“Dear Mr. President:

 The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as ‘railroads’ …

 As you may well know, Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children.

 The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.”

 — Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, 1830.


Steve Collins

train pictures


“I recently rode the Royal Gorge train. This is an excursion train that goes out of Cañon City, CO following the Arkansas River to the beginning of the Royal Gorge and back again (about a 2-hour round trip). As a child I was entranced by the romance of the vista dome cars from the 1950s. When I was 12, (pre-Amtrak) I took a train ride from Omaha to Santa Fe that took me through Trinidad, CO and over Raton Pass. The excitement of that train ride included a view of the Rockies from the Vista Dome car. I still love trains and look forward to riding some trains I haven’t yet ridden, like the Halifax to Vancouver Canadian Pacific.”

Steve and his lovely wife Billie are The Santa Fe Travelers. Check them out.

Brian Schmidt

train pictures


“This is a train car in Seward Alaska. The rail was an important part of the gold rush in the Last Frontier as it helped get the gold out of the mountains and onto the shipping fleets. Back in the day they used dog sleds which is how the Iditarod became famous. They mushed from Seward to Nome some 936 miles and that was the only communication in those times. Once the government decided to build the rail this helped move people and the gold north and south in AK. The rail is still used to this day and many visitors take the scenic ride through the winding mountain terrain.”

January Sadler

train pictures


“As a child, I always loved trains. Not in the ‘I must have toy trains’ kind of way, but in the love and awe over this large machine that went so fast. I see that same love in my son’s eyes today. On our little travels across the state of New Mexico, we always managed to see at least one train. Sometimes, multiple trains and the wonderment or excitement never faded. Every time, someone would announce the sighting of a train and we’d look out our car windows with ridiculously huge smiles on our faces. Seeing the trains always made every drive way more fun!!”

Sharing the planet one blink at a time, January Sadler is the owner/photographer of JDawnPhotos.

Jess Van Winkel

train pictures


Conductor – Campo Railroad Station

“My wife, Linda, and I enjoy taking back road tours in San Diego County; years ago I found this little gem after my parents told me about it and have watched the museum grow into an interesting display. My father was a major railroad fan, and had a large HO railway in his house that was about 15 x 20 feet in size that was his passion for over 50 years. A lot of his love for RR’s rubbed off on me. This photo of a conductor in period dress was taken in 2006 at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, located in Campo California. The train museum is a little off the beaten path but well worth a visit; it is about a 90 minute drive from San Diego. On the grounds you will find numerous pieces of railroad equipment in various stages of repair from passenger cars to locomotives and everything in between.

The Railway Museum is open to the public every weekend and for a small fee visitors can stroll through the collections railroad equipment, view steam locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars and cabooses. If you would like to ride a train, the Golden State weekend excursion runs on selected days. Call ahead for a train schedule. (619) 478-9937. Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Campo Facility is on State Highway 94 & Forrest Gate Road in Campo, California. Camera: Nikon D200. Lens: Sigma DC 18-50mm 1:2.8 EX Macro”

Find Jess and see more of his work here.

John Mata

train pictures

“Early September, 2012, visiting family at Copper Mountain, Colorado, my sister Victoria and her hubby Eric took us on a days jaunt down 91 South to Leadville. Then from Leadville we headed back North on the 24 to Interstate 70, back to Copper Mountain. Beautiful scenery the entire way, with the aspens changing and the weather reminding us that winter is just around the corner. In preparing for this blog post I shot quite a few trains in Colorado and a couple in California. This shot was totally unplanned, totally reactive, it just happened. But, with such beautiful subject matter, it’s hard to screw it up. This shot I took from a car window as we drove through Fremont Pass.”

John introduced us to the photo editing program GIMP and guest-posted this awesome photo several months ago. Hear and see more from John at JohnMata.com

Debra Schmidt

train pictures


“This is an HDR image of the Amtrak 170 stopping in Deland Florida. I had been there a couple of times and knew what I wanted but just wasnt getting what I had in my mind, the train goes by so fast and is really scary if you are to close to the tracks, so I came back the next morning when the train was picking up passangers and the train station attendant took me down to where the front of the train would be stopping and I was able to get the shots I wanted to create this HDR image.”

Find Debra’s fabulous work at Schmidt Photography.

Clarita Mata

train pictures


Clarita could have done so much better. But she ended up marrying John Mata anyway.  Luckily, they created a fabulously beautiful little boy pictured here next to the The ATSF #2912, at the Pueblo, Colorado Railway Museum. The 2912 is one of the loveliest one-million pound pieces of machinery to be found anywhere, in my humble opinion and I blogged about it here a few weeks ago.

Jim O’Donnell

train pictures


At one time, the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) ran the highest mainline rail in the USA. Their motto of “Through the Rockies, Not Around Them” spoke to the company’s audacious attitude when it came to the giant mountains of the west. By 1890 the 10,240 feet (3,120 meters) Tennessee Pass line in Colorado took the record for elevation and the company took the record for the largest narrow gauge network in the western hemisphere.

Incorporated on October 27, 1870 by General William Jackson Palmer, the D&RG also pushed west on the San Juan Extension from Walsenburg, Colorado and over La Veta Pass to Alamosa and eventually to little Antonito, Colorado.

At the end of a five-day solo backpacking trip along the Cumbres-Toltec Line, I arrived in Antonito famished and worn. This rotting D&RGW boxcar sat decaying off on a siding, seemingly trapped in an avalanche several feet high of woody tumbleweeds.


“The time will come when people will travel in stages moved by steam engines from one city to another, almost as fast as birds can fly, 15 or 20 miles an hour…. A carriage will start from Washington in the morning, the passengers will breakfast at Baltimore, dine at Philadelphia, and sup in New York the same day…. Engines will drive boats 10 or 12 miles an hour, and there will be hundreds of steamers running on the Mississippi, as predicted years ago.”

— Oliver Evans, 1800 (inventor of the first non-condensing high pressure stationary steam-engine)




    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 8, 2012 at 7:41 am

      I could not agree more Henry!

  1. Comment by Michael

    Michael Reply October 8, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Haha, great quotes Jim, it’s funny to read their expectations and see how far we have actually come. Great Post Idea and Photos, I don’t really have any cool photos of trains yet but I would like to open that door sometime soon.

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 8, 2012 at 7:32 am

      Thanks Michael! Its funny…I’ve also seen quotes where people predicted that the train would be just a passing fad and would never impact humanity. WOW! I’m building up a library of train shots. They are just so wonderfully fun!

  2. Comment by Jim O'Donnell

    Jim O'Donnell Reply October 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you John Mata , Brian Schmidt, Debra Hansen Schmidt, January Sadler, Steve Collins, Jess Van Wickel and Clarita Mata!

    • Comment by Rudy Rios

      Rudy Rios Reply October 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      you should run down to Vaughn, NM. There is a great spot just west of town to take train pix.

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      You know…I forgot about that. Good idea.

  3. Comment by Jenna

    Jenna Reply October 8, 2012 at 7:40 am

    I am a huge fan of train travel and am glad to see an homage to American train journeys since they are not so common these days.

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 8, 2012 at 7:46 am

      I think there will have to be a time – in the not so distant future – when America will have to rely on train travel again. Not only is it fun but it is efficient and sensical. That we havent yet is a shame but energy limitations, logic and environmental considerations will make it happen.

  4. Comment by Melissa Serfling

    Melissa Serfling Reply October 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Jim, thanks fir wonderful train photos. I grew up on trains. For a time I lived in Fredonia Arizona. My mother never trusted the government Every time there was a nuclear bomb testing in Utah or Nevada we took the train to Chicago from Flagstaff to visit Midwest relatives. Everyone else in the Fredonia/Kanab area took picnics to hilltops to watch "the future". (They started dying of various cancers just a few years later…) Melissa.

    • Comment by Peter Mendoza

      Peter Mendoza Reply October 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Hi Melissa! I love trains myself. For the most part I read between Richmond and Sacramento on the capital corridor. For a time I was traveling down to Bakersfield. I actually tried on two different occasions traveling to Los Angeles via the train. However, I prefer flying on Southwest. LOL. I hope you and the rest of your family are doing well. Miss you all!

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      WOw! What a wonderful story..I mean creepy in a way too but very cool memory and history. Thanks for sharing that Red Cat!

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Peter Mendoza – Trains above flying for me any day!

  5. Comment by Steve Collins

    Steve Collins Reply October 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Great project! Fun to see what tickles the imagination of other folks. Jim, what a fun excursion into our imagination vi trains of the past. Thanks, Jim!

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      I agree Steve! Thanks for joining in again!

  6. Comment by John Mata

    John Mata Reply October 8, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Great post, Jim-O'! What do you think Clarites?

    • Comment by Lala Mata

      Lala Mata Reply October 8, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      I agree with you John ! Keep it up Jim O'…:-)

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Thanks for your help guys!

  7. Comment by Jess Van Wickel

    Jess Van Wickel Reply October 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Great blog everyone! Love them trains! Thanks for putting it together Jim.
    On a minor note….. it's Van Wickel! "c", not "n", but everyone misspells my last name sooner or later!

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      OH no!! I will fix that.

  8. Comment by Brian Schmidt

    Brian Schmidt Reply October 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Nice looking trains, John your shot is beautiful! What a great capture and good fortune to find that timing… Nice job by all and looking forward to the next adventure of Around The World in Eighty Years!
    It might be time for cemeteries as Halloween nears….what about it Jim O…?

  9. Comment by John Mata

    John Mata Reply October 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Victoria, remember this?

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm

      I cant believe you just shot that from the car window. Its excellent. You good. I can just picture you crawling all over everyone, crushing children, spilling drinks, breaking noses, etc. just to get the shot.

    • Comment by John Mata

      John Mata Reply October 13, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      Yeap. Had to lean into Victoria just a bit.

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      As in smashed her up against the window and knocked the wind out of her? Well, it was worth it.

    • Comment by John Mata

      John Mata Reply October 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      The hidden costs of photography.

  10. Comment by Sebastian

    Sebastian Reply October 10, 2012 at 2:52 am

    I love the quotes so much. Especially the first one 🙂

  11. Comment by Charli | Wanderlusters

    Charli | Wanderlusters Reply June 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    My Grandpa worked on steam trains throughout his life and have many happy childhood memories riding in the train cab with him, Awesome collection of photographs Jim!

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply June 13, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Really? That is so awesome. My kids LOVE trains. Especially my little boy. I love them too.

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