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Great Trains 2018 Calendar

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The Golden Age of railroading lives again in the paintings of artist Gil Bennett. Big steam in Great Trains ranges from New York Central’s 4-8-4 Niagara-type, a Southern Pacific 4-8-8-2, ALCO 0-8-8-0 Mallet-types, and more. Distinctive diesel power includes Southern Pacific EMD U-50’s, and big UP diesel-electric Centennials. Enjoy the art of great railroading!


Published by Tide-mark, the Great Trains wall calendar opens to 13.75 x 20.5 inches


Paintings featured in the 2018 edition include:

January

Departure of the Commodore Vanderbilt

New York Central System, 1949

In 1945, the New York Central’s mechanical department and the engineers at ALCO, got together to build a locomotive that would pull a twenty-car passenger train at more than 80 m.p.h. What they created was the biggest locomotive that would fit the Central’s tight clearances. As built, the locomotive exceeded the design specs of the engineering department. Named the Niagaratype, these big 4-8-4s could develop 6,000 h.p. and run more than 27,000 miles per month in fast passenger service. They out-pulled and out-ran the new diesel-electric locomotives in tests and could push past the 100 m.p.h. mark. Niagara 6019, is seen here departing Chicago with the Commodore Vanderbilt. This passenger train left the Windy City at 4:00 p.m. daily and is seen here moving its 14 cars on a cold, winter afternoon.

February

Night Moves

Southern Pacific Railroad, 1947

A bitter, sub-zero night finds a brace of Southern Pacific “swing helpers” taking on water deep in the Cascade mountain range. Up front, a big 4-8-8-2 pauses for the helpers to finish watering before they resume moving their train up the second half of the grade. The helpers tonight are an F-4 2-10-2 and an AC-6 4-8-8-2 cab forward. The engineer of the F-4 checks the running gear of the locomotive while the fireman adds water to the tender. The section foreman walks back to talk with the engineer of the big AC-6 as it waits its turn at the water plug. Once the tender of the F-4 is topped off, the valley will resound with blowing whistles as the helpers communicate with the front end about how far to move in order for the AC-6 to get its tender filled. Then one more time the whistles will echo off the mountains as the all three locomotives move the train up the grade.

March

Mud Season

Boston & Maine Railroad, 1958

In the New England states there is a time between the freezing of winter and the thaw of spring called “mud season.” That is the time of year where it gets warm enough during the day to melt the snow and turn everything into mud, which then freezes again at night, a cycle that repeats day after day. Mud season is a miserable time of year for people working outdoors who walk around in the cold mud and melting snow. A Boston & Maine brace of ALCO RS-3 locomotives hustle a way freight upgrade to Deerfield, Massachusetts. The sap is running in the trees as the days warm and mud season comes to an end.

April

Wet Steam

Union Pacific Railroad, 1953

In 1941, the Union Pacific Railroad needed more locomotives to move its growing freight traffic. The railroad was built across moderate grades except in two places: the Sherman Hill grade heading west, and the long Wasatch grade for eastbound trains. The railroad, along with ALCO, designed the 4-6-6-4 Challenger-class locomotives, and they were tested to their maximum on the eastbound grade out of Ogden, but a more powerful locomotive was needed. The Union Pacific engineering department and ALCO collaborated again and developed the Big Boy, the world largest steam locomotive, weighing 600 tons and measuring 133 feet long. Big Boys were designed to pull 3,600-ton trains over the Wasatch grade and were eventually assigned to lead 4,450 ton trains unassisted. On a cold, rainy April afternoon, Big Boy 4014 muscles its train up the Wasatch grade at a steady 20 m.p.h. Union Pacific is now restoring 4014 to operating condition and the locomotive should be running again in 2019.

May

The Entire Fleet

Southern Pacific Railroad, 1966

A rainy California afternoon reveals the entire fleet of Southern Pacific’s U-50s as they pass through San Timoteo Canyon. The Southern Pacific ordered three of these 5,000 h.p. Diesels from General Electric to see what they could do. The U-50s arrived in 1964 and were put into service on the Sunset and Overland routes. The big locomotives could pull anything the yardmaster tied to them. Two of the big units, 9951 and 9953, crawl up the 1.89% grade as they head for the town of Beaumont at the top of the hill. Another U-50, 9952, drops down grade with its own train. These units ended their careers in 1977, working drag freights from Taylor yard in Los Angeles to the big Southern Pacific yard in Colton, CA.

June

Haulin’ Ore

Bingham and Garfield Railroad, 1936

In 1922, the Boston & Maine ordered two large 0-8-8-0 Mallet-type locomotives from ALCO to use as yard transfer power around the vicinity of Schenectady, New York. By 1928 the locomotives were worn out and B&M put them up for sale. The Utah Copper Corp. bought them in 1929 and transformed the locomotives at their Magna, Utah shops. The rebuilt locomotives had an added stoker and super heaters, a feed water heater (the device hanging over the smoke box) air compressors and extended coal capacity. The rebuilt locomotives weighed in at 479,000 lbs., all of it resting on their eight 51-inch drivers. With 107,000 lbs of tractive force, the locomotives could haul 6,000-ton trains along the line between Bingham and Magna, Utah. As much as 100,000 tons of copper ore per day would move along this line. Locomotive 108 is pictured here taking a 60-car train of ore up the slight grade out of Bingham on a summer afternoon.

July

Thunder through Abo Canyon

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, 1950

The Santa Fe was always looking for ways to speed up trains along its route from Los Angeles to Chicago. By 1930, the railroad had 140 large 2-10-2 locomotives, moving freight on its grades in the west.   Baldwin Locomotive Works built one 2-10-4 for the railroad to see if the big machine would work; it did. The Santa Fe went back to Baldwin in 1938 and ordered ten even larger 2-10-4s to move the increase in traffic. As World War II went on, the Santa Fe ordered 25 more huge 2-10-4s that would run freight trains from California to Kansas at 65 mph. These last locomotives weighed in at 538,000 lbs. had 74” drivers and were equipped with a huge 470,000 lb.tender. It had 310 lbs. of boiler pressure and developed 93,000 lbs. of tractive force and 6100 hp. Here 5021, one of the last order, moves a westbound train upgrade through Abo canyon, in New Mexico. The 5021 was saved by the Santa Fe in case they needed steam during heavy traffic. It now resides at the California Railroad Museum.

August

Desert Hot Shot                                                                                                      

Union Pacific Railroad, 1976                                                                                                 

To mark the 100th anniversary of the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, the Union Pacific ordered 47 giant Diesel-electric locomotives. On the books they were described as 6,600 horse power DDA40x, and named Centennial for the build date of 1969. To the crews they were known as “6900s” and were put to work on the Union Pacific’s vast system to haul its urgent “hot shot” freight trains. These 545,432 lb. locomotives were built with a top speed of 90 mph to pull freight trains at passenger-train speeds. A group of SD 40-2s was also re-geared to run at 90 mph; and soon the 13,500 h.p. “super sandwich” was created. Two Centennials spliced by a “fast 40” were the main lash up on UP’s fastest trains. Here, one of the “super sandwiches” hauls the westbound Super Van through the high California desert. Today 6916 is displayed at the Utah Railroad Museum.

September

Almost to the Summit

Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, 1949

The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad was built to tap the gold and silver mines of the west. As the gold and silver played out, the railroad started hauling coal. Rails were laid to the mines of western Colorado and eastern Utah. As west was industrialized, coal was needed to fuel power plants and factories.The coal deposits nearest to the west coast were the bituminous mines in eastern Utah. To handle the traffic, the line over Soldier Summit was double tracked and the grades lowered from 4% to 2%. To haul the coal the “Grande” ordered ten huge 2-10-2 locomotives in 1916. They were first used south of Denver, but were soon moved to the line crossing Soldier Summit. With its green boiler, 1406 is slowly moving up the 2% grade with a 2-8-8-2 pushing on the rear end as the helper. The train is only two miles from the 7,440 ft. summit where the helper will cut off, and the train will drop down the other side of the mountains where the cars will again be loaded with coal.           

October

Dropping down from the Pass

Rio Grande Southern Railway, 1939

The San Miguel Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop as Rio Grande Southern #25 drops down the grade from Lizard Head Pass toward Ophir, and on to Placerville and Ridgway, Colorado. The train is passing Trout Lake and no doubt the little locomotive stopped for water at the tank beyond the hill before resuming its journey. It is late fall in the high country, and soon the entire region will be blanketed with snow.

November

They called ‘em “Stripes”

Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, 1949

It was a war engine. The Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway was strapped for power as the United States entered World War II. Its last new locomotives had been built in 1930 by ALCO. Most of the other locomotives on the roster predated World War I. The older locomotives could not move the war tonnage fast enough and the rail lines were choking. The railroad liked the 1930 locomotives and wanted copies, however, they wanted them upgraded. ALCO got the call to build eighteen 400,500 lb. 4-8-4s to run in both freight and passenger service. On passenger trains the engines often ran at 90 mph and could exceed100 mph if pushed. On freight trains they were able to move long trains and run faster than any other locomotive on the railroad. Locomotive 576 blasts upgrade over Raccoon Mountain in Tennessee with a time freight. The Nashville Steam Preservation Society is currently restoring locomotive 576.

December

Flight of the Phoebe Snow

Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, 1958

A light snow falls as the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad’s Phoebe Snow speeds along the Hallstead Cutoff. The time is 1:26 p.m. and the train is running a little late because of the bad weather. The engineer is making up time and the train will arrive in Buffalo, N.Y. at its scheduled 5:50 p.m. arrival time. In about 1900 the DL&W came up with the imaginary character Phoebe Snow to advertise the railroad’s use of “clean” burning anthracite coal. In 1949 it adopted the name for the railroad’s first-class passenger train. The train left Hoboken, N.J. daily at 9:35 a.m. and carried sleeping cars that were forwarded to Chicago by other railroads.

About the Artist
Gilbert Bennett has been painting professionally since 1984. An avid rail fan from the age of 2, Gil has a lifelong love for the subjects he paints—trains. Gil’s grandfather was a freight agent for the Chicago & North Western Railroad and traveled extensively by train, at times with Gil’s father in tow. Hearing about the rail travel their father took, a fascination for trains was kindled in Gil and his brother. At the age of 4, Gil was taking pencil to paper drawing what he liked most. His talent for drawing grew over the years, but it was channeled more toward architecture, and his drawing of trains took a back seat to his study.

It was not until 1983 that on a whim, Gil took an oil painting class at the University of Utah. Of course, the first thing he attempted to paint was a train. From that time, Gil started painting trains to pay for his college tuition. In 1987, Gil also picked up watercolor and has painted in both watercolor and oils ever since. After graduating from the University of Utah with a bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Gil put school on hold before going back to get his master’s degree in Architecture.

During that time he was commissioned to make 30 paintings for a company in Minneapolis, mostly on railroad subjects. Since then, Gil has been painting steadily and has developed a long list of clients. While at times Gil has painted wildlife, landscapes, western art, and portraits, he prefers to paint trains. His paintings have graced book and magazine covers, articles, calendars, and Christmas cards. In 1999, Railway Reflections, a history of railroads in Utah illustrated by Gil’s paintings, was published. Currently, Gil lives with his wife and four sons in Saratoga Springs, Utah. He is the most prolific railroad artist working today, sought out by private collectors as well as national corporations.

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