Friday Fun: Video From the Lake Shore Railway Museum

For some quick Friday fun, I have a lovely video taken at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania from a few weekends ago. Cedar Point was not the only place where I got to mount a GoPro camera on a train… I’m like an addict that can’t stop. I love trains, I love every kind of train, but I can’t put my camera on every train. (Though I may certainly try)

In other news, if you’re on Instagram and you’re not following us, you totally should be. Besides interesting photos of Metro-North trains taken on my day to day commute (and beyond), there are plenty of other railroad-related locales that have shown up in our photo feed. Here are a few from the Lake Shore Railway Museum… besides having some historical locomotives and cars, the railroad line behind the museum is quite active, and you’ll see both CSX and Norfolk Southern passing by all day long.

Lake Shore Railway Museum Lake Shore Railway Museum
Lake Shore Railway Museum Lake Shore Railway Museum

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Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad 50th Anniversary “Timelapse”

Ever since I purchased a GoPro camera, my absolute dream was to fasten it to the front of a moving train and make a totally awesome video. On Sunday, that dream was finally fulfilled on the Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad. Not only is the CP&LE RR awesome for using authentic coal-fired steam locomotives, they’re celebrating their 50th anniversary this season! We’re commemorating that milestone by taking you on a fast-forwarded ride around the park from a camera mounted on the front of “Judy K.” – one of the park’s steam locomotives.

Long before the park opens to the public, the crew of the Cedar Point and Lake Erie railroad are hard at work getting the locomotives running for the day. A real rarity among amusement park railroads, the CP&LE RR uses real coal-fired steam locomotives, which takes a whole lot of “elbow-grease” and experience to run. Crewed by some wonderful, and exceptionally hard-working people under the watchful eye of 40-year veteran superintendent Randy Catri, the CP&LE RR has long been a staple attraction of Cedar Point. Though it may not be one of the park’s most talked-about rides – like the behemoth Top Thrill Dragster, or the new Gate Keeper – not many of the park’s attractions can boast a 50 year history and having served over 116 million in those years.

The Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad in action.

I met up with the crew early on the morning of August 18th, and captured “Judy K.” leaving the railyard, coupling with passenger cars outside Funway Station, and performing a first test loop around the park. Thanks to our camera, mounted on the front of the locomotive, you get an up-close and personal tour of the coolest amusement park railroad on the planet (and authentic coal-fired steam is interesting ANYWHERE!). As an added bonus there’s also a short crew view, where we see coal being added to the fire, and another loop around the park viewing the train from the side.

Consider this a quick preview of the CP&LE RR, as we’ll be celebrating the 50th with a whole lot more photos and fun in the upcoming weeks!

Note: This is a repost of an original post from several weeks ago. At the request of Cedar Point, that original video (and the post that featured it) was taken down. We reshot the video, along with some additional angles, so it is actually better than it was before!

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The Hiawatha Line’s musical station: Lake Street – Midtown

Most public places – whether it be a shopping mall, park, or even a train station – has had at one time had some difficulties with loiterers and troublemakers. How to deter these troublemakers from hanging out is an often debated subject. A convenience store in South Wales tested out the “mosquito tone“, a high-pitched, obnoxious noise audible only to children (in theory, it depends on your hearing. I can definitely still hear it). Rowdy teens that once congregated around the store now avoid it due to the unpleasant noise.

The “mosquito tone” is a quite crude solution to the problem of loiterers. Although it sounds a little bit odd at first, Minnesota’s Metro Transit has attempted a more eloquent solution – classical music. They certainly aren’t the first to try out the idea – similar initiatives have been put in place in Portland, Atlanta, and even London. After a stabbing incident at the Lake Street – Midtown station, the decision was made to play classical music there. Although there is no hard evidence to say it works, complaints about disorderly conduct and public intoxication at the station are down. Perhaps the music makes people more calm, or more likely, teens don’t want to hang around and be subjected to Bach.

Quick video that I took while at the station as an example of the classical music being played there.

I will be the first to admit that I thought the idea of classical music in a station to prevent crimes was a bit funny. Before heading to Minneapolis I put the station on a mental list of places I wanted to visit, just for amusement value. Though after arriving on the platform, I was a tad disappointed – other than the people waiting for the train, it was silent. However, as I approached the elevator, I could hear the music. Apparently it is played in the enclosed areas of the station. But since the railroad tracks are on the upper level of the station, it is ensured that every rider will get a small dose of classical music when they take the elevator, escalator, or stairs to track level.

Though I do actually appreciate the music, Lake Street – Midtown isn’t too bad of a station without it. As I mentioned in my introduction to the Hiawatha Line, there are a lot of little things that Metro Transit does to make stations a bit more cheerful. Many of the windows at Lake Street – Midtown are colored – there are various panels of reds, blues, and yellows on the lower entrance level, and the upper track level. Anyways, here is a quick look at Lake Street – Midtown station. There will, of course, be more to come, as I took way too many photos in Minneapolis and of the Hiawatha Line.


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Sunset on the Orange Line

A while back I started an account on YouTube for the blog. I had high hopes for making various videos, but that sort of took a backseat to photography, and I never really did anything interesting there. When I changed the header out a month or two ago, I dropped the YouTube link, since I figured it was pointless to promote an account I do nothing with (as opposed to twitter, on which I am quite active, and you should totally follow me). Every once and a while, however, I manage to do something interesting that gets posted to YouTube… in this case a video from my recent jaunt out to the midwest. Pretty much the second I arrived in my Chicago hotel room and saw the view, I decided I had to make a video from my window. While previous hotel guests left bad reviews because their rooms were too close to the noisy trains, I considered that a plus. After all, without that great view I wouldn’t have been able to do this:

That is, of course, Chicago’s ‘L’, in a part of the city known as the Loop. The video spans about three hours – from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM on a Friday evening, capturing the trains as day turns into night.

In the coming weeks I’ll be posting photos of my journeys, mostly of the Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis, but a few photos from Chicago as well… because every once and a while I do ride something other than the Harlem Line.

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Weekly News Roundup, 1/28

It has been brought to my attention that I’ve neglected to post news roundups for the past few weeks. Not too many spectacular things have occurred over the past few weeks, but here are a few of the noteworthy stories:

Metro-North Passenger Pledge

On our 12/31 news roundup, I mentioned the Metro-North passenger pledge, and how it was accepted by the Connecticut Commuter Council. Since that time, it has been officially “unveiled” by Metro-North. It has been quite the topic of conversation by numerous news outlets in both Connecticut and New York. Commentary has ranged from utterly pointless comments about “great American flag clip art” to what exactly this pledge really means to riders. The majority of everything in the pledge have been the goals of Metro-North for quite a while, though they are now just made available in writing.

Hey Gothamist, have you even been on a train recently? That “American flag clipart” sure looks familiar…

It seems that quite a few New Haven Line riders are unhappy with a particular line in the pledge:

Metro-North will use best efforts to schedule service to meet anticipated demand so as to provide a seat for every customer

They notice the “provide a seat for every customer” part, yet conveniently ignore the previously mentioned phrase of “best efforts.” On that particular point, Jim Cameron may have said one of the most logical things I’ve heard from him in a while:

“You only get a ride. They can’t promise a seat. That was a little too much to ask… [but] this is the bitter fruit of the neglect of that railroad by the Connecticut legislature in investment, going back decades.”

Cameron and the Connecticut Commuter Council pushed for the pledge to be put on trains, and Metro-North obliged. Trains last Thursday evening had a copy of the pledge left on every seat… and rather expectedly, were found crumpled on the floor of the train by the end of the evening, likely unread.

Thanks for the pledge… though it seems that most commuters don’t really care at all.

Planes, Trains And Automobiles Struggle With Fat Americans

Jim Cameron again lends his expert opinion on the subject of trains and fat Americans, in a story found on Gothamist a week or so ago. I find the following statement found in the article rather amusing:

Metro-North is attempting to trick fat passengers by making the middle seats look larger with a center seam instead of arm barriers, though they’re not actually making the seats bigger.

Of all the things one could blame Metro-North of doing to passengers, I doubt that tricking fat passengers about the size of seats is high on that list. Perhaps to anyone other than a conspiracy theorist, a more logical assumption might be where our new trains (as they were apparently referencing the M8’s of the New Haven Line) have been designed. Our first M8’s were delivered from the Kawasaki company in Japan – a country that has a significantly lower percentage of obese citizens than we do. Perhaps in future railcars this will be addressed, as it is a subject that has been influencing industries throughout our country – even tourism.

A harmonica-playing conductor…

The New Haven Line certainly has its share of interesting conductors… The following video has been making the rounds this week, and I couldn’t help but share. Certainly a conductor playing the harmonica is amusing, but it is the two guys dancing in the background that really makes the video.

Mother suing the MTA for son’s death by subway train

In the future, when people look back on us Americans, I have a feeling that they might find that the country’s pastime is not baseball, but filing lawsuits. And some are quite doozies – a drunk and high idiot convicted of manslaughter for killing three with his pickup truck has the audacity to sue the victim’s families for pain and suffering. And although there is no doubt that a Brooklyn mother is suffering and in pain after the death of her son, suing the MTA for it is just asinine.

A likely drunk Briant Rowe willingly climbed down onto the subway tracks and wandered through a tunnel, and was not surprisingly struck by a subway train. Though clearly his fault, Rowe’s mother is suing the MTA for fifty million dollars, claiming that it is the MTA’s fault for not suspending all service to search for the man, who was sighted on the tracks… though a slow-moving train did search for him for over a half an hour. Really, where is personal accountability in this whole story? Perhaps we should nominate this young man for a Darwin Award.

If we get our legs ripped off by a train, can we sue the MTA too?

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Weekly news roundup

While I was looped up on cold medicine today, I somehow came up with the idea that I should do a “news roundup” every week for the site. I’m a voracious reader – of both books and blogs. Many times I encounter articles that I think my readers would likely find interesting, but are not a big enough deal to warrant their own post. Many of the articles I do tweet about, but I also have a lot of readers that don’t have a presence on twitter. Plus, a few of the blogs I read do news roundups similar to this, and I’ve always thought it a cool idea – so I figured I’d try it out. Below you’ll find some of the more noteworthy things that have happened this week in terms of trains.

Rockefeller home Kykuit at the Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show [image credit]

Metro-North Bolsters Winter Arsenal

This week Metro-North has issued a press release regarding their strategies for dealing with the upcoming winter. Added to their “snow fighting arsenal” are “three new jet turbines to blow snow, two new cold-air snow blowing trucks and 150 modern switch heaters.”

MNRCC weighs in on recent MNR accomplishments

The Metro North Railroad Commuter Council has issued a statement regarding some of Metro-North’s recent accomplishments, including the restoration of service on the Port Jervis line, and the new Quiet Car program.

Apple store Grand Central opens

Friday marked the opening of the new Apple store in Grand Central. The MTA has posted a nice video tour of the new store that is definitely worth checking out.

Free coffee at new Metro-North station

The Whole Foods truck will be on hand at Metro-North’s newest station, Fairfield Metro, throughout the month. For commuters there will be free coffee from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. throughout December. Fairfield Metro just opened this past Monday, and if you missed it we toured the station on Tuesday.

6:40 train leaves Southeast station on Monday’s foggy morning

Abbe Raven is watching you on the train

The president of the A&E Network is a Harlem Line rider, and she likes observing passengers on the train. In an interview posted this week, Raven says the train is her “laboratory” and states “I get to see what people who are not in our industry are doing, what apps they’re using, how they’re using technology, what they’re watching on their devices.” [via trainjotting]

New art in Poughkeepsie

A mural by artist Nestor Madalengoitia titled “Welcome to the Hudson Valley” has been recently installed in Poughkeepsie station.

Holiday Train Show at the Botanical Garden

The Holiday Train show is in its 20th year, and the newest historical building to be modeled is the Rockefellers’ home Kykuit. All of the to-scale models in the show have been created using natural parts. Magnolia leaves, pine bark, eucalyptus leaves, plant stems, seed pods, and pistachio shells have all been used in the creation of Kykuit.

Best Animal Photos of 2011

Buzzfeed has come up with an awesome collection of animal photos from the year. Be sure to check out photo number 14, an adorably cute dog that has recovered after being hit by a train. (The Little Red Riding Cat at number 38 is also pretty awesome)

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Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Rye

When I first started out doing a little bit of research on the railroad station in Rye, I was rather disappointed. I was coming up dry in a lot of areas – I couldn’t really find anything tremendously noteworthy about the station to write about. Apparently, I hadn’t looked hard enough, as the information I eventually found turned out to be an absolute gem. In fact, it is downright crazy, and I’m warning you in advance. This may have been the most amusing research investigation I have, or will ever go on.

Enter artist Matt Mullican. Mullican is the artist behind the recently installed Arts for Transit mosaic in the Rye station. I’ve already gone on record with my opinion of art being installed in frequently closed train stations, so I wont get into that again. Thankfully, there are plenty of windows in the Rye station, and I was able to get a few shots of the work inside through them. Apparently the mosaic is based upon the works of designer and architect Marcel Breuer. If you’ve ever been to IKEA in New Haven, you probably remember some odd looking building right next to it – it is the last remaining portion of the Breuer designed Pirelli Tire Building. Breuer also designed pieces of furniture that look like they could be sold in an IKEA, and he almost gave us this abomination:

So why exactly did Mullican pay homage to Breuer in his mosaic? Apparently Breuer was the architect for the (original) Rye train station. Arts for Transit has used the talents of countless artists, many of which have a rather diverse body of work. I’d be willing to go out on a limb here and say that Mullican definitely deserves a spot on the list of most interesting artists the program has employed. In his artist statement regarding the piece, it is said that “Mullican is concerned with the relationship between perception and reality.” And although not completely relevant to this post, the following YouTube video was too good for me to not post.

How does one perceive reality while under hypnosis? Oh my, what is he doing to the floor?

Back on the subject of railroads, Rye is one of the handful of New Haven Line stations in New York state. It is 24 miles from Grand Central, and during off-peak hours takes about 50 minutes to get to the city. However, during peak hours some trains make the journey in as little as 35 minutes. During the summer months many take the train to Rye station, enroute to the Playland amusement park. Besides that, Rye is pretty much a station like any other. Below you’ll find some old video clips I found on YouTube, and of course, the photos I took on my recent exploration of Rye.

Old footage I found on YouTube of Rye and other New Haven Line stations.


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Crazy stuff always happens on the 5:27…

By now you’ve all heard about Metro-North’s quiet car program… unfortunately, on the 5:27 Harlem Line train from Grand Central, there is no quiet car. There is, however, a crazy car. Over the three years I’ve taken this train, we’ve had lots of crazy things happen: from cheesecakes and cannolis, to magicians performing tricks, and Yankees trivia nights. Yesterday evening the crazy car was serenaded…

All of this usually happens after we leave Chappaqua, since by then most of the people on the train are gone.

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Journey the Harlem Line in 6 minutes: Grand Central to Southeast Time Lapse

Have you ever seen these awesome time lapse videos the MTA has done on the LIRR? When I first saw them, I decided I wanted to try the same thing at some point on the Harlem Line. Yesterday I finally got a chance to try it, unfortunately not in HD (didn’t have a big enough memory card to do the whole ride in HD). The ride first starts out in Grand Central, and heads all the way to Southeast. We make all local stops north of White Plains, with the exception of Mount Pleasant. The hour and twenty minute ride has been condensed into a little over six minutes.

Because I know a few of you more astute observers will find some issues with the video (signals? track?), I will say that this video was taken not from the cab, but from the rear of the train. The footage was reversed to make it appear like it was from the front of the train. This is my first attempt at a time lapse, and I think I’d like to try it again at some point. Perhaps in HD, and possibly from the front of the train, so everything doesn’t look wrong. But as a first attempt, I think this is a pretty cool way to see the Harlem Line.

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Be nice to your conductor, or you’ll wind up on the internet…

By now you’ve likely seen the video that last week became a viral sensation – namely a woman arguing with a conductor (and getting kicked off of) a Metro-North train. Uploaded Tuesday by YouTube user Zanzibar78 (real name Casey, age 33, who has now gone “missing”), the video was picked up by a wide range of websites, including the Huffington Post, Gawker and Gothamist. The person that uploaded the video likely had no clue how popular it would get, and has since shut their YouTube account down. But of course, this is the internet. Nothing ever really gets deleted here. Other people who downloaded the video have reuploaded it… and in case you didn’t actually see the video, here it is:

Again, I must say, this is the internet. And most unfortunately for the obnoxious woman, the video was sent to so many people (especially locals) that by Friday afternoon she had been identified. I’m going to refrain from posting her name, but it isn’t hard to find via a google search. Information from her internet profile coincides with information she stated in the video (namely, she’s originally from Garrison), so the ID is likely accurate. Her LinkedIn profile as well as her presence on Twitter and Facebook have been deleted, but need I say it again? This is the internet. People took screenshots of it all before the deletion, and you can find those easily via search as well… including some rather strange photos taken from her Photobucket account before that too was deleted. Someone has even made a fan page for her on Facebook, touting some of her best quotes.

Does this whole situation sound familiar to you, though? It does to me. Have you heard of the “Dog Poop Girl“? The woman was a subway rider in Seoul, South Korea, where she would occasionally take her dog. One day, the dog pooped on the floor of the subway, and despite other passengers asking her to clean it, she refused and got off the train. Someone, of course, took pictures, and she too was identified and harassed via the internet.

And yes, I said harassed – as much as I love this video, as much as I know that maybe, just maybe, this girl will have some sense knocked into her, I also know that someone will take it too far. It doesn’t take much to figure out her address, or even her phone number. But all of that would be, most definitely, going too far. The whole internet now is familiar with what education this girl has had – but she is now becoming “well-educated” in the school of internet vigilantism.

Here is my public service announcement to everyone – you should be nice to your conductor. If you’re an asshole, your picture might just wind up on the internet… especially since there are plenty of sites like Subway Douchery, and Kiss My Commute that would just love to post your picture. Even I’ve been known to post pictures of obnoxious people from time to time. Honestly though, I really shouldn’t have to say this. When you get off the train in the evening, why don’t you say “Good Night”? Or in the morning say “Good Morning.” And maybe “Please” and “Thank You” too. It isn’t hard. After all, it is a conductor that gets your drunk ass home on New Years, and put up with so many people’s crap on a day to day basis. I’ve heard people say things to conductors that I would never even type on this blog (and I certainly have no qualms about using the f-word, these are way beyond that).

Seriously though. Good morning, good night, please, thank you – this is basic stuff you should use throughout your life – not just on the train. Be a nice person, and don’t wind up on the internet. You probably won’t enjoy it if you do.

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