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Western Railfan Publications

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This page was last updated on June 25, 2016.

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Each of these publications were labors of love by each of their publishers. They were all essentially intended to get the news out as soon as possible, based initially on door-to-door surface mail, then on telephone communication and early dial-up email communication. By the late 1990s, several web sites were established that allowed "bulletin board" communications among railfans, including email discussion groups like OneList, which became eGroups, then YahooGroups. In addition, there were separate web sites that specialized in railfan news, with one of the first being Trainorders.com.

As the readership of the on-line bulletin boards increased, the subscriber base for the railfan newsletters decreased. The biggest complaint was usually given as a lack of current news in the printed-to-paper publications. Some took longer than others to pass away, but all have fallen by the way side, apparent casualties of the internet age.

But, as easy as it may seem, blame cannot be fully laid at the doorstep of the internet. As in any business community, there are good decisions and bad decisions, and businesses fail for a wide variety of reasons. Even in the very small community of railfan publications, rumors persist of failure due to cheating and partnerships gone bad, as well as profits being wasted.

Also, many in the hobby and in the small railfan community have noticed that railfanning and the overall railroad hobby is growing smaller every year. Todd Clark, owner of Trainorders.com wrote on July 20, 2005, "I don't think the problem can be completely blamed on the Internet, but more of a problem of the aging railfan population. If the magazines don't do more to pickup younger subscribers then we might see some magazine thinning in the coming decade. I believe Trainorders.com represents a younger audience than the magazines. Of concern to me is less than 20% of our membership subscribe to either of the two largest rail magazines. In the past before the internet, new fans were introduced to the hobby through train magazines found at local hobby shops. The magazines were sort of an ambassador for the hobby. Now there are significantly less model train shops than 10 or 15 years ago, thus fewer outlets for distribution. The internet is the new ambassador for the hobby. I am not speaking necessarily of this site, but the hundreds of personal web sites on the net built by railfans showing off their photos and railfan adventures."

Volunteer Publications

Presented in no particular order:

Everywhere West

Everywhere West was started in late 1971 by Tom Schmid while going to school in San Francisco, as letters home to railfan friends who frequently gathered at Santa Fe's Santa Ana station on Friday and Sunday evenings. Somehow he or his brother Jamie (also moved north for school) made acquaintance of managers at SP headquarters, and the information flow turned into a newsletter with a following. The newsletter was called "SAG of the North News", only becoming Everywhere West with Issue #3. The "SAG" label came from the "Santa Ana Gang" nickname given to the group by Chard Walker at about the same time. John Signor was an early member of SAG.

Mike Musick, also an early member of SAG, wrote on October 5, 2015:

My time with SAG started in '72, when I started school, at around Issue #60 of Everywhere West. Publication frequency was always erratic, but in the early days it was maybe every two to three weeks. I became the resident railroad radio expert since unlike a lot of the railfans with scanners of the day, I was taking electronics engineering classes and knew how the stuff worked.

The cost of postage and printing became an issue in '76 or so, when we had 200 subscribers after running an ad in Trains, and Tom was simply not charging enough to recapture costs - especially having paid for the ad! We formed a syndicate of five or six of us to spread the burden. Tom began to lose interest when he started dating, and publishing frequency suffered. The subsequent move to Southern California was in early '78 was an attempt to keep it alive. The editor, Dave Norris, and I both worked at a printing plant, so supposedly this was going to help. He edited, and for several issues I typeset and arranged for printing. What we didn't - or couldn't - know was that without Tom, Jamie and John in the production cycle, our sources pretty much dried-up. We struggled through 18 issues in five years, writing nearly all the content ourselves, and called it quits in '83 with Issue #183 after I took a new job and moved to Atlanta.

There were two "ghost" issues, #184 and #185, in 1990, but that was just me fishing for interest among the friends in possibly reviving the newsletter using desktop publishing, my not being aware that Flimsies had filled the niche. Maybe in 30 or 40 years they'll be collectors' items. Or maybe not.

The Lark

Flimsies

The following was sent by Mark Reyes via an email dated March 20, 2011:

Flimsies was founded and first edited by a gentleman by the name of Steve Sloan sometime in the early 1980s. Steve Sloan also founded and edited an online magazine called Track Warrants in the mid 1990s. Charlie Baden was the second editor but was really more of a "hands on" promoter who, with a dedicated staff of experienced railfans, took Flimsies to the level it achieved in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I was a minor part of the staff and a personal friend in those days. I left before Bill Farmer took over editing.

Charlie Baden is now (last I've known) involved with the Sci-Fi Con scene, as he was before Flimsies. Charlie Baden put in a great deal of effort in Flimsies. It should be noted that Charlie Baden was in fact the publisher during his tenure as editor.

I don't know if Steve Sloan also self published, I presume so. He was and still is a hardcore railfan and currently hosts a web site called Steve Sloan Train Photos and is part of the Winterail staff. Bill Farmer, a lifelong railfan, passed away in 2006. He edited a newsletter called the Farmer Report which he sent only to personnel acquaintances.

Flimsies West

Flimsies Northwest

Shasta Rail Group

SP Review

The Overland (UP)

Green and Silver Review (BNSF)

The Mixed Train

Locomotive Notes

Locomotive Notes II (LNII)

Western Railroader

Kyle Wyatt wrote on January 31, 2000, to the WP List discussion group:

The Pacific Coast Chapter of the R&LHS took over the Western Railroader after Francis Guido passed away. It continued it the original format for several years. Publishing costs led to suspension of the journal in its old format (Guido had done it as a labor of love - it didn't work to pay someone to edit it). Subsequently the PCC-R&LHS adopted the Western Railroader name for its monthly newsletter. Once a year they still publish an historical issue (in the new larger format), carrying on the tradition. Also, the current publication continues the issue numbers from the old Western Railroader.

Francis Guido did not start the Western Railroader by himself. Jack Gibson was the original editor, with Guido as publisher, when it started in 1937. After several years Guido assumed all duties. Jack Gibson now lives in retirement in Carson City, Nevada, where he is active with the Nevada State Railroad Museum.

Ken Shattock wrote to the Altamont Press forum on November 23, 2012:

The Western Railroader has been published monthly for a long time by the Pacific Coast Chapter--Railway and Locomotive Historical Society. The longtime Editor was Irene Lugg in Sacramento who recently retired. Today, noted rail author and historian Robert Church is the Acting Editor.

Colorado Time Table

Western Rail Gazette

Rumormill

The Short Line

Shortline Railroad Journal

Railroad Car Journal

Interurban Newsletter

Later Interurban Magazine and Interurban Special

Mainstream Magazines

CTC-Board (CTC)

Pacific News/Pacific Rail News (PN/PRN)

Extra 2200 South

The first Extra 2200 South, Volume 1, Number 1, March 1964, had the following editorial staff:

Published by: Publication Committee, West Coast Railway Association

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