Railroads & Locomotives History Beyond the byline with Brian M. Schmidt

Beyond the byline with Brian M. Schmidt

By Nastassia Putz | August 2, 2023

It makes America work

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What was your first byline in Trains?

Brian M. Schmidt: In August 2006 I wrote about the state of the South Shore Line commuter service in Indiana, a remnant of the old Chicago South Shore & South Bend interurban. My friend Alexander Craghead was running Trains’ City Rail column at the time and arranged for a visit with the railroad when I was in town, I think without any advance notice. Surprising to both of us, they rolled out the red carpet offering tours of the shops, administrative offices, and dispatching center. Then he had to find space in the magazine to run a story on them!

What’s your favorite locomotive and why?

Brian M. Schmidt: General Electric AC6000CW, specifically two of them on the high-priority CSX Transportation intermodals in the early 2000s. They could move these trains at 70 mph, and their 7HDL prime movers had a distinctive sound. They were also visually different with large, yellow “CSX” lettering on their flanks, heavy-duty trucks, and oversized radiator sections. One Union Pacific unit, a former demonstrator, is preserved at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pa.

Blue, gray, and yellow diesel locomotives with freight train on bridge over river
CSX Transportation AC6000s Nos. 637 and 615 cross the Auglaize River in Defiance, Ohio, in July 2007 eastbound in late evening light. Brian M. Schmidt

Describe your love of railroading in 6 words or less.

Brian M. Schmidt: It makes America work.

What’s your fondest memory as a contributor?

Brian M. Schmidt: I was privileged to work closely with CSX during my time on the Trains staff. Because of that I was able to visit the famous F Tower in Fostoria, Ohio, during its last day of operation in March 2015. (Has it been that long already?) F Tower controlled the crossing of two CSX main lines and one Norfolk Southern main line, leading to the nickname the “Iron Triangle.” The story appeared in the August 2015 issue with interviews provided by a number of friends who had professional connections with F Tower. I was also able to fill out the story with 15 years of my own photography from around the city.

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What article received the biggest reader reaction?

Brian M. Schmidt: For February 2015, I wrote a feature on Class I railroads’ train symbols. The comments were overwhelmingly positive and thankful for the work put into the story, which explained how each road’s train symbols were arranged. However, a small but vocal group was upset that the story wasn’t more detailed (it was already eight pages) and comprehensive in scope with listings for every train on every railroad. Oh well.

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headshot of man with glasses
Brian M. Schmidt

What advice would you give a new contributor?

Brian M. Schmidt: Listen to your editor. (As an editor, I’m aware this is also self-serving.) This person knows exactly what the magazine needs, so do that.

Nobody is beyond editing, even editors who contribute to other publications.



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