Western Railfan Publications
Index For This Page
This page was last updated on February 8, 2018.
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."
Presented in no particular order:
- started in San Francisco area, circa late 1971, edited by Tom Schmid
- moved to Southern California, circa 1978, edited by Dave Norris
- ended in 1983
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.
- published by Vic Neves
- started as Flimsies in about 1985-1986
- founder and first editor was Steve Sloan
- later editors included Charlie Baden and Bill Farmer
- telephone hotline manned by Bill Farmer
- sold to Shasta Rail Group (date?)
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 was sold to Shasta Rail Group (date?)
- Changed to Flimsies West (date?)
- last issue circa April 2001 (Issue 287/288, March 2001)
- last update to web site was August 2001
- Flimsies West and Flimsies Northwest were combined as North/West Railfan, circa April 2002
- "Flimsies was last published by Bill Shippen. It was a publication based around timely news and rumors. Think of it about as close to a trainorders.com you could get in print version. It lost its usefulness when the internet matured as the same info could be found online at various web sites. It was typically 3 to 5 pages of 8.5x11 paper folded to make a center stapled booklet. It was a real labor of love as Bill went broke over it. Imagine printing, assembling, and mailing about 1000 of these little booklets twice a month for the el cheapo price of about $30 a year. It was a real bargain and a lot of fun to read." (Todd Clark, Trainsorders.com, January 16, 2006)
- started in September 1987 as Northwest Railfan, purchased by Shasta Rail Group (date? about 1995?)
- last issue (date?)
- Flimsies West and Flimsies Northwest were combined as North/West Railfan, circa April 2002
- Last issue of North/West Railfan, Issue No. 172 dated September 11, 2002
Shasta Rail Group
- out of business circa October 2001
- formal quit notice circa February 2003
- Shasta Rail Group
- started as an SP column in Flimsies, changed to stand-alone magazine (date?)
- edited by Tony Johnson beginning in 1994 (75 issues)
- last issue X74, September 2002
The Overland (UP)
- Shasta Rail Group
- First issue, Issue No. 1 dated May 1999
- Last issue, Issue No. 16 dated January 2001
Green and Silver Review (BNSF)
- Shasta Rail Group
- First issue, X-1 dated November 2000
- Last issue, X-6 dated October 2002
The Mixed Train
- Published by CameRail Club, Omaha, Nebraska
- Started in 1949
- Joel Boucher started as editor in January 1969
- Railroad locomotive newsletter "Locomotive Notes", published by Roy Linscott Jr. from 1963 to 1982, when Mr. Linscott died.
- In December 2009, Roy Linscott's son Roy H. Linscott, III, and stepson John M. Moore, announced a web site called "Linscott's Trains," which was to include digital images of Linscott's Locomotive Notes. As of July 2011, the web site was under construction. As of July 2012, the web site was unavailable. As of January 2016, plans are to have the web site available by March 2016.
Locomotive Notes II (LNII)
- Published by Ken Ardinger, beginning in early 1988 with Issue 107.
- Date of issue advanced two months. Issue 114 dated September 1988, published in late June 1988. Issue 153 still advanced, dated December 1991, published in late September 1991.
- Locomotive Notes II was published as a special news section as part of Diesel Era magazine for two years, from Volume 7, Number 1, January/February 1996, to Volume 8, Number 6, November/December 1997. (Don Strack produced a UP locomotives new update.)
- The Locomotive Notes II news section of Diesel Era was discontinued after Volume 8, Number 6, November/December 1997.
- A special Locomotive Notes II section began in TRP (The Railroad Photographer; changed to The Railroad Press) in (date?).
- Published by the Pacific Chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society
- Started by Jack Carrick, Bill Darrough, and Francis Guido after a railfan trip in 1937, at the same time that they organized their Northern California Ralroad Club, with Western Railroader serving as the club newsletter.
- Francis Guido became editor in April 1938, while Jack Carrick continued to print the issues.
- 3,500 subscribers in September 1965
- Issue No. 1 was handed out free on May 17, 1938 by Francis Guido on the first northern California fan trip to Grass Valley.
- edited by Joe Strapac (dates?)
- edited by Irene Lugg (dates?), until recent retirement
- currently  edited by Robert Church
- (Portions from Railroad magazine, September 1965; Francis Guido, Interesting Railfan No. 33)
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.
Colorado Time Table
- first issue in (date?)
- still published as of July 2008
Western Rail Gazette
- "The Rail Magazine of the Great American West"
- Publisher and Editor: Jerry Schwengel, Los Alamos, NM
- 10 issues published in 1999 and 2000
- Vol. 1, No. 1 dated January, 1999 through Vol. 1, No. 10, dated February 2000
- Railroad coverage of "the states and provinces on and to the West of the 100th Meridian"
- 28 to 32 printed pages on Sepia colored paper
- Published by Centennial Rail, Aurora, Colorado
- Editor: Joe Minnich
- 12 issues published every other month from June 1999 until April 2001
- National coverage with emphasis on Western Railroads
- 8 to 14 printed black/white pages
The Short Line
- 1973 to 1999
- Published by Garreth "Mac" McDonald
Shortline Railroad Journal
- 2000 - current date
- Published by Garreth "Mac" McDonald
Railroad Car Journal
- Editor: George R. Cockle, Omaha, Nebraska
- First issue was published in mid-August 1971
- Second issue expected October 1971
- (Railroad magazine, September 1971, page 5)
Later Interurban Magazine and Interurban Special
- Editor: Ira Swett; born May 18, 1913; nick name was "Red" because of the color of his hair; started taking photos in 1928, at age 15; retired in 1968 from a career in radio broadcasting and public relations, after which he devoted full time to his "Interurbans" magazine.
- First issue was in 1943, published monthly using reports sent in by friends, and an inital circulation of 13 subscribers.
- Replaced by "Interurban Specials" after World War II, published on an irregular schedule.
- Special No. 15, Interurbans of Utah, August 1954
- Special No. 55, Interurbans of Utah, 1974
- ("Interesting Railfans No. 107, Ira L. Swett," Railroad magazine, November 1971, page 32)
- First issue was in April 1970. April 1980 was 10th anniversary issue.
- Dean Lewis was editor until Issue No. 154.
- First slick paper issue, with Dick Stephenson as editor: No. 1 (old No. 155), July 1975. Became monthly instead of biweekly. Dick Stephenson was editor until Issue No. 36, June 1978.
- Dale Sanders was editor from Issue No. 37, July 1978.
- Issue No. 147 was September 1987; Issue No. 148 was January 1988.
- Magazine moved to Denver in March 1989.
- Issue 156 was September 1988, Issue No. 157 was March 1989. Cover date advanced because of move to Denver. Transfer of postal permit required that cover date match month of publication of current issue.
- Issue No. 159 was May 1989
- Issue No. 160 was November 1989
- Issue No. 168 was July 1990, Issue No. 169 was November 1990. Issue cover dates advanced three months to match industry standard. Previously, cover date was the date of the news inside. The news of November would now be in the January issue.
- Mark Hemphill shown as Managing/Features Editor through Issue No. 185, November 1992.
- Union Pacific columns
- Last WP "Feather" column: March 1983.
- First WP "UP Shield" column: April 1983.
- No WP columns in May, July, August, October, or November 1983.
- Union Pacific column was edited by Kevin Cavanaugh until September 1983.
- Union Pacific column was edited by Wayne Monger from October 1983 to December 1983, then he was editor of the combined UP/WP column from December 1983 until July 1987.
- Separate WP column within the UP column dropped with January 1985 issue.
- Separate MP column, edited by John Eagan, begun in November 1985. Last MP column was in October 1986; MP column dropped with January 1987 issue.
- Randy Keller was editor of UP column from August 1987 to May 1988.
- Elrond Lawrence was editor of UP column from June 1988 to May 1989.
- Paul Schneider was editor of UP column in November 1989 issue.
- Steve Hart was editor of UP column from December 1989 to February 1991.
- Jim Gilley was editor of UP column from March 1991 to (date?).
Pacific News/Pacific Rail News (PN/PRN)
- Issue No. 1 was September 1961.
- Coated paper first used in Issue No. 32.
- Changed from 16 pages to 32 pages sometime in 1973.
- Changed to larger size with Issue No. 111, January 1971, Volume 10, Number 12.
- Beginning with Issue 232, publication became delayed and several scheduled issues were missed. In order to remain sequential to meet postal regulations, the issues continued in sequence, but the actual publication dates were pushed forward.
- Issue 232, publication date of February 1981, published and distributed in December 1981
- Issue 233, publication date of March 1981, published and distributed in January 1982
- issue 234, publication date of April 1981, published and distributed in February 1982
- Issue 242, publication date of December 1981, published and distributed in October 1982
- Issue 243, publication date of November 1982, published and distributed in November 1982
- Issue 244, publication date of February 1983, published and distributed in March 1983.
- Issue 245, publication date of July 1983, published and distributed in July 1983
- Published by Chatham Publishing until Issue No. 245.
- First issue published by Interurbans Publications: Issue No. 246, October 1983. Published bimonthly, changed to monthly with December 1984 issue.
- Name changed to Pacific RailNews with Issue No. 252, October 1984.
- "Western Locomotive News" and "Western Shortlines" column by Ken Ardinger started in Issue No. 165, June 1975. Last column was April 1987. (Ken started his own Locomotive Notes II newsletter in early 1988.)
- Changed from Pacific Rail News (PRN) to Rail News (RN) in January 1997. Last PRN was December 1996.
- RailNews ended publication with its August 1999 issue.
- Union Pacific columns
- Union Pacific column edited by George Cockle from June 1976 until June 1984 (Issue No. 250). No actual credited contributions after June 1983.
- No UP column in August 1984 (Issue No. 251).
- UP column edited by Dick Stephensen from October 1984 (Issue No. 252) to May 1985.
- Last WP column, edited by Ken Meeker, in June 1985, with last WP column before that in April 1985.
- Union Pacific System column edited by Ken Meeker from June 1985 to January 1989. Ken Meeker was editor of WP column, then UP System column for 13 years.
- Union Pacific System column edited by Wayne Monger from February 1989 to (date?)
Extra 2200 South
The first Extra 2200 South, Volume 1, Number 1, March 1964, had the following editorial staff:
- Garth Tyckoson (Vancouver, BC), Editor
- Dave Ingles (Jacksonville, IL), Roster Editor
- Jerry Pinkepank (New York, NY), Feature Editor
- Doug Cummings, Associate Editor
Published by: Publication Committee, West Coast Railway Association