Stormy 611Stormy 611The NW 611 sits during the firing-up process at the N.C. Transportation Museum on August 6, 2016.
The Behind-the-Scenes events give you a chance to learn more about the engine, meet the crew, and get up close and personal without as many other people around.


Rusted Rail Ramblings with Gene Bowker


On the way up.

January 25, 2020  •  2 Comments

shapes and anglesOn the way up


I've found that by changing my perspective, I can really see life through a different lens.

In photography, we have a choice of focal lengths which can change the focus from the large (It's a fair) to pulling in details from within that view (the lines and angles of the wheel).  The same is true with our view on our lives in general.  I catch myself so focused on the wide view which can be overwhelming, instead of paying attention to the details. 

2019 was a challenging year in many ways for me.   

Professionally, workload at times was overwhelming.  I like to be in control of situations and with so many projects all hitting at once, I usually felt that I was just trying to fight the fire in front of me instead of being able to come up with a strategy to prevent them in the first place.

Photography wise, I took fewer pictures than ever.  I did have a few enjoyable excursions which reminded me why I enjoy making and sharing images, but too many times I didn't make the effort to stop and take a photo I should have.

Writing became a challenge also.  When I'm on the downside of the Ferris Wheel of Life, it becomes too easy for me to turn inward and start to focus on what doesn't seem to be right instead of keeping the Fair in mind.  This blog languished because I didn't know what to write or how to share what was going on.  The image we want to project to the world versus the reality of life we all face.

Onward to 2020.

I've been seeing the meme started by Dolly Parton showing how we project ourselves in different social media outlets.  Social media sharing tends to be those high points.  We present ourselves on LinkedIn as the professional we are in our day-jobs.  Instagram is about pretty images and snaps of the beautiful.  Facebook (personal pages maybe not commerical ones at least) are the images of the life we want our friends to see.  I don't have Tinder, but that is the lover we see ourselves as I guess and what we are looking to attract.

Looking at my accounts, I know I do this also usually.  I have friends who do open themselves up (at least to a close circle) on Facebook with the challenges and more personal aspects of their life.  As an introvert, that is probably one of the most difficult things for me to do.  Only my wife and my closest circle of friends really know what is going on from day-to-day beyond the Public Persona.  Being me, its hard to think of being that open to others, too much risk and too many memories of how that openness has hurt in the past.

2020 has honestly started off great for me.  I'm making more photographs.  I feel better about myself.  I see that confidence coming across in my professional and personal life in unexpected ways.  I'm also back to writing more and feeling more willing to lower the veil a little from time-to-time about what is happening behind the scenes in the day-to-day life.

I'm enjoying writing my blog again.  It's really a letter from me to the world.  I'm honored that folks take the time to read what I write.  More importantly, I'm writing in my personal journal again and putting on paper those things that I'm not ready or willing to even post here.  I'm feeling more creative and trying to take the chance to make new images when the chance presents.  That creativity flows over into my professional life where I'm finding new ways to attack problems with more decisiveness.

I hope you be along for the upward swing. 



Back in the desert again

January 15, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

I spent a way too quick weekend in Tuscon and didn't take my regular camera as I didn't expect to have much time for photography.

Thanks to my friend I got to enjoy some of beauty of the Southwest and was reminded why I have always loved the region.

I look forward to visiting again soon and being able to make some more serious pictures next time.

The Art of Travel and Luxury Bullseye Flake

January 04, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

I spent the first Saturday of 2020 reading The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton on my Kindle while enjoying several bowls of Luxury Bulleye Flake  in several of my favorite pipes throughout the afternoon.

After several days of rain, it was nice to see the sun make an appearance bringing with it cooler temperatures and a crisp breeze.  

The Art of Travel was an interesting read to me.  The author combines his thoughts on travel and relates them to famous travelers of the past.  He writes in an engaging prose which kept me engaged.  I can also relate to his observations on travel which was a bonus. 

The key point that I got from the book was the differences between our imagined world of travel and what we find when we actually engage in it.  The thought of flying off to some exotic location versus the reality of airport parking, TSA lines, crowded or delayed flights and the let down we sometimes get from the reality of the locations we've dreamed about or only experienced through pictures or the writing of others.

We find in the book that this is something that has occurred to travelers for many years.  Some travelers acknowledge the fact in their writings while to others it is avoided and the locale remains dreamy or perfect to their readers.  Today I equated this to the travelblog posts on Instagram where the weather always seems perfect, locations are never crowded and around every corner is another picture.  We don't usually see the less savory parts of the day such as traffic jams, less than ideal hotels or foods that don't match our tastes.  I realize lots of the travelbloggers are sponsored by the hotels or locations they visit and part of their "job" (and future gigs) is to present them in their best light.  That doesn't make it reality though.

de Botton does a great job of giving the entire picture in the essays on his travels.  He discusses how even in the most exotic of locations, we still can be blogged down by thoughts of the work or world we left behind.  I know that happens to me.  Even on vacation, thoughts of work creep in and I think about what will be waiting for me when I return to the office.  When that happens, I have two choices:

  1. Give into that stream of thought and be transported back to my work world.  Instead of sitting on the beach watching the waves, now I'm back in the office in my mind.
  2. Stop.  Acknowledge the thought and then focus on something in the present and start thinking about what I'm seeing or doing or reading.

I'll admit, I've been guilty of the first one quite often in the past and sometimes I can't get it out of my head.  One of my goals (I hate that word) for 2020 is to focus more on the present and enjoy it while I can.  Today, that means reading a good book, enjoying one of my favorite tobaccos and sipping on a nice drink.  Work will still be there Monday morning.

I'll be reading more by the author as I work towards reading 100 books this year and will be sharing reviews of some of them here.

Tobacco Notes:

Luxury Bullseye Flake by Peter Stokkebye is a delightful blend of Virginias and Perique, with a touch of black Cavendish — thinly sliced into neat bullseye coins. 

The coins can either be folded into larger pipes or broken up into a ribbon and smoked in smaller ones.  I prefer to use larger pipes as during the smoke you can taste the different component tobaccos as they burn in succession.  The perique doesn't overwhelm the Virginia and the Cavendish gives just a hint of extra sweetness.  It can be purchased in bulk and I always keep it in my normal rotation.










You can read some reviews about it on Tobacco Reviews and see what others have to say about this classic blend.

Happy 2020

January 01, 2020  •  1 Comment

Retired Crossing GuardRetired Crossing GuardThis old veteran enjoys retirement in front of the restored depot in Folkston, Georgia as the trains of CSX pass by.


I'm looking forward to 2020 being a year of more photography and also more writing.  I'm focusing on getting out more and back into the habit of taking the time to stop and take a picture when I see something interesting.

I'm also looking forward to spending more time writing about my adventures and also other experiences from my day-to-day life.

I hope you will be along for the journey.


Talking Railroads with

March 03, 2019  •  Leave a Comment












I had the chance recently to discuss railroad photography with Mike Howard and Tim Kempere on the popular jpeg2RAW podcast show. 

This was my first "live" interview and I enjoyed sharing my favorite photography subject with them.

Be sure to check out their website and the rest of the great episodes.

Nickel Plate 765 at Matewan, West VirginiaNickel Plate 765 at Matewan, West VirginiaThe Norfolk Southern celebrated their 30th Anniversary in style during 2012 as they brought Nickel Plate 765 onto the NS tracks as a goodwill ambassador.

The 765 is seen passing through the floodwall at Matewan, WV on it's way back to the yard at Williamson in August 2012.

Learn more about this piece of living history.



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