Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Wolverine Passes Ann Arbor

Tonight I was wandering around Ann Arbor for a bit and I looked at the Amtrak Tracker and saw that the Wolverine would be passing by about the time I could get to it.
 So I parked at Bandemer Park and waited all of 2 minutes or so.  The light was just about right for the shot.
 It looked pretty smoky though but not as smoky as the steam engine.
 I could feel the ground rumbling a little bit.
 And just about as quickly, it passed.
 I really love the long view.
And a shot of the trailing engine.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sturgeon Falls, MI - My Fictional Town - Another Update

I added a couple more buildings to my layout.  I also bought an engine a couple of cars while I was at the train show this weekend.  I figured this would be as good of time as any to do an update.
 I really liked the way the light was hitting my railroad this morning.  I was planning on taking pictures at some point anyway, but this seemed a good time to do so.  I finally built the town's grain elevator.  Much like many Midwestern towns, it is the largest structure in the town.  I think I'm going to add a freight house for the other side of the track.  I might also add some sort of silo to this one but I'm not sure what kind I want to add just yet.
 Sturgeon Falls built its first grain elevator in 1907 to support the growing farmland in the surrounding area.  Like many of the grain elevators at the time it was constructed out of wood.  Sadly, like many of the other grain elevators at the time, there was an explosion and that structure burnt to the ground in 1933.  The current elevator was built two years after that and was constructed of metal.    The years have not been too kind to it though but at least the sign gets a fresh coat of paint every couple of years.
 The block is flipped around so that I could do a picture of it.  This section needs a little more work but it will do for now.  The northern block of the town was constructed in the early 1900's.  The tan building on the left was originally a Woolworth's Department store and fell into disuse after the collapse of that chain.  In early 2003, a group of local antique dealers decided to turn it into an antique mall of some sort.  It still has the feel of a flea market trying to work it's way into being a proper antique shop.  The middle building was constructed after the department store.  It has served many functions within the town.  Currently, it serves as Tony's Italian Restaurant.  the building on the right was the last one constructed on this block.  For the first 20 years of its existence, it served as a Pharmacy, but that was closed after an unfortunate accident by its owner.  After that, it was bought by Sal and converted to a bakery.  It has the distinction of baking the bread for Tony's Almost Famous Steak Sandwiches.  It also makes some of the best donuts in the state.  Currently, it is run by Sal's great grandson but keeps the name for continuity.
 Just a shot of the rail yard.  The presence of the grain elevator insures that the trains will be busy here for a while.
 A front shot of the newest addition to my rail fleet.  It is an engine from BNSF and is wearing the regalia of the Santa Fe Railroad which is one of the components of BNSF.  The other is the Burlington-Northern which itself was a group of railroads.
 I really like this paint scheme.
 Another addition is a boxcar from the Great Northern Railway.  It was founded 1857 as the Minnesota and Pacific Railroad.  They were going to build a line from one corner of Minnesota to the other.  They never quite made it.  In 1878, it was taken over by James Hill.  It is the only railroad to have not been built with the assistance of the US Government (either through land grants or direct subsidies).  It also had the distinction of the being the northernmost railroad of the United States.  Eventually it would stretch from Minnesota to Seattle, Washington with a spur going into Portland, Oregon.  In 1927, it would merge with the Northern Pacific and in 1970, it would merge with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy to form the Burlington-Northern Railroad.  That in turn merged with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in 1996 to form BNSF.
 The Detroit and Mackinac was founded in 1894 as the Detroit, Bay City and Alpena Railroad.  It operated from Bay City to Alpena, MI.  Eventually, it expanded to cover territory from Detroit to Mackinaw City.  It was one of the first railroads to convert over to diesel engines.  It had a passenger service that lasted from the 1930's to 1955.  This was probably a precursor to other railroads eliminating passenger service.  In 1992, it was sold to the Lake State Railway.
 My Amtrak engine.
Not sure if I posted a picture of my theater in the last update or not.  But here it is.  The theater itself was converted from another building in 1924.  It still has the original organ and you can hear it being played before each movie.  Sadly, like many one screen theaters in the country, it struggles to keep up with the demands of Hollywood.  So much so, that the owners are thinking of just showing old movies and independent films, especially since they are looking at upgrading their projector to show newer movies.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A While at the Botanical Gardens

I decided to head over to Matthei Botanical Gardens today.  Their agave plant is blooming now.  Besides, it felt like a good laid back thing to do after yesterday.  Again, I make no claims of knowledge about the flowers.
 These flowers kind of remind me of fireworks.
 I think this one is some kind of orchid.
 I kind of wish I could capture the shade of blue on this one.  This one looks appropriate for Michigan, I think.
 These flowers were attached to a pitcher plant of some sort.
 This is the agave plant.  I think the blooms are at the edges here.  This plant blossoms after 100 years.
 The wollemi pine comes from Australia and is believed to be related to a plant that is over 200 million years old.  This gives it the classification of living fossil.
 A bonsai tree.
 Another bonsai tree.  This one almost looks like it could be put into a model train display.
 One of many cacti there.
 I really like the looks of this one.  Looks like it could attack you.
 This one is pretty cool too.
 Some sort of palm tree.
 I believe these were called Egyptian star flowers.  I kind of liked the way the water was beaded on these.
 The mosaic plant.
 This was also called star of something.
 This one reminds me of a Chinese dragon.
 I kind of liked this one too.
One of the koi in the koi pond.

A Couple Pictures of Rainy Cleveland

I was hoping to get more than a couple pictures of Cleveland yesterday but it was rainy so a couple is all I've got.
 If there is one thing I like about living in the Midwest it's that many of the buildings in the larger cities have character.  Cleveland is no exception.  Admittedly, this probably isn't the best skyline view but it will do and I thought it was pretty cool.
Looking down towards the Cuyahoga County Courthouse.  I really should go down to Cleveland and just spend a day taking pictures of the buildings.

The National Train Show - 2014 in Cleveland

I knew something about the National Train Show in Cleveland but I wasn't sure if I wanted to go.  As I was heading towards the park, I saw a sign for it and pointed it out to my friend.  The weather was looking pretty ominous and it was looking like we were going to miss the train.  We decided that if we missed the train and if it was still raining, we'd go to the Train Show instead. 
 Well, we ended up at the train show and I'll have to admit it was pretty cool.  This picture is just to give an idea of the scale of it.  I believe they had every model train producer here (except for Lionel) and quite a few other periphery businesses.  If you are into model trains at all, I would recommend attending one of these.
I think they had every type of model train imaginable.  And it was kind of cool watching the kids wide eyed looking at them.
 This was part of the Kato display.  They are the makers of the better engines I have.  This is a turntablele they were demonstrating. 
 But the really cool thing was all the train displays.  I was amazed at all the detail that people put into them.
 I'd swear that some of these displays look real.
 Just loved all the different engines.  A great number of them fall into the category of "fallen flags".  These are railroads that are no longer around.  Santa Fe is not one of those though but they currently exist as part of BNSF.
 A collection of z-scale engines.  When I was looking to get my train stuff, I was thinking of getting z-scale but many pictures of them don't do them justice.  I was amazed at the level of detail on them.
 One of the cool things was how some people made their buildings light up.  I would be tempted to try this.
 One of the more popular "fallen flags" is the Pennsylvania Railroad, I think.  I saw quite a few trains wearing this regalia. 
 This plane was pretty cool.  Someone put little motors in the propellors so that they would spin.
 This is definitely not a fallen flag.
 I think this may be a quarter scale engine but I am not sure.  As I said, they had models of all sizes and scales.
 I thought this was kind of cool.  Someone made a z-scale tobacco farm inside a humidor.
 Conrail emerged out of the ashes of the disastorous merger between the Pennsylvania and New York Central.  The Penn-Central looked like it was about to go bankrupt and rather than having pretty much the entire Northeast without rail service, the government set up a holding company (apparently the Erie-Lackawanna was part of this too) so that they could wind down the companies and let the other rail companies absorb the train and locomotives.
Again, I was amazed all the detail.  I realize that many of these are kits but a kit can only take you so far.
A Great Northern steam engine pulling a load.
I was more interested in the Operation Lifesaver aspect of this train than anything.  Operation Livesaver is a group that was put together to highlight rail safety.  In particular, rail safety by the general public.   Since they were formed, accidents have gone down considerably but there still is a long ways to go.  So remember, trains are not to be trifled with.
I kind of liked the way this Santa Fe engine looked in the stream.
The Bessemer and Lake Erie was a Class II railroad that operated between the port of Conneaut, OH and Pittsburgh, PA.  It began in 1897 and it's cargo was mostly iron ore and coal that was delivered to the port.  In 2001, it became part of Great Lakes Transportation (which is the company that owns the Blough) and later in 2004 it was acquired by CN.
The Lego trains were pretty cool.
Another view of the Lego set up.
I'm not sure what kind of train this was but I liked the way it looked going through the autumn scene.
And I leave you with a picture of a smoking steam engine.  I was amazed at how some of the trains had built in sounds.  The steam look was pretty cool.  These are features that are on larger trains though.
I'm glad I went to this.  I even got a couple new things for my layout and I'll post those at some point.