American-Rails.com Blog

Here is your one-stop shop for learning about all of the newest additions or changes happening at American-Rails.com. Listed below is every page that is either new or which was updated within the last few days. Simply click on the link "Continue Reading..." under each heading to visit the page in question. With new articles added on a regular basis be sure and either check back here often or subscribe to the website's RSS feed to keep up with the latest.

Apr 16, 2021

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad: Roster, Route, Overview

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, or WMSR, operates a short stretch of line once owned by the railroad its named after. Today, it draws many visitors.

Continue reading "Western Maryland Scenic Railroad: Roster, Route, Overview"

Apr 15, 2021

Westinghouse Air Brake: History, Definition, Purpose

The Westinghouse Automatic Air Brake was one of the most important early advancements in railroad safety and operation, developed in the 1860s by George Westinghouse.

Continue reading "Westinghouse Air Brake: History, Definition, Purpose"

Apr 15, 2021

Wayside Railroad Signs: Types, Purpose, Definition

Wayside signs have been in use since the early 1830s to let train crews know track speeds, yard approaches, and other important messages. Today, while different they remain important.

Continue reading "Wayside Railroad Signs: Types, Purpose, Definition"

Apr 15, 2021

Watco Companies Jobs: Career, Salary, Overview

The Watco Companies is a short line conglomerate that has been in operation since 1983. To learn more about jobs and careers please click here.

Continue reading "Watco Companies Jobs: Career, Salary, Overview"

Apr 15, 2021

Trona Railway: Roster, Route, History

The Trona Railway is a historic shortline dating back to 1913 to move potash and borax around Searles Lake, California. It is still in service today.

Continue reading "Trona Railway: Roster, Route, History"

Apr 15, 2021

Railroad Turntable: Photos, Definition, Invention

The turntable was once an important device found in most terminals to quickly and efficiently turn locomotives. The advent of diesel technology mostly eliminated the structure's need.

Continue reading "Railroad Turntable: Photos, Definition, Invention"

Apr 15, 2021

Railroad Tell-Tales: Definition, Purpose, Photos

Tell-tales were once a very important device for the safety of brakeman traveling the tops of freight cars. Modern airbrakes ended this practice and the need for the structure.

Continue reading "Railroad Tell-Tales: Definition, Purpose, Photos"

Apr 15, 2021

Railroad Tamper Machine: Information & Photos

Railroad tampers are maintenance machines that perform essentially two tasks, leveling the stone (ballast) and working it beneath the ties for a sound support system.

Continue reading "Railroad Tamper Machine: Information & Photos"

Apr 15, 2021

Whitewater Valley Railroad: Roster, Events, History

The Whitewater Valley Railroad is a tourist line located in southern Indiana operating a short stretch of former New York Central trackage since 1984.

Continue reading "Whitewater Valley Railroad: Roster, Events, History"

Apr 15, 2021

Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway: Map, History, Photos

The Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway was an interurban road for years, growing to become one of Iowa's largest.

Continue reading "Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway: Map, History, Photos"

Apr 14, 2021

Wellsville, Addison & Galeton Railroad: Map, History, Photos

The Wellsville, Addison & Galeton was a classic shortline operation that dates to the 1950s, operating former B&O trackage in Pennsylvania and New York.

Continue reading "Wellsville, Addison & Galeton Railroad: Map, History, Photos"

Apr 14, 2021

Virginia & Truckee Railroad: Locomotives, History, Roster

The recently rebuilt Virginia & Truckee Railroad is a historic company that once helped with Nevada's Comstock Lode and today visitors can ride the line.

Continue reading "Virginia & Truckee Railroad: Locomotives, History, Roster"

Apr 14, 2021

Virginia Museum Of Transportation (Roanoke): Roster & Overview

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is located in Roanoke. While it highlights all forms of transportation history its primary focus is highlighting railroads.

Continue reading "Virginia Museum Of Transportation (Roanoke): Roster & Overview"

Apr 14, 2021

Verde Canyon Railroad: Route, Overview, Roster

The Verde Canyon Railroad offers guests a trip through Arizona's spectacular Verde Canyon. They offer first class accommodations and several special events throughout the year.

Continue reading "Verde Canyon Railroad: Route, Overview, Roster"

Apr 14, 2021

Virginia Blue Ridge Railway: Route, Roster, History

The Virginia Blue Ridge Railway began as a small, timber line during the early 20th century and later transitioned to haul various freight. It shutdown in 1980.

Continue reading "Virginia Blue Ridge Railway: Route, Roster, History"

Apr 14, 2021

Terminal Railroad Association Of St. Louis: Roster, Map, History

The Terminal Railroad Association Of St. Louis, or TRRA, is a switching line that has been in operation since 1889 and today still functions in the same capacity.

Continue reading "Terminal Railroad Association Of St. Louis: Roster, Map, History"

Apr 14, 2021

Railroad Ties: Dimensions, History, Definition

Railroad ties, also known as cross ties or sleepers, are the track's primary support system. Today wood, concrete, or composites are the most common materials used.

Continue reading "Railroad Ties: Dimensions, History, Definition"

Apr 14, 2021

Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway: Roster, Map, History

The Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo was a mid-sized system serving southern Ontario that dated to 1892. It became part of the CP in 1987.

Continue reading "Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway: Roster, Map, History"

Apr 14, 2021

Amtrak's "Southwest Chief" (Train): Route, Consist, Overview

The Southwest Chief is currently the longest single train operated from Chicago to Los Angeles with a history that dates to Santa Fe's Super Chief.

Continue reading "Amtrak's "Southwest Chief" (Train): Route, Consist, Overview"

Apr 14, 2021

Sugar Cane Train (Lahaina, Hawaii): Status & Overview

The Sugar Cane Train also known as the Lahaina, Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad was Hawaii's most popular tourist train that runs on a former sugar plantation.

Continue reading "Sugar Cane Train (Lahaina, Hawaii): Status & Overview"

Apr 13, 2021

Strasburg Railroad: Roster, History, Photos, Locomotives

The Strasburg Rail Road, located in Pennsylvania Dutch Country is the second-most popular tourist line in the country and the oldest still in operation. Its equipment truly harkens back to a bygone era and today it offers first class accommodations.

Continue reading "Strasburg Railroad: Roster, History, Photos, Locomotives"

Apr 13, 2021

Stewartstown Railroad: Roster, Restoration, Status

A brief history and current disposition of the Stewartstown Railroad, a short line located in Pennsylvania which has been in existence since 1884.

Continue reading "Stewartstown Railroad: Roster, Restoration, Status"

Apr 13, 2021

Amtrak's "Coast Starlight" (Train): Route, Schedule, Overview

The Coast Starlight operates nearly the length of the west coast between Los Angeles and Seattle. The train is also one of the carrier's busiest with incredible scenery much of the way.

Continue reading "Amtrak's "Coast Starlight" (Train): Route, Schedule, Overview"

Apr 13, 2021

Arkansas & Missouri Railroad: Map, Roster, Excursions

The Arkansas & Missouri Railroad is a large Class III, shortline that began service in 1986. Along with a wide range of freight services the railroad also hosts tourist trains.

Continue reading "Arkansas & Missouri Railroad: Map, Roster, Excursions"

Apr 12, 2021

Lancaster & Chester Railway: Map, Roster, History, Logo

The Lancaster & Chester Railway, also known as "The Springmaid Line," is a historic South Carolina shortline dating to 1896 connecting its namesake cities.

Continue reading "Lancaster & Chester Railway: Map, Roster, History, Logo"

Apr 12, 2021

Sand Springs Railway (Tulsa, OK): Map, Roster, History

The Sand Springs Railway is a former interurban line based in Oklahoma that survived the industry's downfall during the 1920s and 1930s to become a successful freight hauler.

Continue reading "Sand Springs Railway (Tulsa, OK): Map, Roster, History"

Apr 12, 2021

Saint Paul Union Depot: History, Renovation, Photos

The Saint Paul Union Depot opened in 1923 built by Charles Frost for the Milwaukee Road. It has not seen rail service since 1971 although that is about to change.

Continue reading "Saint Paul Union Depot: History, Renovation, Photos"

Apr 12, 2021

Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad: Roster & Overview

Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad's Spooner Excursion runs between between Spooner and Springbrook, Wisconsin. The company has steadily grown their tourist line since beginning in 1996 and today also host freight services.

Continue reading "Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad: Roster & Overview"

Apr 12, 2021

Railroad Spikes: History, Purpose, Dimensions

An historical overview of the common railroad spike which fastens the rail to the tie via a tie-plate.

Continue reading "Railroad Spikes: History, Purpose, Dimensions"

Apr 12, 2021

Railroad Track: Dimensions, Width, Weight-Per-Foot/Yard

It all begins and ends with the railroad track. Its strength determines how much tonnage a single train can move. Learn about the history of this most important piece of equipment.

Continue reading "Railroad Track: Dimensions, Width, Weight-Per-Foot/Yard"

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Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

SteamLocomotive.com

Wes Barris's SteamLocomotive.com is simply the best web resource in the study of steam locomotives. 

The amount of information found there is quite staggering; historical backgrounds of wheel arrangements, types used by virtually every railroad, preserved and operational examples, and even those used in other countries (North America and beyond). 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website.  It is a must visit!



Researching Rights-Of-Way

A popular pastime for many is studying and/or exploring abandoned rights-of-way. 

Today, there are tens of thousands of miles scattered throughout the country.  Many were pulled up in the 1970's and 1980's although others were removed long before that. 

If you are researching active or abandoned corridors you might want to check out the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Historical Topographic Map Explorer

It is an excellent resource with thousands of historic maps on file throughout the country.  Just type in a town or city and click on the timeline of maps at the bottom of the page!