The Roundhouse Podcast

The Rock Concert of Railroading – Train Festival 2011

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Train Festival 2011

Woodstock for railfans.  That’s one way of describing it.

Instead of The Who, there were the Amtrak Heritage P42s.  In place of Janis Joplin was the Nebraska Zephyr.  Instead of Crosby, Still, Nash & Young, we had Chinese QJ steam locomotives.  And of course, there was Nickel Plate 765 filling in for Jimi Hendrix.

I remember all of the excitement leading up to this weekend five years ago.  Train Festival 2009 had been a smashing success, and the thought of another event of a similar size captivated the imaginations of the community at large.  And yet, it went beyond the imagination, because the organizers managed to pull it all off somehow.

Train Festival 2011 was held in Rock Island from July 21st to 24th and featured vendors, train layouts, miniature train rides, music concerts, photo events, and full-scale train displays and excursions.  As you would have at any good concert, plenty of merchandise and food was available.  The amount of variety packed into a single extended weekend was unusual for the hobby, and the size of the event was something incredible.  I recall being told that attendance was over 30,000 people.

For me, it was a playground for my photography.  I had just purchased a new zoom lens and was experimenting with telephoto imagery.  That, and I got this photograph of Nickel Plate 765 which will forever be one of my best.

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Looking to the future, it will be interesting to see if any event manages to capture so much excitement and action at one spot.  Whether we see another rock show of this caliber is anyone’s guess, but the door is always open to the ambitious planners of tomorrow.

Did you experience this event?  What did you enjoy about it?

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