There are seven Class One railroads in the United States. This system of rail freight is the best in the world. Most of the freight rails, approximately 140,000 miles, are unnoticed by the majority of people. Yet, one freight train can carry the equivalent of two hundred and forty trailer trucks. However, these trucks on the Interstates are very noticeable and they compete with passenger vehicles.
The number of ton miles of freight carried per year determines the size of the railroad. The Class One railroads have an annual revenue of two hundred and fifty million dollars, or more, a year. The western Class One railroads are the Union Pacific (the largest US railroad with ≈45,400 miles of track) and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe with ≈40,700 track miles. The eastern Class One railroads are CSX, a proper name, not an abbreviation, which stands for Chesapeake-Seaboard together) with ≈28,900 track miles and Norfolk Southern with ≈18,700 track miles. The northern Class One railroads are Canadian National with ≈23,000 track miles and Canadian Pacific with ≈16,700 track miles, both with extensive trackage in the US. The southern Class One railroad is the Kansas City Southern with ≈6,000 track miles and extensive trackage in Mexico.
My interest is to design a commemorative tribute to the freight railroads in a midwestern railroad city's park. My design includes a circular, stepped base supporting seven level petals radiating from an empty center. Between the petals are gental ramps with illusionary tracks leading from the perimeter up to the center. On each petal is a rank of tall, narrow and faceted pylons. The outer pylons have a wide diameter and represent one of the Class One railroads. Their height varies according to the size of railroad they depict. The subsequent pylons in the rank, dimishing in height and diameter, represent the railroad mergers and acquisitions, which were made to form that particular Class One railroad.
Each pylon carries the livery colors of that railroad's locomotives. As the pylons are facetted, the colors change according to the amount of light received. With light coming from the left, the pylon's left side is the brightest and each successive facet shows a darker value of the color until full shadow is reached. In addition to the abstracted livery colors on each pylon, there are white headlamps of the locomotive at the correct heights. Thus, the many pylons are abstractions of individual railroads.
My paintings are a head on view looking up one of the seven ramps between the stepped petals. On either side, in the foreground, is that petal's Class One railroad. The merger and acquisition pylons rank behind them diminishing toward the empty center. In the center background is the Class One railroad on the far side of the complex stepping away from the center. The steps' risers in the base are colored to echo the Class One railroad being supported. The ramps' risers show the colors of the illusionary track bed and the shadows of the adjacent pylons.
Malcolm Montague Davis