Darien resident named Oldest Ice Hockey Player by Guinness

A Darien resident now holds the Guinness World Record for oldest ice hockey player, as of Nov. 27. Former Connecticut Superior Court Judge Harold Dean, 86, played with the Puckaneers Ice Hockey Team in Oldsmar, Florida on that day, and told the Darien Times that he still plays three or four times a week.

Dean’s dedication to the sport goes back to his youth, having served as a captain of his high school team at Hackley School in Tarrytown, N.Y. He went on to play at St. Lawrence University in college. Dean’s playing career was put on hold for a while when he embarked on a 28-year tour with the Air Force, earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He then spent 30-years serving on the bench in Connecticut.

He now spends much of the year in St. Petersburg Florida, and finds himself playing frequently with Canadian expats who have made the move to the Sunshine State. Earlier this year, Dean competed in the USA Hockey National Championships in the over-70 division, and a Goals for a Cause charity tournament for seniors.

In 2000, Dean was a member of the Central Ontario team that won the CARHA World Cup. The event is said to be the largest international recreational hockey tournament for adults.
“Getting old takes courage, it’s not for sissies,” Dean told the Times.


Siemans Completes First Brightline Coach Carshell

Brightline, the higher-speed passenger rail service being developed by Florida East Coast Industries subsidiary All Aboard Florida, and Siemens Rolling Stock announced on January 26, 2016 that the first stainless steel carshell for the new service has been completed.

Described as “a major construction milestone,” the carshell is part of the first of Brightline’s initial five four-car, 240-passenger trainsets, with more trainsets to follow as the service expands. Siemens is also supplying the locomotives, which will be its Charger 125-mph diesel-electrics.

More than 70 employees at the Siemens manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif., work on building the 85-foot long carshells, using more than 50,000 welds to construct it. Siemens is employing first-of-its-kind stainless steel spot-welding technology, and these coaches will be the only carbody with a flat sidewall of this type in the U.S. market. The completed coach shell will now go through a finishing process, preparing it for final assembly. To support the skills needed for the advanced welding techniques, Siemens has launched a workforce development and training initiative, partnering with local community colleges and the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA). Siemens has also developed “a robust and diverse base of U.S. rail suppliers to support the next-generation of rail manufacturing for Brightline, including components from more than 40 suppliers in more than 20 states with additional suppliers still being added.”

“With the completion of the first carshell, we are bringing our vision for a truly unique train service that will transform travel in Florida one step closer to fruition,” said Brightline President Mike Reininger. “The Siemens team has been working diligently, and we are thrilled to mark this milestone as the finishing of this car progresses and the manufacture of additional cars continues.”

“We’re thrilled to be marking this production milestone with the Brightline team and also recognizing the highly-skilled work taking place at our Sacramento rail manufacturing plant,” said Siemens Rolling Stock President Michael Cahill. “Siemens has been successfully building America’s next era of innovative, high-performance and energy-efficient transportation solutions out of our Sacramento hub for decades, and we are excited to continue that tradition by employing the industry’s latest technologies and techniques to build these state-of-the-art trainsets for Brightline and its future riders.”

The Siemens Sacramento manufacturing plant, which has been in operation for almost 30 years, is powered up to 80% by two megawatts of solar energy. It currently employs more than 800 people, and includes a recent 125,000-square-foot expansion to accommodate growing production needs. Brightline has also poured the first concrete foundation for its Running Repair Facility in West Palm Beach, where the trains will be serviced and housed. Siemens will perform service and maintenance on the trains there. The facility is expected to be operation in August. Construction is also under way on Brightline’s train stations in Miami at MiamiCentral, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

Brightline is an express passenger rail service that will connect Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

Railroads Before And After the RPO (Railway Post Office)

If you follow our blog, you have seen we write a lot about “head-end” equipment on railroads

Now the most interesting piece of head-end equipment is a Railway Post Office (RPO). There is even a museum about them. At the end is the full details about the museum, but below we have come comments by Dr. Frank R. Scheer, Curator of Railway Mail Service Library, Inc.

The original topic was “E-Mail on the state of working on the Railroad today.” But some of these comments are very far-reaching.

Americans have completely lost any connection with the railroads. Only those few of us who work for the railroads or who are fans actually pay any attention to trains at all. For urban commuters who ride the train to get to work I’m afraid it’s nothing more than a streetcar to them. They pay it no special attention unless it’s late or delayed, and then it’s all the conductor’s fault no matter the problem. I avoid working on the Metra commuter trains because when there’s a delay, 1,800 people get out their cell phones and call HQ to complain about the delay and they always blame the train crew for not doing anything about it. They have no idea or understanding about the linear nature of this mode of transportation so when we try to explain to them about the red signal or the stopped train ahead of us, they lose patience and call to complain. A lot of the guys in passenger service wear fake name tags for good reason.

Trains were once the go-to mode of long-distance transportation; replaced by planes. The trains that remain are subsidized by states that no longer have budget to keep them running at 25% capacity. I see 10 Amtraks go by me every day. They’re not full; nowhere close to that. Some would argue that Amtrak trains are full. Easily accomplished on higher interest routes by removing cars to make shorter trains. They keep getting shorter.

It was a go-to mode of mailing letters, when people actually mailed letters, you could actually stick your mail into the slot on the side of the RPO car; removed from passenger trains even before most of those trains were eliminated. For larger packages and express type mailing there was Railway Express; replaced by UPS and interstate trucking. Then there’s the general decline of the neighborhoods that these old passenger stations used to be located inside of. The whole infrastructure deteriorated, pushing people farther and farther from the tracks. Railroads became a distant memory of the general public many, many years ago.

I am always amazed at how many people write to me to say their dad or grand dad worked for a railroad. Yet none of them have any idea what he did there. It seems that even inside of railroad families, what happened at the railroad stayed at the railroad. Kind of a strange dynamic I’d say.

Yesterday I was on a way freight and we crossed 34 roads crossings that we had to blow the horn for. They all had warning cross bucks. At 70% of them we encountered cars crossing directly in front of us with nary a driver even turning their head to see the oncoming train. If the cross bucks, bells and horn blasts don’t get their attention you would think that a bright orange locomotive the size of a house moving into their range of view and across their path of travel might entice them to step on their brakes. But I’m afraid they don’t even take their eyes off of the road 20 feet in front of their own car. It is like the railroad itself is utterly invisible.

Working on the railroad and for the railroad is very different today from when the RMS ran the mail on America’s railroads in RPO cars.



Dr. Frank R. Scheer, Curator
Railway Mail Service Library, Inc.
(202) 268-4996 – weekday office
(540) 837-9090 – Saturday afternoon
In the 1913 former N&W Railway depot along Clarke County route 723
117 East Main Street
Boyce, VA 22620-9369  USA

Please note: only parcels sent via USPS can be accepted at this address.

Visit at http://www.railwaymailservicelibrary.org or


Click to access RMSL2013.pdf



“Owney Day” at the National Postal Museum: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2062104465440.2115624.1029546011&l=906bc64b9f&type=1

If you have an interest in RPOs, please visit the RailwayPO group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RailwayPO