MONTICELLO, IL - The Leviathan, America's newest steam locomotive, will make several appearances at the Monticello Railway Museum, Monticello IL from Sept. 18 through 20, 2009.
At 2:30 p.m. on Friday, September 18th, the Leviathan will steam into town and stop before the restored Wabash RR depot with Abraham Lincoln impersonator Fritz Klein of Springfield IL in the cab. The arrival is part of a State of Illinois "Looking For Lincoln" sign dedication at the depot, the only such sign at a railroad site in the state. The Leviathan is an exact replica of the famous Jupiter, which participated in the Golden Spike ceremony upon the completion of the trancontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. It was built new over a 10-year period in Elgin IL and made its public debut at Steam Fest 2009 in Owosso MI in July. Its trip to the Monticello Railway Museum marks only its second public appearance. That evening, cab rides in the Leviathan will be available to both museum members and the general public for a charge.
On Saturday and Sunday, September 19 & 20, all-day tickets will allow visitors to ride trains and view various displays at the museum grounds. Restored Wabash F-unit No. 1189, the last streamlined freight locomotive made by General Motors in Canada will pull mixed passenger/freight trains.and a museum Illinois Central RR diesel will pull a streamlined IC trainset. Visitors may also ride in a caboose or on a maintenance-of-way cars to the north end of the museum's trackage at White Heath IL. Also on hand: two F units from the Norfolk Southern business train; Operation Lifesaver locomotive and safety demonstration train "Little Obie" from the Canadian National; a live steam G gauge railroad and, of course, the museum's exhibit cars.
Locally, it is also Monticello Days, so the Piatt County courthouse square will be filled with food vendors and artisans. A food tent at the museum grounds will operate all day, as well.
The Monticello is located Railway Museum is located at Interstate 72 exit No. 166, about midway between Champaign and Decatur IL.
Complete information is availble on-line at www.mrym.org. All-day tickets are $12.00 for adults, $8.00 for kids and allow as many rides as possible during the day.
The LEVIATHAN is a work of art and gives credit to the great railroad, locomotive and passenger car builders and craftsmen who built the world's greatest railway system...almost pushed to extinction...on its second renaissance...
Does anyone else think it's time to get into the 21st Century and live in the real world? The U.S. railroad industry was not "almost pushed to extinction." It was damned near driven to nationalization as a result of economic regulation imposed on it by government. But it was saved from that fate by deregulation, and today is a vibrant, financially healthy industry that is doing just fine in the worst recession in some 80 years. Mr. RAILWAYIST somehow thinks that passenger trains are the entire railroad industry. Some of those who regularly participate at this blog understand that railroads exist primarily to move the nation's commerce, and that they do a fine job of it. All the cheer-leading in the world will not make passenger service economically viable. If our society wants to have more and faster passenger rail service, it can have it. It only has to find someone to pay for it. Taxpayers, perhaps?
The LEVIATHAN and its brothers are what gave the railroad the bad names of old, dirty, slow that created an image that is still associated with this industry.
Marketing today with green ads and sleek new 4400hp motors is trying to turn the image around albeit slowly.
As LK states, we are a vibrant, financially healthy, and I'll add EFFICIENT industry. Don't let passenger trains on freight rails impact it.
Mr. K did you formulate your dictum about RAILWAYIST's thought processes vis-a-vis passenger trains from the information in his post about the Leviathan?
If by "green" you mean using millions of toxic, creosoted ties each year, you win. Other than a few concrete tie alternatives, railroads have not progressed in this area in 100 years.
RonRail: No, I formulated my view (certainly not dictum or dicta) of RAILWAYIST's thought processes from several months of his blogposts, of which this latest is perhaps one of the worst, and which certainly doesn't demonstrate any thought process whatsoever. As I have said in comments previously, RAILWAYIST campaigns incessantly for a world that never really existed. He's free, of course, to do so, just as I am free to comment on his posts.
Tedeboy: It wasn't my comment, but I'll take a swing at your rhetorical question. By "green," I mean a mode of transportation that puts less particulate matter into the atmosphere than any other mode, and which uses fuel up to four times more efficiently than do trucks. As for Creosote ties, would you care to match the environmental effect of rail ties against the environmental impact of building concrete and asphalt highways and repairing them with more asphalt. As long as the steel wheel on steel rail has less friction than the rubber tire on asphalt or concrete, the railroad will be greener than trucks.
YEAH!!!! What Larry said...
Tedeboy - Railroads and other parties are very interested in reducing the environmental impact of rail operations. Please read today's news release below. Although using old wood crossties for energy generation isn't the "greenest" way to produce energy, it is probably the greenest solution to the crosstie disposal challenge. Perhaps the most sustainable crosstie solution is converting to steel ties, as steel can be recycled infinitely.
B.H.I.T., Inc. Acquires Railroad Tie Reclamation/Energy Generation Company The Wood Energy Group
2009-09-09 16:07:01 -
B.H.I.T., Inc. [OTCBB:BHIT], a publicly traded company headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, announced today that it has acquired 100% of the equity securities of The Wood Energy Group, Inc. (“Wood Energy” or “the Company”) for $6.4 million, plus customary closing adjustments.
Wood Energy, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, is one of the nation’s largest railroad tie reclamation/energy generation companies.
Founded in 2001, the Company reclaims railroad ties for Class I, regional and short line railroads and then disposes of the ties to either the energy co-generation or landscape markets. In addition, the Company processes wood products for forest products companies for additional sources of biomass fuel.
Wood Energy has principal contracts with Union Pacific Railroad (NYSE.
UNP) and Canadian National Railway (NYSE: CN), as well as contracts with International Paper (NYSE: IP), Mead Westvaco (NYSE: MWV) and others.
The Company currently serves customers located in the southwest and southeast U.S., and has future plans to expand its service area. In 2008, Wood Energy reclaimed approximately 900,000 railroad ties and generated revenues of more than $5.2 million.
Wood Energy, managed by Greg Smith, President, and Andy Lewis, Vice President, currently has 25 full-time employees. Mr. Smith has been in the railroad tie reclamation business since 1991, and has developed a patented design for the disposal of used ties. Future plans call for the Company to invest in additional tie grinding equipment in order to further meet the needs of the co-generation market. Shredded railroad ties are a viable “green” source of biomass fuel for industrial plants and utilities.
Gary O. Marino, Chairman, President & CEO of B.H.I.T., said, “We are pleased to announce the purchase of Wood Energy, B.H.I.T.’s first acquisition. Wood Energy is an excellent entrée for B.H.I.T. into the railroad services sector. The Company has a strong management team, a solid base of business derived from long-term contracts and the expertise to grow the co-generation segment of the business. We believe Wood Energy will be the first of a number of acquisitions for B.H.I.T.
as we will continue to seek railroad support services companies that create economies of scale.”
B.H.I.T., Inc. is a railroad support services company headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida.
B.H.I.T., Inc.Larry Rutstein, 561 443-5312
Railroads used steam locomotives until diesel locomotives were invented, improved and found to be more efficient and cheaper than steam locomotives. What other choice did railroads have? Sure, they were dirty, but this country was built using steam locomotives.
That is something to celebrate a-la Monticello Railroad Days.
Being green is a concept that didn't take to the mainstream until the very late 20th century, early 21st century. Railroads had no choice but to be dirty, because steam was the best technology available. Even the first diesels were not the cleanest things on the planet - as many people have experienced first hand - belching thick black smoke when under load. Heck, before tier 0, it didn't matter what came out of the stack.
It's debatable if the first and second generation of diesels truly were "cleaner" than steam locomotives.
Rules change, Laws are passed and railroads adapt or die. It's a fact of life. That doesn't change the fact that steam built this country.
So what if some people want to celebrate our railroad history? Instead of the incessant crying and moaning about Railwayist, how about adding some real interesting content like Jeff Stagl and others do here on a regular basis?
This blog post originated with Tedeboy. Not Railwayist.
BE>"So what if some people want to celebrate our railroad history?"
More power to 'em, I say. As you said, some parts of history are meant to be celebrated, even if we've learned since a better way to do it.
That said, history should be a springboard, not an anchor, and we better make damned sure it isn't a springboard into an empty swimming pool.
I would like to point out to some of the Full-time railroaders on here that this is just a peak into the Railroad Tourist Industry.
This industry is alive and well and this year in 2009 we held a fund raising event to keep steam locomotive running in this country. The Railroad Tourist Industry and a gracious short line railroads partnered in a small town called Owosso, MI. This town like many others in Michigan has a population has lost many jobs in the auto industry. In 4 days, I repeat 4 days we had 36,000 people come to this festival and had 36 countries represative during this international event. This help the non-profit group raise an estimated 1.4 million dollars toward their goals of expanding there museum and estimated boost to the economy was 2.0 million to 2.5 million dollars. The short line railroad also gain a sustainable boost to its bottom line with the daily fee’s being charge for track time, crews and other services to make this a successful festival.
So before you beat up on running a steam locomotive short line railroad, Class 1 or tourist line we the Museums and Tourist Railways have in some case pumped more dollars and give more PR to the communities in which we server then any Freight Railroad has done in the last decade.
Just take a look at the site below and you can see industry names such as RJ Corman and Rail America who believe in this type of public relations and see the benefit of being part of such an event.
While to the pro’s out there this might not move their stock up 5 bucks or make their share holders giddy with joy the use Steam Locomotives and other 1st generation locomotives is a PR tool that most of the public will associate as a good will or good PR for Company X. It can’t be under estimated when a steam locomotive or rare 1st generation passenger train pulls into town and the local community is allowed to tour the train that they will remember how nice it was and when company X wants to expand they’ll have of the public on their side. While some think this might not be the best way to show off a railroad of today. I would then challenge the Marketing people of the Class 1's, Short Lines and Freight railroad systems to show the public what a railroad can do. If you want the public to be your friend you have to be involved with them.
So I'll leave with this question. How can you as a Freight railroad in the public's eye improve your relationship with them?
StevenHarvey: You probably won't agree with or like this comment, but there is a real difference between running a tourist business and running a railroad - Class 1 or short line. Tourist railroads, and I have ridden my share of them and enjoy touring rail museums, are in the tourism business. I know that the Strasburg in Pennsylvania carries some freight, as does the Durango-Silverton in Colorado. But moving freight or people point-to-point is not their business. They survive by pleasing tourists and getting them to pay high revenue per passenger mile fares - fares they probably would not pay if they were interested in getting from A to B. Nobody here is against tourist railroads, but don't flatter yourself that you're just like Class 1s. An old railroad expression that it's all 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches wide doesn't even apply to a goodly number of tourist lines. The Kaanapali & Pacific doesn't carry the pineapple harvest anymore, but it sure makes little kids like my grandson happy for a few hours.
The discussion has gotten way "off track" from my original information about the appearance of the Leviathan at the Monticello Railway Museum. While I am a preservationist and fan of railroad history, I was also a railroad employee for many years in areas that ranged from writing billing repair cards (and then auditing repair bills after I found out where the railroads and private car repair shops inflated their charges) to being General Car Foreman of a shop rebuilding commuter passenger cars to selling and leasing box, flat and grain hopper cars to Class I and shortline railroads. So, perhaps I approach the issue of railroad history and the perception by the general public to the railroad industry a little differently.
Consider the following observations with an open mind and no exclamation marks in your replies, please.
For those who knew that the newly-built Leviathan was an exact copy of the famous Jupiter from 1869, built using today's technology, more power to you. In a age when cartoon characters on television and in the movies are used to portray history, adults not old enough to remember steam in action of mainline railroads and kids born since then don't get an accurate portrayal of what life back in the day was like. Comments about steam being dirty and not being cost-efficient are true. But the Leviathan and the many museums that Larry talks about put the spotlight for everyone to see on the hard, time-consuming, dangerous work that railroading in the link-and-pin days was.
And, too often, the glimpse non-railroaders get of the industry is of a tank car explosion and the evacuation of some small town, getting blocked at a grade crossing when they are already running late or riding a commuter run that gets them to work late because some goof walked in front of a train that morning. They don't think about the hundreds of workers who may labor during two shifts at some hot, sweaty shop to make sure the air conditioning on the railcar they ride everyday works.
YouTube is filled with clips of people getting clipped, streetcars veering off the track, freight locos hitting trucks–or a dozen other topics where the railroad is the buffoon, deservedly or not. The nightly news is filled too often with the tragic results of engineers texting while running, drinking or doing drugs before reporting for work and those terrible mothers in cars loaded with kids driving in front of a train. And, while it is true that railroad museums and excursion movements are really only tourism that don't contribute the same points to the GDP that coal, grain, lumber and auto parts do, they have a significant, positive role as recognized by the Class I railroad industry.
If this wasn't true, UP wouldn't operate a couple of steamers across the far reaches of their system to the delight of thousands of people, not all just railfans, I personally witnessed thousands of people standing patiently along the Wisconsin Central tracks in 1988 when we operated a pair of excursions with a steamer lovingly restored by a group in St. Louis, just to get a one-minute fleeting glimpse of history If it wasn't true, NS wouldn't operate a special Christmas train over its rails for 20 years from Decatur using MRM equipment (and wouldn't be sending their streamlined business train diesels from Roanoke to put on display for Railroad Days). CN wouldn't be making its Operation Lifesaver train available for the event if it didn't think that perhaps the display of that train and its inherent safety message might prevent one person from driving around the gates. BNSF wouldn't recruit thousands of pairs of railfan eyes to watch their tracks and trains from a respectable distance and report suspicious activities. Moreover, CN wouldn't have just donated the first SD40 prototype to MRM--not doing it for any great financial benefit, but because the engine was significant in the overall scheme of railroad history.
So, to put a positive spin on railroading for the great, unwashed, general public by dragging out a steamer or letting folks ride in a caboose is not the sin some would make it. Instead, it may be the only positive impression that the general public gets locally. Do these events make money for the railroads? It goes without saying that they do not contribute to the bottom line. But, there is no measure of savings to be calculated for each driver that doesn't pull in front of a train because they were aware of Operation Lifesaver. Nor is there a measure for how many youngsters may be influenced to take up a railroad career, not necessarily on a commuter train or as a freight conductor, but in engineering or finance or marketing because their uncle or dad or grandad Larry took them to see the Leviathan or for a ride a Metra train or just to stand beside the tracks in the age-old tradition of waving to the engineer (and hoping he or she waves back).
With regard to my comment about "green", green developments don't have to be only about engine productivity or bigger and better cars that weigh less and haul more. Creosote ties may be manufactured in a closed pressure vessel so that particulates don't escape, but as soon as that door is opened and ties are loaded out for distribution, the particles arise. Any railroaders who've worked outdoors know what sticks to the bottom of your shoe when you walk the ties on a hot day. The smell that emanates from "black" ties isn't artificial flavoring developed by some candy company, it is creosote particles that reach you nose. Everyone who has stood beside the tracks knows that smell, whether they got it on their shoes and tracked it home or were just downwind from a pile of burning ties before regulations forced that method of disposal to end. I hail the comments about tie incineration in safe and effective ways, but those who handle creosote ties in their manufacture, distribution or insertion or removal from tracks still face a danger that may someday be entirely banned because of its carcinogenic toxicity.
Sure, concrete ties are relatively non-toxic (except for the clouds of cement dust that can cause severe lung and eye damage–just read the warning on a bag of concrete mix from Home Depot), but they can weigh twice what a wood tie does, so you pay more to move and handle them. Some applications of concrete ties through the years have shown that concrete can crack and turn to dust under the continual pounding of heavy trains or under adverse weather conditions. So, for over a hundred years, the basic, unchanged wood tie has been the industry standard, despite its inherent, toxic qualities.
Should we revert to the good, old, black days of steam? No. But we should remember that those were days of high railroad employment at good paying jobs. It meant that engines built in New York and Ohio burned coal mined throughout the eastern half of the US, ran on wheels made by American workers in Pittsburgh or Gary over rails rolled at mills like the Edgar Thompson Indiana facility. Now, the much-praised push for productivity and the modernization of our industry has resulted in electronic controls from Korea, car parts from around the world and passenger train technologies from Europe–all at the cost of American jobs and creativity.
But, loss of American jobs for the benefit of the bottom line is for another discussion. I hope that those who may come to Monticello to see history portrayed will not feel it inappropriate to encourage both greater railroad productivity and an appreciation for what has happened before. There is room for both--the same way the emergence of the X-box has not meant people don't still have a love for Canasta, Bridge or even old board games like Monopoly.
An excellent set of comments, Tedeboy. I won't disagree with anything you say, particularly about the value to railroads of the stgeam excursions many still run. UP operates the Big Boy on a Denver-Cheyenne run to Frontier Days every summer and it always is sold out within minutes of tickets going on sale, and it's not inexpensive, either.
I may be less pessimistic or more optimistic than you, though when it comes to understanding public attitudes. Yes, tank car BLEVEs do make the evening news, but happily they happen very infrequently. And when a motorist is hung up at a grade crossing because a stopped train is blocking the crossing, let's remember that is one crossing at one point in time out of a couple of hundred thousand crossings throughout the nation - a big story locally, but not even a story 50 miles away.
My concept of green is based on the totality. If all freight moved by truck, there wouldn't be railroads, and then there would be no creosted ties. So, I look at the totality in which railroads consume fuel far more efficiently than trucks, they contribute far less to urban congestion than do trucks and that reduces carbon emissions by the thousands of automobiles stuck in congestion, etc. On balance, I don't think you and I are very far apart in our understanding. You're very right that some railroad managements appreciate the public relations value of appearing to be good corporate citizens and operating steam excursions is a part of that. I might wish all railroads had the same vision.