Where did my love of photographing trains come from?

Where did my love of photographing trains come from?

Road trips don’t always have to be somewhere far away or a long number of days on the road. As most of you know I’m pretty much hooked on trains! As such, I hit the road usually at least once a week to search for new and different train photos for my Facebook page, online sales store and also my website.

So, where did my addiction to photographing trains come from anyway?

PCC & St. Louis Railroad, Conover, Ohio

Well, I can’t really say for sure, but I’ve told my sister April and others that I think it comes from when we lived in Conover, Ohio, about a block away from the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, then commonly referred to as the Panhandle Route, which was was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system. Of course I was only about 2 when we moved from there, so my sister and others say I couldn’t remember trains from that young an age. As for me, who knows for sure.

It possibly came from our mom’s brother who was my Uncle Willard Moore, who was a yardmaster at the then L&N Railroad’s Atkinson Yard here in Madisonville, Ky. I can’t however say that I ever recall going out to the yard to visit him there, but here again I was still young. I do remember walking the spur line that went to downtown Madisonville which came out to the bulk oil plant that ran alongside of the Government housing projects where I grew up most of my young years. We’d hike the tracks to downtown which was the center of the universe for a young kid back in the day when downtown was the happening place.

L&N Depot, Madisonville, Ky – (West Ky NRHS Photo Archive Photo from the Harold Utley Collection)

I recall passing the L&N depot when I’d walk this line with my brothers or friends. Can’t say I remember any passenger trains stopping there then, but I know they did when I was a kid.

I guess I can truly say that I recall the most when this addiction began of photographing trains, at least that I can remember for sure, was in Germany!

I had just finished a graduate course in Photojournalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse University in 1978 where the US Air Force had sent me for training to be a Photojournalist (PJ) where I worked with Combat Camera until I retired in 1995. My first duty assignment was at Rhein Main Air Base, just outside Frankfurt Germany. This is where I met the Grant Family. Norm was our photo maintance man and he along with their son Dale and his wife Gloria, were all into trains and we struck up an instant friendship that carried us pretty much through our whole lives. Norm recently passed away, but I’m still good friends with Gloria and Dale (who is an engineer for BNSF Railway now).

Jim Pearson watches a maintenance operation from the cab of a German Steam engine outside Frankfurt, Germany in 1979. (Photo by Norm Grant)

I can remember to this day our train trips to downtown Frankfurt’s main train station where we’d spend countless hours photographing trains from the platforms there. I guess then Germany and Europe in general was the place I fell in love with photographing trains. During all my travels, in the three years I was stationed in Germany, I always included photographing trains somewhere, on a regular basis.

After I left Germany and was assigned to Norton AFB in southern California where that love of photographing and chasing trains didn’t change at all and has continued through today.

People say why and I say why not! LOL Everyone’s got a hobby of some sort and this one has served me well over the years by taking me to places I might never of gone and allowing me to make friends with fellow railfans from around the world.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! So, expect to see a few train pictures here from my travels!

Me changing film at Lepzig, East Germany during an photo assignment in the area after the fall of the Eastern Block walls and fences. (Photo by Jose Lopez Jr.)


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Revising Our Goals

Revising Our Goals

When we started this website, our purpose was to provide a way for friends to follow us on our trips and to share some of our photos with them.  That has been a problem from the start.  To begin with, when we are traveling, we don’t really have much time for posting.  We are on the road for six or more hours a day and spend evenings editing pictures or just relaxing after the long drive.

Secondly, we don’t travel every week, or even every month.  That leaves us with long periods of time with no new subjects for posting.  We could just give up and take down the site, but we aren’t ready to do that.  So, I’m trying to come up with travel related ideas to fill in the gaps. Originally, we had thought to do that with local weekend trips.  However, with the advent of 12 little Indians in our lives, that hasn’t really happened either.  Most of the time, we are just too busy living to spend much of it traveling.  

So, I’m open to suggestions if you have any.  My current thinking is that Jim spends a lot of time lately chasing trains.  He could make a short post once a week about where he’s been or where he’s planning to go and post some pictures of his excursions.  I haven’t mentioned this to him yet, but it was my first thought.  He’s also made several trips this past year on other photography related adventures that he could write about.

For myself, the furthest that I travel most weeks is to the church and back five days a week delivering children to preschool and picking them back up.  That will change somewhat when school is out though.  There will probably be trips to the parks and the zoo.  There’s the family reunion in Ohio.  Still, not a regular thing that could fill a blog.  

 However, one thing I do all year round is get ready for our big trip in the fall.  Jim’s Combat Camera group meets somewhere in the country for their annual reunion and I design a trip around that location.  I plan the route and research interesting places along the way.  In the past, we’ve spent up to three weeks on the road with the 3 day reunion somewhere in the middle.  I’m thinking I could share my research.  Who knows, you might decide to visit some of the spots I look into yourself.

This year’s reunion is in Colorado Springs and we are probably just going straight there and straight back, a week at most.  This is an economizing measure because next year, we are planning on skipping the reunion for a trip to Europe.  That one will require a lot of research.

Jim has wanted an excuse to go back there ever since he got out of service.  My grandson Brad is stationed in Germany, at present, and Jim sees this as his opportunity. The only parts of Europe I’ve ever longed to see are Ireland and Scotland, but I am an aficionado of mountains and i’ve heard they have some good ones in many parts of the continent, so I’m willing to give it a try. 

I’m hoping that, one way or another, we can come up with, at least, one post a week.  Stay tuned for a potential schedule.  

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Planning is Underway

Planning is Underway

Today, we sat down together and semi-finalized our route for this year’s Combat Camera trip.  I’ve struggled for the past week with the new version of Google Maps.  It sets strict limits on how many stops you can include on any one map.

We’re going to be gone for more than two weeks and we’ll only be spending one night at most stops along the way.  That means many more points than Google allows.  So, I’ve broken it down into 3 sections.  They are posted on under the Trip Maps tab.  Check it out.  If you know of something fascinating or amazing that we should see along the way, tell us in the comments.

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We’re Back

We’re Back

It’s been more than a year since either one of us has posted here.  That’s embarrassing to say the least.  So I’m thinking I’ll try to do at least a paragraph or two a week from now on.  

So, next on our agenda is the Pennyrile Photography Weekend starting on Friday, April 15th with Entry judging and awards on Sunday Morning, April 17th.  We’ve participated in the spring and fall events for nearly ten years.  Sometimes we missed one because it conflicted with other things, like the Combat Camera trip this fall, but we’ve never missed a whole year.  This time, they’re doing online registration that makes it possible to expand the shooting hours to all day on Friday.

We’re in the planning stage for the fall Combat Camera trip.  It’s back in Charleston SC this year, but we’re going to swing north before the reunion date and visit new territory.  Currently we’re looking at making a loop up through Ohio toward Maine and into Pennsylvania, then swing back down the coast to Charleston.  

Between those two is the Pearson family reunion in Ohio and, undoubtedly, a couple of toddler roadtrips to zoos or other such attractions. Photos coming soon.  


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When Shopping Is a Road Trip

When Shopping Is a Road Trip

041My oldest granddaughter is getting married in May.  She is borderline between “thrifty” and “Scrooge.”  My beautiful twenty-something single mom has begun to sound like a baby-boomer when she complains about the prices of everything from a cup of coffee to nice clothes.  This is the same girl that used to buy $50 flip flops because they had the Nike logo on the sole.   Of course, that was before she spent the last couple of years surviving on her own.  

Her plan was to find a dress online and order it.  Her mother, knowing how unlikely that was to fit properly, drafted me to help her figure out the size.  I thought, knowing that “off the rack” probably would need altering, it would be better to buy something at a local establishment where they would be able to make any necessary adjustments.

I looked online and found a formal/wedding shop in Richmond, KY where she lives.  I called them before hand and was assured that they had wedding dresses starting at around $100 and did alterations in the store, plus everything was supposedly “on sale.”  The person on the phone said, if we came in right away, there would also be time to order a dress, if they didn’t have anything she wanted in stock.  

I made an appointment and we planned the day.  Jim and I would drive from Madisonville to Richmond (about a four hour trip each way), pick her up from work and make an afternoon of it.  First the wedding dress, then to Peddlar’s Mall  to look for a crib, and Walmart for a high chair.  Unfortunately, it turned into a “God laughs” situation.  

The sales person, in the wedding store, said it was too late to order and be sure of getting it in time for May.  I know I had told the phone person the wedding date before she mentioned the possibility of ordering, but I neglected to get her name, so I let it slide.

Next, we’re told, they can’t, presently, do alterations in the store because they are too busy.  Instead, we were given a flyer for someone they recommended.  Ok, she comes recommended and the flyer says she had 30 years experience.  I can deal with that.

560225_10203771544665184_8052715402096696104_nDiscouraged, but determined, we navigated to the wedding dress area, two walls lined with white dresses in plastic bags.  They were sorted by size and her section was about 6 foot long.  There was nothing on a manikin, just wire hangers on a rod.  Her long suppressed inner snob rose to the surface, “This looks like they brought them down from someone’s attic and put them out for a yard sale.”  

We found nothing for less than $350, most of them were in the $1000 to $2000 range.  Our price range did not extend that high.  We were prepared to spend $300 or $400, maybe even a little more, but the dresses for that price were short and my baby girl had set her heart on a full length one.  

Maybe she would have been willing to compromise if she hadn’t already seen one online that she loved for less than $200.  Our concern with ordering it had been finding someone reliable, locally, to do any necessary alterations.  At least, that was solved.  We had the phone number and information of the Alteration Lady.  

The online store said the dress would arrive by the middle of March, if ordered within the next twelve hours.  The Alteration Lady’s flyer said she needed, at least, 30 days to avoid “rush job” fees.  We decided to take our chances on everything coordinating and fled the “yard sale presentation” store.

At Peddler’s Mall, where we had bought a bassinet and several other baby type items on previous occasions, we found no joy either.  Other than a couple of antique wooden high chairs without trays, the only baby equipment they had, at present, was strollers.  This didn’t seem like too big a deal, the crib isn’t really urgent, it was just frustrating.  

That’s when things really “went south.”  Walmart, the mega-have everything, one stop shopping “big box,” was out of high chairs!  This was, more or less, urgent since it was to be a birthday present for her little girl.  I had promised to buy it and I wouldn’t be back before our Journey turned one.  

Meijer’s saved the day.  They had a good selection and we found one that satisfied both sides of her personality, practical and not overly expensive, but still nice and suitable for a boy or girl.

The high chair was bought and we had also found a pair of boots for little girl.  There’s still lots of shopping and preparation to do for the wedding but, once I found and ordered a veil online while driving home, the most important part is underway.  I’m sure the process will require more visiting back and forth, but it will all be worth it.


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