Looking back at 2010… a countdown of the most popular

Ah, 2010. You were the first full year that I actually operated this blog. Lots of fun and shenanigans were to be had. I decided to take a look back at what was popular on the site this year, as a wrap-up for 2010…

1. BPGlobal Billboards

The first entry here is not train-related in any way… however it was such a major news story at the time I couldn’t not have some fun with it – though fun is actually a terrible way to describe it, as the Gulf Oil Spill was quite tragic. To me the two standouts in coverage on this was a fake twitter account, BPGlobalPR, and Boston Globe’s The Big Picture. I merged the two into fake billboards, which apparently caught on and made their rounds on the web – and brought around thirty thousand viewers to the site in a single day.

2. Harlem Line Timetables

It is true, I have turned into an eBay whore… collecting just about anything regarding the Harlem Line. Many of the timetables I have can be found on the second most popular part of the site, the Harlem Line Timetables archive. It is desperately needing updating, as I own or have scanned many more timetables than are currently pictured. My goal was always to have a timetable for every year, and for the most part I do have that, from 1930 on up. Look for a major overhaul of this section in 2011!

3. Stupid Warning Signs

Ah, stupid warning signs. One of the most amusing things I’ve made for the site. These popular signs round out the top three most popular things on the site this year. Folks have requested that I turn these into stickers, but if you people start sticking these on trains the MTA PD might actually have a real reason to arrest my ass.

4. The Cutest Train Car in the World

One of the posts I made after returning from Japan featured the Tama Densha railcar of the Wakayama Electric Railway. The railroad is known in offbeat circles around the world due to the fact that they employ a feline Stationmaster (I believe she’s actually been promoted to Vice-President now). Tama the cat was so popular, designer Eiji Mitooka created a train car in her honor. The front of the train has whiskers, the seats inside have cat print. My favorite part of the train? The library full of books for the kids.

5. Centalia, PA – Burning Ghost Town

I’ve always been fascinated with Centralia, ever since I first read about it on the internet many years ago. Since then I’ve visited several times. The story begins in the 1960’s, when a coal seam under the town caught fire. It continues to burn to this day. The land has fissures that belch smoke, and it permanently smells of sulfur. It is a tragic story, as the once bustling small town has been whittled down to less than ten citizens.

The coal under the town that is burning is anthracite – which was popularized in little rhymes about Phoebe Snow in advertisements for the Lackawanna Railroad.

6. The Loneliest Station on the Harlem Line

Although I hadn’t come up with the concept yet, the Harlem Line Panorama project began with Mount Pleasant – which I labeled as the loneliest station on the line. The tiny station in between Hawthorne and Valhalla services the cemeteries in the area, and has very limited service.

The first panorama posted on the site

7. The Harlem Line Panorama Project

If you’re interested in seeing all the panoramas to date, located on a map – this is the place to go. This Google map is the seventh most popular portion of the site, although technically it lies off site and on Google’s servers. However, each placemark contains my favorite panorama from that stop, and a link back to the post on this site.

8. Sadie the Subway Cat

The Transit Museum in Brooklyn has employed a cat or two, mostly in the hopes that they would chase away any subway rats. In this eighth most popular post I recollect my first visit to the Transit Museum and my encounter with Sadie… and my crazy idea to get her a miniature-sized train conductor’s hat. Of course none of that really panned out – and as far as I am aware, Sadie has been quietly retired from the public.

9. The #1 Reason to Ride Metro-North

Back in June I posted these spoof ads for Metro-North and beer. If you are a regular commuter you will notice that in the afternoon, and most especially on Fridays, there are quite a few people drinking beer. The exception to that if you are those people that work at Target in Mount Kisco, you’re drinking it in the morning. But since you can’t drink and drive, and you can certainly drink and ride, Metro-North could always have an amusing new ad campaign.

10. M8 Cars Will Not Debut on the New Haven Line

Ah, April Fools Day… I couldn’t resist making a fake post about the new M8’s. Shattering the dreams of many New Haven Line riders, I posted that the red trains would be repainted blue and running instead on the Harlem Line by the end of the year. I even made up some fake quotes and attributed them to Dan Brucker – which probably doesn’t place me very high on his list of awesome bloggers.

So that is it! The ten most popular things on the blog in 2010. Happy New Year everyone!

Read More

The Brewery in the Roundhouse: Steam Whistle Brewing

Beer-loving railfans, rejoice! I’ve found the perfect place for you to visit… It has been quite a few months since I’ve come back from Canada (I went in June), and I have such a backlog of photos that I had intended on posting, but never got around to. Some of my Toronto photos managed to get up here a bit ago, but so far I’ve left out one of the nicer places I visited there, including the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre.

The Toronto Railway Heritage Centre is a relatively young organization, and the first part of their museum proper, in Roundhouse Park, opened in May of this year. I got a chance to visit the place at the start of their opening season, and took a ride on their mini railway. I’ll be posting up some pictures of the actual Heritage Centre a bit later, and today focusing on another resident in Roundhouse Park: Steam Whistle Brewing.

The John Street Roundhouse in Toronto was completed in 1931, and used by the Canadian Pacific Railway up until 1986. The 32-bay roundhouse was later donated by the railroad to the city of Toronto. The grounds around the roundhouse building became known as Roundhouse Park, and it is just adjacent to the Rogers Centre, and practically underneath the enormous CN Tower. Underneath the park and roundhouse is a parking garage, and part of the Convention Centre – when these were constructed, a portion of the roundhouse had to be dismantled. It was later put back together, and has been nicely restored.

Steam Whistle Brewing has taken up residence in bays 1 through 14 in the old roundhouse. Although the name of the beer sounds perfect for a business in an old steam engine roundhouse, it isn’t related to trains. The steam whistle it refers to is the 5 o’clock whistle – marking the end of the work day.

If you ever get the chance to visit Toronto, you can take a tour of the factory, see where the beer is made, and see the old restored roundhouse. And of course, get some free samples of beer (my brother thoroughly enjoyed this – being 20 he can legally drink in Canada, but not here in the States).


Read More

My readers may be sick bastards…

Search engines are amazing, magical things. You type stuff in that box, and wow, it just miraculously finds what you need! Provided you type in something relatively normal, that is. Like cats. You can find a crapload of stuff on the internet about cats. Normal people might search for something like that. Even people that are more or less outliers in the whole scheme of “normality” might search for cats. But if you are typing into google, her panties get wet on the train ride, you are a sick bastard.

Apparently I do have readers that are in fact sick bastards. Every few weeks I fire up my statistics log of the site, and I can view what people type into search engines in order to find this blog. And many people find it by typing in Harlem Line. But apparently the number one thing people want to know about is about drinking beer on the trains. Yes, you can drink beer on Metro-North. But it would also be great if instead of leaving your empty bottles/cans on the train, you dispose of them when you get off. I mean, that is a perfectly relevant query. If you are the type of person that wants to get drunk on your way to the city to get drunk. Or to drown your sorrows after work. If you ask google about drinking beer, I don’t think anything bad of you. But if you search google for free videos of asses groped on buses or trains, you are a sick bastard.

The other big thing that people search for and end up finding my site, are about dogs riding Metro-North. They want to know if dogs can ride, and if they are charged a fee in order to ride. Yes, small dogs can ride Metro-North. We do ask that you keep the dog on a leash, or in a crate, as to not disturb other passengers. Service animals are of course, always accepted. There is no fee for a dog to ride, but it is always up to the conductor as to whether your animal is bothering other passengers. I suppose animals riding the train is a valid query. Maybe you were heading down to the ASPCA in the city and were going to adopt a new family member? Certainly you would want said family member to be able to ride the train back home. But if you wanted to know can fat people ride the train?, well, you aren’t a sick bastard, but you are an asshole.

Honest to god, do you think I am kidding? My stats are even arranged into spectacular graphs.

Are you ready to lose a few IQ points? Because I can lead you down into the bowels of civilization, beyond the darkness, beyond the subway rats. These are the layers of hell. And what do people in hell search for on the internet?

i shit trains – You may want to have a doctor look at that
why man places hand down pants while sleeping – I don’t know, but you may want to have a doctor look at that too.
guy shows his butt on the hudson line – Was this man mooning your train as it sped by? Were you hoping there would be pictures?
the fattest guy to show his butt crack on a metro north train seat – were you hoping there would be pictures of that too?
pictures of pee puddles – Please, seriously, please tell me why you would want to see that?
smelly water on mta trains – Yes, I believe that is found in a place that most people call the bathroom. If you have any sense, you don’t even sit anywhere near that car
i saw a pigeon get run over by a bus and i like it – What do you mean by “like”? If you fapped to it, not only are you a sick bastard, but you also are going to straight hell. Would you prefer the aisle or window seat?
get rid of metro north conductor – Were you looking for a how-to book? How to get rid of your conductor in three easy steps, so you can ride the fucking train and not have to pay, currently available for preorder on Amazon.com.
lady pilot fucking lady passengers – Well we do know that some guys have fantasies of doing it with female train conductors on trains. It would be quite logical for people to feel the same way about pilots, right? Though currently I do think there is a general moratorium on joining the mile-high club, because if you are in the plane bathroom for anything more than five minutes, there may be an emergency landing, and you’re going to get cavity searched to determine whether you have any dynamite stuck up your ass. So please folks, stick to trains. But not my train, thanks.

So tell me now… do you feel more stupid than you were five minutes ago? I certainly do. Tell all your friends to google I ride the harlem line, and preferably not other complete bits of sick nonsense. Otherwise I may be forced to inform them that they are a fricken sick bastard.

Read More

Number 1 Reason to Ride Metro North: Beer

While riding the train I always see a lot of people drinking beer after work. I wonder if some people solely ride the train just because they can drink and ride, instead of getting arrested for drinking and driving. I also notice that just about every single person who drinks beer, leaves their empty beer bottles and cans on the train when they get off. You know, just so everyone sees how cool they are that they drink and ride. Everybody know you gotta show off like dat, yo.

Some people get started early…

And others enjoy the beginning of the weekend…
Either way, you’re just not cool if you aren’t drinking beer on the train.

Hey, maybe Metro North could even do a promotion, touting the best reason to ride the train! Completely ignore the fact that the majority of people do actually have to drive their cars home after getting off at the train station. Replace those boring train advertisements, and do a little something like this:

Read More