Łódź! ~ Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Tomasz Adamkiewiczs, of Łódź, Poland (the 3rd largest city in the country, which incidentally, is pronounced "wootch") is living his childhood dream of owning his own tram. He found it in dilapidated state in a community garden, spent 12 years restoring it to operating condition, and christened it "Marilyn Monroe". The city transit agency certified it for operation, and after training, certified Tomasz as a motorman (although he does not have a drivers license). He now gives guided tours of the city, and has several more restoration projects in the works.direct link
"Entartete" Straßenbahn ~ Tuesday, November 12, 2013
There is a story in the news about a huge cache of modern art found in an apartment in Munich. The collection comes from a show of modern "degenerate" art put on by the Nazi regime in 1937, with pieces confiscated from museums and from Jewish and/or left-wing collectors, intended to shock the public and make them associate aesthetic and intellectual freedom with mental illness (modern art was shown side-by-side with pictures drawn by inmates of asylums).
Ironically, official disapproval of the works did not prevent some of the organizers from appreciating them (at least their value), and the recently discovered cache (worth probably in the billions) ended up in the possession of the son of one of them.
The authorities have begun releasing pictures of some of the pictures, and they are shockingly unshocking for the most part (and I'm saying this as someone who has, in fact, seen a few pieces of art that I questioned the merits of--a wedding dress made of used and apparently unwashed underwear we saw at SFMoma comes to mind). Plenty just seem like nicely done pictures, such as the example below which I came across browsing through the collection online, which will readily explain my posting about such a heavy subject in an otherwise fairly frivolous blog!direct link
Pancakes ~ Saturday, September 14, 2013
Nate fell asleep last night talking about cooking his own pancakes. So this morning we pulled a chair up to the stove...direct link
Backlots of Sunnyvale ~ Wednesday, September 11, 2013
A year or so ago (a bit more like a year and a half) my office moved from downtown Moutain View, CA, to the depths of "officeparkland" in Sunnyvale, Ca. I can still get to work via CalTrain about half of the time, and get the last part of the trip from the station to the office via VTA Light Rail, or by bike.
On one of my bike routes, I go past what appear to be a couple of old cars from a train ride in some amusement park.
The hardware is pretty much like what you'd find in authentic railroad equipment.
I have no idea where these cars came from. I had a theory the might have come from Frontier Village, a long-vanished local amusement park, but they don't seem to match any of trains in pictures.direct link
E Line ~ Monday, September 09, 2013
This last Saturday Nate and I took the train up to the City, taking advantage of the relatively recent weekend express trains (just 30 mins from Redwood City to downtown); and no cheating (aka driving part way) this time, we walked and scootered to the station.
The waterfront was kind of crazy with both the America's Cup and a Giants game going on simultaneously. On the plus side, this meant that the Muni was running a demo of the planned future E Line (here is the Market Street Railway's writeup), which meant that double-ended historic cars were running all the way along the Embarcadero down to the CalTrain station. We rode an old favorite, a red-and-cream Philadelphia Red Arrow liveried car.
A few detail shots, inside and out.
Our destination was Nate's new favorite destination for outings, bowling.
On the way back, we rode a classic Muni-painted green and cream PCC.direct link
OH-to-DC-via-WV ~ Sunday, September 08, 2013
Next our trip turned east again, back across Ohio. We stopped in the Ohio Amish country--we had a good lunch, and are still working through all the jam and apple butter we bought.
We crossed the Ohio River at Parkersburg, WV, which has an interesting criss-crossing network of railroad tracks on several levels of bridges, the kind of dense and interesting 3D network you more expect to see on a train layout than in real life! One of the former lines leaving town is now a rail-trail, with signals still in place and actually lit.
After a long and scenic trip through the mountains, we reached Cass Scenic Railroad, which is long ways from everywhere but worth the trip! We rode a shay-powered train up the mountain.
Nearby is the Green Bank Radio Observatory, which is also worth seeing. To prevent interference, this whole area is in a national radio quiet zone, meaning there is no cell-phone service anywhere near Cass.
Back when we'd first crossed into WV, we stopped at a visitor center, and picked up a flyer for a bed-and-breakfast consisting of several civil-war-era log cabins. In California, B&B generally means (a) expensive and (b) don't even think about bringing kids, but we called up the Jerico Cabins and found that neither of these were the case. Here is the accommodations we had that night:
Breakfast wad good, too. Our fellow-guests were a couple on motorcycle trip through WV, with the intent of visiting every county in the state.
Anyway, the cabins are about 20 mins from Cass, and I would certainly recommend them to fellow railfans as place to stay in the area (just be sure to arrive in daylight or you might never find them).
We pushed on to DC, where we saw family, and visited some of the usual things you go to see in the nation's capital. We also visited the National Capital Trolley Museum, where we rode a Toronto PCC through the woods.
Washington actually has a new streetcar system in the works. We saw tracks being built. The city seems to have finally allowed an exemption to its hundred-year-old ban on overhead wires--no conduit in those tracks.
We worked in one last railroad-related stop on our a trip, a visit to the Bowie, MD, Railroad Museum, which has a restored depot, interlocking tower, and caboose. It's also right next to the Northeast Corridor, so the platform of the caboose is a nice place to watch for Acelas!direct link
Happy Birthday, VTA Light Rail ~ Tuesday, September 03, 2013
We've had a few transit system birthdays in the Bay Area lately; Muni just turned 100 and BART is 40. The VTA light system, in Santa Clara County (aka, Silicon Valley) is about to reach 25 years of operation.
The system's ridership growth has been somewhat slow (more, in my opinion, to odd choices of routes than to lack of interest!) but it probably deserved a lot of credit for turning downtown San Jose from a ghost town (back in the 80's we passed through a few times and had trouble even finding a place to get dinner) into an actual city, and lately development seems to be picking up around stations all over the system. Trains on the Tasman West line, which I use sometimes to get between my office and CalTrain, seem a bit fuller than the were a just few years ago.direct link
Interurbanland ~ Monday, August 05, 2013
Ice skating took us back to Ohio this summer. In particular, to Troy Ohio, near Dayton. A little research revealed that these cities were once joined by the Dayton and Troy Electric Railway, which extended farther north to Piqua, and ultimately became part of a joint multi-line north-south service through western Ohio, called the Lima Route.
There's not much left of the D&T but getting a copy of this book to read on the plane gave a better idea where the line ran. (And a local booklet by the chamber of commerce, which I expected to just list restaurants and so forth, actually added some useful historical details and maps). There are a lot of interesting buildings in Troy OH that go as far back as the interurban era.
From across the river, here's the county courthouse and an old powerhouse.
There's a mural commemorating transportation history, including an interurban car and a canal boat.
And other interesting details around town.
Dayton has a trolleybus system, which we saw the overhead for, but did not actually see any trolleybusses running. It also has a very nice Museum/Park, the Carillon Historical Park, which specializes in things invented or manufactured in Dayton, of which there have been quite a few (most famously the Wright brothers built their airplane in their bike shop in Dayton). There are several well-preserved pieces of railroad and trolley equipment.
Including a classic wooden interurban that you can walk through.
Here's a canal lock:
There's also a big exhibit about cash registers,
And lots of other local products and inventions. This colorful building is nearby and an interesting place to get lunch.
We happened to hit a weekend with a railroad-themed festival, so there were some special things to see and do.
After the skating was done, we headed to Ft Wayne, IN to meet some friends with kids at the local Children's Zoo, which I have to say is a pretty respectable zoo for a medium-sized city.
It also has a train, merry-go-round, and various other things you can ride.
It was a pretty hot afternoon, and ice-cream seemed to be called for. An internet search showed that Zesto's is a local favorite, so we decided to check them out.
I noticed some tell-tale curving lines in the pavement, which proved to ghost-tracks, paved over streetcar rails that actually poked through to be visible in one place.
(Zesto's web page's "then" picture shows tracks already paved over, but overhead still up for trolleybusses).
Next we turned back east towards Washington DC, but that's for another post.
I'll just add that the Skating team put on a pretty awesome show, which I only got a few quick phone-pictures of because I was working props.