End of Steam Story by Gary Ostlund

       Setting the stage:    In the early 50s, when steam engines were dropping out of the picture at an alarming rate,  TRAINS Magazine send Editor David P. Morgan and his close pal Dr. Philip R. Hastings out into the hinterland to record their demise in word and B&W.   As expected they did a spectacular job,  Morgan’s prose and Hasting’s lens recording history, never to be repeated.  Between them, a hotshot hoghead and a worn but game 4-8-2, forget what year it is and pretend this dead freight is the 20th Century Limited.


Morgan and Hastings found action in Galion, Ohio.  New York Central Extra 3005 East was doing some car shuffling and would depart soon.   Like most railfans,  they hopped in the car and raced 13 miles to Shelby, where an equally busy line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad crossed.

The dispatcher had temporarily lost track of Extra 3005 East and was attempting to pin down his location and whether or not he had his train in one piece.  In the words of Morgan, “the conversation, as relayed to us by the operator, gave no direct hint of what was to come.  As a result neither Hasting nor I noticed a faint smudge of smoke building in the horizon to the west.  A distant whistling was adjudged to be yet another first-class schedule, and we were scanning the timecard to identify it when another, nearer blast propelled us to trackside on the double.

  “Why, it’s the extra!  Can’t be — he might just have — it is and he’s rolling!”       Rolling is mild language for what he was doing.   Extra 3005 East, now no less than 98 cars between tank and caboose, was bearing down on Shelby with all the implications of destiny of the Book of Revelation,  gaining momentum with each revolution of those four pairs of 69-inch drivers, making the legal mile-a-minute with ease and perhaps a notch or two better.  The elephant-eared aristocrat of an Alco rammed across the diamond with smoke going high, the Baker up near center, and the crew enjoying the breeze.  Out of her dusty wake came her train — rattling,  rocking,  rolling, riding to Cleveland at such a pace that as Hastings recalls it, “one felt called upon to wonder at what moment the whole shebang would take either to the air or to the adjacent countryside.”

The wooden hack bringing up the markers shot off into the distance.  Left in the sudden quiet were two rather shaken train-watchers, one startled operator, and the voice of a dispatcher who, with noticeable alarm, had (1) discovered the pace of Extra 3005 East,  and (2) was attempting to stop him so that slower but more legitimate occupants of the eastbound main — passenger trains — could overtake the dead freight they had been supposed to run around.

Wonderful!  Too often steam departs from us in the form of a fan trip that suffers an engine breakdown . . .    How much better to wind it up like the 3005, taking a quiet Ohio town apart, pinning its ears back, performing like Alco said her 4410 cylinder horsepower should perform.    Abdicate..? — not willingly.

Credits:  Photos by Dr. Phil R. Hastings & excerpts by Editor David P. Morgan as seen in  “In Search or Steam, Volume II:  1954 – 1955


No Flowers in This Window Box by Gary Ostlund

#156 com-n-atcha by Wayne Monger

The arrows point to a window apparatus not standard on most diesel locomotives.   Milwaukee Road ‘s #156 was one of the many U. S. railroads theme units celebrating our 200th Anniversary back in 1976.    You can see why it was one of the favorites.

All weather bay windows, like that shows here, were standard on all modern Milwaukee motive power.   They were installed on the engineers side only.    It allowed the engineer to lean to his right and look both forward and rearward,  important when switching,  as it was necessary to see hand signals from crewmen on the ground.   

The window seen here is made of durable fiberglass construction,  and proven to be more user friendly that the earlier plywood and later aluminum versions.  Note that a clear piece of plexi-glass allowed him view the ground immediately below. In darkness, under certain conditions,  it was difficult to judge movement, particularly with moving equipment on adjacent tracks, as in a yard.   A downward shining light enhances this view.  All weather windows allowed the engineer to perform his duties in the relative comfort of a dry cab.

Straight-down from below by Mike Schafer

The bay window did not replace the standard cab side windows and common practice was to leave the engineers side windows open, except in extreme cold when they would be closed to minimize drafts.

Radios have eliminated the necessity of an engineer looking for hand signals.  – Gary Ostlund

Mike Schafer and Art Danz contributed to the story


The February 2017 Spill with President Ricky Bivins


I hope everyone was able to enjoy the unusually warm January days made available to us. I was able to get over to one of my favorite train watching spots, Gorham IL. Matt Gentry joined me and we had a fun day watching and seeking out trains on the former MoPac and Cotton Belt lines.

The January meeting was a bit long but very informative. Our meeting place last month was the former Hopkins County Court House located in Madisonville. Bob and Bob from the Historical Society of Hopkins County were excellent hosts and the facility was good. We were treated to a tour of the building and provided information regarding the forth coming Coal Museum. We were not given a lot of information as to the needs and/or expectations of the Chapter if we decide to participate but most everyone agreed this is a good opportunity for our group to get the word out about our local railroad history.

To recap, the entire south wing, which is roughly half of the museum display area could be allotted to the Chapter. We will provide our own display cases, shelving, hangers etc. as well as the display items. Security will be excellent. The museum will be staffed by volunteers. We will have access to the area in off hours. We will have to build, equip and maintain the area we commit to. Filling display cases with railroad and coal related artifacts will not be a problem, we all have something. (I can fill one room myself)! Meeting a work schedule during construction I feel will be easy. Everyone will be eager to participate early on. Down the road (rail), maintaining and manning the museum for special events I see a potential issue. If we commit to this endeavor, we commit fully!

As mentioned in the minutes and at the previous meeting, I would like to grow our Photo Archive, see the Archive on-line in some form and make the information available to other not-for-profit organizations as well. Steve Miller, Jim Pearson and I are the committee members for this project. Submit your ideas to us.

The National Convention will be held in Nashville TN, this is close to home. Will King, Bill Farrell and Jim Kemp are committee members for “Project Nashville”. Let us see what we can do to aid in the Convention.

And as always, National dues are due, March 31 is the cut-off date. Dues received after March 31 will be treated as a new member thus losing member seniority.

I hope to see you February 20, 2017 at the Hopkins County Government Center, 58 N. Main St. Madisonville KY. Meeting time is 7:00 PM. Bill Farrell has refreshment while I will have a combination talk and video program on Port Perry PA and its importance to the steel industry.

.Ricky Bivins, President    


New York Central E8 diesel locomotives by Rich Hane

This is one of 62 New York Central E8 diesel locomotives as seen by my wife and I at the National NYC Museum in Elkhart, In. recently. General Motors built 450 of these from 1949 to 1954. Each unit was powered by two V-12 Diesel engines and were rated at 2250 HP. Many of these passenger engines were re-geared for freight use as the needs of the railroads changed.  Rich Hane

February 2017 Pickin’ the Points

by Bill Thomas, editor, The PennyRail

I need your stories!  To show you how simple this is, listen to one of mine…

My first train ride was aboard a work train assigned to do some ditch work on the Hook & Eye line of Family Lines (formerly L&N).  GP40 4010, in the dark Family Lines gray with red and yellow stripes was literally “chocked” with a wooden wedge at the old depot in Ellijay, GA.  Behind it was a matching ex-L&N bay window caboose, and THEN… A JORDAN SPREADER!  I’d never seen such a creature.  While taking some black & white photos on Kodak Tri-X, I met up with the crew, who offered me a ride down the line.  This was 1980, no cell phones, so I’m going rogue! At 17 I felt like being free anyway! 

We pulled out and ran south (backward) for a few miles, then the work began with the big arms of the Jordan spreader doing their thing. 

We gradually worked our way back to the depot, but my thrill of the day, was blowing the horn at the crossings.  We ran along side my 8th grade civics teacher in her car, who waved to me.  She was not surprised to see me in the cab of a locomotive!

I can remember this outing like it was yesterday.  I hope you might have some similar stories to tell.  It’s ok to make it personal, don’t worry about grammar, I’ll take care of that as your editor.  Just start talking! (my apologies if you’ve heard this story before!)



Update on High Iron Trips

Don Clayton

From Don Clayton…

Due to some conflicting schedules with the 611 excursions, we are revising our Kanawha River trip schedule. This update is shown in the attached. The BNSF trip has been removed for rescheduling.  Information on ticketing for the Piedmont & Northern trips will be available shortly.  Sorry for any confusion!

March 17, 18, 2017 PIEDMONT & NORTHERN Four repeat trips over the 13-mile long P&N using an ex-IC caboose. Limited to 10 riders per trip. Trips will leave at 9AM and 1:30PM on both Saturday and unday. Fare: $125/trip. One space per trip in the locomotive at $250. Please identify which trip you desire: 17A (Saturday morning); 17B (Saturday afternoon); 18A (Sunday morning); 18B (Sunday afternoon), and an alternate selection if your choice is filled.

SANTA CRUZ & MONTEREY BAY RR. Trips canceled due to storm damage.

March 21, 2017. Deadhead trip Oakland, CA to Chicago in ex-Santa Fe dome cars. No sleeping accommodations. Meals included. $595.

March 25, 2017. STREATOR CIRCLE TRIP. A day trip from Chicago to Streator, IL on ex-AT&SF; then east on ex-NYC (now NS) back Chicago via Schneider, IN (connection with ex-NYC Cairo, IL line to Indiana Harbor). Lv. Union station 8AM; return around 5PM.  Fares: Dome $495; Caritas (open platform obs. car) $595; coach seat $295. Lunch included.

June 3-12, 2017:. KANAWHA RIVER RAILROAD BEHIND ex-NKP 765.  (Note: Kanawha River Railroad is a former NYC line, now operated by WATCO).

June 3: Deadhead to Pickerington, Ohio (near Columbus), load passengers, run to the village of Eclipse (near Athens) or as far as practical. Use Kanawha River Railroad unit to pull train back to Pickerington/Watkins Yard. Total is about 150 miles.

June 4: Deadhead to Pickerington, Ohio to load passengers, then run two short trips, Pickerington to Glouster and return, about 114 miles per trip. Use Kanawha River Railroad unit to pull train on all westbound moves.

June 5: Deadhead train to either Nitro or Dickinson Yard for storage during week.

June 9: Diesel trip, Charleston as far as we can go toward Enon, MP WV253 and return.  Total of about 140 miles.

June 10: Load passengers at the University of Charleston stadium in downtown Charleston and run to Maben. Bus passengers to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, deadhead train to Mullens/Elmore to wye. Deadhead move may be occupied. Total is about 170 miles.

June 11: Repeat of Saturday’s trip.

June 12: One way move from Charleston to Pickerington, Ohio, Then deadhead into

Watkins yard. Equipment will be 611 Steam Train consist plus Caritas and Cimarron

River. Pricing to be determined.

September 14-22, 2017: AAPRCO Convention in Burlington, VT

The Special Train will start in Albany/Renssalaer, NY on a route not yet finalized but

including major portions of the Vermont Rail System. The actual convention dates are

September 19-22. We will be participating with the Caritas and Cimarron River.

Clark Johnson Today, 9:07 AM


Circus Train Cars By Steve Glischinski

Elephants are unloaded from the Ringing Bros. “Red Unit” train in Charleston, W.Va., on April 19. Most Ringling Bros. cars have been “tunneled” out, meaning little original material is left on the cars’ interior.

Circus cars are sound, but heavily altered – Expert cautions passenger car enthusiasts, museums that circus cars were cleaned out for work
By Steve Glischinski | January 20, 2017

ELLENTON, Fla. — At first glance, the announced shutdown of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus would appear to be a boon to railway passenger car preservation. There may suddenly be available a vast fleet of heritage passenger cars that Ringling Bros. maintained in excellent mechanical condition. You won’t find rust and rot in Ringling’s fleet, all of which has been equipped with head-end electrical power.

The problem for museums and preservationists is there is a little if anything left of the original interiors, says Brad Black, a vice president with Virginkar & Associates, Inc., which consults on passenger car and rail transit rolling stock, equipment, and locomotive projects. Black says the cars have been “tunneled out,” with the interiors stripped to empty shells. So the cars bear no resemblance to when they were in their previous service. In fact, Black says, in recent years Ringling has been purchasing old coaches rather than sleeping cars, because there are fewer interior walls to tear out.

Cars were assigned to specific acts. After being stripped, Ringling installed a custom interior, based on the needs of that act. Some acts occupy an entire car, while others would be divided up. Interior furnishings were tailored to the act, and might even contain special areas for equipment the act would need to take along. Typically, acts were on the road for two years, and the car was considered their home. Some cars don’t even have aisles through them, since performers generally did not pass through the cars while on the road.

“They are more like hotel rooms than rail cars,” Black says. “So if a museum is going to preserve it as a Ringling Circus car that would work. But if they are thinking, ‘The car was originally this,’ and they are getting that, not really. They tunneled them completely out.”

The cars could be valuable, Black said, to someone who was building a private train and needed empty “shell” cars. “The underbody equipment is very much up to snuff,” He says. “They are good, mechanically sound shells.”

Cars that might be of particularly use for museums and other organizations, Black says, are the six-wheel-truck former elephant cars, and the power cars, which once were owned by Union Pacific. In particular, Black said, the power cars are in excellent shape, and are “whisper quiet” when running.

Other cars that might be available are the large stock of un-rebuilt cars Ringling kept at its shop in Ellenton. Even if it didn’t have a use for a car, Ringling scoured the country scooping up carbodies for possible future use. When a car wasn’t destined for immediate rebuilding, its trucks were usually quickly rebuilt and put to use, so there are a large number of carbodies stored at the shop without trucks.

Black said the Ringling shutdown came as a shock to members of the Railway Passenger Car Alliance, an organization private railroad equipment owners and operators. Some RPCA members have been providing equipment and parts for Ringling’s cars for several years, and have suddenly lost a major customer.

One fear, Black said, is that Ringling might just scrap its rail cars. Most of its flatcars have reached 50 years old; Ringling was planning a rebuild that now will never come. The company could decide to simply dispose of the car fleet to scrappers, save a handful going to circus related museums.

Get your cameras ready! Our first photo contest of the year is next week!

NRHS Chapter Photo Contest Dates for 2017

Below are the dates for this year’s chapter photo contest. During the weeks listed all members are invited to shoot pictures and submit no more than two entries each to webmaster@westkentuckynrhs.org 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 photographers credit and any other relevant information.

Week of Feb 6 – 12, 2017
Submission Deadline: Feb 14, 2017

Week of May 1 – 7, 2017
Submission Deadline: May 11, 2017

Week of July 31 – Aug 6, 2017
Submission Deadline: Aug 10, 2017

Week of Oct 30 – Nov 5, 2017
Submission Deadline: Nov 9. 2017

January 2017 Modeler’s Corner

Rich Hane came across this Pennsylvania Railroad K4 type steam engine that I saw on a recent trip to the National New York Central Railroad Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. It is built out of 421,250 toothpicks and 40 pounds of glue and is about 8 feet long. It was built by Terry Woodling of Warsaw, In. after 7 years of labor.

The brakes, wheels, siderods, and windows all move. Mr Woodling has, also, built an 8ft. DC3, a Lear jet, a touring motorcycle, and a Huey helicopter and hopes to build a stagecoach.

This is what 5.5 inches of super-elevation on a moderately tight curve looks like from ground level!   The Northern Pacific’s eastbound Mainstreeter leans into a the curve at Peak, North Dakota, while passing a freight cooling its heels in the siding. 

65 miles per hour was the speed restriction for this track segment. Though six inches was NP’s maximum curve elevation, good engineering called for a half inch less here, because 65 MPH, the highest speed to be accommodated, was very near equilibrium  (balanced) speed for that elevation.   

The siding’s curve, where much lower speeds occur (only 15 – 20 mph), is elevated only a half inch.   Engine crews learned to honor this 65-mph limit.   In 1960 the crack streamliner North Coast Limited was going a little fast around this curve when the flanges of the lead locomotive tried to climb the outside rail, nearly derailing the passenger train. 

This was back in the days of “clickety-clack” jointed rail in 39 foot lengths.  The sun angle provides good clarity of the bolted rail.   Why 39’… you ask.?   Old habits are hard to break, and in the really early days 39 foot rails fit nicely on a forty foot flat car.   Today’s  welded rail is toted around in quarter mile or longer lengths.

Submitted by Gary O. Ostlund

Credits:   Pix by Wilbur R. Shannon, text excerpts from the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association calendar, May 2016.



2016 Modular Christmas Display at Parkway Plaza Mall

Here’s collection of photographs from our chapter’s 2016 modular display at Parkway Plaza Mall in Madisonville, Ky.

2016 O Scale Modular Layout was in Hopkinsville at The Polar Express Day

Our first outing for the O Scale Modular Layout was in Hopkinsville at The Polar Express Day, Carnegie Library.  Chapter members Rich Hane, Bill Farrell, Blair Terry, and Ricky Bivins worked hard to make sure the display was ready to run! 

Blair Terry is pictured with the Polar Express conductor.


More from the Polar Express Day in Hopkinsville. Here is a multi-scale modular layout on display.


January 2017 Pickin’ the Points by Bill Thomas

Opinions and Stories by Bill Thomas, Editor

I WAS enthusiastically looking forward to our modular railroad layout display at Madisonville Square Mall AND I was not disappointed!  Thanks to our president Bill Farrell, Rick Bivins, Rich Hane, Jim Kemp, Wally, and others who helped set up, maintain, and take down the displays.  I am of the opinion that this was a fantastic “touch point” for us with our community. 

Thanks also to those who purchased and prepared modules for our display.  You can see pictures in the following pages of the newsletter. 

If room permits, I’ll include some photographs I took on our family Christmas trip to New York City, December 26-31.  We were fortunate to visit a small RR museum in Huntington, WV (pictured with museum volunteer Jim Pickett, insert), as well as the Transit Museum of NY, and The Railway Museum of Pennsylvania, in Strasburg, PA.  I can thank my wife Angela for scheduling those stops for me along with the visits to Gettysburg, Central Park NYC, and the Independence Hall area of Philadelphia.  I finally saw the Liberty Bell!

Bill Thomas, editor, The PennyRail


New Your Transit Museum, Brooklyn, NY

Railway Museum, Huntington, WV

Railway Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg, PA








The January 2017 Spill with President Ricky Bivins

Members enjoy the Christmas Party at the home of Steve and Marilyn Miller in Hopkinsville.

Greetings Everyone.

First and foremost, Thank You for a vote of confidence. With guidance from the Chapter officers, National and Chapter Members I hope to make 2017 a very good year. 2016 was exceptional. Looking back, we can see many events went into our history book. Track side visits, a picnic, meetings, work sessions and of course an excellent Christmas Dinner at the Miller residence. We finished the year with the Christmas Show showcasing the Chapters Modular Layout, Movies, Standard Gauge trains and of course Wally Watts and his steam engines.

I was surprised in several respects with the Christmas Show. The layout while there were some issues, ran very well “right out of the box” and for the first time! Parkway Plaza Mall was an excellent host. Bill’s Standard gauge trains were a hit with the children as were Wally’s steam engines. One thing I was very much pleased with was the level of participation from the membership. Many members helped in various ways. That being said, Bill Farrell gets the prize. Bill put many, many hours into the event as did Rich Hane and Jim Kemp. A special thanks goes out to these guys.

As for 2017, we have a lot of work to do if we are to top 2016! By now you have learned we have a possible meeting place change. Our January meeting will be held in the old court house building, third floor. Enter via the basement entrance located on the buildings east side. Take the stairs or elevator to the third floor. The meeting space is on the north side of the building. Our program will be a guest speaker, Randy Teague. Randy will give us a tour of the proposed Coal and Railroad Museum space within the building. We will learn from Randy, what is in store for the building and of possible involvement with our Chapter. This will be a very interesting night. The Historical Society of Hopkins County has a media center in the building. I will provide refreshments and there will be a train video playing in the background. However, I expect our attention to be directed at the museum and Mr. Teague.

On January 2, 2017 I held an officers meeting at my house. The officers in attendance discussed the newsletter, the web site, dues, membership, programs, the photo archive and a host of other “thoughts’. Most will be brought before the Chapter meeting night.

With that being said, Monday January 16, 2017 will be a good night, an even better night if YOU attend…and bring a guest.

Ricky Bivins, President