John Dziobko Jr. was born in Newark, N.J., October 10, 1932. His facination with trains began at age 5 when he would go on train trips to see family in West Islip, Long Island, NY. His father took him to various rail operations in the Newark area in the late '30s, where he acquired a fondness for the Pennsylvania Railroad steam engines, and was where he saw his first diesel locomotive in 1943. He began travelling to photograph trains while still in high school at age 17. Back in those days a railfan could ride the train to various rail locations, since there were many more trains and routes at the time (and no interstates).
About 1953, when he realized that steam was rapidly vanishing from America's railroads, he started his crusade to capture the vanishing breed. One thing that separated John from his contemporaries is that unlike them, he would expose color film on the colorful first generation diesels that were integrating into the engine facilities and mainlines. Others couldn't be bothered with "wasting" film on the upstarts. John's decision to do so was a blessing to fans of first generation diesels years later. (More bio-info below...)
Pennsylvania Railroad Alco RS-1 at PRR Trenton roundhouse - Trenton, New Jersey, May 09, 1953. Locomotive No. PRR 5669. Both the RS-1 and S2's, having arrived on the property in 1950, were already PRR veterans.
Pennsylvania Railroad BLH-Westinghouse E3b at PRR Elizabeth station - Elizabeth, New Jersey, February 14, 1953. Here's another view of expermental Pennsy power lugging freight under the wires at Elizabeth.
Pennsylvania Railroad EMD E8(A) at Indianapolis Union Station - Indianapolis, Indiana. Locomotive No. PRR 5796 #304 South Wind. Indy action in the 50s/60s era at Union Station.
Pennsylvania Railroad EMD F7(A) PRR mainline Altoona, Pennsylvania, June 11, 1953. Locomotive No. PRR 9690. Ground-level view at the helper pit in Altoona.
Pennsylvania Railroad Gas-Electric OEG350 - PRR Atlantic Division - Toms River, New Jersey, April, 1951. Locomotive No. PRR 4658. Built by Pullman-Brill in April 1929, scrapped in '63.
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 at PRR Sunnyside Yard, Long Island City, New York, March 28, 1953. The lineup at Sunnyside.
Pennsylvania Railroad - PRR Bel-Del branch - Trenton, New Jersey, December 12, 1952. The numberboard on the signal reads "88". The smokestack on the right of the signal reads "Taylor". This is a scene of the Bel-Del branch during the industrial era when smokestacks still smoked.
Pennsylvania Railroad water tank at Crowl, Pennsylvania, October 20, 1956. Crowl, a hamlet of 40, was on the 27-mile PRR Shamokin Valley branch between Sunbury and Mt. Carmel. It was one of the last places to see operating PRR steam. Abundant coal, good water, heavy seasonal loads of slow-moving ore, and a ruling grade of 1.3%, all made this branch the perfect place to assign the last of the 2-10-0's on the Pennsy.
Pennsylvania Railroad Steam 2-8-2 at PRR engine facility, Hagerstown, Maryland, December 29, 1956. Locomotive No. PRR 546. Among the Pennsy power under steam at the end of 1956 was this Mikado type working the yard in front of a wooden cabin at Hagerstown.
Pennsylvania Railroad Steam 4-6-2 at PRR Trenton engine facility, Trenton, New Jersey, May 09, 1953. Locomotive No. PRR 3768. Here's a look at the doings at the PRR Trenton enginehouse on a overcast Saturday afternoon in May of '53. K4 3768 is under steam, but one track out of view the steam deadlines are growing. Back at home, the week's issue of Saturday Evening Post has arrived with a classic Rockwell cover illustration plus the lead story entitled: "How I handled the Reds in my Union". Having a TV set was a big deal in the neighborhood.
More about John Dziobko Jr. from close friend Ray Peacock at (heartlandrails.com) below:
Professionally, John never worked for any railroad, but received a Masters in mathematics from Seton Hall and worked as a civilian for the Dept. of Defense in Ft. Dix, N.J., then later moved to Davenport, IA., and worked at the Rock Island Arsenal before retiring. Aside from his rail hobby, which he still pursues, John is an avid movie buff and has a collection of films on tape that number over 10,000. He can take one look at a classic film on cable TV and name the studio and type of film they used.
He is in the process of publishing a website ( godfatherrails.com ) with links to his books and publications, it is under development. John does not own a personal computer, but sees the internet as a great way to share his views of images that will never be duplicated again and is excited by the feedback he's getting from an entire new generation of railfans. The name of "the Godfather" was bestowed on John long ago by his many friends who always revel in seeing his classic rail images at friendly slide shows. His material was always a jaw dropping look back in time. It continues to be - Ray Peacock.
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