My good friend is announcing a new project. Check his site Glenny Drive here
The North American Railroad circuit is a breeding ground for legend in many regards. With it’s expansive boundaries of operation, and it’s massive fleets of different rolling stock combing all corners of our country’s reaches, one could argue that it is one of the true pillars of American culture. Somewhere along the lines of the railroad’s history, man, in many instances the traveling man, adopted the idea of signing one’s nickname (or “moniker”) on different rolling stock that they either came across or traveled in. The tradition of leaving one’s personalized mark still exists in today’s railroad world, although the state of the culture is ever changing. Some people write their names, some adopt characters.. there are no set rules. I have spent a lot of time observing railcars in my life, and one of the monikers that always intrigued me the most was that of Coaltrain. The first time I saw this strange, bearded mountain man, I was immediately drawn in by it. His stern, pensive glare in a way made me feel uneasy, like I was about to have to defend myself. This drawing, which most people would either ignore or simply not even notice, evoked more emotion in me than most pieces of fine art ever have…true outsider culture at it’s best.
I was fortunate enough to meet Coaltrain this summer. I had gotten a lead on his whereabouts and was told to act quickly as it most likely would not last long. His travel season was about to start, and he would more than likely head to coal country soon. To make a long story short, weeks and thousands of miles of travel went by. Guided by an extremely knowledgeable acquaintance (Thank you so much, XXXXXXX), and after an all day affair of climbing through hobo camps, train tracks, and forest, I found myself sitting at Coaltrain’s camp in a field in an undisclosed part of the Pacific Northwest.
I’ve written this next paragraph probably 15 times, all of them being extremely difficult. My initial thought was to properly illustrate a bit that I had learned about the man behind the drawing, but decided against it because I don’t feel like it’s my place to do so. I will leave it at this… I have met a wide variety of people in my life. Some are followers, some are leaders, and some, like Coaltrain, distance themselves from the pack and live the life that they see fit without a care of anyone’s opinion. My respect goes to the latter. Coaltrain is truly a living legend, cut from his own cloth.
During the course of our conversations after my visit, it had come up that Coaltrain had always wanted to print t-shirts with his moniker on them. Not having told him about the Rust Belt Division project previously, I decided to mention it to him and see if it was an idea he was serious about pursuing, which he was. We discussed details and specifics… I went through some drawings that he had given me, as well as some old photographs of drawings he had done on boxcars over the course of the last 25 years. The drawing used for the shirt is pulled from a photograph of an old boxcar, and was dated 1987.
Shirts are $25 postage paid within the USA. International shipping will be slightly higher. We currently have sizes adult S-XL, printed on GILDAN ultra-cotton t-shirts. 2XL is coming soon. These shirts will be immediately reprinted if we run out of a size, so sit tight if they are temporarily unavailable. Each shirt comes with a 4″ x 6″ photograph containing a hand drawn, or several hand drawn Coaltrain monikers. These photos are all railroad-related and from the Rust Belt Division archives.
Yes, this is more than we usually charge for shirts, however this one, unlike all our others is a fundraiser. 100% of all profits made will be given directly to Coaltrain in an attempt to help him financially. We are taking 0 cut of any money brought in. Without putting too much information out there, the life that he leads can be extremely tough at times and the money brought in by these will make a big difference. If you care to send any additional funds as a donation, it will again be forwarded 100% directly to him.
To place an order, please email RUSTBELTDIVISION@GMAIL.COM to check size availability, and we will provide you with paypal information. ONWARD!