Monday, March 28

You can now see Fostoria, OH live thanks to

One of my favorite all-time railfan locations, Fostoria OH is now live. Be sure to visit and check out the new feed.

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Tuesday, March 22

Does Biggest Mean Best?

A couple of my posts today discussed the TOP in a transportation category...

Top 5 (well 6) US Ports for containers
Top 5 North American Railroads

This poses the question about the biggest being the best?

Is the Port of Los Angeles the best, just because it is bigger than Long Beach? Is the west coast a better cargo destination because the top two ports are there?

Is the BNSF a better railroad because it beat the UP in revenue?

Leaders Count: The Story of the BNSF Railway

Of course, with all statistics the biggest vs. best discussion is a personal decision. The largest port and railroad will tout their status while the others will say, "it is just a matter of geographics".

Of course, to me the best thing is the debate which will never be settled

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Monday, March 21

Planes, Trains, and Trucks?

I've been asked if I realized that there are other ways to travel or move freight besides a train.

The answer is OF COURSE.  Better yet, I'll be sharing some of my knowledge of all forms of transportation on my new Examiner Column - National Transportation Examiner.

Transportation in Many Cultures (Life Around the World)

With the same kind of information you've come to expect from the Railroad Columns.. will expand our exploration to the other modes of transportation.

Hope you'll hop on-board today.

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Thursday, March 17

Newly found travel author - Thomas Swick

I enjoy finding good travel writing, and if you want to have a good read, check out the daily blog and website from Thomas Swick.

Swick used to be the travel editor for the Sun-Sentinel but since 2008 has been a full-time freelance writer/author.

My favorite article of his is "A Walk Through Old Japan" that was published in the Smithsonian Magazine.

Swick has a great way of combining humor and description to make a location come alive. He has a book out (which I'm planning on getting soon) called A Way to See the World: From Texas to Transylvania With a Maverick Traveler (2005) which looks like a good travel read.

A Way to See the World: From Texas to Transylvania With a Maverick Traveler

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Wednesday, March 16

Railroad 101

Want to learn about Railroads?

Railroad101 ( is your new source for everything Railroad.

Tuesday, March 15

Famous March Days...

Yesterday was PI day or 3.14 and is one of the few "values" that I do remember from my time in math class.


Today is the Ides of March. The term "ides" refers to an event in a lunar calendar; the "ides" marked a full moon and noted the 15th of the month in March, May, July, and October, and the 13th in the other eight months. But when the lunar calendar became different than the monthly calendar, and the full moon was no longer always on the 13th or the 15th, the phrase went out of use.

"Beware of the Ides of March"  is the most famous usage of the phrase referring to the death of Julius Caesar. It is also the name of a Novel by Thorton Wilder.

The Ides of March: A Novel
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Friday, March 11

The missing element: Place

Wandering near the CSX yard in Cayce, SC at lunchtime, I came upon this visitor to the NS between Augusta and Columbia.

The two Union Pacific units leading the 156 manifest northbound in a bright noontime sun made for a quick "impromptu" railfan experience.

I had the point-and-shoot with me so I grabbed the shot attached. If I had more time to "set-up" for the shot, I'd of been on the other side of the tracks for "better" light.

The other thing I noticed missing was a sense of place. While a die-hard railfan might be able to identify the location by the NS lineside equipment (signal, and boxes) or a botanist might shout "South Carolina" due to the foilage.. to the casual observer it is "just" an Union Pacifc train.

Of course, I know why the shot is "special" today because of "being there"... but will I remember in 5 years?

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Monday, March 7

Spring is coming.. so is Railwatch

Here is South Carolina we are already experiencing the beginning of Spring.

The trees are starting to bloom, some flowers are budding, and the pollen is already flying.

Spring to me means lots of green pollen, beautiful flowers, and my annual trip down to Folkston for Railwatch the first weekend of April.

Folkston is located on the CSX just North of Jacksonville, Florida. An average day there is around 40+ trains including Amtrak (Autotrain and Silver Service). The Railwatch is a chance to see old friends and make new ones and talk trains to people who enjoy them.

Here is last years story about Railwatch 2010:

Hope to see you there this year!

Friday, March 4

Next Up: Video on the Canon 7d

It's going on 6 months since I upgraded to the Canon 7d and the one thing that I have not really tried is to use the video functions.

Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3-inch LCD (Body Only)

Of course, I've played around shooting a few clips, but they appeared "choppy" on the playback on the computer (of course, I'm realizing it might just of been my slow computer then) so I never did much with them.

I've been reading about the 7d's video capabilities on the Canon website and have decided that I'm going to give it a try to see what it can do over the next few weeks.

One drawback to the 7d vs. a traditional video camera is the standard microphone on the body. It is located on the front of the camera near the lens and doesn't seem to do that good of a job.

I'm thinking my best bet for train video work will be to get an external mic to hook through the shoe on top of the camera with a "shotgun" setting. Trains tend to be away from the camera and usually I don't want the sound from around me anyways. I'm checking out a few options on line and will let you know what I decide.

As I get some "test footage" over the next few weeks I'll be posting it on YouTube or Facebook for your critique.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, March 2

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

March 2 is National Read Across America Day and who better than Mark Twain to help celebrate?

Why is Mark Twain? Samuel Clemens is better known by his pen name of Mark Twain, and today is the birthday of Theodor Geisel who is more famous by his pen name of Dr. Seus.

The Cat in the Hat Book & CD (Dr. Seuss)Dr. Seuss's most famous book, "The Cat in the Hat" is 1702 words long but only uses 220 different words that most first-graders should know.

Another famous Dr. Seuss book, "Green Eggs and Ham" uses only 50 different words and 49 of them are only one syllable. Anyone know which words is more than that? Let me know in the comments below!

Say "Happy Birthday Theodor Geisel" and see the blank look you will get from most people, but everyone will know who you mean when you say "Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss"

Take the time today to read a book and enjoy the fun a great book can provide.

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