Trains have always been a big part of my life because of my Dad. This post is disconnected, but the main theme is trains throughout my Dad’s life, and I *know* I’m missing a great deal.

Trains used to run at street level on Washington Street aka Railroad Street in Syracuse, NY for many years. Can you imagine working in one of the buildings with the train running through? Or staying in one of the hotels? I can imagine the windows rattling, the building shaking, and the smell of the smoke.

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From the New York State Conservationist, Feb 2007, pp. 16-17
The original painting hangs in the lobby of a bank in Syracuse.

In 1935-1936 the NY Central Railway station was built on Erie Blvd. in Syracuse and the trains were elevated. There was a big celebration in the fall of 1936, and my Dad remembered his Dad taking him as a young boy to see the grand opening of the elevated train tracks and the first running of a train on those tracks.

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From the collections of the Onondaga Historical Association

In the summer of 2006 a gentleman came into the Onondaga Historical Association research center looking to write an article about the elevated trains, and of course I told him about my Dad. The article he wrote was due out in the Spring 2007 issue of Syracuse Engineer, which I received just shortly after Dad passed. I was sad I couldn’t show him this article which I kept as a surprise for him!

When I was a young teen we took the cog railway to the top of Mt. Washington, and on the way back down the train needed some repair. Right. In. The. Middle. Of. A. Very. Steep. Slope. We were all very scared.

From the Mt. Washington Cog Railway website.

The crew made it seem like it was no big deal, but being hung in the middle of a mountain at such a dangerous angle was quite intense. Needless to say, I’ve never gone back on that particular railway again.

While growing up we didn’t have much money, so my parents used to take us for a drive on Saturday or Sunday afternoons for entertainment. Gas was all of 29.9 cents. One of the places we went to was the freight yard in East Syracuse to watch the trains do their maneuvering. It was actually pretty cool to watch them unhook and reassemble cars and engines.


They were much more intense than this old postcard shows, but you get the idea.

One Thanksgiving my Mom, Dad and I went to Washington, D.C. to the Smithsonian and spent a great deal of time looking at the old locomotives on display there. Dad enjoyed himself explaining to me how the steam locomotives worked.

My Dad worked for Rotelcom laying fiber optic along railroad beds across the country in the late 80’s-early 90’s after he retired from the NY Telephone Company. I remember he spent a bit of time in Ohio. He would bring home discarded railroad bed artifacts every once in a while.

In 2005 my Mom and I took the train through the Verde Canyon in Arizona. I have to say, I appreciate watching trains more than riding them. It sorta makes me feel yucky to ride backwards. It was worth it to see nesting eagles and eagles in flight.

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A couple of years ago my Dad and my brother took a trip across Canada on the Canadian Railway. They were planning to go across the U.S. soon, and Dad was really looking forward to it.

On Friday I went to our local gardening store where they have a great model train display set up. My Dad and I used to travel around this time of year checking out the model trains at the various stores, including this one. I went into the store to buy my Mom a couple of Christmas presents, and something drew me to the trains, even though it was not easy doing it by myself. It was really cool, as always.









While it was weird being there without my Dad, it was nice to hear the familiar model train sounds, and to look at the intricate details.


This is my Dad hiking along the railroad bed in the fall of 2006 at Letchworth State Park.


He was happy being beside this railroad bed. He would have been happier to have a train go rolling by. He definitely instilled his love for trains into me. Except for when I have to wait for them while I’m trying to get somewhere in my vehicle.

What about you?  Do you like trains – real and/or model trains?