Tag: Railroad

Photos: Steamtown National Historic Site

Photos: Steamtown National Historic Site

Steamtown national historic site sign - scranton pennsylvania

This spring I took a drive to Scranton, Pennsylvania to visit Steamtown National Historic Site. While I was there, strict COVID protocols limited access to some of the indoor spaces and displays, but I was able to enjoy walking around outside in the train yard.

Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania - engine 47

I’m not what you would call a hardcore railfan but I find the machines interesting nonetheless.

Steam engines make me think of my dad, who was indeed into trains. He’d told me stories about hanging around the train yard as a kid, and I kept that narrative in my mind – making up tales of what that kid-version of him would have thought about what I was looking at as I walked around.

Walking the tracks at steamtown

The thing I found most fascinating about the locomotives is how much “life” they seemed to have within them. They exude power and something like a sense of menace. Especially inside the workshop. They looked like sleeping animals that could roar to life at any moment and tear the building from its foundations. But, they instead allowed themselves to be tamed, to be cared for by their handlers. For now.

Indoor display of locomotives being worked on - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania

One of the indoor displays features a cutaway where you can see the inner workings of the engine. Looking at it, I found it a marvel that anyone could figure out the method to the madness of tubes, and chambers and lines to make these beasts go. Fascinating.

Interesting place. Worth the visit.

cutaway engine - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
Rusting steam engine - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
Brooks-Scanlon coal car - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
Boso Texino railroad graffiti Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania

Dirt graffiti on a rail yard car – Bozo Texino ⁠

Apparently like any other subculture, there is a visual language and common mythology among railroad hoboes. There is actually a movie that tries to uncover this very graffiti subject called: “Who is Bozo Texino?”⁠

File Under: There is always something new to learn.

peeling paint and rust on rail car - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania

In rust we trust.

green mountain rusting boxcar - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
engine 47 at Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
rusting boxcar Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
canadian national railways - rusting train car - Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
engine 47 at Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
engine 790 at Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
engine 6039 inside the shop at Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
bungs at Steamtown national historical site - scranton pennsylvania
Saturday Stop at the Moodna Viaduct

Saturday Stop at the Moodna Viaduct

On Saturday, I stopped by the Moodna Viaduct. The sky was so blue and gorgeous I thought the oxidized trestle would look gorgeous spanning across the valley. It did.

You might recall seeing the Viaduct in the movie Michael Clayton. There is a good view of it as he is driving towards the place where he stops to see the horses.

Moodna Viaduct
Orrs Mills Rd, New Windsor, NY 12553
https://goo.gl/maps/xbwGo4rxams

Would You Like to See My Sweet Caboose?

Would You Like to See My Sweet Caboose?

Sleeping in a caboose is one of the items that has been on my life’s To Do list for many years. How it ended up there, at this point I can’t say. It’s not like I’m not a railroad fanatic or anything. No doubt I stumbled across the existence of a caboose motel and said fun! and the idea stuck around.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I hadn’t planned on that being that day that I would sleep in a caboose. But, a few cups of coffee and 200 miles later, I found myself in the belly of the Reading caboose #21. ::shrug::


Sadly, my car isn’t as photogenic as my motorcycle.

Upon check-in at the Red Caboose Motel, the friendly desk clerk addressed me as if there were an “us,” a “you guys” and a “you all.” As you might imagine, this place is popular with families, so I don’t blame her.

“Have you guys stayed with us before?”
“Nope, first time.”
“Well, welcome aboard! Woo woo!”

Yep. She really woo-wooed, pulling the imaginary cord that sounds the horn. It’s nice when people are excited about life.

If I had to guess, a lot of solo 40-something women don’t come wheeling into the caboose motel on a Saturday night. And so I didn’t bother to correct her on my non-us-ness. About an hour later when I saw her again, she said cheerfully said, “is everything okay with you guys in your caboo… you’re alone, aren’t you. Sorry. Habit.” I’m starting to get a complex. You can’t make this stuff up.

As I said, this motel is very family friendly. It has an arcade, a silo observation tower, playground, buggy rides, ice cream and a few barnyard animals for petting.

Though I felt a little out of place with no kidlet of my own, I spent some time at the animal pens with the mini horses. As gaggles of children descended to tug on animal ears and manes – there I was, trying to telepathically communicate with the animals. I felt it was important that they knew that I was only there to love them up gently and that they should stay with me ‘cuz I love them best.

But apparently, they don’t have time for small talk, even if telepathically, when you don’t come with 25¢ worth of yum-yum pellets from the vending machine. I never seem to have any change when I actually want it.

While trying to make nice with a fuzzy gray horse, I watched the families at the other end of the corral. Looking on, I wondered why any parent would just allow their tiny toddler to put their deliciously chubby digits into some strange animals face unobserved.

Maybe I’m overly cautious, but it seems to me that when your two-year-old is touching an animal that is at least four times their size, you might want to put your fucking phone down and pay attention. I watched one dad yap nonstop on his phone while his little girl, face plugged with a pacifier, ran up and down along the fence “petting” the other mini horses. Later on, I heard crying and the words “…is a nipper,” floating above the general conversation. Oh, well.

People move in and out of my office all day tugging at my attention. Maybe if I start biting they’ll leave me alone, too.

The interior of my Queen Couples caboose looked like a tiny log cabin. It was clean and comfortable with cable, WiFi, a table to write at, a microwave, comfortable bed, and no funny smells. As nighttime inked the sky black, the wind outside picked up. The lack of insulation in the train was apparent in both the noise and the occasional draft. Not that it was bothersome, just something I was aware of. It felt like a reminder that I was sleeping in unusual quarters.

I enjoyed the novelty of my stay in the caboose. Seeing them all lined up, end to end with their candy colors brings out a child-like cheerfulness. It was worth the trip.

The Red Caboose Motel
312 Paradise Lane
Ronks, PA 17572

Clearing the Tracks with Jaws

Clearing the Tracks with Jaws

There’s no good reason at all that I’m posting this photo of the Bonnie next to the track-clearing plow train. I just like it.

JAWS III sits beside the Long Island Railroad Museum in Greenport, NY. Whenever I stick close to home I seem to find myself out there on Long Island’s north fork.

Lately Ive been trying to find ways to kickstart my creativity. Or more accurately, hang on to it. I have no trouble getting inspired or excited about ideas. The follow-through is where I go to pieces. That seems to be the result of expecting too much or being too restrictive with my peculiar rules about what things I should be posting and when. I mean… I’m not writing medical research here. I’m not a business. I’m not a professional writer. I’m not building a “brand.” I’m just a dope with a computer who is recording their thoughts.

Somehow I get derailed by the idea that a blog is supposed to be more highbrow than what I might post to Instagram. That’s my favorite social distraction. But because of it’s ease and my low expectations of it, Insta has become a surrogate blog. There – people (I?) seem to be fine with long posts, short posts, no words, 20 posts in a day, or whatever. Anything goes. I need to adopt that type of thinking for my blog. My rigid ideas about blogging aren’t doing me any good. They make me not blog. And I think writing things down is good for me.

And soooo… hopefully I can get out of my own way here. Moving on! 🙂

Sunday Afternoon in the Shadow of the Tunkhannock Viaduct

Sunday Afternoon in the Shadow of the Tunkhannock Viaduct

Exactly one year ago today, I set off from Long Island on Sunday morning with a bug in my ear to see a concrete railroad bridge in northeastern Pennsylvania. It’s called the Tunkhannock Viaduct or the Nicholson Bridge.

At the time it was built in the 19-teens it was the worlds largest concrete structure. Today, almost 100 years later it is still an impressive sight. I dare say it is arresting when you head north along US 11 and it comes in to view.

Why would I ride over 200 miles each way to stand in front of some concrete bridge? The answer is simple. I don’t know.

What is it that you get from being in the presence of something inanimate versus simply looking at pictures of it online or in a book? Again, I don’t know. But… there is something.

Sometimes it seems like my trips to things sprinkled around the country answer questions that I don’t realize that I’m asking. Standing in their shadow makes me feel something. I guess maybe that’s what I’m after – to feel something. To know something with the cells of my body before my mind has time to scramble it up.

It’s nice to see a place that is proud of the hallmarks of their community. Something about it gives me a lovesick envy.

And away we go.

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