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There may be some good out of this "shelter in place"  order. It has given me time to look over my collection of Trains and Trains and Travel mags from the 1940 to 1960. It's nice to go back to the good old days of train travel and remember all the trips I took as a young lad on some famous name trains. 

I also wonder what to do with all these mags. My kids are not interested in them. My grandkids are too young for me to know if they will follow in Grandpa's foot steps and have a passion for trains. If so, will they be interested in the "old time" trains of yesteryear? Or will they be into modern trains of the 2030's? Or maybe no interest in trains at all.  So do I sell these or toss them? I don't see any value in used mags, as most everything is available on line, in the cloud, or somewhere else. Other than us old timers, Generation Y and the next, don't subscribe to mags or newspapers. My kids, Gen Y,  get everything on line.

What prompted this is my memories of train travel during the mid 1950's to late 60's. Living in a suburb of Chicago, 2 blocks from the CB&Q. I took the train to Chicago many times, at least twice a month, with my mom, of course. She loved shopping at Marshal Fields and I loved looking in the window displays, especially after Thanksgiving when they it was decorated for Christmas. 

In the mid 1950's I belonged to an all boys choir and every summer we would go to a summer camp in Lac du Flambeau Wi for 2 weeks. We had our own private coach that was made up with the C&NW "Streamliner Flambeau 400". Over the years, I must have made at least 6 trips with the choir. 

Later on, I found myself on the Empire Builder and Western Star between Chicago and Wahpeton ND to visit my sister twice a year. I would spend the entire time up in a dome car, especially at night to watch the towns roll by. Winter was a fun time in the dome as the Q E8's or E9's and the GN F3's would plow through the show drifts at 70 or 80 mph. Like so many of us, I am sure, I dreamed of being at the throttle of those powerful engines. The back and forth swinging of the mars light was so bright I could see several hundred of yards down the track.

Late 1950's and early 60's, found me making many trips to Denver on either the California Zephyr and Denver Zephyr from Chicago to visit my brother and his family. I cherish these the most. I became a Q fan at a very early age.  I still remember seeing steam on the Q pass through Berwyn in 1949 and 1950 and asking my dad what the difference was between those big black engines and the new fancy silver ones. 

If only I had my mom's brownie camera every time I ventured out on these early trips. It wasn't until the early 1960's that I bought my first 35mm camera and started shooting slides. Later on I bought a Nikon super 8 camera and took lots of movies. I even shot several rolls of movie film from the dome car, Silver Lariat, while on my last trip on the CZ to Denver in mid 1960.

In1959 I got my drivers license. By early 1960's, I either flew or drove to Denver and Wahpeton.

My last long distance train trip was on the Empire builder. It was Jan 1969. Snow drifts were deep on the sides of the track. At one point, don't remember where it was, the train was stopped somewhere in the middle of Minn. We were several miles from a small town and on a slight curve. I could see that there were several workers using torches on several cars. I asked a conductor what was the delay. He said the brakes on a couple of the cars froze up. We arrived in Wahpeton some 30 minutes late. 

So for now, I will continue to look back and enjoy my old mags, then decide if I should continue to keep them and let my wife and kids toss them or perhaps it's time for me to start cleaning house.


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I have a large collection of books about the railroads that ran through the places where I've lived - Long Island, New York Central, Boston & Maine, Boston & Albany, New Haven. I find it interesting to read about and look at photographs showing the railroads and the USA in the years before I was born and when I was a youngster. It brings back memories of life in those days - the cities, the industries, the trains, the cars, the clothes, the jobs at which people worked - before computers, internet and cell phones. An excellent way to learn about the history of the United States and put one's own experiences in perspective.


Buy a Fuji Scansnap IX500 and a heavy duty guillotine paper cutter.  Build a first class digital library that some lucky soul inheriting your documents all nicely scanned onto a thumb drive will thank you for.  The scanner comes with software that does optical character recognition, so all of your documents become quickly searchable.  The scanner has a sheet feeder so you can do other things while it does the work.  Keep the really precious mags/books (author autographed, etc.) in paper form but scan the rest.

+1 for the digital scan option. I had several years of railroad magazines, plus magazines on industrial history and the Civil War. Cut out all the articles I wanted to keep, scanned them all in, threw all the paper away. No more family complaining about tripping over bundles of old magazines. Everything is well organized by topic and I have at least 3 backups, including one off-site, in case one backup goes kerflooey. 

My new rule, no more than the current issue of any magazine allowed in the house at a time. As soon as the new issue comes, the old issue is scanned and ditched. That is for those dwindling paper subscriptions I still have...... 


I had Trains, all the way back to issue No.1, and had them in binders, figuring I would one day sell them for a good price, and, meanwhile enjoyed re-reading the old issues.  Railroad hobby magazines are not timely, and so it's a library of information, when you have back issues.

But, then . . .

. . . Kalmbach put out the complete collection on DVD at a fraction of what complete collections like mine were selling for, and the value disappeared overnight.  I'm talking about the monetary value, as well as the value of them as a key source of railroading information.

So I gave away most of them.

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