P&LE Commuter Train Last Run

P&LE Commuter Train Last Run

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a lot of people traveled by train to and from work every day.  It still happens in some cities here in the US as it has for years.  In some cities, our local leaders have perhaps decided that the trains weren’t so bad after all.  They’re spending exorbitant amounts of our money to put them back right where they used to be before!  Progress is sometimes strange, but I digress.

By 1985, Pittsburgh PA was down to two commuter train services.

The PATrain was operated by Port Authority Transit.  It served the Monongahela and Youghiogheny River Valleys between the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station at 12 Grant Street in Pittsburgh and the terminus at Versailles, PA.  (You had to learn to pronounce some funky street and place names in Pittsburgh!)

The other nameless service was operated by the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad.  It ran between its’ headquarters at Station Square on Smithfield Street and College, PA.  The P&LE commuter train followed the Ohio and Beaver Rivers on its’ route.

The former Pennsylvania Railroad commuter trains that served the Pittsburgh area in river valleys and over and through the hills were all gone in the 1960’s.

The last run of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad's commuter train from Pittsburgh arrives at the end of its' run in College, PA. July 12, 1985

The last run of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad’s commuter train from Pittsburgh arrives at the end of its’ run in College, PA.   July 12, 1985.

There were no bands or gala events at College to greet Train 261’s last run.  There were a few reporters, some families to greet the riders, and some active and retired railroaders.

A train of empty coal cars headed south to the mines for another load to feed a steel mill or power plant crept by to break up the voices of the crowd.  As the train passed and the quiet singing of the welded rail went silent, the crowd dispersed.  A few stayed to watch the 1501 run around her train and prepare for the deadhead run back to the shops at McKees Rocks.

And then, with two short horn blasts, the 1501 headed south.  Quiet returned to College as an era ended.

It was by no means a fancy train, but it was dependable point to point transportation for many.  But the many were not enough in the eyes of those funding the train.  While it may not seem like it, lives were altered by the loss of the train.  What was once a bearable commute became less so.  Some were left to ponder the balance of a bucolic existence in the river valleys and a job in Pittsburgh.  I don’t remember thinking about that then.  I didn’t appreciate it until I became a semi-regular city commuter and found myself taking the train every chance I could.  In my present job, I can’t feasibly take the train or any other form of public transportation.  I wish I could.  Instead, I get a sore butt like millions of others.  But I am digressing again.

Join me in a look back at the last run of the P&LE Commuter Train.  It’s easy – just click here.

Don’t forget to visit Laughing Frog Images – it’s never to early to start shopping for the holidays!



Tehachapi Loop: Photo Accomplished

Tehachapi Loop: Photo Accomplished.

Two simple words that said to a railfan or train enthusiast mean for some a familiar place, for some a quest akin to the Holy Grain, and for some, just a unique, timeless and special place.

I was first introduced to Tehachapi Loop by the January 1977 issue of Trains Magazine.  Back then, it was the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroads battling the hills and the curves.

It was… well, it was captivating.  Inspiring.  A place I had to see for myself.  A place I (naively) dreamed about fitting on a 4’x8′ sheet of plywood in HO scale.

Tehachapi Loop is timeless, and on the Bucket List for many a photographer and railfan.

Tehachapi Loop is timeless, and on the Bucket List for many a photographer and railfan.

It took over 22 years for me to get to Tehachapi Loop.  Mrs. Frog was there with me, and once she was over the Loop, she politely tolerated my excitement.

The Southern Pacific was in the process of being assimilated by the great yellow borg (a.k.a. the Union Pacific).

The Santa Fe was disappearing into the BNSF.

And the Loop was magnificent.

To describe the loop is kind of hard.  The reality is that the twists and turns are a result of the railroad needing to gain elevation in its’ climb from Bakersfield to the summit at Tehachapi.

I’ve seen it explained as what would happen if you gave a youngster too much track for a small layout with instructions to use it all up.

You just have to see it to appreciate it.

While I am not a fan of double-stack container trains, they are a reality of railroading today.  The often bright colors of the containers make it easier to see the train as it twists and turns heading east from Keene and Woodford.

It took me another six years to get back to the Loop again.  There were still vestiges of the Santa Fe left on that trip, but not much of the Southern Pacific.

I left somewhat unfulfilled, as I didn’t have a wide angle lens that could capture the whole Loop in one shot.

Fast forward to 2016.  I finally had a lens that could capture the Loop – a Tamron 10-24mm zoom.  I left the night before so that I could be at the Loop at first light – which, in my humble opinion, is the best time to capture the Loop.  The air had a chill as I walked to the overlook and waited.  And waited.  And wished I had a jacket.  And waited.

Modern locomotives are much quieter than they were in 1999.  I didn’t hear the train climb through Keene, and I barely heard it at Woodford.  The white and orange containers stuck out like a worm squirming uphill.  And it was finally time…

I caught three trains that morning before the sun angle became too stark for my tastes.

Mission accomplished, I left satisfied, checking one thing off of my list… (which isn’t to say I won’t go back!).

Those images are now in the Tehachapi Gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

I don’t normally do this – but all of the images in the gallery are cropped to accentuate the Loop in formats from 1h:2w to 1h:6w.  They’re different, that’s for sure.  They’d make a great gift for someone, or a conversation piece on your own wall.  And, even if you’re not in a buying mode, just go in and check out the images of something you can only see just west of the great little town of Tehachapi, CA.

The images from 1999 and 2006 are yet to be scanned, but they’ll be in the gallery some day as well.

If you find yourself on California Highway 58 between Mojave and Bakersfield, I invite you to make two stops: one in the town of Tehachapi – some interesting museums and things to see, and, of course, the Loop itself west of town.


More Metal!

There’s more metal on Laughing Frog Images!

Some of you may recall that there were some changes made in the available products here at Laughing Frog Images – and some of the metal print sizes were discontinued.  That was due to a change at one of the Frog’s partners.

Well, if you were disappointed like the Frog was, despair no more – they’re back!

aluminum art

Aluminum Art is available again in sizes from 5″x7″ to 30″x40″.

This compliments the Modern Metals available from 8″x10″ to 20″x30″.

To check out the image you want the way you want, simply choose an image, click “Buy”, then “Showcase”, then “Modern Metals.”

It’s hard to show you just what a metal print looks like. It’s even harder to tell you in the written word.

For what it’s worth, most of the prints that I have on display at home are metal prints because the color just “pops” (I don’t know if there is a better word and I can’t find a better word).

I have four 10″x20″ prints displayed in a bathroom.

People spend more time in the bathroom than you might think is normal because of them.


That’s something you just can’t make up on your own…

Want to know which ones?

Click here, here, here and here to see them.

Another great thing about metal prints is that they don’t need a frame.  They’re also bathroom and kitchen safe because they are metal!

Everyone needs more metal!