Posts Tagged ‘Trains magazine’

Swanson Named Editor of Trains Magazine

May 13, 2022

Carl A. Swanson has been named as editor-in-chief of Trains magazine by the publication’s owner Kalmbach Media.

He succeeds Jim Wrinn, who died on March 30 after serving more than 17 years in the position. Swanson has worked for Kalmbach since 1997.

At Kalmbach, Swanson was associate editor of Classic Toy Trains before becoming an associate editor of Trains in 1999. He became senior editor of Model Railroader in 2002.

Before coming to Kalmbach Swanson served as editor of Passenger Train Journal when it was published by Pentrex. He also worked as reporter for the Daily News of Norfolk, Nebraska.

Swanson is the author of Faces of Railroading, published by Kalmbach Books in 2004. He also edited the second edition of Kalmbach’s Command Control for Toy Trains.

The Nebraska native is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Woodland School of Photography.

Trains Names Keefe Interim Editor

April 7, 2022

Trains magazine has appointed Kevin P. Keefe as its interim editor.

Keefe, a Michigan native, served as editor-in-chief of the magazine between 1992 and 2000 and for a short time in 2004 before the appointment of the late Jim Wrinn as editor.

After leaving the editor’s chair, Keefe worked as an executive at Kalmbach Media until retiring as vice president-editorial in 2016, one of many positions he held with the company.

Wrinn, who was the second longest serving editor of Trains, died of pancreatic cancer on March 30.

In making the announcement, Kalmbach said Keefe will serve as interim editor until a permanent editor is appointed.

Keefe grew up in Niles, Michigan, and now lives in Milwaukee. Before coming to Trains, he worked as a newspaper reporter including at the Milwaukee Sentinel between 1980 and 1987.

Trains Editor Jim Wrinn Dies at 61

March 31, 2022

Jim Wrinn presents a program on steam locomotives at the 75th Anniversary celebration of the Akron Railroad Club on April 23, 2011. Richard Jacobs photo

Jim Wrinn, who served as editor of Trains magazine for 17 years, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 61.

Wrinn, a North Carolina native, had battled the cancer for 14 months and chronicled his fight in regular posts on his Facebook page.

He sought to maintain an upbeat but realistic outlook, vowing to beat cancer while acknowledging that many who had fought the disease with him had not survived.

Those posts described the ordeal of chemotherapy sessions – which he likened to taking rat poison – and exhorted his many hundreds of followers to cherish every day while going about the business of daily living.

In terms of longevity, Wrinn was the second longest-serving editor of Trains, eclipsed only by the late David P. Morgan, who helmed the magazine for 33 years and died of cancer at age 62.

Morgan and Wrinn shared a heritage of having grown up in the South and having a passion for steam locomotives.

Wrinn’s first photograph to be published Trains appeared in the October 1982 issue and featured Graham County Railroad Shay No. 1925.

His first bylined story in Trains appeared in the December 1989 issue, a news story about the effects of Hurricane Hugo on Southeastern railroads.

Tributes to Wrinn posted on the websites of Trains and Railfan & Railroad noted that Wrinn came from a railroading family.

His great-grandfather was a laborer on the Southern and an uncle was a Railway Post Office clerk.

Born March 21, 1961, Wrinn grew up in Franklin, North Carolina, and during his childhood would watch Southern Railway trains while visiting his grandparents in Westminister, South Carolina, on the Washington-Atlanta mainline.

“We would visit my grandmother in Westminster on Sundays,” Wrinn told Railfan & Railroad in 1989. “We’d often take the whole family down to the depot. It was kind of a Southern tradition of welcoming the train as it went through.” 

After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1983, where he majored in journalism and political science, Wrinn worked as a reporter for newspapers in Gastonia and Fayetteville, North Carolina, before landing a job at the Charlotte Observer.

He left the Observer to become editor-in-chief of Trains on Oct. 27, 2004.

Wrinn was involved in various railroad preservation efforts with the Southern Railway Historical Association, and the North Carolina Transportation Museum. 

He also wrote articles for railfan magazines and published a comprehensive chronicle of the Southern Railway, later Norfolk Southern, steam program.

That book, Steam’s Camelot, was issued by TLC Publishing in 2001. He also was the author or co-author of four other railroad history books.

Even after being diagnosed with cancer in 2020, Wrinn continued to oversee Trains and traveled the country to watch and photograph steam locomotives in action.

Railfan and Railroad editor Steve Barry wrote on his magazine’s website after Wrinn’s death that he never considered Wrinn to be a competitor but a friend.

“We go back about 30 years to when he invited me to his beloved Tar Heel State to help with night photo sessions at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer (and to join him in enjoying some fine barbecue and Cheerwine). I’ll miss his dedication to rail preservation and his passion for the hobby and his readers. But most of all, I’ll miss his friendship,” Barry wrote.

In a tribute posted on the Trains website, former Trains editor Kevin P. Keefe said Wrinn aspired during his youth to become editor of Trains, which he began reading at age 6.

Keefe said that during his tenure in the editor’s chair Wrinn sought to serve readers who had like himself grown up reading Trains while also expanding the magazine’s appeal to those more attracted to digital content.

This included the creation of podcasts and videos. Trains’ parent company, Kalmbach Publishing, also began sponsoring railfan-oriented events and publishing special issues devoted to topics of widespread interest.

“Wrinn also showed a flair for the big moment, capitalizing on important news developments and effectively using a variety of media platforms,” Keefe wrote.

Wrinn is survived by his wife, Cate Kratville-Wrinn. Services will be private. Memorial contributions can be made to the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation at P.O. Box 44, Spencer, N.C. 28159, or via the website at

NRHS, Trains Sponsoring Photo Contest

November 11, 2021

The National Railway Historical Society is partnering with Trains magazine to sponsor a railroad photograph contest. The theme of the contest is “still soldiering on.”

“We see this as relevant to nearly any type of railroading — steam, diesel, tourist operations, transit,” said Jeff Smith, editor of the NRHS Bulletin and head of the photo contest committee. “Still Soldiering On doesn’t have to be about old locomotives still in operation, it could be a line, station, or intercity passenger service that has been around for a hundred years.”

Contestants are invited to submit up to three low-resolution images (1200 pixels on longest edge).

Images should not be altered beyond minor color corrections, burning, dodging, and levels adjustments.

Entries should be sent as JPG files to by June 1, 2022. Photographers should include with their entries their full name and phone number. No mailed submissions will be accepted.

The top prize is a $1,000 cash award. Runner up entries will be awarded $500 for second place and $250 for third place. The next five runner up entries will receive a three-year subscription to Trains or an equivalent Trains product.

All winners also receive a one-year membership in NRHS. Winning photographs will be announced in the November 2022 issue of Trains.

Former Trains Editor J. David Ingles Dies

October 5, 2020

Former Trains magazine editor J. David Ingles died on Sunday at a nursing home in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where he had been recovering from back surgery. He was 79.

Ingles joined the Trains staff in 1971 as associate editor. He was named editor in 1987 upon the retirement of legendary editor David P. Morgan.

He stepped down as editor in 1992 and assumed the post of senior editor until retiring in 2005.

However, Ingles continued to serve as a senior editor at Classic Trains until 2018 when he became contributing editor.

Most recently Ingles was known for his remembrances of railfan outings illustrated with his photographs that he wrote for Classic Trains. Ingles was also an active rare mileage collector.

The son and grandson of railroaders, Ingles grew up in Homewood, Illinois, and Dearborn, Michigan.

After attending the University of Tennessee, and MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois, Ingles worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Springfield, Illinois, before joining the Trains staff.

Is Ohio Really the Heart of Midwest Railroading?

July 24, 2020

When I moved to Ohio in August 1993 the state had a slogan “the heart of it all.”

That always struck me as odd because it begs the question of “all of what?”

The current state marketing slogan is “find it here.” Find what here? Maybe it depends on what you’re seeking.

If it is freight trains and a rich railroad history you’re in luck, which probably is why Trains magazine in its August issue describes Ohio as the “heart of Midwestern railroading.”

That might trigger a retort from a Hoosier that many of the trains that pass through Ohio also pass through Indiana.

For that matter many of Ohio’s freight trains also pass through Pennsylvania. But the Keystone State is not a Midwest state so it doesn’t count.

Then there is Illinois, home of the largest railroad terminal in the Midwest. The Land of Lincoln also hosts trains going to and from St. Louis, another enormous Midwest railroad terminal.

So is Ohio actually is the “heart” of Midwestern railroading?

Well, the state is somewhat heart shaped. Yet if you use the meaning of “heart” as “the center or innermost part” of something then Ohio can’t be the “heart “ of Midwestern railroading because it is located on the eastern periphery of the Midwest.

A traditional definition of the Midwest includes the states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

This region also is sometimes referred to as the Heartland, and Trains editor Jim Wrinn used that term in the headline over his column introducing the August issue.

By pure geography, the “heart” of Midwestern railroading is Illinois or Iowa because of their central location in the block of states identified as the Midwest or the Heartland.

Yet I suspect the editors of Trains didn’t have central location in mind when deciding to describe Ohio as the heart of Midwestern railroading.

Another definition of heart is “the essential or most vital part of something.”

Does that make Ohio the heart of Midwest railroading? Not necessarily.

The bulk of the rail freight traffic in Ohio didn’t originate here and isn’t bound for destinations in Ohio.

Some of that traffic may have been classified in a yard somewhere in Ohio.

Until recently, Bellevue was the home of the second largest classification yard in the United States and the largest on the Norfolk Southern system.

CSX a few years ago downgraded operations at its classification yard in Willard and its Stanley hump yard in Toledo.

All of these yards and others remain in operation and continue to play important roles even if those have been redefined in the wake of the adoption of the precision scheduled railroading operations model and its emphasis on reducing the handling of freight cars en route to their destinations.

It may be that what makes Ohio stand out from other Midwest states is the presence of numerous railfan friendly places where you can watch trains.

Notable among these are Marion, Fostoria, Deshler, Bellevue, Berea and Alliance. These locations draw fans from all over the Midwest and beyond.

I would add Olmsted Falls to the list, but beyond Cleveland it lacks the familiarity of its better known cousin a short drive east down Bagley Road.

The development of PSR has meant that the volume of train traffic in the state has diminished as railroads operate fewer and longer trains in an effort to reduce their expenses.

You can sit in some traditional Ohio hotspots and go an hour or more between trains.

And there is a fair amount of grousing on social media about how the trains of the Class 1 railroads all look alike.

Ohio will never be confused with places that feature dramatic geographic land forms that provide stunning backgrounds for railroad action photography.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter much whether Ohio is or is not the heart of Midwest railroading.

Trains was merely seeking to spotlight rail operations in a single state and it needed a theme to build around.

It may be that from the perspective of the major railroads, Ohio is just one more place on the way to somewhere else with a little bit of business to be had as well.

If you like to watch mainline Class 1 railroad action, though, it’s a pretty darn good place to be.

Trains Features Ohio Railroads in August Issue

June 25, 2020

“Oh, yeah, I’ve photographed there . . . and there . . . and there . . . and there!”

If you’ve spent any amount of time photographing Ohio railroad operations you’ll find yourself saying that to yourself as you leaf through the August 2020 issue of Trains magazine.

And if you like railfanning in Ohio you’ll love the issue when it arrives in your mailbox late this month or you buy it where magazine are sold once it goes on sale on July 14.

Trains devoted most of the content of the August issue to Ohio, which it deems the heart of Midwestern railroading.

The coverage starts with an historic overview of Ohio as a crossroads for major railroad lines that was written by H. Roger Grant.

There are features articles about Cincinnati Union Terminal, how former Conrail lines fared after they were split by Norfolk Southern and CSX, and a look at how the former Detroit, Toledo & Ironton has managed to survive after losing much of its traditional sources of freight traffic.

The images illustrating the articles and a gallery of Ohio photographs feature work by well-known Buckeye state photographers David Oroszi, David Patch, Michael Harding and Matt Arnold.

Other photographers whose names you might recognize also contributed images from various locations in the state, many of which will look familiar to you.

The issue was overseen by former Ohioan Brian Schmidt, now an associate editor at Trains, and who supplied several photographs including the cover image of a CSX train rounding the north to east connection at Deshler past the iconic Baltimore & Ohio color position light signals.

Grant’s story is illustrated with historic photographs featuring railroads large and small.

Although Northeast Ohio didn’t rate a story of its own, it’s not ignored. Cleveland’s role as the epicenter of the Conrail X features prominently in Bill Stephens’ article about the Conrail split.

Editor- in-chief Jim Wrinn gives a shout out to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, the Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek and the various hot spots of Fostoria, Deshler and Marion.

But he said his favorite place to hang out in Ohio is Berea.

He correctly notes that there is so much railroading in Ohio that one issue hardly does it justice. But it does provide a good overview that will resonate with those familiar with Ohio railroads and their history.

Throw in two In My Own Words pieces about a double-saw meet on the Norfolk & Western in Northwest Ohio, and how a 12-year-old used to get to Deshler and a piece on how to railran the Napolean, Defiance & Western and you have an issue that you’ll want to spend hours enjoying.

Oh, there is one other name in the issue you might recognize. I wrote the story about the I&O that begins on Page 30.

It was fun to be a part of contributing to a special issue about a place I’ve gotten to know so well in the past 26 years.

Funding Progress Continues for C&O 1309

March 6, 2020

The fundraising campaign to earn the final dollars needed to complete restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 is nearing $60,000 of its stated $100,000 goal.

The campaign, which is being promoted by Trains magazine, has picked up donations in varying amounts ranging from $5 to $25,000.

The magazine reported this week that funds raised thus far have enabled the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad to acquire parts to replace those stolen from the project by a former employee who sold them.

The stolen parts included 12 drive-wheel journal boxes.

Railroad officials have said that restoration of the 1309 to operating condition is 85 percent complete and $390,000 is needed to finish the work.

Donations can be sent to Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, 13 Canal Street, Cumberland, MD 21502, or made online at

The former employee who stole parts from the 1309 restoration effort pleaded guilty in January to one count of grand larceny in a West Virginia court.

He was sentenced to one to 10 years I prison, which was suspended. He also received 30 days of active incarceration with work release and must make restitution in the sum of $251,000 and provide 100 hours of community service.

However, Trains reported that it is unlikely the WMSR will receive any money from the person.

The theft of the parts cost the restoration time, but restoration efforts have also been hindered by lack of funding. Thus far the restoration has cost $2.8 million.

Looking for Love in the Steam Restoration World

February 18, 2020

On Valentine’s Day last week a group in Pennsylvania found itself showered with love after it announced that it had reached an agreement to purchase the moribund East Broad Top narrow gauge railroad.

If all goes according to plan, steam locomotives will huff and chuff again in central Pennsylvania maybe as early as this year.

On the same day that the EBT resurrection was announced I ran across a column posted on the website of Trains magazine lamenting the lack of love that another steam restoration has received.

John Hankey, who has been involved in railroad restoration for more than 50 years, decried what he described as the “unwarranted criticism, vitriol, and downright nastiness” that has been directed by some toward the restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

Hankey’s column offers a cautionary tale about what may lie ahead for the EBT project once all of the feel good moments have passed and the realities of restoration have begun to sink in.

It wasn’t that long ago when the 1309 was feeling the love.

But an announced event for the triumphant return of the Baldwin-built locomotive was canceled and the restoration project was halted for lack of funding. That had to be embarrassing and frustrating for the WMSR.

Indeed, the 1309 restoration is still in the “pause” stage as the WMSR continues to shake the money trees for the final $390,000 the restorers say is needed to complete their work.

Thus far WMSR has spent $2.8 million on restoration of the 1309 and that has strained the tourist railroad’s finances.

Hankey’s column details the travails WMSR has faced over the years since its creation in the 1980s and that alone makes it a must read for anyone seeking to understand the restoration world.

There is much we don’t know yet about the finances of the newly formed East Broad Top Foundation.

We don’t know, for example, how much it paid to buy the EBT from the Kovalchick family that has owned the railroad since the middle 1950s.

We don’t know how much it will cost to rebuild the EBT and how those efforts will be financed.

We know that three high-profile luminaries from the railroad industry – Charles “Wick” Moorman, Bennett Levin and Henry Posner III – are involved and that suggests the foundation is being backed by some deep pockets or at least people who know where to find deep pockets.

Unless the EBT foundation has some fabulously wealthy benefactors it seems likely that at some point it, like the WMSR, will be appealing for money.

It also seems likely that the same negativity that has dogged the 1309 restoration efforts will eventually descend on the EBT if it hasn’t already.

Conflicts and tensions long have been part of the business of operating vintage railway equipment. Those long predate the Internet era, which has tended to magnify disputes by giving them a wide platform on which anyone can express gripes, grievances and opinions whether those are informed or not.

Judging by the casual comments I’ve heard over the years during railfan events there is much jealousy and no shortage of opinionated people in the railroad restoration world.

There also are more restoration projects chasing dollars than there are dollars to go around.

The potential for the 1309 to run again and for the EBT to come back to life probably are pretty good given the support that they have managed to attract.

Many were skeptical that a Union Pacific Big Boy steam locomotive would ever operate again under its own power, but it did last year.

Of course the Big Boy had the resources of a Class 1 railroad in its corner.

The underlying lesson is that it takes more than dreams to return a machine to steam.

The day that 1309 finally rounds Helmster’s Curve under its own power or that an EBT steam locomotive reaches Colgate Grove with a smoke plume trailing will be a most happy one for those who’ve spent innumerable hours working to make those days possible.

There will be dozens, if not hundreds, of photographers on hand to record those historic moments.

All of those chat list and social media comments that said the restoration efforts couldn’t or wouldn’t make it that far it won’t mean anything.

Trains Leading Fundraising Push for C&O 1309

February 14, 2020

Trains magazine is leading a push to raise money to finish the restoration to operating condition of former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309.

Work on the locomotive halted last August after the project ran out of money.

Trains editor Jim Wrinn wrote on the magazine’s website that officials estimate the project needs $390,000 to complete the restoration work.

The work is being done on the property of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and is estimated to be 85 percent complete.

Wrinn said a review of the work plan found “no potential for unanticipated additional major expenses at this late date.”

Most of the projected expenses to finish the restoration will go toward labor, machine work, rewheeling, final upfit, testing and breaking in the locomotive.

Once funding is in hand the restoration work can be completed in less than six months, officials say.

Trains said it had already contributed $10,000 in 2015 toward the restoration efforts and its readers have kicked in $50,000.

“We’re asking individuals, organizations, and corporations to donate to help raise $100,000 toward the effort,” Wrinn wrote.

No. 1309 was built in 1949 and retired in 1956. It sat for several years at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore until being acquired by the WMSR in 2014.

It currently resides in the former WM carshop at Ridgeley, West Virginia.

Donations can be sent to Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, 13 Canal Street, Cumberland, MD 21502, or made online at