2009 Conference: Don Sims

2009 Conference: Little Joes, by Don Sims
Photo by Don Sims.

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Taking a Picture”

Don Sims, Northridge, California, attributes his love of trains to a childhood case of the measles. Homebound by the illness, he passed the days logging the Central Railway of New Jersey steam locomotives that stopped at the suburban station across the street from his family’s apartment in Plainfield, New Jersey. Since 1943 he has lived in Southern California, aside from a few brief stints in Oregon. His railroad photography and writing were fostered by various railroad jobs while he was an undergraduate at UCLA, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Transportation and Traffic Management. Don later received a Masters of Science in Economics from USC. Now retired, he spent most of the past forty years teaching Economics at the community college level. He is married with three children, seven grandchildren, and an eight-month-old great-grandson.

In his presentation, Don plans to weave a theme into a series of several specific locations and railroads that he has visited and photographed during his life. These include:

  1. OS Summit, California: the times of the Cajon Pass train order station that became so well known over the years.
  2. Livingston, Montana: the terminal and locomotive shops on the Northern Pacific.
  3. Avery, Idaho: the very unique western end of the Milwaukee Road’s Bitter Root electrification.
  4. Incident at Rock River: a place where Dick Steinheimer and Don encountered a brief twilight moment of the steam era.
  5. Butte, Anaconda & Pacific: scenes of a splendid little electric line in Montana that hauled trains of ore from mine to smelter.
  6. Utah Railway: from the 1950s era down to the present across the Wasatch Mountains in northern Utah.
  7. McCloud River Railroad (possibly): a northern California shortline that is symbolic of the almost-dead timber haulers.