I know you all cannot wait to get on your tablet and start researching something fun. Ok-ok, I hear you! Research is for school projects. Well, I found a way to make research fun. Do your project on the Long Island Rail Road. It is one of the oldest railroads in the United States and one of the busiest commuter railroads today.
Come on, what kid has not read a Thomas The Tank Engine book and seen the cartoons? Oh, sorry, you still read and watch Thomas. That is ok. I am a little older, so I help the younger kids read the stories.
There is a great source of information on an easy to access website. We are talking about thousands of photos, hundreds of stories, and lots more. It is so cool the name of the site is “Trains are fun”. The web address is: http://www.trainsarefun.com/
The website is huge. There are pictures of new Long Islands trains as well as photos dating all the way back to the early days of steam engines. That is before your parents were even born!
The information is divided into different sections, so it is pretty easy to find things. Ready for this? One section is even about St. Maarten. Yep. Steven Lynch included a page on Player Development SXM. He is in the process of building the page, but he has already posted four of the stories we have written about trains.
Our page is: http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/St%20Maarten%20Trains/Player%20Development.htm
History Steve, as we call him, is pretty cool. He writes us letters to tell us about the site and what he likes on it. The coolest thing is where History Steve lives. He lives on Choo Choo Lane near the intersection of Caboose Lane. It gets better. There is a railroad track right behind his house. He gets to see about eight trains a day.
One of the first places History Steve suggested to look at is the Anecdotes section. I had to look that word up, too. It means a short, usually funny story about something that happened.
There is a big section on the History of the LIRR and even a place for railroad slang. You can learn to talk like an engineer. There is even a section about bridges and trestles.
History Steve started the website years ago, back in 1989. “The idea started with helping Dave Keller – the real LIRR Historian – with getting 5000+ negatives on the internet.” History Steve said, “The website just grew over the last 20 years!” Historian Steve knew computers and the internet. That is what he did for a living and knew he could build a website to store all the information.
Once the Train website was up, people took note. Others started sending photos and stories. Material just kept coming in. The site has grown from just a few pages to a gigabyte. (I am not sure how big that is either, but I think it’s really huge!) The website has its own search engine.
In the future, there are plans to post items on the improvements being made to the railroad. History Steve says he sees a need for stories on the construction on the new Penn Station, East side Grand Central Terminal, and the Third Track Project for starters.
History Steve continues to collect old and new information about the railroad. He gets several items for the website every day, so it’s a good thing he is retired. He spends hours each day organizing the new material and uploading it in the correct section.
That is how kids from St. Maarten became a part of the Trains Are Fun Website. That is pretty crazy when you consider that we have never even seen a real train, only pictures and videos of trains. But we have found out how to use the site for research, write a good story and get it put on The Trains Are Fun Website.
As you know, a lot of people, who love trains, have model railroads in their homes. They enjoy running the small-scale trains and often invite friends over to come and play trains for a few hours at a time. That is not to say History Steve never had a model train; he did when he was a little boy and even as a young man.
The Trains Are Fun website took over his interest and lots of his time. He designed his own digital railroad for the website and he calls it The New York & Western, which he abbreviates NY&W. He has a map of what the route looks like, and pictures of his imaginary trains that would run on it. He enjoys spending time working on the website and his digital railroad. History Steve is so cool he even made up a story about a railroad employee stealing the payroll and he put up a pretend $10,000 reward for his capture.
Next time you get a research project, think Choo Choo and go to the Trains Are Fun Website and have a blast.