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a stroll down the Wx4 tracks O' yore...

Wx4.org is an odd domain name for a site billed as the Dome O' Foam, yes? There actually is a logic to it. We originally took to our virtual pencils in Summer, 2002 as a Willys Jeep 4x4 Utility (station) Wagon site, the Wonderful World of Willys Wagons. We cleverly (we maintain, anyway) combined the the four W's in the name with 4WD to get "Dubya by Four", our site's proper pronunciation.

the original Dome O' Foam Worlds Wide Willys Wagons

We soon came to realize that we were barking up the wrong tree: Jeeps are inherently NOT funny, a state of affairs that hit us when we were more-or-less booted off of Yahoo! Groups' Willys Tech for making wisecracks that violated the sanctity of machines that actually rival Fiat's ability to break down overnight while slumbering in your driveway. About the only memorable thing that we did for the Jeeping hobby is to come up with the Willys Joke.

this disturbingly Freudian front page was our bold attempt at graphics in early 2004

Undaunted, in 2003 - 15 years ago - we hop-skiped down a new path - railroads - and soon came to a full comprehension of what we knew all along: the railroad industry is hilarious. The proto Dome O' Foam followed in short order. A fair share of this site dwells upon our own offbeat brand of humor, and yes, we know that many of you find it to be a little unsettling, but as we are fond of saying, "Hey, it's OUR site!"

Since the Dome has survived all of these years with nary a lawsuit, and only a very modest collection of restraining orders, we are consequently thrilled to still be around. Although we know that this cannot last for ever, at least we have already created our permanent legacy in railroading, the Standard Railroad Joke. It's loads better than the Willys Joke.

By way of end note: An Earnest Plea for Lots of Money first appeared on Wx4 in mid-2003. We note that we still have not received a dime from you tightwads!

About Wx4's Perpetrator

Yep, it's a pretty odd combination for a Web site - railroads and Jeeps - but for me, the first is a former occupation (I retired in 2009), while the second is an advocation. Since it would cost me an extra $25 / year at Doteasy.com to maintain two separate sites, what we have here is a 2fer, a Harmonic Convergence, if you will.

The whole thing started in 2002 on the now moribund four wheel drive automotive site, Wonderful World of Willys Wagons (hence: Wx4 - clever, huh?), but soon The Dome overshadowed the former for the following three approximate reasons:
  1. I know very little about Jeeps
  2. I have thousands of railroad photographs
  3. Railroads are funny. Jeeps are not. In fact, Willys fans are famous for their cranky behavior when confronted with humor.

This sorts out things, doesn’t it?

The resultant Wx4 Mission Statement1 is now this: Wx4 is committed2 to upload as much cool railroad photos & etc. to our site as is humorously possible.

- E.O. Gibson3


1 Isn’t this corporate sillyspeak? I suspect that the macho, Rambo-esque tone of the phrase makes corporate executives
mmmmfeel better about being pot-bellied wieners.
2 Except during happy hour!
When you run across "Wx4 Staff", the staff is - for the most part - me. "We" is also me. Since Wx4 is an .org, I kinda felt impelled to flesh things out a bit. As you may have noticed, hyperbole is our meat and potatoes.

email: wx4org@yahoo.com

The REAL Perpetrator:

Though he never realized it, my father - Clifford Gibson (1895-1971) - was a foamer, and he passed his love of railroads on to me. Perhaps grandma, who as a teenage girl witnessed the running of the first Transcontinetal Railroad passenger train through her home town of Milpitas, regaled him with stories of watching the trains from the family farm. Sadly, I was never inquisitive enough to ask before his passing.

Here in 1964 on the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad tourist line in Felton, CA, he is riding next to the one-time South Pacific Coast Narrow Gauge R.R. tracks (at photo left) that he rode upon in 1900-1906. This was one of many railroad-related outings that he took me on over the years. Oh, to have seen what he saw...

E.O.'s R.R. Life in Pictures and Prose

E.O. in training, Lenzen Avenue turntable, mid-1950's.

E.O. (wishing he was an engineer) with niece & her friend, mid-1970's.

E.O. performing honest work while cut-off from train service during the 1980 recession.

E.O. performing work (honest!), mid-1990's.

Note: The above photo is my only claim to fame, and was flagrently pirated from the book Modern Diesel Locomotives, with my apologies to Hans Halberstadt and his publisher (Heck boys, I bought 25 copies. I'm entitled to something.). Hans probably would have quoted all of the 'old head' B.S. that I fed him, except that my cover was blown shortly after he shot this photo, when my boss, riding the head end of an opposing train, radioed me to inquire why I had placed the wrong train number in the number boards. In my defense, I absolutely NEVER claimed to be anything more than a mediocre engineer.

In September, 1986, I made my last run with SP on this two unit helper, which ran light from Dunsmuir to Grass Lake to help (behind the caboose) a grain train down the hill.
Upon tie-up in Dunsmuir, I took this photo, went home to learn that I had three children.

My own little corner of Amtrak at the Company's "Choo Choo U", then (1992) located in the (former Pensylvania RR) Wilmington Shops headquarters building (now vacant?). I had one of the great times of my life (honest!) during the five weeks that I was there. Bonus: I graduated just like my more-competent classmates, even though at one point my two favorite instructors called me into their office to complain that they didn't know if I was alive or dead back there in that corner. Apparently I was alive, guys. And thanks to Bill Morecraft & Co. for everything, including smoothing-over things with the General Manager of the Wilmington electric locomotive shops, when I accidentally shoved a Curtis Staggs through his office wall in the course of thumb wrestling.

Retirement Day, 8-28-09 I had enough time away from my duties to snap this photo of my last two engines side-by-side in San Francisco. I ran the 900 on #211 and was pleased to have "growler" 902 on #324, a Baby Bullet, in place of the usual MPI techno-barge. Above left is my last moment touching a throttle before climbing down. Railroading was a great ride, but I'm glad its over! (and thank goodness that I retired before it became a federal crime to photograph one's hand in a parked locomotive) I have not touched a locomotive throttle since.