Honestly, I like all the railroads.

My favorite would have to be the Pennsylvania.  My lovely Aunt worked for the PRR in Baltimore. She gave me my first train, an American Flyer three rail PRR steam freight set for Christmas when I was six years old. I still have it and it still runs great.

I do like Norfolk and Western a lot followed by Norfolk Southern. Living in Virginia I have taken numerous excursions on the 611J and am a fan of the 1218.

Amtrak, CSX, Winchester and Western are also on my list as favorites.  CSX and W&W serve my local area.  I enjoy watching Amtrak, CSX at Harpers Ferry, WV.

I haven’t found a railroad that I don’t like.






Owner "South Fork Railroad"

My much older brother loved to watch trains, and when he had baby sitting duties he took me with him.  Since we lived in Fresno, CA, we saw SP, UP, and SF trains on a regular basis.  I remember a trip up to Stockton (or maybe Sacramento) to see WP and GN trains.  My sister-in-law still has all the photos he took with that old (or new at the time) box camera.  While we were too poor to actually ride one, I really like those roads and the colors of their trains.

Then I entered the Air Force and met my wife in the officers club at Keflavik, Iceland.  Even though she was in the Navy, we still got together (something about a woman in uniform).  My now father-in-law was into HO trains and modeled the PRR.  He loved the Pennsy and would tell stories of his travels on the road, especially during WWII (he retired as a Navy Master Chief in the submarine field).  After so many years running trains with him, and learning about the Pennsy, I sort of warmed up to it.  I decided my layout would be based on it.  Sometimes I regret not basing my layout on the San Juaquin Valley area and all the color of those great western roads, but the Pennsy has become this westerner's favorite road.





Volunteers don't get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless!  Author Sherry Anderson

What l forgot to mention are the railroads l dislike...and it really isn't the railroads, which l would blithely continue to ignore (except making sure no cars so lettered are found in my consists), with neither positive nor negative thoughts or recognition, except that at times those roads seem to be the only ones available. So they are "unmentionables", for revelation might bring offense.

??Another one of THOSE!!??  What you want to sell is not what I want to buy!


My Mother and Father would take me on Sunday afternoons to watch the trains at locations just south of Homer City. They were Torrance, PA. and the JD Tower near New Florence, PA. They also took me to the Horseshoe Curve to watch the trains. The first train they bought me was a American Flyer #312 Pennsy steam engine with a #625 Shell tank car, a #632 L. and N. E. hopper and a #630 Reading lighted caboose. I received this set for Christmas in 1948. 

Virginian,Southern,C&O,DT&I,N&W,Seaboard,Chessie ,CSX and NS.

All mentioned because someone in either side of my family has worked for one or more of the mentioned.

NS because they’ve employed me for 28 years now.



Collin "The Eastern Kentucky & Ohio R.R."

The Baltimore and Ohio's Washington Branch ( now CSX/MARC Camden Line ) ran about a mile or so from where I grew up.  The B&O's Patuxent Branch came off the Washington Branch ( at a place called Savage Switch which is a name the local residents came up with ) and the Patuxent Branch terminated in my hometown of Savage, Md.  At one time ( I think 1902 - around the late 1920's )  the branch ran all the way to what is now Columbia, Md. where it serviced some granite quarries.  When I was a kid the Patuxent Branch hosted 3 to five B&O freight trains per week.  The trains serviced a Westinghouse appliance distribution center, a concrete plant, a propane fuel dealer, a team track, and sometimes the old cotton mill.  The branch is also home to a historic iron truss bridge designed  by Wendall Bollman, who was a bridge designer for the B&O back in the 19th century.  

As a kid I saw countless B&O trains on the Washington Branch ... name trains such as the Capital Limited,  RDC commuter trains, race track excursion trains, freights both long and short and MOW trains.  These trains were powered by  Geeps, E and F units.  The Patuxent Branch local was always powered by a single GP7 or GP9.  

As I heard the train coming into town one morning, I rode my bike to meet it.   As  I dismounted and walked over to the standing locomotive, the conductor invited to come up into the cab.  The crew were all great fellows and they let me ride with them as they did their switching assignment.  I even got to blow the horn as we crossed US Route 1!  That was a great day!  

This was actually my second B&O cab ride.  My first was at B&O's Camden Station in Baltimore ( now home to the Baltimore Orioles ) when I was 3.  As my parents and I were waiting for a train to New Jersey, the crew of the station switcher ( an SW 1 ) invited my dad and me aboard.  I sat in the engineers lap as he guided my hand onto the throttle ( he was actually operating the engine ) as the crew made a few switch moves that morning.  Another great day!!  

So yes, the B&O is my favorite railroad and for good reason.  

Cheers and Happy Railroading,

Patrick W  

CEO - The Free State Junction Railway 

" Where the music is sweet and the trains always run on time"

Home Office - Patsburg, Maryland 

One other railroad I forgot to mention: the Texas Transportation Company's electric switching line which ran through the streets of San Antonio and primarily serviced the Pearl Brewery. I got to see this line in operation during the 70's on a family trip to San Antonio...my dad took time out from seeing the Alamo and Riverwalk and the missions to follow some of their switching operations. The line was abandoned in the '80's or early 90's I believe. Both of the TTC's motors survived.

Kyle Evans

Houston, Texas

Seaboard Air Line

Atlantic Coast Line

Norfolk & Western

Louisville & Nashville

Mississippi Central


West India Fruit & Steamship Company, but I'm not sure if they could be classified as a RR, I don't think they owned any engines!

Also like:

Great Northern





4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

Lessee, more of my favorites.

BR&P because that's who Dad worked for from '28 to '32:


He  was the Cook on a Camp Train that roamed the system doing all sorts of MOW and track work.




2yr old Granddaughter 

The BR&P was was part of the B&O for many years and then became the B&P in recent years.


D&RGW because The Royal Gorge.


We rode that train Summer of '60, '61, '62, '63 and '64. Crews were very friendly and informal. Dad&I rode much of each trip in a vestibule with the top half of the door open.

The East Broad Top because narrow-gauge Steam!







Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.


Photos (7)

The New York Central, Pennsylvania, Norfolk & Western, Santa Fe, and the Union Pacific. I would say because my introduction to both seeing the rails and model railroading as these were some of the road names I heard my uncle say, also stuff he ran as well as stuff I saw in the magazines(real and modeled). To me the engines on these lines(steamers mostly) lit my imagination burning and its never stopped. I may have to add some more railroads as I age, lol.

Ok. My turn .

1. The Bessemer and Lake Erie. I'm going to dedicate an exclusive post on this.

2. Nickel Plate Road. A classic and legendary midwestern railroad. The Nickel Plate had a major local presence in nearby Conneaut Ohio where now the NKP 755 is on display. I greatly admire the Nickel Plate because of how it was a smaller railroad that was largely single tracked and remained competitive with the New York Central. The railroad also appears to have been better managed than some of its larger competitors and was more proactive about finding a suitable merger partner rather than waiting until last minute. And of course there's the Berkshires whose appearance I like far more than any other Berkshire for the most part. I sometimes think that the Nickel Plate Road was the railroad that the Erie never was.


3. Erie Lackawanna. Another classic railroad that has been subject of martyrdom by many of its fans. This railroad also had a major presence in my backyard with its New York to Chicago mainline. It always impressed me to learn that there was a mainline that was more "Cross Country," rather than paralleling the lake plains or the rivers. In the mid 2000's up until about 2012, the former EL mainline in my area enjoyed a brief revival through Norfolk Southern when they would haul their 500 series coal trains on the Youngstown - Hornell portion of the former EL. I've always thought that the Erie Lackawanna properties could have fared better if the chips had fallen differently, say if the Chessie System was able to acquire the ROW east of Sterling Ohio near Akron. And just like with the Nickel Plate I really enjoy their paint scheme.



What about the PRR and NYC?

I've always had a hard time connecting with these two once mighty fallen flags for varying reasons.

Moonson posted:

TRUMPTRAIN / Patrick W, From what I have come to know of you here, on OGR Forum, I know  you deserved every bit of that kindness from that B&O crew. They knew a good guy when they met him.



Why thank you so very much Frank!  What a wonderfully kind thing to say.

Cheers and Happy Railroading,

Patrick W  

CEO - The Free State Junction Railway 

" Where the music is sweet and the trains always run on time"

Home Office - Patsburg, Maryland 

Growing up in central New York, you would think I would favor the NYC, or maybe even Penn Central or Conrail.  Nope.  Living for 10 years in central Pennsylvania and visiting Horseshoe Curve many, many, many times, one might think I might have been moved by the history of the Pennsylvania RR. Nope.  Just one look in my train room and it is very easy to see that "my" favorite railroad is the Union Pacific.  Engine wise, the bigger the better.  All those big steamers (FEFs, 4-12-2), or articulated steamers (Challengers and Big Boys), then all the experimentation with diesels (U50C, Veranda, Coal Turbine, Gas Turbine, DD40AX) just shouts "awesome power" at me.  Yes I have other models (and articulated) on my layout, but the majority of the room is yellow-based.


TCA 95-41148

WB&A Chapter - Eastern Division

My favorite is the Penn Central.  The PC merger took place when I was six years old.  I didn't know, or care, about the business of railroading at that time.  I just wanted to see trains run!  Our home was about 1/2 mile from the former PRR Ft. Wayne line, in northwest Ohio.  I could look out our back window and watch trains stretch for over a mile.  My friend's dad was the manager at a local grain elevator.  My friend and I would sit in the elevator parking lot  and watch the local switch the various businesses in town,  I can still hear the generator whine from the GP9's.  As I got a little older I began to recognize the various types of locomotives. Part of the excitement of watching the trains was seeing what kind of motive power was in the consist.  I especially enjoyed heavy coal trains where the big GE's or Alco's really had to work.  Conrail was formed when I was 14 years old.  By that time I was more interested in girls and what my first car was going to be.  Conrail never had the appeal that PC did for some reason.

I have recently been attracted to the AC&Y.  The west end of the AC&Y was in Delphos, Ohio.  I live about two blocks from the old right-of-way.  The Delphos yard was about 1/2 mile north of our house.  As I have studied the history of Delphos I have come to appreciate the railroads that served our town: PRR, AC&Y and Nickel Plate. For some unknown reason I have been drawn to the AC&Y.  I only remember ever seeing an AC&Y locomotive once.  Maybe it was the FM locomotives?


#1 CNJ - I grew up on the NY&LB and rode the CNJ to Newark in 1975 prior to Conrail.  My grandfather on my mother's side of the family commuted on the CNJ in the 50's and 60's. I also like how long they kept archaic equipment on the roster. 

#2 PRR - See above for the most part.  The GG1 is my all time favorite locomotive as many on this forum know.  I also love PRR steam and the Belpaire firebox look.  My grandfather on my dad's side took my dad and my two uncles to the Horseshoe curve on many occasions to watch steam during the 50's.

#3 Amtrak - I have ridden lots of Amtrak from the mid 70's to present.  My favorite period is between 1980 and 1989.  A lot of change during that time.

#4 New Jersey Transit - Saw lots of change from the dock of my house as a child during the transition from Conrail / NJDOT to a modern railroad from the late 70's until I left NJ in 1987.

#5 ATSF - Just a well managed railroad that I took a liking to in the last 5 years as I live in the west now. 



#1 Amtrak- when I was a young child in the mid-90s, I got 3 of their passenger cars- some of them when shopping with my mom no less which makes the emory even better. They were the 12 inch cars, so not top of the line, but it was a big expense for my parents at the time. The 2nd engine that I ever got(Christmas present) was a 1999 Williams Amtrak GP9. Also, made 2 trips down to Florida from Philly's 30th street station in 2002 and 2003 and made a return trip from Florida  to Philly in 2005. It's difficult for me not to have Amtrak running on at least one of my lines

#2 Chessie System- used to see these cars come though a train yard every now and then, they hadn't been changed over to CSX yet. I loved the colors most of all. Got my first engine, a K-Line S-2 switcher, from my Pop in 1996. Chessie Sytem with B&O sign.

#3 Conrail- My grandparents lived right across from one of the few lines that was left from the LV RR. Conrail was the road name I saw most frequently and I loved those colors. My op bought me quite a few Conrail N-scale pieces

#4- Baltimore & Ohio- The Budd Cars got me into the B&O. Once I started researching its history I was even more intrigued.

#5 Lehigh Valley RR- I grew up in the Valley and still live and work there. My Pop had some great pictures of some of their trestles and we'd often walk the tracks on a Sunday afternoon or a weekday during the Spring.

If I could, I'd probably include the Ives Railway Lines

The New York Central and specifically The Big Four due to the fact that pretty much my whole family worked there in Bellefontaine, Ohio at some time in the past. My dad and his brother were machinists, my grandfather was an electrician, my other grandfather was the district boiler foreman, his four brothers were carmen ,laborers and hostlers. My aunt was a secretary to the master mechanic, her dad and his brother were engineers. Another aunt's husband and his two brothers were conductors. I started in 1974 with Penn Central the "Rodney Dangerfield" of railroads. Later Conrail, a brief year and a half with CSX and finally retired from Norfolk Southern after forty one years total.

I'm almost exclusively a fan of the railroads that have operated west of Chicago, and even more specifically the upper midwest. Here they are in order.

  1. BNSF, with the emphasis on the BN and predecessors.
  2. CP, and again the merged roads Soo and Milwaukee Road
  3. UP, by virtue of absorbing the C&NW
  4. Amtrak

I guess I'm just a homer at heart.

Note that most respondents to this topic list their favorite railroads as those that they grew up with. Also notice that virtually no one who grew up in Hawaii has even responded. Being around trains, or any other specific activity, in one's youth can certainly have an influence on their later interests.

I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, where until about age 10 Southern Pacific cab forwards were the norm on mainline freight trains, black (not "Daylight") GS-6 4-8-4's pulled the secondary passenger train and Daylight Alco PA's headed the streamliners. A block away Spokane Portland & Seattle Alco RS switchers trundled along 5th Avenue to the southern end of the Oregon Electric Railway.

By my teenage years SP's "Bloody Nose" diesels paled in comparison to the previous decade, and when it was time to pick a college I headed off to Central Washington State in Ellensburg, almost entirely because the campus was bisected by the still-electrified Milwaukee Road mainline. Most mornings I could view 50-year-old boxcabs from the bathroom window of my dorm. The Olympian Hiawatha had been discontinued four years earlier, but if I wanted to see passenger trains the Northern Pacific mainline a mile away still had the North Coast Limited and Mainstreeter.

In the half century since, I've had the opportunity to visit 49 states by train, every Canadian province (all by train except PEI) and much of Mexico. I have added more "favorites" in the past 30 or 40 years (including the now gone narrow gauge lines in Newfoundland and Yucatan). I have modeled in N, HO, S, On30 and O scales and have tried to avoid model roadnames for which there is overwhelming commercial production. That is, why try to keep up with all of the NYC, PRR or ATSF releases? My exploration of Mexico's railroads came in the 1976-1983 period, and the five major companies of those years were all absorbed or renamed by 1990. So, I collect or create models of NdeM, FCP, Ch-P, S-BC and FUS diesels and trains as they appeared circa 1980.

For model railroad operation I have an On30 port area layout inspired by San Francisco's former State Belt Railroad. It has extremely tight radius curves and functions entirely with 18-foot cars and short engines. No, this isn't entirely Bachmann equipment, as I have scratchbuilt more than a dozen swayback boxcars and determine their destinations with a roll of different colored, 12-sided dice. Each car has a different color and each industry has a number.

Gil Hulin 



Mine is the Seaboard Coast Line.I went to a school close by the tracks.I recall looking out the window to see.6 and sometimes 7 gp9 or gp7 fly by doing 65mph with a long freight.Funny thing is I was born the year Seaboard and atlantic  merged.A few year later the bigger locomotives started showing up.The sd45,sd40-2U25C U30C.I helped my grand dad with a few things.We went to a little town called harrisburg n.c.This is where I saw my first southern railway freight train.They were running long hood forward and had a different sounding horn.It was much higher tone than seaboards.I will admit I took a liking to the southern.Oh another thing I noticed the southern had red caboose.Seaboard were caboose were orange.Although seaboards caboose had SCL speed lettering that made them look pretty slick.I liked seabords steam locomotives to the M2 mountain type the R1.And although pretty homily Q3 mikes.It turns out  they were a bigger than I thought.They also had a boaster to give it more pulling power if needed.As for the west I like the santa fe.I say one thing for the santa fe.On the santa fe fast freight meant fast freight in both steam and diesel.I liked the northerns and their ft locomotives.UP with its huge locomotives that shook the ground going by.Its 4-8-8-4 and 4-6-6-4 and 4-12-2 locomotives. 

EBT Jim posted:

Central Railroad of New Jersey ….. because I'm from Joisey, and it ran through my home town.  An ornery, beat-up little railroad

And, East Broad Top RR ….. my Mother is from one of their company towns. All the men in the family worked in the coal mines and on the railroad.


CNJ Mind if I ask a question.In steam days didn,t they have heavy mikados?

I have two favorites.

First is Southern.  Specifically the CNO&TP Railway out of Chattanooga.  Many of my relatives worked for Southern, out of Chattanooga. Including  my grandfather, who started his career as a fireman on steam and retired as an engineer in the diesel era.

My second is the Richmond, Fredericksburg. and Potomac.  My first house was along the RF&P line.  They took great pride in their railroad.  Their engines and tracks were well maintained and every employee I met was proud of what they did.  It was the little railroad that competed well with the big boys.


Spent many a Saturday morning on the Honeywell Street bridge over Sunnyside Yard with my father.

Honeywell crossed the yard right by the motor pit, where GG1s received sand and water and fuel oil between runs.

There was a small engine house where the Sunnyside wire train power was kept. Originally it was a DD1, which now resides at the RR Museum of Pennsylvania. That was replaced by the last former NYC T-3a motor. The wire train used 3rd rail electric locomotives so sections of the catenary in the tunnels and in Penn Station could be de-energized at off hours for maintenance.



I grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey and there were a lot of railroads running through the state - PRR, NYC, Erie, Susquehanna, Lackawanna and Jersey Central. The Erie and the Susquehanna ran through my home town.

My favorites have always been the NYC and the PRR. When I was in the Scouts, one of our families owned a large plot of land in West Nyack, NY where our Troop would go several times a year on weekend camping trips. One of the boundaries of the camp was at the base of an elevated NYC double-track mainline which had many long freight trains rolling through every day pulled by ABA and ABBA F-3s, F-7s and Baldwin Sharknoses. Needless to say, I was distracted on those camping trips, as at every opportunity, I watched the trains go by and counted the cars. Many were over 100 cars.

After we were married, my wife and I lived in Hillside, NJ close to the PRR mainline in North Elizabeth, where I saw many GG-1s both in passenger and in freight service while we were waiting for commuter trains to New York City. My wife's grandfather also worked for the PRR as a caboose crew member, which I thought was pretty cool. 


New Haven, Pennsylvania, NY Central, Jersey Central, Baltimore and Ohio, and Erie, for various reasons.

New Haven because I took their trains growing up in Mt. Vernon, NY to NYC when my mother (who did not drive) took me with her when she went shopping at Macy's, Lord & Taylor's, Saks 5th Avenue, and the other fine stores in Manhattan. She loved Lionel trains so we would see them in the toy department at Macy's. Also, I always loved the look of the New Haven McGuiness livery and the silver aluminum passenger cars.

The Pennsylvania for a several reasons. As a child, my mother and I would go to Penn Station to visit my dear aunt and uncle who lived in Pennington, NJ. We went to Penn Station and took the train to go there. Penn Station was enormous and awesome. I knew nothing about architecture as a child, but I could sense the greatness and beauty of the architecture there, and the beauty of the light streaming through the huge ceiling windows. The  GG1s there were equally awesome, reeking with power. I also loved getting a soda and cheese and peanut butter crackers riding on the train from Penn Station to Trenton or Princeton Junction. No such snacks were served back then on the commuter trains from Mt. Vernon to NYC.

Another reason I loved the PRR are the endless freight trains I witnessed when they rumbled past the swimming pool area at Hopewell Country Club, not far from where my aunt and uncle lived. We would be sitting by the pool, count the coal and oil tanker cars, and I wondered how the locomotive(s) could pull such a long train.

The NY Central because that's the train I took after my family and I moved to the Fleetwood section of Mt. Vernon, NY, including when I took the train to go to college. The NY Central diesels were very impressive.

The Jersey Central because I love the look of the Blue Comet model trains. My favorite steamer is the LC+ Jersey Central Pacific with its lovely light blue livery.

The Baltimore and Ohio because as a child I always wanted a Lionel diesel engine, and finally got one when, at the age of 10 or 11, my father bought me a Lionel B&O 44 tonner, which I still have. Also, I like the look of the B&O livery (blue is my favorite color), and that the B&O was the first railroad (or one of the first railroads) in the USA. I even like the sound of the name "Baltimore."

Come to think of it, I also really like the sound of the names "Pennsylvania" and "New Haven."

The Erie Railroad also because of its name, "Erie," which is such a cool name, IMO.

These railroads have a lot of aesthetic appeal to me. Arnold



In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

My main area of interest is 19th century railroading, so not much surprise that my favorite short list would be headed by several 19th century lines.  Among 20th century class 1 railroads my favorite would be Southern and the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio.  As to why, who knows.  I lived near Southern and GM&O lines at different times growing up, but there were other railroads that played a larger role in my younger life. 

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