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Thread: What's yoru favorite real-world railroad of all time, and why?

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    Lightbulb What's yoru favorite real-world railroad of all time, and why?

    Lots of people prototype railroads for a variety of different reasons -- proximity, availability of source material, availability of models for that railroad, etc. But whether you prototype a given railroad or not, I'm guessing that like me, each of you has a personal favorite real-world (i.e., not model) railroad.

    For me, it is the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad. I suppose my affinity for the ATSF started as a kid, with my first (and only, until a few weeks ago) train set, which had a Santa Fe "Warbonnet" F7 diesel. That was the most common one in train sets years ago and may still be. However, I didn't know much about rail systems or railroads back then. I thought that "Santa Fe" was the engine manufacturer and "Amtrak" was the railroad company, for instance. I honestly wasn't sure what "Santa Fe" had to even do with anything.

    Years later, a friend introduced me to my all-time favorite board game, Rail Baron. I assume a lot of you are familiar with this game but for those who are not, the board is a map of the U.S. with the classic old-school rail lines (ATSF, UP, SP, T&P, SAL, ACL, NYC, PRR, etc) printed in different colors following their general routes. The players have to travel from one random town to another "delivering cargo" and they make money, from which they can buy up the railroads. If you ride your own rail lines, it is cheaper to deliver cargo than someone else's, so getting a solid, transcontinental network built up is the key to winning the game.

    Because the ATSF was one of the largest railroads in the U.S., and because it crisscrosses much of the country and meets up with a lot of other rail lines in convenient places, I've always considered the ATSF my top priority when playing rail baron. It became a typical event when playing with my friends. "Steve you have $25k, you want to buy anything?" "Nope, saving up." "Oh right, waiting for the Santa Fe aren't you?" (ATSF costs $40k). It's certainly not the case that owning ATSF guarantees you a win (statistically, the owner of the Pennsylvania RR has the best chance to win for some reason), but I was always sure I would be making the whole $40k back and then some as people rode my train into L.A., San Diego, and other places like that. In the end, the winner of our games was almost always either the owner of the ATSF, or the UP (honestly I never paid attention to whether the winner was also an owner of PRR, since I didn't know about the statistic until recently).

    At any rate... because of my love affair in the game with the ATSF, over the years the Santa Fe became my personal favorite railroad.

    That's my story. Now I'd like to hear yours. What is your favorite real world railroad, and why?

    C

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    I have 4 favorites.
    I am a little proud of the fact that historically the local railroad in my state (PRR) set the standards for much of the industry as railroads were built west and south.

    Then I skip to Conrail (which revived the former PRR system and once again a PA based RR controlled the NE). I saw the glory days of Conrail as a teenager and was disappointed to hear that it set another precedence in the RR industry by being split between the two south eastern class 1 RR's to provide 'competition' in the North East states. I find it a little backwards that railroads that were formerly controlled by the PRR now control its lines.
    Since my favorite class 1 was killed, I found out about a local railroad that started as a 13 mile shortline & steam train operation the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern . This privately owned railroad was successful enough to finance the purchase of the 'Reading Cluster' trackage(mostly former RDG ) from Conrail. About 5 years later they purchased a mainline further to the north ending up past Scranton fairly close to the NY border. Now their railroad stretches most of the way N/S across the state of PA. My fictional RR provides them a bridge route to connect with CSX (which is not possible in real life, all their interchanges are NS or parts of the private North Shore System). CP has trackage rights on the second half of their mainline (which provides my fictional RR with a connection all the way to Canada). Recently they started operating the Lehigh Gorge RR (Steam operation) over the mainline on weekends.

    My final favorite is my home town RR. The 4.5 mile Strasburg RR that was chartered in 1832 and operates mostly tourist steam trains.

    I model a freelance RR because I like to model the current trains and this way I don't worry about my favorite RR being sold or abandoned. When I started to model the RBMN a rumor went around that it was being evaluated for a sales value.
    Freelance Rivet Counter
    Modeling the Lancaster & Reading Railroad

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    New York New Haven & Hartford (and of course New Haven). Goes back to growing up and having my brother-in-law take me train watching. I always thought is was "cool" (at the age of 5) having a railroad named after 2 towns in the state where I live. Still have a few memories of locomotives going around New London (69-71 I think) with New Haven colors (very faded colors at that). Nothing more, nothing less of a story.
    This turned into my current theme of my model railroad. What if the New Haven never fell and was/is as big as say CSX? The other twist with my theme is it doesnt matter if the NH never had a big boy, if I get one undecorated I'll try to match up decals to that period and mark it as New Haven. Just need to get back on track.
    Kevin
    RETIRED Model Railroader

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    I have to say the Great Northern is my favorite. (Does it count even though it isn't around anymore? It was real.) Gotta love a transcontinental railroad built without any government land grants. (In fact it was the only one!) The route it followed was one that was generally thought to be impractical and it was called "Hill's Folly" after James Hill, the founder/owner. The division through the Cascades was incredibly difficult and expensive to build and featured a section with a grade of 5.4%! Think about that when worrying about whether the 4% grade on your layout is OK. Eventually the GN built the longest tunnel in the western hemisphere to help eliminate some steep grades and an avalanche-prone section of track through Steven's pass. Plus the "Empire Builder" paint scheme is IMHO one of the best ever to appear on any railroad.

    Empire Builder was Hill's nickname by the way. He also owned the Burlington and the Northern Pacific. Hill new how to build railroads. Of course given the times, 1880's to his death in 1939 he did his share of exploiting and was rather ruthless but no more so than the other "barons" of the time regardless of their occupation, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Edison, et.al. He was a real railroad man who once said "Give me enough Swedes and whiskey and I'll build a railroad to hell!" But he also said to his son Louis who followed him as president of the GN, "By the time you reach forty, be out of the railroad business." Finally Hill hated providing passenger service. Imminently quotable he said of passenger service "It is like a male teat, neither useful nor ornamental." How do you really feel Jim?

    --Sherman

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    We only have two lines here ... Canadian National for freight and VIA for passenger service. I like both.
    - - There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I like to use that line as a jump rope. ... (unknown)

    Come visit my Layout Build Thread - http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...l-Build-Thread

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    Quote Originally Posted by musicman View Post
    We only have two lines here ... Canadian National for freight and VIA for passenger service. I like both.
    Ha-ha! I'm sure it didn't necessarily have to be a railroad you actually live under.

    I`ll go with three contenders for now, and they are all off the beaten path.

    The Newfoundland Railway
    The Milwaukee Road
    and the Pacific Great Eastern-British Columbia Railway.

    I also have a couple shortlines and logging railroads whose operations I find were really unique. And, in my opinion, the Northern Pacific had the best passenger color scheme out there.
    Director of Operations of the Kettle River Railway

    See photos of the original owner's layout here:
    https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/about-...7603977732928/

    It sounded like a good idea at the time... too bad the caboose wasn't in on the plan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherman View Post
    I have to say the Great Northern is my favorite. (Does it count even though it isn't around anymore? It was real.)
    Of course it counts! The topic says "favorite of all time." It doesn't have to still be around. Technically the ATSF isn't around anymore either (it combined with BN to make BNSF).

    As a side note I almost always try to grab the Great Northern in Rail Baron if I get the ATSF. You can hook it up to the ATSF with the relatively cheap WP. Can't do that with the others that go through the same region (CMST&P and NP). My western build is usually ATSF/GN/WP if I can get it... and since most people are shooting for the UP or SP at that point in the game, I can usually nab them both.

    Also to RBMNfan... I rode the Strasburg train with my nephew (who is just over 18 months) in July: Small world!

    C

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    Remembering that this forum is of course international, and that railways come in a variety of sizes;

    Favourite railway: Wellington and Manawatu Railway Co Ltd

    Favourite existing railway: New Zealand Government Railways (now known as 'Kiwirail'), in all its variations.

    Favourite mining railway: Kauri Freehold Gold Estates Co. Ltd

    Favourite Bush tramway (Logging railway) Gammon and Co Ltd

    Favourite existing US railway: Norfolk and Western

    Favourite US railway: DRGW Colorado Narrow Gauge system (and yes, I know that the Silverton and C & T still exist )

    Favourite British railway: The Ffestiniog

    But, as we are also modellers, and because they are verifiably as real as anything with steel rails and wooden sleepers that might be somewhat larger, and have as much personalities, history and 'culture' as anything bigger, might I submit the following as my all-time, most-favourite of any railways for your attention:

    The Kaiser's Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co (No Liability)

    Tickford Valley Railway Co (London) Ltd

    Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co Ltd

    It all depends, I suppose, on what is meant by 'real-world'

    It's an interesting question, and thanks for asking it.
    Komata "TVR - serving the Northern Taranaki . . . "

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    My favorite railroad is, of course, the Winchester, Paston, & Portsmouth, my fictional Class 2 that became just another segment of the mighty Norfolk & Western. It is my favorite, though, because it allows me to blend in features of all my favorite real-world railroads, of which Norfolk & Western is dominant. I love the N&W for its way of doing things its own way - build their own steam, design their own coal hoppers, run their diesels long hood forward with short hoods kept high, you name it. But I also like the B&O for its royal blue, I like the vanderbilt tenders of C&O steam (if I was modeling a steam era WP&P I'd be using those tenders for everything), and I like Pennsy cabeese. In the WP&P I get to combine all of these and more, in a plausible way.

    Get yourself a Rail Pass for free travel on the WP&P: wpandp.com
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    Living in New England all my life between Massachusetts and Rhode Island it would definitely be New Haven and all its branches. I remember F units crossing the Buzzards Bay Railroad Bridge when I was little and what I know now as RS-3's doing switching operations here in Woonsocket.

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    Denver Rio Grande & Western - classic Colorado mountain railroad
    Burlington Northern (and predecessors Chicago Burlington & Quincy, Great Northern, Colorado & Southern) - home turf rails
    Milwaukee Road (and SOO) - amazing history, I heart Cheeseland X 1
    Delaware & Hudson - great paint scheme
    New York New Haven & Hartford (I once got a late night cab ride in CDOT New Haven paint FL9M 2006, hence my handle here)
    Santa Fe all the way - home turf = Raton Pass
    Montana Rail Link - a great regional in beautiful mountains
    Conrail - I miss Big Blue, an example of successful government intervention
    Metro North - rode it for 500,000 miles
    Wisconsin & Southern - a little railroad that is doing well, great paint, I heart Cheeseland X 2
    Wisconsin Central - I heart Cheeseland X 3, SD45s, F45s,
    Duluth Missabe & Iron Range - iron ore hoppers, Duluth is awesome
    US Steel iron ore hoppers, Duluth is awesome X 2
    Green Bay Western - I heart Cheeseland X 4
    Indiana harbor Belt - friendly and fun, I heart Chicago X 2
    Chicago South Shore - great paint, I heart Chicago X 2
    Monon - local rails I know very well in Southern Indiana
    Chicago & Northwestern - one of the best, Chicago to Wyoming amazing paint in the midwest to mountains...
    Indiana Railroad (INRD) - local rails I know very well in Southern Indiana X2
    BC Rail - best paint (red/white/blue) on a cowl
    Alaska Railroad - great paint in Alaska
    Coaster - ride every chance I can
    Kyle - a great little railroad between Colorado & kansas
    The Katy (Missouri-Kansas-Texas) - Houston's Eureka yard is a place I've been many times.
    New York Susquehanna & Western - Awesome Yellow jacket paint in the amazing NY/PA hills, SD45s, F45s, ALCOs
    Lehigh & Hudson River - I lived next to the LHR Poughkeepsie Railroad bridge
    Erie Lackawanna - awesome paint, history
    Delaware Lackawanna -ALCOs! Scranton!
    Reading - awesome paint, history
    Florida East Coast - awesome paint, history

    and I am sure I forgot someone!
    I heard the Denver and Rio Grande locomotive howling off to the mountains. I wanted to pursue my star further. - Jack Kerouac

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    Like Chessack, my favorite is/was the Santa Fe. In 1954, when I was 10, our family took the San Francisco Chief from Stockton, CA, to Chicago (and the NYC to Buffalo, but who cares?). A real adventure for a kid - I recall spending as much time as I could in the dome car, avoiding my litle brother. A good friend of my dad was a dispatcher for the Santa Fe in Stockton, so we occasionally got to see the trains close up.
    Phil Olmsted
    San Francisco

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    The Southern Pacific. The city and state I live in probably wouldn't exist if not for the mighty SP.
    And also it was the first railroad to start west and head east.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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    I would have to say mine is the CB+Q. A highly diverse Granger railroad. I think what draws me to it is the passenger service that the CB+Q was known for, but the long coal trains out of southern Illinois, to the cattle and grain from the plains make this a railroad that depending on your taste you could model just about anything and it would still feel right. The other thing was the fact that the CB+Q, GN and NP shared equipment which adds to the flavor of the posibilities for modeling. The Dakotah Western (my railroad) is modeled after the CB+Q's high line in the Black Hills.

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    I grew up next to a pair of tracks in Ottawa where the CN would go by constantly. I grew very fond of seeing the seargent stripes go by. I remember seeing F's go by while I was a kid (not sure what series they were, maybe F7's) and then the onsalught of GP's. Moved when I was 16 from there and haven't lived by the tracks since. I miss the thunder as they went past.

    I also LOVE the old Western Maryland. The circus colors are fantastic and the fireball emblem is my favorite. My wife hails from Maryland, so maybe that has a lot to do with it as well. I love that woman like crazy and every single thing about that state makes me smile. I would have loved to have been alive and in that area when WM rolled.

    ~Sean

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    Twin Cities Western Railroad. Anyone could have figured that one out!!!
    16MARVIGJ

    John


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    check it out!




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    Like many of us in the hobby, I model what I grew up with. When I was a kid, I lived within a few miles of the B&M/MEC terminus in South Portland Maine (Rigby Yard) and was quite familiar with trains of both railroads. My main emphasis is on the B&M, probably because they seemed to have more variety of locos, both steam and diesel .
    Dick,

    Usually, when all is said and done, there's a lot more said than done!

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    A very interesting array of answers. I notice a lot of you grew up near trains and have an affinity for the "home team." Curiously enough, although the Eerie-Lackawana did run a train through my home town, I never developed an interest in it. I had more of an affinity for the Santa Fe because of my train set, and Amtrak because we took it to Florida a couple of times.

    I also seem to be the only one whose love of a particular railroad came from a board game. Heheh.

    C

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    Quote Originally Posted by musicman View Post
    We only have two lines here ... Canadian National for freight and VIA for passenger service. I like both.
    Ditto what he said !!!!!!!!!!

    SCOTLAND FOREVER !

    Anyone can model prototypically,it takes a genius to model "What If"

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    Well, I'd have to go with Chessie. That paint scheme is hard to forget, especially for a kid. There are quite a few others that I find interesting for one reason or another, but if I had to pick a favorite, I'd have to go with the childhood memories.
    Never mistake a guy who talks a lot for a guy who has something to say...

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