Photography Contest News

Jim Trackside at LaGrange, Ky. – Photo by Chrystal Brantley

Just as a reminder folks the chapter’s last photo contest for 2017 is underway!  Below are the dates for upcoming chapter photo contests.  During the months listed all members are invited to shoot pictures and submit no more than two entries to by the deadline listed next to each contest. You must be a paid member of the chapter to participate in these contests.

Jim Pearson will judge the photos and select 1st through 3rd place and the winners will be presented in the PennyRail and on the chapter website. We’ll also view them at the meeting following each contest.

At least the 1st place winners will be used to produce a chapter calendar for the next year.  All submissions must have a caption that lists at least the railroad, location and date with photographer’s credit and any other relevant information.

November 1-30, 2017
Submission Deadline: December 7, 2017

January 1-31, 2018
Submission Deadline: February 7, 2018

March 1-31, 2018
Submission Deadline: April 7, 2018

May 1-31, 2018
Submission Deadline: June 7, 2018

July 1-31, 2018
Submission Deadline: August 7, 2018

September 1-30, 2018
Submission Deadline: October 7, 2018

November 1-30, 2018
Submission Deadline: December 7, 2018


Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Locomotive 487

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad Locomotive 487 is pulling an Engineer Training School Freight Eastbound at Dalton, New Mexico on October 4, 2017. 

Bill Grady and Lee Gordon Spent 4 days on the C&TS riding and railfanning this incredible railroad in the peak of fall color in New Mexico and Colorado.  Then spent 4 more days on the BNSF and UP in New Mexico and Arizona. 

Photo by Bill Grady


Caboose Cookery… a vanishing art!

In years past, when railroad crews were out on the road the caboose was their mobile hotel.   Before “hours of service” legislation, crews could be road-bound for days.

aboose cookery is just one more lost art. A picture is worth a thousand words, these pix are no exception. These were days before the FDA, OSHA and hand sanitizer.   Yes, a few farmers along the way occasionally “lost” a chicken or two. 

Eat well boys, it is a long road home.  Photos from New York Central System, as seen in Railroad Magazine, June 1955

The empty log cars are being returned to the woods…

The empty log cars are being returned to the woods for the next load.   The Cowlitz, Chehalis & Cascade train is crossing the Cowlitz River near Mayfield (Washington State) on May 5, 1955.   Because the trestle had been condemned, the train crew was prohibited from being on the engine as it crossed the river.

This required another locomotive on the rear of the train to push it across.  The crew from this engine has already safely walked across.   The pusher will stop the consist when the front engine has safely crossed.   It was never made clear whether the pusher was then pulled across crewless, or disconnected and returned to home base.   Notice the flip-top screened cinder catcher on the stack.

The backpool from Mayfield Dam, just downstream, flooded this picturesque canyon a few years later.    The river’s origin is the Cowlitz Glacier in Mount Rainier National Park, and enters the Columbia River at Kelso.   

 This unusual bridge is built upon a sturdy platform wedged against the side-walls of the canyon.  Not certain there ever was another like it.   Just this week Vancouver Island’s Western Forest Products Corp., announced their last logging railroad in North America is closed for good.    The next to last was Simpson’s Shelton (WA) operation.  Submitted by Gary Ostlund.


I’ve always taken some interest in the colorful grain hoppers…

I’ve always taken some interest in the colorful grain hoppers which come out of the upper Midwest.  I see fewer it seems these days.  But, when I get the chance, I get a snap shot of them.  Pink sure beats the every-day taupe, cream, gray, or other neutral color used on most modern covered hoppers these days.  L&N’s “Big Blues” were one of my favorites as a young man.  You could find them in several spots on the old Hook & Eye line in North Georgia.  I caught this on the “Cut Off” in Madisonville, KY.   Bill Thomas


“Breakfast with Santa” and his “Polar Express Friends”

All tickets will be 5.99 per person. No children’s pricing. The Western Kentucky Chapter will receive 1.50 out of every ticket sold.  The event will take place on Saturday morning December 16th from 8:00 to 10:00 am.  Tickets will be sold by local club members, Catfish Harbor, some selected local businesses and at the door on the morning of the event.  Pictures with Santa or the Polar Express Character will be available on a donation bases.  Everyone who comes through the door of Catfish Harbor on the morning of the event will have to have a ticket or purchase a ticket at the door.

We will have a 5×6 board with the Polar Express train running and operated by Wally Watts for the amusement of the children. When the event is over this has to be moved to the Mall to be set up for the Christmas Show that day.  Members and celebrity guest worker will need to be at the restaurant by 7:40 am on the morning of the event.  Posters will be printed and placed at central locations in Madisonville and Hopkins County.  Tickets will be professionally printed for this event.

We will need all local club members to help with is project. The committee will be contacting you for your talents. If you have questions please contact me at; 270 839-4177.  Bill Farrell


November 2017 Ricky’s Replies!

Ricky Bivins, Chapter President

Greetings fellow Western Kentucky Chapter, NRHS members. And here we find ourselves in November 2017, a busy month for many people especially us! The October meeting was one for the books. The business portion went well, the refreshments were spot on and the program was GREAT. If you missed the meeting…you missed a good one!  Bill Ferrall will have a full report on the Breakfast with Santa event coming up, I’m sure you all reviewed the circular Bill printed up.

Let’s make this a banner event for our Chapter. Bill will also have a report on the modular layout portion of the Christmas show.

November always brings elections for the forthcoming year. Jim Kemp was nominated as president, I will stand as a nominee as well.

However, if Jim does not declined the nomination this month I will withdraw. I feel change is always good and Jim will do a great job.

Wally has stated he would like to take a break from the secretary position and as a result Bill Ferrall was nominated along with treasure. The national bylaws allows the secretary and treasurer position to be held by the same member. I believe this will work out very well and will give Wally a much earned break.

The annul Christmas dinner will be held December 2nd, at the residence of Steve & Marilyn Miller. Steve will have details and a report on “what to bring” to the dinner. Steve and Marilyn are excellent hosts and Steve promises to have trains running in the basement. This will be a most enjoyable evening.

I will have a report on the meeting space in the former L&N RR Depot which may be available to us as soon as January. The building has undergone an extensive remodeling….albeit having lost some of its Railroad Character, the station is finally well preserved.

Please plan to attend the meeting, November 20, 2017. We will meet at the Hopkins County Government Center on North Main Street, Madisonville KY, at 7:00PM.




2018 Convention to be headquartered in Cumberland, MD

The 2018 NRHS convention will be held Tuesday-Sunday, Aug. 7-12, with headquarters in Cumberland, Md. The tentative schedule includes scenic rail trips through the countryside of West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, plus the annual meetings of the Society. The registration room for the convention will open in mid-afternoon on Tuesday, Aug. 7. The board meeting for the NRHS Fund Inc., will be held that evening.

The first trip is scheduled for Wednesday with an all-day outing to Cass, W.Va. to ride the Cass Scenic Railroad up to Spruce, W.Va. At that point, there will be a “cross platform transfer” from the Cass steam train to the Salamander diesel train to Elkins, W.Va. Lunch will be served on the Salamander. Once in Elkins, NRHS members will re-board the buses for the return trip to the hotel in Cumberland.

The tentative schedule for Thursday includes a charter train ride on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad from the depot on Cumberland (three blocks from the hotel) to Frostburg, Md., behind the newly rebuilt steam engine No. 1309. Photo run-bys are scheduled for this trip. Cab rides will be offered in both directions with proceeds benefitting the NRHS.

To read more from the NRHS News, go to


In 1942, the first full year of the U. S. involvement World War II…

In 1942, the first full year of the U. S. involvement World War II,  there were few sites as important to the war effort than a large copper mine in Bingham Canyon in Utah.    The Office of War Information sent a young photographer named Andreas Feininger to document the mine pictorially and show how the ore was extracted.    To be included was the role played by in-mine railroads.

More than a hundred miles of rail line spiraled downward into the mine’s ever-widening amphitheater.  More tracks connected the mine with other important sites such as waste dumps and a smelter and refinery several miles away. 

During WW2, Bingham’s production spiked as miners strove to meet the war material needs.   A single tank for example, required 800 pounds of copper,  a large bomber a full ton.  A battleship required 1,000 tons.   Bingham produced one-third of all the copper used by the U. S. and its allies during the war.

Feininger stood on Bridge G and snapped our picture above.   Having lived in Butte, Montana where the Anaconda Company’s Berkeley Pit continues to gobble up the town I found this picture fascinating.  1) How many more bridges crossing the canyon are behind the photographer?  There are at least four visible up the canyon.  Is Bridge A out of sight up the canyon, or way down and behind the lens?  2) The boarding houses in the foreground are classic. 3)The company houses up the draw are typical, very basic and minimal.  

I don’t know about you, but I would get no sleep in the house directly under the closest bridge. Overloaded gondolas undoubtedly arrive at their destination, wherever and whatever, with a few less rocks in the hopper. 4) The snow covered walkway up the hill to the left is no doubt the route to the workplace.   Looks like a long trek. 5) What a collection of vintage cars on the street.

The Berkeley Pit is a truck operation.    They are BIG trucks,  and today’s are probably triple the size of what I witnessed in 1969-73.   A follow-up seems in order.

Submitted by Gary Ostlund. 

Credits:   Photo & story from the Summer 2014 Railroad Heritage published by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.