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Saturday essay: That time again

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Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

This being October, thoughts have turned to more than just how much fall lettuce can be coaxed out of the garden before the first hard freeze hits, or how much soup stock (also augmented with garden goodies) can be put up for the coming winter, or what mixes of what woods will produce the best fires inside with the best smells outside.

Yes, thoughts have turned once again to getting the N-scale train platform ready for its Christmas run.

A new eight-line platform bowed last year and ran remarkably well. But as any model railroader knows, there's always need and/or room for maintenance, revisions and expansion.

The work this year will range from the mundane (removing a few pesky track nails in a tunnel that love to work their way above track level and stop cold the steam locomotive pulling a consist of full coal cars), to the intricate (adding trolley line poles, catenaries and power lines on the light-rail vehicle tracks that traverse the mountain town), to the major (building a large, curved trestle bridge ­— or perhaps it will be a concrete arch bridge — to make one of the freight lines longer and more sweeping).

And the work just might border on the bolder — two additional long lines on the outside of the platform featuring newly acquired diesel engines and rolling stock.

But however the work about to commence ends, the junior engineer doing it will have that model railroader's smile of smiles on his face as the updated platform bows just after Thanksgiving.

— Colin McNickle

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