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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Strasburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Strasburg, Pennsylvania is not far from all the outlet shopping near Lancaster. The town is well known for its railroad which thrills children and adults alike. On the day I took these shots, Thomas the Train was on site, much to my disappointment. However, kids love that character. I prefer the regular steam engines which make for great photography. The tower at the left was moved to this location. The view from up there is fantastic. Although only two stories tall, the surrounding countryside opens up because it is the gentle, rolling farmland of the Amish. It also gives you the perspective of the yard master in days gone by.

Across the street is the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum, which hosts literally dozens of steam engines and cars of all description. At the height of its operations, the Pennsylvania Railroad was known as “the standard railroad of the world.” It controlled much of the passenger traffic between, Philadelphia, New York, DC, and Chicago, not to mention the freight business. Using the type of engines shown below, the “Pennsy” connected the eastern half of the country with the west.

It’s hard to imagine the smoke and soot of steam locomotives. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some of them in action here at Strasburg as well as in New Hope, PA. They may be majestic, but they’re also dirty. Nonetheless, it’s important to see such machines in action. They are a form of living history that helps us keep things in perspective. Of course, there’s fun to be had in Strasburg, such as this little steam locomotive.

This post begins a new category here at The Bent Page. Years ago I used to take many photographs of trains and industrial sights. Some of them were published in the magazines that focus on those subjects. So TRAINS becomes a category here starting today.

Published in: on September 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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