For many more years than I care to remember, I have been an avid user of Microsoft Simulator. Beginning when Bruce Artwick and Sublogic produced the IBM Compatible version of Flight Simulator, I doubt that even Bruce could have imagined the advances that were pending. That's when my love for the simulator began and I advanced (often lagging behind the upgrades and computer purchases necessary) more or less along with the software till reaching my present level of equipment. As much fun as the simulation is, as much as I enjoy meeting new people along the way and as much as I enjoy spending countless hours airborne in my armchair cockpit flying and looking at what the untrained eye would perceive as a blank screen (making ILS approach). I one day thought to myself “there must be other simulators out there” so a GOOGLE search revealed several: Microsoft Train Simulator, A ship simulator, sailing simulators and probably a few more that didn't interest my eye.
Microsoft Train Simulator (MSTS)
I have always liked trains – especially the steam locomotives, so perused the Train Simulator. It was not many days before I got hooked. Sooner or later, I ran across a website ( http://www.DARdpi.ca )that is dedicated to the collection and preservation of the old long gone DAR (Dominion Atlantic Railway). This line ran a main route from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Also, it provided a valuable link to the US via the Eastern Steamships Line from Yarmouth to Boston (SS Yarmouth), and a link to New Brunswick via the Digby, NS Ferry I signed up for the forum and before long I was plunged headlong into the project. I have for the most part always used my computer as a tool – even though flight simulator is commonly referred to as “a game” (at which point I become quite indignant), I have never ever used it without learning something new – be it scenery design, aircraft repainting, aircraft and objects creation, etc. So it continues with train simulator. Through investigations and visits to various museums, I have managed to dig up switch-yard diagrams dated back to 1929, information about trains and places, met people that could relate information and stories associated with the line. Once more, I have been plunged into creation of scenery and other objects for the sole purpose of enjoyment in the creation and digital resurrection of an era long gone. The trackage for the most part has been ripped up and all that remains is the scar of the once was rail line that for many miles can still be seen in GOOGLE Earth. As a matter of fact, GE is what is commonly used to mark the old rail bed (now converted to Rails to Trails in many areas) and after a conversion process can be used in the MSTS Route Editor as the tool to lay trackage.
In closing, I am happy to say that again I have found a software that is not simply a waste of time, but as well as providing hours of enjoyment riding the rails of most of the world, it is a valuable tool in learning about rail history, your town's history, and indeed your own history. Lots of fond old memories that had been put on the back burner have come forward with this program and associated projects that it presents. We at the DARdpi would love to have you along with us.
This article was written and submitted by resident editor Harold Crowell (hecrowell).