Prince Rupert, 1958. It soon became obvious to me that I was going to be limited in learning more about locomotives. Routine power into Prince Rupert was GP-7's and 9's, cab units, and the hybrid SW1200RS's. Moreover, there was obviously a power pool of assigned units. The same engines were coming and going between Prince Rupert and Division up at Smithers.
One way I came up with to learn about different locomotive types was through my mailing campaign, gathering information from the various locomotive builders. And I also had access to both "Trains" and "Railroad" magazines.
I met several "pen pals" through these publications. We traded photos and negatives with each other. One scheme we tried was "the Revolving Picture Collection." The concept was simple and it sounded like a great way to build up one's photo collection, right? The "Revolving Picture Collection," mostly 5" x 3¼," was initiated by each of us sending twenty photographs to the fellow at the top of our alphabetized list of members.
He assembled the packet in a box containing some 100 photographs and mailed it to the next guy on the list. The rule was, you had three days to pull photographs out of the packet, replacing with a like number, and move the package to the next guy on the list.
Photos submitted were known as "traders." "Traders" is a term for "good" but not the "best" from your collection. But we soon discovered, one man's "Trader" was another man's junk. You just know where this is going … The final agonizing days of the "Revolving Picture Collection" were not pretty. And I am not so sure that to this day, lives are not still in danger!
This photo I traded with a fellow down in Portland, Tim Kaufman. We later created another scheme, the National Association of Train Orders Collectors. In NATOC, we put together a packet of Train Orders. Like the "Revolving Picture Collection" you took train orders out of the collection, and replaced them - you remember the routine.
As I recall, this program lasted about the same length of time, one rotation through the group! To this day, I have a box full of train orders, mostly from the 50's and 60's, remnants of that ill fated plan.
I always favored this photo. To some it is merely an SW 9 switch engine. It means much more to me. There is something "beefy" about this shot. Perhaps it's because the crew fussing around her look smaller than they really are, simply because she is elevated above them. What ever it is, I've been hauling this photo around for more than 50 years!
I had a book written about the DM&IR, which was owned by US Steel. In one chapter, there was a narrative of a cab ride in a quartet of F9's, in full dynamics, trying not to be shoved into Lake Superior!
In 1974, we drove from Portland to Duluth for a family reunion. We got to watch an ore carrier transit the Duluth Port Canal, and then on to see the railroad. We got directions to a "hot spot" to take photos of a DM&IR train passing by. We waited and waited. And waited.
Now a sensible rail fan knows when the wife has "endured" enough. No sooner had we given up and left our photo opportunity when I heard a cacophony of air horns behind us. But I knew better, and grimly pressed on to the family reunion!
The back of this photo has the name "Dennis Schmidt, Elkhart, Ind. DM&IR 19, Duluth, Minn. 7/4/58."
Railroad Stuff: DM&IR had 15 of these SW-9 units, numbered 11 through 25. General Motors at LaGrange Illinois built number 19 in 1953. Serial Number: 17878. She had a GM12V-567B prime mover, 1,200 hp. Sold to Union Railroad (Pittsburgh) in 1963, becoming their number 572.