The Rail Philatelist September 1999 Newsletter
Volume 4 PRICE $1.00 (10 ISSUES FOR $8.00) . Number 6 September 1, 1999Dear Fellow Rail Philatelist:
If last months envelopes looked like they had been prepared by a 3rd grader, they were! I sent out the newsletters from Ohio where my niece's young daughter wanted to help. She did the rubber stamping while I did the folding, stuffing and licking. We had a good time working together and I may have even gotten done a little faster. I don't think I violated any child labor laws and I apologize if the envelopes weren't up to my usual professional standards. I had run out of my printed ones.
NATIONAL TOPICAL STAMP SHOW (NTSS): The American Topical Association celebrated its 50th birthday July 30- Aug.1 by holding the National Topical Stamp Show (formerly TOPEX) at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Milwaukee, the city where it was founded by Jerry Huzak Sept. 12, 1949. Got to Milwaukee in plenty of time Thursday evening to have dinner and then walk thru the stamp show looking at the exhibits and checking out which dealers to spend my limited time and dollars with Friday. There were no train exhibits among the 59 on hand but the Panama Canal and Bridges exhibits did have a few pages of railroad interest - nothing spectacular tho. Friday morning I visited with several dealers but managed to make purchases from only six of the 37 dealers present before my limited time and money ran out - found a few interesting items that will show up in future lists. There seemed to be lots of customers milling around so I assume the show turned out better than the TOPEX I did at the same location in 1993 although I got mixed reviews from the dealers I saw in Cincinnati who were also in Milwaukee. I didn't have a table this year because I felt obligated to attend the 30th Annual family reunion hosted by my sister in Kane, PA (where it all began for me!) on August 1. I hadn't been to one for 20 years so it seemed time - only one of my uncles is left but all the cousins and their families were there. We had a much better time than I probably would have had at a stamp show on a slow Sunday! I accomplished most of my goals during the four hours I was at NTSS although I didn't get to see any customers - did any of you attend? I hope to have a booth at next year's show in Buffalo, NY.
APS STAMPSHOW 99: After circling the Cleveland Convention Center 3 times, I finally found the loading ramp entrance and had all my stuff at my booth by 1:15 PM. Took my van to the Holiday Inn Lakeside City Center to check in and heard a train as I got out in the parking garage - turns out the old New York Central, ne Penn Central, ne Conrail, now Norfolk Southern (NS) mainline runs right by the parking garage so I watched a WB Intermodal, then checked in. Caught the shuttle back to the Convention Center and organized most of my booth until 3 PM, then went off to the ASDA Dealers Bourse and bought a few things until they closed up at 4 PM, then across to the Sheraton for the NSDA Dealers Bourse until it closed at 5 PM, then back to the show where I bought a lot of 700 RPOs plus a few more train stamps before I went to the 7 PM NSDA annual meeting/cocktail party. Got back to the hotel about 8:30 PM. It was a beautiful night so I sat out on a concrete wall in the hotel garden and watched 3 NS trains plus 10 2-car Light Rail trains (5 each way) go by in an hour. It was hard to go up to the room knowing I'd be missing a train every few minutes but I had work still to do organizing my days purchases and typing this. Gave up about midnight to get some sleep for the big day! Up at 6:15 AM. After watching news of a triple stabbing on an AMTRAK train near Cleveland and a quick breakfast at Mc Donald's, I got to the show just before the 8 AM dealer opening and scurried around getting my booth and displays set up until 9:30 when I rushed over to the post office to buy a few of the uncut train sheets and enough regular sheets to do my first days. Spent the next two hours tearing, licking and sticking while talking to a few customers, then left my booth to a customer I'd only corresponded with via e-mail while I went to the first day ceremony. Got there just as they started the National Anthem. Fortunately, Norm and Florence Wright had saved me a seat since the room was packed - standing room only - over 500 people I would guess. Most of the speeches were perfunctory but Ray Bottles, the last brakeman on the 20th Century Limited gave an emotional speech about his family's history with the railroad. He wore his grandfather's 1904 railroad watch and his father's railroad policeman buttons on his brakeman uniform. The ceremonial unveiling of the five stamps was somewhat anti-climactic but I was happy to have attended - and even happier to see that everything was still in my booth when I got back! The line for first day cancels was over two hours long all day long so I didn't get my covers canceled - maybe tomorrow? I had a pretty good sales day thanks to several old customers who came (plus a few new ones). When the show closed at 6 PM, I rushed over to the Cachet Makers Bourse and spent all the days proceeds buying train FDCs. Left there about 7:20 and rushed back to the hotel for the Garfield-Perry Stamp Club's wine and cheese social. Closed it down at 8:15 and took my computer and purchases up to the room. Got to my concrete perch at 8:25 just in time to see a WB AMTRAK with two Genesis locos, 4 express boxcars, 4 Amfleet passenger cars and 13 roadrailers closely followed by a NS Autoboxcar train and a Conrail/Canadian National Auto rack train. Another WB NS Autorack passed at 9 PM and at 9:20 an EB AMTRAK pulled out of the terminal with one Genesis and an FP40, a baggage car, 11 Amfleet cars, 2 more baggage cars, 4 express boxcars and 11 roadrailers! Also saw 10 more Light rail trains (6 EB) in addition to all the auto traffic on the parallel highway, some boat traffic on the lake and a few airplanes taking off from the Lakefront Airport - none of which distracted me from my train watching. After checking in with Sue (a nightly travel ritual), I went up to the room to organize my FDC purchases. The walk between the hotel and convention center provided good views of the Cleveland Terminal Tower (Isle of Man # 63), Cleveland's main passenger terminal in the heyday of rail travel. I think it still serves AMTRAK. I was pleasantly surprised to find downtown Cleveland to be a beautiful, clean city (even after the massive football crowd Saturday night) with none of the vagrants and panhandlers that plague San Francisco. Got to the show at the 8:30 AM opening hoping to get some covers canceled but found out the USPS wasn't going to start canceling until 10AM. So I spent some time with COVERMAN (Al Tohn from New York) going thru his train covers, then got my booth set up and ready for the day. When Norm Wright showed up, I left him in charge of the booth and went to stand in line for cancels. They had a 50 cancel limit so I actually made 3 trips during the day to get everything canceled that I wanted done. Actually made arrangements to sell a couple of my FDCs while standing in line the first time and traded with a California collector specializing in the 20th Century Limited for a couple of his cachets during the second trip so the time spent standing in line wasn't a total waste. The two women doing the canceling were extremely proficient and pleasant to deal with - particularly considering some of the angry customers they had had to contend with yesterday! All-in-all the first day cover preparation was a lot more effort than I expected - I've gained a new respect for all those who have prepared the covers I have so avidly collected over the years. Sales were good but the pace was slow enough that I had time to talk with most of my customers and evaluate a major train stamp collection another dealer brought to me (he didn't accept my offer). Fortunately, Norm spent most of the day in the booth with me and Florence made a trip thru the USPS line to buy me more train stamps and postal cards - a BIG THANKS to both of them - I couldn't have gotten my FDCs done without them! I hope to have more good news from Norm next month (feel the suspense building?). Got back to the hotel about 6:30 PM and went to dinner at a GOOD Spanish restaurant - the Mallorca - with six other dealers. I had the lamb chops - they were excellent! Got back to my observation point at 9PM as an EB 4 car Light Rail train and an EB NS Autobox train came by. Saw just 3 more Light Rail trains in the next half hour, checked in with Sue and went up to the room to work on this and go thru Andrew Levitt's Nutmeg Mail Auction Catalog of Charles Towle's Collection of Railroad Postmarks. The sale will be held Oct. 6, 1999. There are some GREAT covers in the sale, but probably too rich for my blood (and budget). Saturday was another good day, both scurrying around buying before the show opened to the public, then visiting with old and new customers during the day and getting a few more items prepared for first day cancels. I bought 10 blank sets of Artmaster cachets and serviced them only to discover that I had put a "Super Chief" stamp on one of the "Hiawatha" covers so I partially ruined one set. Another dealer brought me the train stamp collection Norm and I had evaluated yesterday and sold it to me for about what I had offered the other guy on Friday - sometimes it takes people awhile to realize my offers are honest and fair, usually even generous! Had a hard time getting out of and back into downtown Cleveland Saturday night because of all the traffic for the Browns football game but the effort was worth it. A customer had invited me to his home in the suburbs for a barbecue with some other friends. I met Bill Helbock, editor of LA POSTA: A Journal of American Postal History, who was visiting from his new home in Australia and Joe Cartafalsa, editor of The Indochina Philatelist and a dealer specializing in Vietnam. We spent a great evening going thru our host's Gold Medal winning Vietnam exhibit (some really fantastic material even if it wasn't RR), talking about our Vietnam experiences and discussing philatelic and world problems in general. I also got to see an excellent exhibit of Colorado & Southern Railroad postal markings and ephemera. A thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing evening! Attended the APS Dealers Breakfast Sunday morning, then did some more buying before opening my booth. Sales were slower Sunday but it was still a good day. Realized that I hadn't gotten any of the ASDA show cards or the APS covers, so I bought a few of them and got them serviced with first day cancels. Overall, it was a very good show for me in all respects and with the first day opportunities there was non-stop activity for me. I didn't even get time to look at the exhibits - there was a train exhibit in the youth area. I think I ran on adrenalin most of the weekend! The load-out Sunday went smoothly - I had my booth packed by the 4 PM close and rushed off to get my van at the Holiday Inn three long blocks away. Got in line about 4:20 and was able to park right at my booth about 4:45 (probably the only advantage to having a booth at the back of the hall!). I was loaded and on my way west about 5:15 happy to have had a good show and an all around pleasant experience.
AUGUST TRAVEL: On my trip to the NTSS in Milwaukee, I had Sue and Sadie with me so I took the short cut across northern Kansas and southern Nebraska rather than my usual scenic North Platte route so I only saw one Kyle RR grain train near Burlington, CO and a couple BNSF coal trains at Lincoln, NE (compared to the 95 Monday between the same end points (Colorado Springs & Council Bluffs, IA)). The second day out I saw only one UP coal train approaching Rochelle, IL where I stopped to see the completed Rochelle Railroad Park. They even have a brochure which proclaims "See over 100 trains a day on the UP and BNSF at one observation point + Elevated observation deck designed for photographers + Visitors hear all radio train traffic on outdoor speakers + Picnic tables + Public restrooms + Lighted for evening train watching". Web page is www.foxdir.net//rrpark and e-mail: ATSF525@aol.com. The covered pavilion looked great and the 40 space parking lot had about 10 cars in it. There is a small 1928 Whitcomb industrial loco on display and some papers with hobo signs. The gift shop had almost everything from switch stands and lanterns through timetables and magazines as well as models and snacks. It was too hot and steamy to wait around for a train so I'll have to stop back another time. ... Good thing I left the NTSS at 1 PM on Friday - it took 21/2 hours to drive thru Chicago. Two Metra and two Elevated passenger trains entertained me as I impatiently waited in the I-94 parking lot. Saw a couple CSX and Norfolk Southern (NS) stackpacks & TOFCs from the I-90 Skyway and a pair of South Shore diesels running light near 150th Street as I left Chicago as well as a NB Wisconsin Central freight just before I got to Chicago. Got to Toledo, OH late Friday, then drove on to Pittsburgh, PA Saturday to visit my middle son and attend the reunion mentioned above on Sunday. Also got a tour of the new home they'll be moving into the end of the month (A beautiful two-story with a large walk-in basement perfect for storing magazines so I won't have to cart them back and forth across the country when doing East Coast shows - my Daughter-in-law even requested my requirements via e-mail before they bought the house but she may just have been joking! (The joke may be on her - just kidding, Binky! - she actually reads these newsletters every month on my web page!)). Monday, we drove to Ohio to take care of my Mother-in-law who just got out of the hospital from hip replacement surgery. She is doing fine but needed help with the little things we take for granted each day. I set up my office in the utility room and got most of the tasks accomplished that I planned on between visits with all the relatives from the local area. Got the August newsletters and I-J lists mailed out. Also managed to mail out a few orders I had pulled in St. Paul and caught up on the new issue mailings. Then I did some computer housekeeping finally, copying all my files and cleaning out three years of e-mail, keeping only the last 6 months incoming and last year of outgoing. Need to do that much more frequently - I've been lucky I haven't lost any files up to now. Also, used my Mother-in-law's GUINESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS 1987 SPECIAL EDITION to complete the RAIL FACTS AND FEATS through Volume 5. My youngest son William and his wife Karyn, cat and Australian Sheppard stopped by for the weekend on their 45 day cross-country camping tour, moving from Oak Harbor, WA to Nova Scotia where they'll spend a couple years with the Canadian Navy. Jeff and Binky drove over from Pittsburgh so we had another family reunion! Saw one Conrail (NS) train on my way back from Cincinnati (actually Sharonville) on Saturday where I attended a stamp show. There were actually more dealers there than I expected but I didn't find much to buy. Did find an interesting set of New York Central prints which included the 20th Century Limited so I might be able to use one of them for a cachet on the 26th. The trip back to Colorado was almost devoid of rail activity - caught glimpses of just 3 Conrail trains crossing Indiana and Illinois, nothing in Missouri, the usual quick glances at the always clogged Union Pacific Armourdale Yard in Kansas City, KS as I whizzed by on I-70, 4 UP trains all standing still in western Kansas and another Kyle grain train at Burlington, CO. One of the stopped UP trains was a tie train composed of gondola cars with a backhoe mounted on one of them to load the ties into the cars - the UP is trying to upgrade the old Kansas Pacific line across Colorado and western Kansas. ... Saw a different but similar tie train near Wild Horse, CO on my way to the APS show in Cleveland plus a ballast train at Weskan, KS and all the assorted ballast tampers, track alignment and track repair equipment strung along for about 5 miles east of there getting the track in shape. All 10 of the UP trains I saw in Colorado and Kansas were standing still - at least two looked like the same trains in the same locations as twelve days before! I spent an hour at Santa Fe Junction in Kansas City Tuesday morning and saw 8 trains, the most interesting of which was the EB AMTRAK "Southwest Chief" with 4 Genesis locos, a baggage car, 8 Superliners, 4 express box cars and 11 Roadrailers - more freight cars than passenger cars! Wednesday morning I made a brief stop at the Ohio Railroad Museum in Worthington, a Columbus suburb - unfortunately it is only open on Sundays but I was able to see quite an assortment of passenger cars, steam locos, industrial diesels and streetcars thru the fence. Some were covered against the elements but many were showing the effects of outdoor storage. I knew the museum existed because of the 3 covers they put out in 1970 (my 70-07-04,A,B @ $2.50 each) but this was my first visit. After breakfast at Bob Evans, I was off to Cleveland (see above). ... Sunday evening after the APS show, I saw a couple CONRAIL (NS) intermodals just west of Cleveland, a yard full of NS coal hoppers (but no locos) near Astabula, OH and a couple CSX autorack trains near Toledo where I stopped for the night. Monday I could barely keep my eyes open on the long boring drive across Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. I crossed over or under dozens of railroad tracks but didn't see a single train! There wasn't even any chatter on the scanner except near Chicago. There wasn't even any activity at the West end of the BNSF yard in Lincoln, NE when I got there about 8:30 PM! I parked in the wye at the East end of the yard and was rewarded with 10 trains in an hour before I went to my motel room and crashed. Tuesday I saw 10 BNSF trains between Lincoln and Grand Island as I drove US 34 (one 20 car grain train had a caboose!) and 32 UP trains along US 30 between Grand Island and North Platte. There was a welded rail train sitting idle near Wood River but the concrete tie program seemed complete - there were still a few pieces of work equipment on the rails near Cozad but the concrete tie and the equipment/crew trains were gone. Only saw 11 trains in the North Platte yard - even the engine repair facility seemed to have fewer locos sitting around than normal. There was no evidence of construction for the new railfan observation tower. Saw only three more trains in Nebraska, one of which was another welded rail train near Sutherland. They had all sorts of work equipment on the rails all the way from there to Ogalalla. Saw four BNSF coal trains (3 empties) between Sterling, CO and Denver and nothing on the Joint Line between Denver and Colorado Springs. Incidentally, the October issue of RAILFAN & RAILROAD magazine has an article on the Joint Line that mentions that the BNSF has adopted the "Distributed Power" approach (two locos on point, one on the rear) because they were having a lot of broken coupler problems at a small hill north of Ft. Worth, TX.
TRAVEL TIPS AND OBSERVATIONS: I know your travel season is almost over, but I didn't have room until now.Better late than never. (1) Conoco may be "The hottest brand going" but my Previa doesn't like it. After over 50,000 miles of record keeping, the data clearly show 8% worse gas mileage with Conoco and 5% better with Exxon than the average of all the other brand and non-brand gasolines I've used (I always use the cheapest available at each stop). Guess I'll have to give up my Flying J card - it's foolish to save a penny a gallon when it costs you almost 10c a gallon in performance! (2) The left lane is almost always smoother than the right. This is particularly noticeable if you drive an overloaded van as I do. If you see a sign "Trucks use Left Lane Next X Miles" (common on I-76 in Colorado) this means that the trucks have already beat the right lane to a pulp and the highway department wants them to do the same to the left lane before they spend any money on repairs. (3) In high traffic areas where the speed limit is 75 MPH, you can make better time at 70 MPH in the right lane than trying to go 75 MPH in the left lane with all the other road hogs even if the ride is bumpier. I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs is a prime example of perpetually clogged left lanes. (4) Least favorite highways, particularly at night (and not just because there are no trains to watch!): (a) I-40 across Oklahoma - they seem to have no controls on truck speeds - the independent truckers blow you off the road as they whoosh by (Firms like J.B.Hunt and Werner, etc. seem to hold to the speed limit but watch out for the others)! (b) I-80 across Iowa - the rolling terrain has you passing trucks going up the hills and them roaring by you on the way down - takes 3 or 4 hills to get away from each other! (I-70 in Missouri is almost as bad). (c) I-80 & the Turnpike in Pennsylvania because you always get stuck behind one slow moving truck trying to pass another on the hills. As you have probably noticed, there is a theme here - trucks. They may be essential to our economy but they tear up the highways and make travel dangerous for us all! (5) Probably my best bit of advice: Take your wallet out of your back pocket when you drive. I haven't had any back pain since I discovered this two years ago!
STAMP OF THE MONTH: This month's selection is not particularly attractive, nor does it have a good train image on it. The stylized steam loco at the bottom of the stamp is often overlooked. Hong Kong #180 is illustrated from the 1949 omnibus set issued for the 75th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union. There are 63 different stamps from various British Colonies all with the same design and all the low value in sets of four. The Scott Catalog lists 65 colonies in the common design but neither New Hebrides nor Southern Rhodesia included this design in their sets. The sets are easy to find but mint singles are more difficult.
RAIL THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: "So many trains, so little time!" My Railfair 99 lament.
RAIL FACTS AND FEATS: The highest speed attained by a railed vehicle is 6,121 mph or Mach 8 by an unmanned rocket sled over the 91/2 mile-long rail track at White Sands Missile Range, NM on Oct. 5, 1982. (See Paraguay #1670).
I ASKED, YOU ANSWERED: (1) Whitney McMahon e-mailed "Also, about countries that don't have any railroad stamps....Greenland. I've been collecting Greenland for a few years and so far nothing even remotely related to trains. Oh well, there's always hope." (2) Bill Chappel also e-mailed "Regarding Belarus: - technically true, there are no stamps or postal stationary indicia with a Ry theme. However there is one postal stationary item with a Ry theme in the cachet as: 1998/00/00 Index numbers are inscribed on the back of the envelope. Non-denom, but letter "A". 100th Anniv. of ??. Indicia: Black 'A' & text. Cachet: 4-wheel electric streetcar #164 with bow trolley." Thanks to both for the info!
May all your signals be green,
SEP 11-2 APEX 99 STAMPSHOW BUCKINGHAM SQUARE MALL AURORA, CO
SEP 17-9 FILATELIC FIESTA CONVENTION CENTER SANTA CLARA, CA
SEP 25-6 GREAT AMERICAN TRAIN SHOW NEBRASKA FAIR GROUNDS LINCOLN, NE