What a day for a Toronto railfan. Just missed the morning orange juice train out of Bradenton Tropicana yard where it crosses the Manatee River. Saw the drawbridge operator leaving his post, and found out that a Florida East Coast 60-car gravel train would be coming through in the afternoon. Came back later and ran into 89-year old Don Blaum – long retired Pennsy and B&O fireman and engineer. We had met and chatted at this spot earlier in the week. We watched together as the southbound gravel train headed for the bridge – but the drawbridge didn’t drop. The train sat half-on, half-off the bridge for over an hour. Don could sense my passion for trains, and invited me up to his condo that overlooks the whole scene. I nearly lost track of time as Don told of his days commandeering J Class steam locomotives for Pennsy during a 39-year career. (Like most old-timers, he didn’t care much for the diesels, even though he operated them in the latter part of this career). The drawbridge finally lowered, and the gravel train continued south. Don pulled out his personal copy of Alvin Staufer’s 1962 edition of “Pennsy Power”. When I flipped the pages, out popped some crumbling news clippings, and an old black & white photo (circa 1960) of Don at the controls of PRR 5886. (Looks like an E8). This may sound a little morbid, but one of the reasons I was at that spot was to scatter my late brother Loren’s ashes into the river. Loren was an avid railfan, and was a real inspiration in my embracing railroad history and photography as a hobby. I think he would be quite happy to know that he is in one of my favorite train watching locations. (Certainly better than sitting in an urn in my mom’s basement). What a day.