Thoughts on era.

Folks:
In a recent MR, I read some speculation on this subject. One reader was reported as predicting an era-shift to the 1980s-1990s in 20 years, which
would overtake the Transition Era. Thinking about this, I honestly can't see it.
It's not nostalgia on my part. There is a hint of antiquarian interest, and steam engines are awesome in action, though I've only seen about 3. There is no way I could remember what mainline steam or busy passenger traffic actually was, not from personal experience. I'm not old enough for that, but at any rate, even if I could remember steam, I'd have to be quite ancient indeed to have nostalgia for the steam power and railroad equipment of the mid-1800s, if personal memory was the only criterion.
I think we see too much concentration on that. When I look at the history of model railroading, I don't see a constant nostalgia-based hobby, with modelers always copying the scenes of 30 years ago. In fact, until roughly the 1950s, modelers were overwhelmingly interested in modern railroads, with some few, probably as numerous as the McGees and Landows of today, interested in very early period stuff. Most people went for the Hudsons, K4s, and 4-8-4s that were the latest thing, sometimes even automatic signaling and train control. Even such old-timers as Frank Ellison used modern equipment, although the scenes on Ellison's road did seem to recall an earlier era.
Then steam ended in 1:1 railroading, but not on models. Modelers kept using it. Some staunchly continued into more modern times with steam - such as John Armstrong. Most of us probably don't have that kind of chutzpah, and thus the Transition Era became popular. It allowed one to run modern steam and diesels together, to use new equipment as well as vintage hangers-on, and it was the last era before the most obvious retrenchments started in many areas of prototype railroading - retrenchments that are now largely over, but which have left us with a railroad that, though still very interesting even to me, is arguably lacking in a great many fascinating attributes which were once plentiful. (The passengers will please refrain...)
Furthermore, the Transition Era is in some degree self- sustaining. So much information and equipment is available that its charms are kept fresh and current, able to attract neophytes who have never seen a living, breathing Erie 4-8-4, and a little bit of this arcane lore makes those scattered glimpses of an earlier era all the more ensnaring - that EW Y RK NTR L on the peeling bridge, that old timetable found in the attic. Indeed, I can attest that such relics are almost more irresistible if their true source is not a matter of personal memory. We see evidence of this in such places as the RPI club, which is made up largely of students who never could have personally known a thing about the world they have amassed such data on.
I don't mean to discount the appeal of current or more recent railroading. I do actually miss Conrail, which now that I think of it had a lot of Pennsyism left in it, for better or worse. Furthermore, I really like the idea of modeling the modern scene - which of course is hard to reconcile with my liking for vintage equipment. I do think that we will eventually see nostalgia for the 1980s expressed in model railroad form, which will at least be less absurd than other expressions involving, say, clothing styles. However, I think that the Transition Era has so much to offer that it will continue to remain as a huge chunk of model railroading for the foreseeable future.
Cordially yours: Gerard P. President, a box of track and a gappy table.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu wrote in

I am only 67, so I saw just then end of the steam era, but I have always had a tug-of-heart at the atmosphere of steam engines and the era they came from.
After playing with the transition era, my reading and musing finally settled on the "Golden Age of Steam", specifically the 1910s before cars and trucks changed transportation. I like to dream about how it would be like to live in the days before easy affordable personal movement, and how this would change my life (both for the better and the worse).
Model trains allows me an opportunity to implement these fantasies.
Also, I love operating layouts with switching and I find the models and the operating characteristics much more varied and interesting.
Tom
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Its funny this topic has come up because I'm getting ready to build my first layout and am torn between modeling the teens B&M in industrial NH or freelancing a modern layout on the same section of track and because of cost am leaning toward modern era. The fact that cheap 1st and second generation diesels are plentiful and scoping out the local short line has reveal a prevalence of cars that interest me. Modified coal hoppers in wood chip service and scrap service. tank cars and covered hoppers. While the teens would bring opportunities for passenger service and lines and roads long since gone.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu wrote:

Model the way you like! Heck! I had a USRA 0-6-0 pulling Phase III Amtrak cars on my kitchen nook layout in Willimantic! Unfortunatly I don't have those cars or the layout anymore (lack of space in new apartment). but... As a model railroader you can model the way you like it.
--

From the Desk of the Sysop of:
Planet Maca's Opus, a Free open BBS system. telnet://pinkrose.dhis.org
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Shrug. I think it depends completely on the individual modeler, and I think that they vary just as much from one individual to the next as do the people you meet walking down the street. You'll meet a few teen-aged kids who favor civil-war steam and some old-timers who model today's railroads.
Me, I mostly model transition era because I grew up watching late steam and early diesels almost every day in our town, but I've got some '60s and 70's equipment as well because I just plain like some of it.
For what it's worth, the oldest guys in our club are the ones most heavily into steam, and the youngest guys either have very few steam engines or none at all: the single exception being our newest member, who inherited a bunch of brass steam engines from his father-in-law.
Pete
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.