Whew! We successfully got through the annual rites of Saturnalia and the Gregorian Anniversary, but as I mentioned to a friend of mine, it seems like these celebrations always occur too early in Winter. I’m not talking about the big stores putting up their Christmas decorations way back into August. I mean that December is usually the first month that we really experience Winter around here, and Christmas always seems like it should be a reward for surviving another Winter. The whole denouement after the season’s climax as much as four months later sometimes is far out of proportion to the build-up which only takes a few weeks. Is it my Southern California rearing, where daily highs almost never dipped below even 60°F, that did it to me? I guess that lady I met in Pueblo, Colorado, was right in her opinion of Wisconsin… “Oh, it gets cold there!” Funny, I don’t think a 5°F daily high is all that unbearable any more.

So, lately I’ve been working through the US National Transportation Safety Board’s web archives to add information and images from the accident reports there, all of which is released in the public domain, to Train Spotting World. The first part of this is to add short blurbs to the various date and year pages and to the US Railways portal anniversary pages. After that, it’ll be time to start creating articles for the incidents, bringing together information from the NTSB reports, newspaper stories, industry press releases, and in some of the more significant cases, railroad company annual reports (I’ve got a couple Wisconsin Central annual reports that have sections that deal with the impact of the Weyauwega derailment, while one of the Union Pacific annual reports that I have mentions the derailments in the Powder River Basin, for example).

Another source of public domain information that could be added is the US Federal Railroad Administration. There are reports there that list rail service nationwide and aggregate statistics by region and ranks them as appropriate. I’ve added some of this information to the List of Wisconsin railroads page, but I keep thinking there’s got to be a better way to include this information.