Jets and Atoms – Powering Bizarre Trains

The annals of history are full of strange and intriguing bits of curiosity, providing plenty of fodder for a blog such as this one. We’ve covered plenty of odd topics on the blog before – from ghost horses to “perfunctory peck spots” – but we’ve never really mentioned any of the New York Central’s more bizarre trains, and they’ve had a few. The king of strange, however, is probably an experimental jet powered train from 1966. I present to you the “Black Beetle:”

Jet powered train

Essentially, the M-497, better known as the “Black Beetle,” is an RDC-3 with a shovel nose to be more aerodynamic, coupled with jet engines of a B-36. Tested in Ohio, it achieved a speed of 183.85 MPH. Eventually, the jets were removed, and the RDC was returned to service, albeit much slower.

Though far more tame than the jet-powered train, it is too difficult for me not to mention the Xplorer, which has always looked a bit comical to me.
(more…)

Read More

One more trip on Denver’s Light Rail

Since I am a bit under the weather this week, I figured that I would post some photos I’ve had lying around since last September, and my impromptu visit to Denver. I’ve already posted two sets of photos from Denver’s light rail (see Part 1, Part 2), and this is the final one, including some more views of the system’s newest West Rail Line. In several photos you’ll note a plethora of graffiti-covered Union Pacific locomotives – that would be the Burnham Shops, which are right behind the 10th and Osage station.

In terms of Art-n-Transit, you’ll see Emanuel Martinez’s sculpture Mestizaje, also located at the 10th and Osage station. My personal favorite is the untitled mural at Decatur-Federal station by street artist Jolt. With assistants Omni and East, the Guerilla Garden project was completed in 2012. Although it isn’t the typical medium you’d see in a transit art program, graffiti and railroads have had a long, intertwined history, and it is undeniable that the piece brightens up the dull underpass in which it is located.

 
   
   
 
   
 
  
 
  

The untitled mural was painted before the new rail line was even complete – here is an in-progress view via the Art-n-Transit program, and a shot of the mural behind the rail line, still under construction, via the Guerilla Garden. At some point after the mural was completed, a handrail went up in front of it, making it a bit harder to take photos. The long panoramic shot below was stitched together by me, but using the Guerilla Garden’s photos, before the handrail was installed.

  

Hopefully next week I’ll be feeling a bit better and we’ll go check out some more interesting local spots. I have big plans for the year, and if all works out we’ll be visiting some interesting spots that few have ventured… including some adventures on the other side of the world.

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the Port Jervis Line: Harriman

 
The two above photos were on a single postcard, showing the old and new stations at Harriman. The station at left was known as Turners, and was replaced with the station on the right in 1911. From the collection of Steve Swirsky.

As we continue north on our tour of the Port Jervis Line, the next station we encounter is Harriman. When the railroad first arrived here in the 1800’s, the station was known as Turners, after original landowner Peter Turner. The first station built by Turner burned down in 1873, and was replaced with a smaller wood structure (above left). By 1911, that station was falling into disrepair and was again replaced with a brick and stucco structure with a tin roof (above right). The land for this new station was donated by Edward Harriman, and after he passed away in 1909, the name of the station was changed to Harriman in his honor.

 
Postcard of Harriman station, built in 1911. From the collection of Steve Swirsky.


Erie railroad photograph of Harriman station, taken shortly after construction was completed.

The location of today’s Harriman station, however, is in a totally different place than those shown above. Harriman was originally on the Erie railroad’s main line, which was abandoned in the 1980’s when Metro-North took over passenger service. A simple station, which retained the name Harriman, was built by Metro-North on the railroad’s new route, which was formerly known as the Graham Line. The new station is basic, consisting of a platform, canopy, small shelter, and two ticket vending machines.


Edward Harriman’s “special train.” Photo from the GG Bain Collection at the Library of Congress.

Besides being known for his badass moustache, and the namesake of this station, Edward Harriman was a wealthy railroad executive that owned a large estate which he named Arden (some of that land was donated upon his death, and is now Harriman State Park). Although he was associated with the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads, he did influence the Erie Railroad as well – and two stations were named for him. In addition to Harriman, the station of Arden was named after his large estate. Reflecting his status as a wealthy executive, Harriman, of course, had his own private train – which is in the photo above.


The years were not particularly kind to the old Harriman station. The dilapidated structure was torn down in 2006.

Although the tracks running past the old Harriman station were torn out, the station building did survive for at least a few more years. Unfortunately, the run-down building was deemed unsafe, and in lieu of renovating it, the station was torn down in 2006.

Though these stations built by Metro-North aren’t very spectacular, the canopy on a few of them depicts a small sketch of the railroad in bygone years. Harriman’s sketch features a steam train, passing in front of what appears to be the old Harriman station. This is probably the only remotely interesting thing going on at Harriman, other than the weekend bus that will take you over to Woodbury Common. Well, at least you can get to the city in about an hour and fifteen minutes.

I’ll just wrap things up with a few of the terrible photos I took during my visit to Harriman. Have I mentioned that I really want to reshoot the entire Port Jervis line on a day that actually has nice weather? Perhaps someday…

 
   
  
 
   
   
  
 
   
  

Read More