Earlier this month (December, 2013), WRAL TV-5 here in Raleigh came by and videotaped my model train layout for two hours. It was edited down to this interesting short segment which was broadcast on December 9th:
The story accurately highlighted my early interest in travel. By age 12 I was using my own hard-earned money (from delivering the Raleigh News & Observer newspaper each morning) to take the train from Raleigh to NYC and back. At age 16, I planned and rode famous streamliners all the way around the country over three and a half weeks. Here’s a photo of me on that trip in June, 1964 holding the drumhead of the famous Santa Fe Railroad “Super Chief” while the train itself was switched behind me at Williams, Arizona:
I was very fortunate to have made that trip, little knowing then that the transition to Amtrak in 1971 would end the era of private passenger trains.
On that almost month-long journey, I rode the best trains of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad; Southern Railway; Southern Pacific Railroad; Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad; Western Pacific Railroad; Denver, Rio Grande & Western Railway; Union Pacific Railroad; Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad; Baltimore & Ohio Railway; and the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. It was a memorable trip made in a huge loop Raleigh-Atlanta-Birmingham-New Orleans-Houston-Grand Canyon (AZ)-Los Angeles-San Diego-L.A.-San Francisco-Salt Lake City-Denver-St. Louis-Chicago-Washington-Rocky Mount (NC).
While it’s true that I did then, and do now, have a strong interest in railroading, riding the rails was secondary to satisfying my intense yen to travel. My travel spirit was not kindled by that trip; it was already in full thrall. Those weeks traversing the continent at ground level merely quenched my already powerful thirst to see the world, or at least parts of it I hadn’t set foot in before then. Doing it by train was all the better.
Later, as my interest in railroads matured, I had the great privilege of working for the Seaboard during a lull between undergrad and grad school, as seen in the photo below. Working for the railroad was extremely valuable experience that set me on a path in consulting that has taken me around the world solving or improving logistics issues for shippers and carriers.
Along the way of pursuing my profession, I have been lucky enough to travel by air, rail, and road to places I might never otherwise have reached. And it all started with trains.
I wish everyone a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!