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Edition #134, September 15, 2010

The Future of Railroading

Photographer: Mick Nussbaum

                                                                                   Photo by Mick Nussbaum

The Future of Railroading

Over 100 years ago the New Orleans & Northeastern Railroad (predecessor of the Southern Railway) decided that the City of Hattiesburg, Mississippi was in line for a new grand depot. The structure that was built alongside the main line north of downtown was truly impressive, the grand hall or waiting room was the largest such room in a station in the rural deep south. This structure as well as many others served the railroad well for many decades before falling into disrepair.

However, in line with the recent revival of such structures nationwide the depot was recently completely renovated and restored to its original glory. With Amtrak's Crescent stopping there twice every day, it is truly a fully functioning passenger station just as it was 100 years ago.

With the year 2010 being the depot's centennial the city of Hattiesburg felt it only fitting to celebrate the revival of this grand structure in a big way. The grand hall was the venue for a railroad themed art show containing 16 sculptures varying from a life size figure of a seated man constructed entirely of welded railroad spikes to a steam locomotive built from kitchen appliances. The art show culminated in the official birthday celebration featuring a special display train of Amtrak Superliners brought up from New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal just for this event, as well as the typical speeches by city officials and a city wide art walk.

As the official festivities were underway, the champagne was being served and the cake was being cut, the railroad outside the depot was putting on its own show. Norfolk Southern's regular freight trains continued to operate through town oblivious to the birthday celebration at the depot.

I was there for the event not only in support of the city's effort in preserving the unique structure but also to document the event for the future. I was joined by other railfan photographers from outside the area in this task.

As this particular northbound freight was approaching the station and everyone was out on the platform to watch it by, I notice the young man in the picture. His father who was a railroad official in town for the birthday celebration had place a chair by the fence so his son could better view the passing train. After taking my required pictures of the approaching train in the distance, I decided to attempt a shot of this future railroader as he quietly studied the oncoming locomotives. I was later told that the hat the young man is wearing was infact his fathers from when he was about the same age.

It would not surprise me at all in the distant future to find this young man trackside on his own, either employed with the railroad or just enjoying a hobby he was truly born into.

Mick Nussbaum

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