Sunday, March 19, 2017


One of the prime events on rail enthusiasts’ calendars on the West Coast is Winterail.  This is the premier rail photography exposition in the country and has spawned a number of clones around the country.  Founded by Dave Stanley and later transitioned to Victor Neves as Producer, this event is now in its thirty-ninth year.  I attended most in its former Stockton, California, venue.  Last year, Winterail moved north to Corvallis, Oregon, when Vic moved to the mid-Willamette Valley in retirement.  Winterail’s new location uses the Corvallis High School auditorium.  See last year’s blog post about the new venue:

I will sound like a broken record, as I have long enjoyed Winterail and am an enthusiastic promoter for attendance.  Yes, Vic is a friend and member of my regular operating crew on my railroad.  Many of the “Roadies” also are friends from days gone by.  Still, my judgement of this rail photo exposition remains—a premier event on the West Coast. 

Vic and Annie Neves welcome the crowd to Winterail 2017.

Once again, we were treated to some of the finest rail photography set to music and narration.  We viewed shows featuring railroading in the West, but also other parts of the country and even steam train operations in China.  This year featured several “anthology” presentations with photography of rail subjects around the country and reaching back a generation or two.  We also were treated to several West Coast subjects, including good coverage of Burlington Northern operations in Washington state and a look back at the end of railroad log operations.

A railroadiana swap meet is a regular part of the Winterail package.  The Corvallis High cafeteria provided a good space for this, located next to the auditorium used for the photo shows.  Railroad books, photo prints, railroad timetables and various other forms of railroad related objects are the staple of the materials on display for sale. 

Railroadiana Swap Meet.

A long term vendor at this swap meet has been Joe Strapac, publisher of Shade Tree Books (  Joe is the “senior vendor” at Winterail.  He has attended every Winterail since its beginning in Stockton, CA.  Much more to the point, Joe has been writing and publishing books on Southern Pacific motive power for five decades.  His first effort was published in January, 1967, in the form of the very first Southern Pacific Motive Power Annual.  Joe established the format for reviewing and organizing a railroad’s motive power fleet.  He is the “Dean of SP Motive Power,” and through that, the Dean of all such publishing efforts for American railroads.  In many ways, Joe systematized what we were seeing trackside.  Through his efforts, we became knowledgeable observers of railroading.

Joe just completed his twenty-second and final volume in his Southern Pacific Historic Diesels” series, the successor to his earlier nearly annual motive power reviews.  This monumental series documented every model of diesel locomotive purchased by the Southern Pacific.  Though the last volume on passenger hood units was a bit bittersweet; just as the ending of the Southern Pacific was as an independent corporation.  The information was there for the reader to take in and enjoy good railfan photography, as well.  I was very glad to directly meet with Joe this year and congratulate him on his efforts.  He has been very influential in my rail hobby, so I wanted him to know, yet again, just how much I appreciate his efforts.

I congratulate Joe Strapac (left) upon completion of his Southern Pacific Historic Diesels series of books.

I wish Joe well on whatever he chooses to do, now that he has completed this monumental series and its predecessors.  I continue to refer to his many books regularly.  They occupy my most used shelf of railroad books, resting alongside Guy Dunscomb’s “Century of Southern Pacific Steam Locomotives” which did the same organizing and photo presentation for SP’s steam locomotives.  I am glad to have met and known both of these scholars who laid the foundation for me and many other rail enthusiasts.

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