK getting clearance from Glorietta to Chappell (no relation to Bill). A couple minutes later, I saw her through the trees, so I raced on ahead to a spot with a clear view. This time she had 14 Roadrailers so at least four cars were added in Albuquerque (maybe some were removed as well). We both passed a NB manifest in the "hole" waiting for AMTRAK to clear. Just south of Las Vegas, NM I met AMTRAK #3 (4 Locos, one baggage, seven Superliners, seven boxcars and seven Roadrailers) so #4 evidently took the siding at Chappell waiting for #3 to pass. I thought #4 would catch up with me by Raton, particularly when I was stopped in a roadblock on I-25 (probably checking for drug runners but officially it was a routine check of licenses, registrations and proof of insurance - glad I had mine - the car in front of me got pulled over). I planned to wait for #4 while I had my personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut in Trinidad, CO, but it started raining about 7:15 PM. Since the weather report called for freezing drizzle and up to three inches of snow in Colorado Springs, I ate and headed north. Saw the Denver-Barstow TOFC waiting for AMTRAK in Trinidad and passed a coal train further up the line. The weather forecast proved accurate but I got home without any problems. Another great trip - at least for train watching!
LCL: (1) Thanks to Maurice Pautz, who called to report that his 1989 "GUINNESS RAIWAYS" lists the Seikan Tunnel under the Tsugara Straits between Honshu and Hokkaido Islands in Japan as the lowest mainline railway @ -786 feet. Some mine railways go deeper. He came across the info while doing research for his train exhibit for ROMPEX in May. (2) Seeing Bill Chappell reminded me that he emailed me some time ago to point out that the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is wide gauge (5 ft 6 in.). Thanks Bill. (3) My suggestion for a single frame RPO car exhibit in February's "Stamp of the Month" elicited a couple inquiries for prices and availability of the items mentioned. I'm flattered that some of you take me so seriously. How are the rest of you doing on your exhibits?
STAMP OF THE MONTH: George Stephenson and his locomotive "Rocket" as depicted on Honduras #C1057 are certainly significant to the development of railways. They may be on more train stamps than any other individual or locomotive. I haven't made a detailed count, but Stanley Gibbons COLLECT RAILWAYS ON STAMPS lists 25 "Rocket" and 9 G. Stephenson stamps not counting #C1057 which was issued in 1999 just after the catalog was published. You could probably make up a very nice collection (or exhibit) from just these items.
RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: "You can't tell where the train went by looking at the tracks." BEETLE BAILEY in the cartoon of the same name by Mort Walker.
RAIL FACTS AND FEATS: The highest station is Condor, Bolivia at 15,705 ft on the meter-gauge Rio Mulato - Potosi line.
May all your signals be green,
JOIN THE CASEY JONES
RAILROAD UNIT OF THE AMERICAN TOPICAL ASSOCIATION
Dues $8.00. Contact Oliver Atchison, PO Box 31631, San Francisco, CA 94131
HOSTLER'S RAILROAD SHOW
MAR 10-11 GREAT AMERICAN TRAIN SHOW COW PALACE DALY CITY, CA
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