Western Railfan Publications

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This page was last updated on February 8, 2018.

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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 of the hundreds of personal web sites 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


Mark Reyes wrote in 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.

Charles Baden wrote in an email dated March 13, 2017:

Mark is correct, he was one half of the "Train Punks" who introduced me to Steve's publication in the first place. I'll have to look up my back issues of FLIMSIES to give you precise data, though! I took over as editor-publisher, and Mark is correct, I did a lot of promotion too.

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.

Jeff Moore wrote on the Yahoo Espee discussion group on June 5, 2005:

Now...I could be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure that the Western Railroader became a PCC-R&LHS publication around 1985. My understanding is that they purchased the magazine at that time. I do remember seeing a statement in one of their early WR issues (after they bought the magazine) stating that they had nothing to do with the 1930's-1985 era of the magazine. All of the previous Western Railroaders were published by Francis A. Guido. I just leafed through a stack of WR issues from around 1975, and I could not find any specific copyright language in any of them. If any copyrights still exist for the early era of the magazine, I assume that they would still reside with Mr. Guido or his heirs.

Western Rail Gazette


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)

Pacific News was the creation of Karl Koenig, one of the six founding members of the Pacific Locomotive Association. The first issue was published in September of 1961. From Issue #1 to Issue #111, the size was small, like the long established Western Railroader, published by the Pacific Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. From Issue #1 through Issue #15, the first page stated that it was published each month by the Pacific Locomotive Association, with Karl R. Koenig as the chairman of the Photography and Publicity Department of the Pacific Locomotive Association. With Issue #15, the magazine was published by Chatham Publishing, named for the street Karl Koenig lived on in Burlingame. Beginning with Issue #111 in January 1971 the size of the magazine was increased to that of a regular magazine, such as Railroad magazine and Trains magazine, the two standards of the railfan community.

Chatham Publishing and Karl Koenig published Pacific News from 1961 to 1983, when it was sold to Interurban Press. In 1993, Interurban Press was sold to Pentrex, with headquarters in Pasadena, California, and production offices in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Pacific News became Pacific Rail News in 1984, then Rail News in 1997. The last issue was in 1999.

Extra 2200 South

The first published as an informal newsletter, the first Extra 2200 South, Volume 1, Number 1, March 1964, had the following editorial staff:

Cliff Downey wrote this brief history of Extra 2200 South:

Extra 2200 South was started in May 1961 as a newsletter by Jerry Pinkepank as a way of sharing information about diesel locomotives with a group of friends. Nearly 100 persons were on Jerry's mailing list in 1963, when Garth Tyckoson assumed editorship. The practice of assigning "issue numbers" began in early 1968, when Don Dover began editing the magazine, with the assistance of his son Dan. From 1968 to mid-1969, the magazine was published monthly, and then assumed a bi-monthly publication until mid-1975 when quarterly publication began. Effective with Issue 91 in early 1991, Doug Cummings took over as editor/publisher.

First published as a formal magazine beginning in 1968. The magazine was published by Don Dover, and his wife Dottie, and their son, Dan, and Dick Will, with Don Dover as the editor. The first issue was Issue number 1 (Volume 6, Number 8), dated January 1968. The last issue was Issue 90, dated April-May-June 1990.

No issues were published for all of 1981, for January-February-March 1982, all of 1985, all of 1987, January-February-March 1988, all of 1989, and January-February-March 1990.

Don Dover passed away on December 18, 2006, from complications of his Parkinson's disease and diabetes. Don was 83, and had been in failing health for approximately the last three years and was placed in a nursing home about six weeks prior to his death.

Dick Will passed away on July 29, 2011.

Dan Dover passed away on September 5, 2017.

Publication of Extra 2200 South was taken over by Doug Cummings in 1990. The first issue with Doug Cummings as editor and owner was Issue 91, dated April-May-June 1991. Beginning in early 2001, the publication began having distribution problems from its printer.

Doug Cummings wrote in September 2017: "We studied it to death and it is not economical. The internet killed it. We lost most of the dealers, who were responsible for most of the readers, when the internet killed the hobby shops. Over half of our readers got their magazines through the dealers. Without them it became uneconomical to continue. Without paid advertising or some other support it could not continue. We still have several thousand dollars owing to us by dealers who never paid us. We did not have a book publishing sideline to help keep us going and we were spending more time on administration than in working on getting the magazine out."