Railroads & Locomotives History Beyond the byline with Carl Swanson

Beyond the byline with Carl Swanson

By Nastassia Putz | March 6, 2023

Railroading is dynamic, fascinating, and fun!

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What is your history with Trains?

Union Pacific train
A 2002 trip to Portland, Oregon, resulted in a Trains Trackside Guide and plenty of action photos. Carl Swanson

Carl Swanson: I hired on with Kalmbach twenty-five years ago after previous stints with another publisher where I was editor of Passenger Train Journal and RailNews magazines. In 1999, I became an associate editor with Trains Magazine. For a lifelong railfan, and long-time reader of Trains, this was a dream come true. A few years later, I was offered a chance to serve as senior editor with Model Railroader magazine. From there I became editor of Classic Toy Trains magazine, and then editor of Model Railroader. Along the way I even wrote a book for Kalmbach, called Faces of Railroading. Finally, in 2022, I was named editor of Trains. It’s been a long and tangled journey spanning a quarter-century, but it’s great to be part of today’s Trains’ team!

What’s your favorite locomotive and why?

yellow locomotive
The GP30 is a favorite engine, and this one, now residing at Nevada Southern, is noteworthy. When it was delivered in the 1960s, it forced Union Pacific to temporarily renumber its restored 4-8-4 steam locomotive from its original number 844 to 8444. Carl Swanson

Carl Swanson: Growing up in the 1960s, Electro-Motive’s 2,250-horsepower GP30 was the first locomotive I could identify with certainly. The distinctive hunchbacked locomotive remains my favorite, with honorable mentions going out to the SD40-2 and Amtrak’s F40PH. It’s a difficult question to answer, because there isn’t a locomotive I don’t like!

Describe your love of railroading in 6 words or less?

man with hat and glasses
Trains Editor Carl Swanson

Carl Swanson: Railroading is dynamic, fascinating, and fun!

What’s your fondest memory of working at Trains?

photo charter with people lined up taking photos
Hosting Trains photo charters, like this one in fall 2022 featuring Soo Line 1003, is a great way to meet readers. Carl Swanson

Carl Swanson: There have been many memorable trips and wonderful train rides courtesy of the magazine — certainly an unusual employment perk! But my favorite memories involve working alongside professionals like Kevin Keefe, J. David Ingles, and Mark Hemphill, and the relationships I’ve developed over the years with the magazine’s outstanding photographers and authors.

Which issue is your favorite?

A westbound BNSF double-stack train approaches Prairie du Chen, Wis., in August 2021. Carl Swanson

Carl Swanson: The next one. Sounds like a flippant answer, I know, but it’s the truth. It takes months to shape the contents of each issue and gather and edit the editorial content — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Producing an issue of Trains is an orchestrated effort by every department of the company and always on tight deadlines. It’s a high-wire act each month but in the end there’s nothing quite like seeing a new issue on the newsstand.

What advice would you give a new contributor?

conductor shoveling coal into firebox
Man against machine on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, fall 2022. Carl Swanson

Carl Swanson: We are always on the lookout for new contributors. Your hard-earned knowledge of railroading in your area is valuable. Keep an eye out for newsworthy events, take photos, write-up the details, and send them in.

Have questions? We’re here to help!

One thought on “Beyond the byline with Carl Swanson

  1. Carl’s bio is interesting like the life of a railroader. Appreciation for co-workers is also good.

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