LORAM Rail grinder RGS-9 at Kelly, Ky by Jim Pearson


Ed. One more by Jim Pearson – can’t help but think about O. Winston Link seeing this.  July 9, 2016 – LORAM Rail grinder RGS-9 waits in the siding at the north end of Robards, Ky as southbound loaded coal train CSX N040-05 passes it on CSX’s Henderson Subdivision. – Tech Info: 3 seconds | f/2.8 | ISO 125 | Lens: Nikon 18mm with a Nikon D800 shot and processed in RAW. – Photo by Jim Pearson (forgive me for cropping)


Book Review By Ricky Bivins

Picture8In 1984 is was working for Andalex Resources as a supply truck driver. My friend from school, Tim Kingery was managing the Salvation Army Thrift Store and would alert me to any “train stuff” the store received. That summer he called my work place (no cell phones in 1984) and left a message for me to come by the store. He had taken in a book titled “Flying Sparks”. Of course I purchased the book and read it immediately.

The book is a series of letters penned by a Missouri Pacific passenger train conductor to his then eight year old niece. His niece had requested of her uncle a description of his work and the places he visited. This all takes place in or before 1914! The style of writing is as interesting as the stories themselves.Picture9

I have enjoyed this book for thirty plus years now and will continue to do so. Hopefully you will as well as I intend to recount portions of the book as a regular Newsletter feature.

We look forward to hearing more from Ricky next month about this book. Editor.

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Norfolk Southern Tier4 engine 3616 on the PAL by Jim Pearson


July 6, 2016 – Norfolk Southern Tier4 engine 3616 heads up a loaded coal train as it heads north on the Paducah and Louisville Railway cutting its way through steam rising from the roadbed after a summer rain outside Bremen, Ky. – Tech Info: 1/320 | f/6.3 | ISO 500 | Lens: Sigma 150-600 @ 600mm with a Nikon D800 shot and processed in RAW. – Photo by Jim Pearson


Stormy train at Kelly, Ky by Jim Pearson


June 15, 2016 – I chased the leading edge of this storm front for about 20 miles till I finally caught CSX Q592-15 approaching the south end of the siding at Kelly, Ky as it headed north on the Henderson Subdivision. As dark and nasty as the sky looked, all it did was dump a lot of rain and create some lighting and fortunately for me it didn’t do it while I was shooting! – Tech Info: 1/400 | f/2.8 | ISO 900 | Lens: Nikon 18mm with a Nikon D800 shot and processed in RAW. – Photo by Jim Pearson


Autorack CSX Q241-30 (Detroit, MI – Louisville, KY) at La Grange, Ky by Jim Pearson


July 1, 2016 – Autorack CSX Q241-30 (Detroit, MI – Louisville, KY) makes its way through downtown La Grange, Ky (one of the few places in the state that has street running) as it heads south to Louisville, Ky on the Short Line (LCL Subdivision). – Tech Info: 1/400 | f/20 | ISO 900 | Lens: Sigma 150-600 @ 165mm with a Nikon D800 shot and processed in RAW. – Photo by Jim Pearson

Photos from our June 2016 Meeting

Here are some photos from our June Meeting at Bill Thomas’s home and Garden Railroad.

June 2016 Pickin’ the Points with Bill Thomas

Picking the PointsBird’s Eye View!

If you own and use a computer or smart phone, you now have access to a great tool for locating rail lines and more interestingly, abandoned rail lines.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed Elmer G. Sulzer’s Ghost Railroads of Kentucky first published in 1967, by Indiana University Press (originally by Vane A. Jones Company) which presents 23 chapters of railroads that used to be.  Chapter 18 unpacks the history of the L&N’s and IC’s adventures through Clay, Dixon, Morganfield and Henderson, KY, right in our back door.

Now back to the computer and/or smart phone.  I’ve begun to “mentally overlay” the satellite images available on sites like Google Earth and other mapping apps on Sulzer’s maps provided in the book.  The drawback to the latter is that there are no roads mapped in Sulzer’s book, just rivers, streams, county and state lines.  You have to be a little creative, but it’s fun to find some of these places on the computer screen then visit in person.  And, if you have the smart phone map app, it will  pinpoint your location as you move.

Many of you are probably familiar with this technology as am I, but I wanted to share the possibilities with those who may just be getting caught up with it.

As a side note, also included in Sulzer’s book are railroads which once served Russellville, Adairville, Gracey, Princeton, Elkton, Guthrie, Hartford, Irvington, and Falls of Rough.

Mr. Sulzer also published Ghost Railroads of Tennessee and Ghost Railroads of Indiana. I’m looking forward to browsing through both of these in the near future.  All are available on Amazon.com.

Bill Thomas…


June 2016 The Spill with President Bill Farrell

I know many of our members have thanked Bill Thomas for opening up his home to us for the June meeting. I would like to make it official just in case anyone forgot to thank Bill, thank you Bill. It was a great change of pace from the Madisonville Depot all though I really enjoy that old station. I need to thank the Terry family for supplying the hamburgers for last month’s meeting. On a whole I though all the members who attended enjoyed themselves. As I looked around I saw lots of fellowship taking place with members just relaxed and enjoying themselves.

Congratulations to our photo contest winner Bill Grady and thank you to all the members who participated. Jim Pearson does a very good job with judging all the photos entered. Our next photo contest will take place from August 6-13 so keep those cameras ready. I think Jim has all the entries from our past contest and it looks like we will have a great start on the 2017 club calendar. Jim and I will work on the calendar later on this this year. Let’s keep this project in mind and support it by purchasing one or more calendars when they are printed in December.

We had several great items for the raffle last month let’s keep it up. The raffle is our only source of revenue at this time, so dig deep into your railroad books and artifacts for some items you’re not using. We have had some very interesting items come across the raffle table.

See you on Monday evening July 18th at the Madisonville Depot, 7:00 pm.

Bill Farrell, President

Regional (Southern) Photo Section by Chris Dees

The June 2016 Interchange

East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Photos of Interest

Radio Update by Chris Dees

New Radios for The Railfan Toolbox by Chris Dees

Ask any die-hard, train-chasing foamer what his/her favorite tools to assist in railfanning are, and the answer will probably include “a radio scanner”. The scanner allows railfans to listen in to dispatchers, train crews, and support personnel perform various tasks from running mainline freights and setting up meets to the local wayfreight setting out cars at local industries. Fishermen use fish finders to catch the “big one”; railfans use scanners. For the most part, present railroad communications continue to be in normal analog mode, and receivable by even the most basic of radio scanners. That will likely change in the future.

Recent changes in radio technology have begun to cloud the horizon of railroad related radio communications. The first change was trunking – basically a sharing of a pool of frequencies that are assigned on demand. Thankfully, there is limited usage of trunking in everyday railroad operations, save for some major yard operations and transit authorities in major metropolitan areas.

The other change, digital radio, has posed a more darker, ominous cloud for railfans. Three major types of digital radio formats – all of which are incompatible with each other – are being utilized: Project 25, NXDN, and DMR. Project 25 is most commonly used in public safety communications for fire, EMS, and law enforcement; Hopkins County and Madisonville utilizes this type of digital format for their public safety operations. NXDN, or Nexedge, is the proposed format to be utilized by railroads; Christian County and Hopkinsville utilizes this type of digital format for their public safety operations. DMR, or Digital Mobile Radio, is becoming the de facto standard of digital radio in the business band segment of two-way radio as a cheaper alternative to Project 25.

Until recently, Project 25 was the only digital format that was available in radio scanners, with other modes requiring intensive scanner modifications along with utilizing a PC to process and decode the audio. A rather expensive option, the AOR DV-1 radio at $1200, was introduced in 2015 but with several limitations that didn’t allow for ease-of-use in the field. The other option was to purchase an actual NXDN or DMR radio and get it programmed – again not an easy or inexpensive option.

At this year’s Dayton, Ohio Amateur Radio Convention known as Hamvention, two major announcements from Uniden and Whistler Group brought great news to scanner users regarding DMR and NXDN. First, Uniden Corporation announced a soon-to-be-released upgrade to its BCD436-HP and BCD536-HP scanners that will allow reception and decoding of DMR. Then, Whistler Group announced two new models, the TRX-1 and TRX-2 radios, which will also allow reception of DMR, with NXDN decoding noted as being under development. Regardless of brand loyalty, these two announcements have given the railfan community a sigh of relief in regards to the future switch to digital radio communications by the industry, regardless of the format. These new developments, however, do come with a larger price tag than your run-of-the-mill analog scanner, with prices in the $300 to $500 range, but with tons of features that will continue to make the scanner a key tool for any railfan.

June 2016 Modeler’s Corner

Keith Kittinger shares some progress on his HO L&N layout.  To watch a video of a train crossing the new span click below. More photos under the video.


Railfun by Curt Katz


“A bridge across the Mississippi was necessary to connect the Chicago & Rock Island and the Mississippi & Missouri railroads.   The Mississippi had not yet been spanned, and the immediate reaction to the proposed railroad bridge was that it would be a hazard to navigation.  However, the bridge was built, and it was officially opened on April 21, 1856.  On the evening of May 76 the steamboat Effie Afton,  which usually plied the New Orleans-Louisville run, cleared the open draw span then veered aside, turned around, rammed one of the piers, and suddenly and suspiciously burst into flames.  The case of the bridge soon became one of railroad advocates versus steamboats advocates.   The latter felt that even a single bridge would set an unfortunate precedent and soon there would be bridges every 40 or 50 miles along the length of the river.   The railroad’s case, argued by Abraham Lincoln, went one way then the other in successive courts, but in 1866 the U. S. Supreme Court held for the railroad.   Several other railroads immediately applied to bridge the Mississippi at other locations.”

Credits:    Cartoon from Railfan & Railroad Magazine, March 2009,   quoted paragraph  from the: “Historical Guide to North American Railroads” by Kalmbach