St. Croix River Soo Line High Bridge

I love the iron and steel constructs built between the American Civil War and the First World War. Many were built by the railroads, the wonder train sheds of Europe. But the US has its share of railway architecture. The St. Croix River Soo Line High Bridge is a magical construct of steel latticework. I never tire of taking a boat down to the bridge just to marvel at how, more than a century ago (in 1909) folks made such a wonderful and beautiful structure.  I love how delicate the lacework pattern of iron and steel can look. Make sure … Continue reading St. Croix River Soo Line High Bridge

Take the Train from Casablanca going south. (The Marrakesh Express)

I’ve never heard a train song I didn’t want to ride.  I’ve ridden the Rock Island Line and the City of New Orleans.  Some songs I can never ride.  The Super Chief and Phoebe Snow are 30 years gone.  But you can still “take the train from Casablanca going south.”   We rode the Marrakesh Express.  The song is more about anticipation than the ride, but the ride, while crowded, is worth it.  You clickety clack from the coastal flats through rolling hills and dessert.  There are settlements of brown adobe brick, circled by a wall, looking like they grew out … Continue reading Take the Train from Casablanca going south. (The Marrakesh Express)

Railjet, Austria’s High Speed Train.

Railjet is Austria’s high speed train.  While not as fast as Germany’s ICE (Suzi’s train from Brussels to Munich topped out at 275) or France’s TGV, we clocked a respectable 232 km per hour  (144 MPH) on the route between Munich and Vienna.  The train is comfortable with wi-fi (I took a picture when the speedometer tipped 200 and sent it out on FaceBook), a dining car, a cart that brings food to you and nice seats.  Taking pictures out of the windows at the alpine meadows at that speed was a challenge for my camera.  You don’t really feel … Continue reading Railjet, Austria’s High Speed Train.

Iron and Glass, Flowers and Trains

May 11, 2010 Dear Friends, On Friday afternoons I would go to my grandparents’ flat in Jersey City while my parents had their night out.  Grandpa Brew would tell me stories.  He was raised in Ireland, ran away to sea at 13 and developed a love of travel, ships, Ireland and America.    He introduced me to Democratic politics.  He also told a good story.  But his one love that didn’t transfer was his love of gardening and formal gardens.  He came out to our home in Ridgewood and made flower beds to lay out the garden “just so.”  I helped … Continue reading Iron and Glass, Flowers and Trains

London 2013, St. Pancras

The first time I was in London my grandfather and I stayed at the YMCA.  We have stayed at the “Y” with our kids and Suzi and I have, in the past, stayed in the BBC Hostel, but this time we are staying in digs that couldn’t be more different than the “Y”.  We are at the St. Pancras, which is an old railway hotel at St. Pancras Station.  It has been completely renovated and restored into a 5 star hotel as part of the project that made this old Victorian complex the center for EuroStar departures.  It is a … Continue reading London 2013, St. Pancras

Tracking an Old Memory, Dobrun, BiH

This is from a June, 2010 letter: Thirty Eight years ago, (in 1972) Suzi and I fleetingly encountered a narrow gauge steam powered train while driving the back roads of Bosnia.  Last week, near the same place, we saw that train again.  The rail company is just re-opening the narrow gauge line into Bosnia after closing it in the 70s.  This time we chased the train to get a better look, driving onto side roads and catching up with it at a siding where the engine could un-hook its cars, shuffle around to the other side of the train, and … Continue reading Tracking an Old Memory, Dobrun, BiH

Sargan 8, A railroad climbs a mountain in Serbia

This is an excerpt from a June 2009 letter:   This week we started our journalism summer school at Mokra Gora, (wet mountain) in the mountains near the Bosnian border.   As part of the program we had arranged an excursion on the narrow gauge railway. This railroad has fascinated me for more than 35 years.  Suzi and I encountered it in 1972 on a drive through Bosnia, the little steam engines pulled trains of logs and passengers along track that sometimes ran beside the rutted road on which we were driving.  There was a lot of construction on that road … Continue reading Sargan 8, A railroad climbs a mountain in Serbia