The Toy Train Blog is shutting down….

Folks, I love to write, and I love to write about trains. I also love my website, YourToyTrains.com. I have worked on my website the last three years spending thousands of man-hours and around $50,000. Well, I finally found a web design team I can work with to make my dream really happen. I thought with the technology I had previously I was ready to conquer the online model train shopping world. I ran into a brick wall when I learned my web designer did not have the technology to link my warehouse (inventory tracking system) to my online store. I had several customers attempt to place orders just to find later YourToyTrains.com did not have the product. I am a professional. I will do nothing unless I give it 100% of my resources- my time and money. I am investing $10K in  new software that will directly link my inventory system to my store. I could not continue to operate my store if customers placed orders just to learn later there was no stock. My all new site is being developed at this very moment by highly skilled professional web designers. All the work I have done in designing user-friendly, logical categories to enable you, the online shopper, convenient shopping will be retained. We will have a new site design with much improved graphics, more attractive product displays with relevant product descriptions (I promise our descriptions will be the best of any online store), and of course the vital inventory management system. The new site will have a Blogging page on the site, which will make this Blog unnecessary. It is just a fact good things have to develop in the proper time, and great things take a bit more time than that! Please look forward to the all-new YourToyTrains.com, coming to the web very soon! -Clyde Smith YourToyTrains.com

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Topeka Did Do Something About It

I love Pentrex Railroad videos, and I have a large collection of these videos. I don’t sell them on my web site, YourToyTrains.com, but one day I would like to! In their fine video “Union Pacific’s Marysville Sub Volume 2″ the Union Pacific Depot in Topeka, Kansas, is in ruins and does not look to have much time left. The Pentrex announcer (I love this man’s voice) stated, and I paraphrase: “Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could save this grand building.” The video was taken in the late 1990s. Fast forward to 2014. Last year I took my two week vacation in Kansas. In Topeka, I was very delighted to see the grand Union Pacific Depot in North Topeka (Across the Kansas River from Downtown) had a new life as the rebuilt “Overland Station”. Besides a large event hall, a small railroad museum with operating model train layouts, and vintage rolling stock outside the depot sits on the Union Pacific Railroad’s Marysville Sub (Just like the video said!) – the stretch of track through North Topeka is a very busy main line!

314-Exterior of the former Union Pacific Depot (Now The Great Overland Station)-North Side of the Kansas River in Historic North TopekaRESIZED

Topeka’s Overland Station is housed in the former Union Pacific Depot. Now completely restored, the building is a hidden gem in Topeka, Kansas.

317-Ceiling of the former Union Pacific Railroad Depot in Topeka,KSRESIZED

Union Pacific Railroad spared no expense in building their grand entrance into Topeka. Note this beautiful ceiling. In rebuilding the interior, the city fathers also spared no expense. Nice work!

UP DEPOT TOPEKA RESIZED

The Union Pacific Marysville Sub has plenty of busy main line activity immediately adjacent to the Overland Station. The kids will love all the trains!

If you live in Kansas, Western Missouri, or Southern Nebraska a trip to Topeka to see this beautifully restored station would be well worth the visit. If your little one loves trains- and so many youngsters do- the busy Union Pacific main line features plenty of trains, every day. Have a great stay in Topeka!

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My Dad’s Home Town and Trains

Posted on January 20, 2015 · Posted in Discovering America, Love of trains, Travel Ideas/Tips

My memories of my Dad’s home town, Kings Mountain, North Carolina, have centered on my Aunt Stella and Uncle Vernon, my Dad’s older brother. Being in a military family we did not put down roots until my Dad retired- that small post World War II house on Meadowbrook Drive was a constant. When we lived in Maryland in the 1960s, an annual trip to King’s Mountain was always on the agenda. When my Dad was transferred by the Army and our family picked up stakes, we always included a stop with Aunt Stella and Uncle Vernon. Later on as a high school and college kid I would ride a bicycle my uncle had around Kings Mountain- these visits were always part of my childhood and a great memory. To a little boy with no fixed home- just “living on the economy” and “government quarters”, it gave me a sense deep down I actually had a place, a home.

The Southern Railway was always part of that memory. You see, the Washington-Atlanta Main Line of the Southern Railway came through Kings Mountain- and passing trains were visible in my Aunt Stella and Uncle Vernon’s back yard. As a youngster back in the 1960s I could walk down those tracks on a lazy hot Carolina summer day- the Appalachian Mountains while fairly distant were visible from Kings Mountain- and wonder as those long freight trains and passenger trains rolled through the little  city- Where are those trains going? What are they carrying? All very fascinating to a little boy.

141-Norfolk Southern Railway welded rail train charging through Kings Mountain,NC, at track speed112514RESIZED

Norfolk Southern Railway welded rail train rolling under US Highway 29 and 74 in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. My favorite railroad was always Southern Railway, and now my favorite railroad is Norfolk Southern.

147-End of trainRESIZED

This Norfolk Southern welded rail train rolls through Kings Mountain in November 2014. The tops of the buildings on downtown’s Mountain Street are mostly the buildings my Dad would have seen in the 1930s and 1940s growing up here.

Kings Mountain will always be a cherished memory for me.

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What Does Warren Buffett Think About Trains?

Posted on January 15, 2015 · Posted in Bachmann trains

Warren Buffett PictureBNSF Railway of course has been purchased by Warren Buffett and has become an important part of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies (Not bad company). I took the following remarks directly from Berkshire Hathaway’s 2013 Annual Report. The comments were made by Warren Buffett. I won’t add anything else to their credibility….The highlighting is mine, not Mr. Buffett’s.

 

Mr. Buffett’s Comments:

 

BNSF carries about 15% (measured by ton-miles) of all inter-city freight, whether it is transported by truck, rail, water, air, or pipeline. Indeed, we move more ton-miles of goods than anyone else, a fact establishing  BNSF as the most important artery in our economy’s circulatory system. Its hold on the number-one  position strengthened in 2013.

      BNSF, like all railroads, also moves its cargo in an extraordinarily fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly way, carrying a ton of freight about 500 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel. Trucks taking on the same job guzzle about four times as much fuel.

      Our railroad has been diligent as well in anticipating the needs of its customers. Whatever you may have heard about our country’s crumbling infrastructure in no way applies to BNSF or railroads generally. America’s rail system has never been in better shape, a consequence of huge investments by the industry. We are not, however, resting: BNSF spent $4 billion on the railroad in 2013, double its depreciation charge and a single-year record for any railroad. And, we will spend considerably more in 2014. Like Noah, who foresaw early on the need for dependable  transportation, we know it’s our job to plan ahead.

 

BNSF Earnings (in millions)

                                                                                                                                                          2013           2012            2011

Revenues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $22,014      $20,835        $19,548

Operating expenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15,357     14,835            14,247

Operating earnings before interest and taxes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6,657      6,000                5,301

Interest (net) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .729            623                560

Income taxes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2,135         2,005              1,769

Net earnings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$ 3,793      $ 3,372          $ 2,972

 

 

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Why do I love trains?

Folks,

Happy New Year from me and the folks at YourToyTrains.com! I am sometimes asked why I love trains so much. I do have memories of me as an elementary school student watching Santa Fe cab units in the early 1960s near my home in El Paso. I also remember as a child in the mid 1960s in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, standing in the smoke of steam locomotives to see what that felt like. By 1966 my family had moved to Aberdeen, Maryland. That summer I spent most of my time down by the main line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and I never looked back.

Maybe it is the power and speed of the huge locomotives effortlessly pulling long strings of freight cars to places unknown. Maybe it’s the fact you never know what kind of train is coming. Will it be a manifest? Maybe an intermodal? Perhaps even Amtrak? Maybe it’s the fact railroads have been intertwined with the American experience since the 1840s, and are still a vital part of our economy today. Maybe it is standing on the summit of Marias Pass in Montana on a crisp, cool Rocky Mountain morning breathing fresh air as a distant moan comes nearer and nearer, then shaking the very ground these huge engines exclaim “We made it up this mountain!”. Maybe it is spending a day with the friendly Amtrak staff in Longview, Texas, watching Union Pacific put on a “power display”. Oh, and the magic of an arriving passenger train with the hugs and goodbyes and the hugs when friends and family meet is beyond description.

Anyway, like many of you trains are “in my blood”, and I am glad. I wanted to share my love of trains both with this blog and also with my website, YourToyTrains.com. Loving trains is a passion that covers both time and geographic space. It is a love that was meant to be shared. Come with me in 2015 as we journey through this exciting world of the Iron Horse.

Clyde Smith

President

217-A Union Pacific Railroad on the Marysville Sub Kansas City-North Platte Main LineREVISED- Westbound manifest freight train is stopped at Parallel Road near Duluth,KS

My summer vacation along the Marysville Sub of the Union Pacific Railroad near Duluth, Kansas. An exciting train-watching event, this train is awaiting a meet with a passing train. What better place to be on a warm summer’s day?

YourToyTrains.com

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Merry Christmas from YourToyTrains!

Posted on December 23, 2014 · Posted in Bachmann trains

Folks,

I am Clyde Smith, owner and President of YourToyTrains.com. I wanted to thank all of you kind folks who purchased products from YourToyTrains.com during 2014. We know we have much work to do to raise our position in the search engines, but for those of you that ventured down the model train website list and found us, we appreciate it! Starting an online business takes hours and hours of effort, but I am not complaining! I enjoy every minute I work on this site. I am grateful we at YourToyTrains were able to meet the needs of our customers and while we have a small customer base our customers have found shopping at YourToyTrains so rewarding once we have a customer, we keep them. We will go the extra mile every time to meet our customer needs. We at YourToyTrains live,eat, and breathe customer service, and we love trains! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

-Clyde Smith

YourToyTrains.com

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Safe Travels during the Christmas Holiday Season!

Posted on December 22, 2014 · Posted in Bachmann trains

It is that time of year again! I live in Texas but travel every year 1000 miles to Lexington, South Carolina, to visit my family. I need the car as it will be filled with wonderful gifts for my small and very spoiled family (Er, I’m spoiled too). On returning to Texas after Christmas, it is my tradition to drive across the South on two-lane highways, each year finding a different route. Depending on the weather, I will walk in small towns (and sometimes in cities like Atlanta or Birmingham). I also watch trains en route, of course, and I spend every night along a mainline railroad to watch trains and write in my journal. I really love to travel.

Many of you will be travelling this holiday season- some for short visits to nearby family and friends  and others of you will take a long trip like me. Whatever your holiday plans please drive safely. Most people in the North know how to drive on snow… but please be very careful especially if driving in snow. For us down South who struggle to drive on snow, slow down and keep your distance from other cars!

646-A Norfolk Southern Railway trainman braves the snow to do an equipment check on the fast-moving eastbound coal train-Revised

Travelling across northern Mississippi last winter driving between South Carolina and Texas, and sudden unexpected snow made for some interesting train photography. Norfolk Southern Railway near Iuka,MS

We at YourToyTrains want to wish you safe travels during this holiday season!

-Clyde Smith

President

YourToyTrains.com

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YourToyTrains is on hold during major site reconstruction

Posted on December 19, 2014 · Posted in About YourToyTrains.com, Model Train Stories, News From YourToyTrains.com

With the Christmas shopping season nearly over and we at YourToyTrains having plans to provide the online model railroad shopper the ultimate shopping experience, we have had to shut down our site temporarily due to the major changes we are implementing. The new YourToyTrains will have all new categories and will be designed to be extremely user-friendly. By early January 2015 we will have our product loaded and the new categories working. Believe us, we hated to bring the site down, but this step must be done, and the sooner the better! Our entire goal since we started was to make our site about you- hence YourToyTrains- we can no longer wait to present the absolute best model train site possible! Please be patient and as they say during road construction in some states “Pardon Our Progress!”. It will be worth the wait. We promise!

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New Website Structure is Under Construction!

Posted on December 8, 2014 · Posted in Bachmann trains

Yes! The project is in the works. After months of planning and detailed work YourToyTrains is now constructing a user-friendly website where the model railroader will easily find products by scale and type, and be able to compare brands in each category side by side. This may all sound like some marketing mumbo-jumbo; here is how it will work for you:

1402717617571-245699643

Lionel O Scale Canadian Pacific Diesel Passenger Set

Say you were looking for an HO Scale church to complete your small town or village. The pictured church is found on our “Bachmann HO Accessories” page at this time. However, only Bachmann accessories are displayed. And all accessories- electrical, figures, buildings- are all on the “Accessories” page. With our new structure you will find a “Buildings and Structures” category on the Home Page, which when you click on you will come to the Category Page for “Buildings and Structures” with a selection of gauges. Simply click on “HO Scale” and all the buildings we sell- Lionel, Woodland Scenics, Bachmann, Atlas, etc.- will all appear on that Product Page. Shopping just like you would in a retail store!

Second example. You are searching for a Lionel Train Set for that special loved one for Christmas or Hanukkah. Right now at YourToyTrains.com you would look under “Lionel”, then by Gauge, then under “Train Sets”. Once reconstructed, there will be a “Train Sets” category on the Home Page. Click on this link and you will be taken to the “Train Sets” Category Page. Then click on your Scale- in this case O- and every O Scale Train Set we sell will be displayed on one page. Just the item you want. With product from every manufacturer we sell.

YourToyTrains will be second to none in shopping ease and convenience.

1401391908847-1294165979

Bachmann HO Church. Church is a great thing at Christmas Time!

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Resurging Railroads mean better service to smaller communities

It is in the news today how the railroad industry is coming back. All the major American railroads did quite well during our hard times. Being environmentally friendly and extremely fuel efficient are not bad qualities to have, and these attributes describe modern railroading. Sure, owning BNSF Railway has made Warren Buffett a happy man, and major industries like coal, grain, chemicals, and import/export are benefitting (Although you would not know this if you listened to their trade associations) from a highly efficient, well-maintained, quality railroad infrastructure.

924REV-Union Pacific Railroad grain train backing up to pick up cars at an Abilene silo

Union Pacific Railroad road train switching the grain silo in Abilene, Kansas. With this route kept in excellent shape, Kansas small towns benefit from a resurging US rail industry.

But what about small towns? I will take one example of a small city I recently visited- Abilene, Kansas. For background information, Union Pacific Railroad has spent many millions of dollars rebuilding their Kansas City-Denver line with 136 pound welded rail, new ballast, and ties. The line was rebuilt to handle part of the huge amount of coal traffic originating in Wyoming and travelling to the Midwest. Abilene is on this route, and with its agribusiness and grain silos in this rich agricultural region of Kansas rail is used to move the grain to market. With all that investment, grain trains on this route can travel at track speed, 60 miles per hour or greater, rather than the slow speeds that most branch and secondary routes are limited to. Result? A silo operator in Abilene benefits from a better maintained national rail system just like the giant trucking companies who ship rail, the major importers of products from Asia (And who isn’t?), or any other large concern that at some point depends on rail transportation. Sounds like good railroads are good for America. I think this fact is true.

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