This Space for Rent

Snapshots of the past

A long time ago, when I was very young, I was bitten by the traction (electric railways) bug after I saw a Northwest Short Line ad for one of their GE 750 (Russia's for fans of the Paulista, 800's for fans of the CSS&SB, Little Joe for fans of the Milwaukee Road, and Class D for fans of the Parsons Vale), showing one of the Milwaukee Road units sitting in a scrapyard. For some reason, the looks of the 750 struck me as just what a locomotive could look like, and I became a fan of electric freight almost immediately after seeing this ad.

Being a traction fan in the United States, particularly in the 1970s, was not a particularly good place to be, because every single railroad that operated electric locomotives was busily buying diseasels and ripping down catenary as fast as they could. I didn't even see any electric freight operations until I left high school, when my parents gave me an Amtrak USARailPass for two weeks of riding passenger trains from LaCrosse to the west coast, then LaCrosse to the east coast. But I did have a camera, so I took some pictures of what engines I could find (no pictures of E33s or E44s, because I only saw them passing at speed on my east coast trip, but I did manage to get pictures of the ex New Haven EP5s in the deadline at Enola); when I moved into my house in Portland, I unearthed a lot of old pictures, and have been (slowly) scanning them into the computer for safekeeping.

On the big Amtrak trek, I managed to get pictures of a Portland Terminal switcher:

And the New Haven EP-5's sitting on the deadline:

Later on, when I was in college, I'd occasionally take a trip down to Chicago so I could ride the CSS&SB. They still used their 800s, so I managed to see them on almost every trip, but I only managed to get good photos of them on one trip (at the old Lake Shore depot in Gary):

After seeing one of the 800s in operation, it was hard for me to get much enthusiasm for any diesel. But, fortunately for posterity™, I still took pictures of some of the diesels I encountered, like the Fairbanks-Morse switchers the Milwaukee Road still operated in the Madison area: