Waking a Beast, video

Before a steam engine can go out on the rails, there’s plenty of work to be done. As you see in the following video, the crew of Locomotive No. 40 does the job well. (Check it out in 1080 full screen if your internet connection is capable.)

The tools are heavy, the job is dirty, the temperatures alternate from boiling to freezing, but it’s a labor of love keeping steam trains running. Thanks to the good folks like the people you saw in the video, the rest of us get to enjoy the ride and the majesty of these machines. Take your family and see all there is along the rails.

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New Hope & Ivyland (video visit)

The New Hope & Ivyland Railroad operates steam locomotive No. 40 along the tracks between New Hope, PA (USA) and Lahaska. You have your choice to travel in open air cars or a comfortable parlor car. I recently took a ride on this train in the cab of the locomotive, which was very interesting. It’s hot, dirty, and hard work up front. Here’s the video:

Riding in the cab gave me an appreciation for what it was like a hundred years ago. There used to be thousands of locomotives like this working around the country and the people who kept them operating knew what they were doing. If not, well, a steam boiler explosion was a terrible thing. If you have the chance and the inclination, I recommend experiencing this type of living history. If for no other reason, you’ll see what it was like in the “good old days.”

Thomas the Tank Engine!

Thomas the Tank Engine arrived in Strasburg, PA to thrill children and adults alike. The Strasburg Railroad served as host, with their rolling stock providing seating for people to ride toward Paradise, PA and back, through the surrounding countryside where the Amish have their farms. I took the following video showing Thomas pulling into the station, then backing out, and returning again. Take a look.

I was amazed by the number of children standing by the tracks, calling out to that little blue engine. In this age of electronic gadgetry, it was a joy to see kids interested in an old-time attraction like a steam engine. More footage of the steam trains at Strasburg and elsewhere will becoming soon. Keep an eye out here at The Bent Page.

Another kind of High-Ball

In earlier posts, I mentioned a novel I work on from time to time about a couple of pals whose lives intertwine between the end of the First World War and D-Day of the Second. One of them is employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad and much of the story centers around life along the lines in Eastern Pennsylvania. It’s hard to imagine what the scenery was like back then. By this I mean the large number of steam equipment traversing the countryside as well as working in massive railyards located in major cities and small towns alike. Everything moved on the rails, especially if it had to move over a long distance.

Thus, I found this video of a Union Pacific steam locomotive running out west. The term high-ball originated from a signal which consisted of a ball run up to the top of a pole, indicating to the locomotive engineer that the track ahead was clear. Thus, he laid on the coal and proceeded with all due haste. Take a look at more than 200 tons of locomotive moving at full speed.

In case you missed it, watch the video all the way through. The whistle isn’t all that clear, but it does spark the imagination. I’m grateful to all the people who post videos like this. They go a long way to making my job as a writer a bit easier. Just think, sixty or so years ago, before jet liners arced through the sky, there were hundreds of steam trains like this striking out across the nation.

Published in: on June 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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