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Public Pulse June 11th, 2009

The Editor

Wrong Train . . .

Due to my interest in railroading history, a San Diego friend mailed me a copy of your front page "Wild, Wild West" story.

The large photograph of a train locomotive on the front page of your May 14th issue has nothing to do with the "Wild Wild West" or the United States of America. It is a photograph of a British ( UK ) locomotive. The two round-shaped "bumpers" on the locomotive's front cross-bar caught my eye immediately. Also, the front of the locomotive in your photo lacks the standard American "cow-catcher," a coupler or it's predecessor - a drop-link ( yours has a chain!), and there's no headlight. Typical American locomotives also had their smaller-sized marker lights positioned at the sides of the boiler front, not on the cross-bar below.

A few British locomotives were imported during the birth of railroading in the US in the very early 1800's but railroad owners quickly started making their own locomotives long before the west was explored and opened up. Of course Britain had many colonies and used their own locomotives there. The eastern and western railroads of the US were not joined until 1869 at Promitory Point. I also add to your story that the Central Pacific's track laying crew of "Chinamen" outperformed all others by laying ten miles of track in one day.

So WOW .... Where did you find that photo ? I'm surprised no one else has commented about this.

Dan Brown, NY State

Editor’s Comment: Reader Brown is absolutely correct. This is particularly embarrassing because your editor worked in the Union Pacific Shops as a young man (though on diesel locomotives); further, we just returned from Sacramento where we toured the Railroad Museum, saw all kinds of (American) trains and were told the story about the crew that worked round the clock to lay 10 miles of track in one day (the result of a wager) and the record has never been broken.

Frankly, I don’t remember where we got the image of the locomotive; whether I found it or one of our graphics people did. We wanted a photo that would dramatically catch the reader’s eye and lead into the story; we did that, but with a photo of a British, not American locomotive. Our compliments to Dan Brown of New York for both his sharp eye, his railroad knowledge and a well written letter to the editor. We goofed!


We noted with great interest Evelyn Madison's cover story on Romania. Within that story she referenced the work that our Kiwanis Club of Ramona did in getting the project started. We regret, however, that the man who had the initial vision, Pete Zindler, was not credited as providing the motivation for our club, and the Division, to go forward on this ambitious project.

It was Pete who, after returning on the 2nd of his four mission trips to Romania in August, 2001, was so saddened by the deplorable conditions of the orphanages in Romania that he resolved to do something about it. It was he, who met with Jim Sorrels, the President of Heart to Heart ministries, and determined to build a Trade School for orphans because at the age of 18 the orphans were kicked out without any skills and with little hope of getting a job. It was he who came to us and persuaded us to get involved.

That is how the whole project began. In time, as Evelyn's story properly points out, the project became too large for us and we asked the Kiwanis Division 37 to take over the project. They did and that's when Joe Heard and Dave Imper jumped in and did such a marvelous job.

We enjoyed the story on Romania but did want to ensure that Pete Zindler was recognized as the man with the vision that brought the initial idea to fruition.

/s/Patrick Bell
Kiwanis Club of Ramona

Letters to the Editor are always welcome.

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