Thursday, June 21, 2012

Today I was riding my bike over by Tryon Palace and I saw the lights of a train in the distance. I sat down to wait for it to come so I could get a photo of it for this blog. I sat there for a long time and it never DID come, So I took this photo without the train.
I worked on it in photoshop so you could see the railroad bridge in the middle left of the picture.

I love railroads and trains. I first got interested in them in Michigan. I've always loved architecture and have drawn and painted it for my entire adult life. I was asked to do drawings of railroad depots throughout Michigan by the Michigan Historical Society which started my love affair. As I went around looking at Depots I started seeing steam locomotives which intrigued me as well. I loved all the gears and even the sound. Of course by the time I became interested the only place you saw steam engines were in museums or on tourist lines.

I've ridden cross country from Michigan to California, from Michigan to Mexico City, from New Bern to Philadelphia and on lots of tourist railroad like the Durango and Silverton, the Cumbres and Toltec, the Goergetown Loop and the East Broad Top. When I go to New York I always fly into Newark so I can take the train into the city. Each rail trip is an adventure!

When we lived in Colorado in the 80s, I drew most of the remaining depots in that state. There were narrow gauge railroads in the mountains, however most of those tracks were taken up during WWII. The neat thing is you can still drive on those old rail beds. We've driven on many. One of Michaels favorite stories is about our trip to the Alpine Tunnel, which was once the highest tunnel in the world. We drove through the woods, along a cliff with major dropoffs, around  huge boulders that had fallen into the road bed. When we got to the tunnel it had wood boards across it and no trespassing signs pasted on. Of course Michael had to go inside. I did not! When he got back to the car (our 69 VW bus) I said we are out of gas!! Michael said - no problem - and we coasted down the 4 degree road bed all the way back to Gunnison (about 15 miles) without turning the car on.

Many of the drawings of did of those railroad stations were purchased for the Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library. 

I still have notecards of some of the drawings. 

Here is a photo with a link where you could purchase if you wanted to! $5 for the set of 6, 
Notecards of Colorado Narrow Gauge Railroads Click here for more information

Fast forward to New Bern and todays photo - the railroad came to New Bern in 1858. The bridge of today is in the same location as the original, it's just a little wider and a little higher.
Ten scheduled freight trains operate Monday through Friday and the tracks go down the middle of Hancock Street.

The historic Preservation Society of New Bern has been in negotiations with the railroad for years to be able to restore our depot, and it seems they are finally making progress. While we currently have only freight service to New Bern there are plans in the works to have a bus run a route to deliver passengers to the train in Selma or Rocky Mount.

One way you can tell the difference between a train enthusiast and someone who is not, is, the enthusiast will slow down so they have to stop for the train, the non-nenthusiast will speed up so they don't have to stop.

We always slow down.

Jan Francoeur

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