This is a great music video recently loaded onto YouTube by the young man “The Action Effect.” This is of American trains of the 40s to the 50s.
It’s a nice montage of Vintage Train action put to the music of Bruce Springstein’s “Land of Hopes and Dreams.”
From the 1920s through the 1960s, the railroads played a huge part in the imagination of the American people. While the rest of the world continued their respect for trains, the United States concentrated on planes and cars. But in the U.S., there was the “Golden Age” and “revival.”
From its inception through the Golden Age of Passenger travel, trains were a strong part of American cultural identity due to its major role in the movement of goods and people, connecting lands and cultures and dreams as well as the violence and destruction and isolation that comes with these dreams.
Railroads leaders were usually ruthless, crushing smaller opponents and collecting their power to rule the land to lay the rails and rule the movements of food, shelter, clothing, oil, coal, stone. Moving mountains and shaping the lands to mold as well as adjusting to the lands, the rails created and destroyed lives, like dreams.
Young boys and girls stole away in the middle of the night to escape, perhaps, a boring and heavy life, or perhaps abuse and confinement, poverty and despair. Taking what little they had in bags, meeting a friend or two, perhaps, at a pre-arranged meeting at midnight, jumping onto the trains, yearning for adventure and a “better life.”
African-American and Asian-American workers, searching for work and perhaps dignity in those days of a more emboldened and accepted dominant racist society, sought to work on the railroads to have livable wages and to be respected. Porters and waiters and some of the best chefs of the lands, sought to work on the fancy and comfortable railroads, upon the trains that company executives, sports and entertainment stars and presidents often traveled. To wear the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad or the Pennsylvania, or the New York Central, or the Santa Fe or Northern Pacific and the countless other ‘Name-train” railroads were a mark of pride. Young boys and some girls, dreamed of becoming engineers and agents on these railroads.
Promises of distant lands and different lives, promises of living wages and being looked at with dignity. Back-breaking grimy work in track-laying and oil-loading and tunnel-making, marked sources of pride as well as resentment.
Love, hate, beauty, grime, political intrigue, assassination, assimilation and resistance– like life, are all present in the beautiful and grimy trains that passed in the day and the night.
Today, the workers and trains still work in America, albeit no longer in the mainstream cultural imagination. But perhaps those days are slowly returning, in new forms. The train is an important part of human consciousness and life. It cannot be forgotten.
Enjoy this video put together and loaded by “The Action Effect.” Song is by Bruce Springstein.
In the United States, in 1926, rail passenger travel was in its glory years. That year, the New York Central Railroad, one of the most prestigious, powerful, and largest railroad corporations in the world at the time, wanted a faster and stronger locomotive to pull the longer and heavier passenger trains required by the increase in passenger travel in the United States.
That year, although the elegant and mightily Pacific steam locomotives had been handling the bulk of the fastest and longest passenger lines in the United States by most of the first world national railroad companies, the New York Central ordered the mighty 4-6-4 wheel arrangement “Hudson” locomotives, as they were to be called by the New York Central Railroads.
The Hudsons were popularized in the US American public via an intense publicity campaign. Television ads, new movies, billboard signs and magazine articles abound. Model trains pushed the “Hudson” as the epitome of the beautiful, grimy, energetic and powerful passenger steam locomotive that was constructed in the social imaginary during these times.
Later, the Hudson locomotive was re-designed on the exterior with a silver and gray streamlined body, which were assigned to the famous passenger trains: The 20th Century Limited and the Empire State Express.
Even later, as Diesel locomotives began erasing steam locomotives off their roster and into their garbage heaps, a stronger, faster and more efficient locomotive was to enter the New York Central Railroad’s roster–the Niagara. I will cover this locomotive more in detail later.
If I were to be asked what is my most favorite of favorite locomotives of all time and I had to begrudgingly decide, it would have to be the NIAGARA. But i am off-topic here. Here I cover the Hudson locomotive, which dutifully and proudly served the New York Central from 1927 to the demise of steam in the mid-to-late 50s in the US. Versions of the Hudson remained popular throughout the world however, into the 70s.
More reading: http://www.steamlocomotive.com/hudson/
video by SD457500
The beautiful 2-8-4 Berkshire type locomotive, the NKP 765, starts up in the fall surroundings on the Cuyahoga Valley Line in Tennessee for a September 2011 run.
Great video by dferg100.
For more information on the NKP 765, please visit the owner’s site: The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
Photo by Steven M. Welch at Rail pictures.net
On July 2 -3, 2011, the Southern Pacific 4449 pulled trains from Portland, Oregon to Wishram, Washington.
This is a great video of “Chasing” the locomotive on its trip. The Photographer rides to shoot the video, while the famous steam chasing driver “Rich” shows his skills at providing ample and exciting distance and speed in order to capture the beauty and power of steam and the environs.
Video is posted by gregudolph.
The SP 4449 was called “The Most Beautiful Locomotive in the World” at the Height of Steam train popularity in the 1940s and 50s. It is now housed, along with one of my all-time favorite steam locomotives of the US, the SP&S (Spokane, Portland & Seattle) 700.
In 1935, the London and Northeastern Railway of the UK, had Nigel Gresley design streamlined locomotives. They were fast and recognizable. The “Mallard” 4468 still holds the world’s speed record for fastest steam in the world.
Of over 30 built in those days, 6 remain today, three of which are fully operational.
60007 Sir Nigel Gresley
60009 Union of South Africa
The famous 60022 Mallard is on static display in Shildon.
The 60010 Dominion of Canada is on static display in the Canadian Railway Museum in Canada.
The 60008 Dwight D. Eisenhower is on display in Wisconsin, USA.
The Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Greenbrier 4-8-4 Locomotive 614, is slated to return to an east coast US project by 2013, if the plan goes well. This locomotive is incredibly magnificent and elegant, not to mention powerful! And it is also amongst my top favorites (I have 30 top favorites that I will not bother ranking!).
To READ MORE ON THE RETURN of the C&O 614: Click to the Great Blog site STEAM CENTRAL.
I’ve posted some older, but great video views of the great C&O here.
1) C&O 614 at Port Jervis, New York in 1998 for a close look at it.
2) C&O 614 Great Video by CSX Joe at YouTube (Joe Hacker).
3) AWESOME BEAUTY FROM THE AIR “Return of the Thoroughbred” by Mark I Video
4) Pacing the 614 – by Typebangin’ at Steam train videos
Richard Steinheimer, famous railroad photographer of the USA, especially of Western US Railroads, passed away on May 4, 2011 in Sacramento, California after a long illness.
Let us remember his life, dedication, artistic vision, love of railroad–his heritage.
This is one of my favorite YouTube videos edited and mixed by 4101950 on Youtube.
US Jazz music artist Pat Metheny’s piece: “Last Train Home” is put to a great montage of some of the world’s most beautiful steam locomotives, most of them still in operation today.
One of the beautiful big 4-8-4 steam locomotives operating in the USA today, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (ATSF, or ‘Santa Fe’ in nickname), takes frequent excursions throughout the year, especially in the Southern California area.
This trip was earlier in April of this year (2011). This great video is from kearthfan101.
For those of you who aren’t too familiar with steam engines except in art and photographs, you can get an idea of the size and power of these locomotives. We can also keep in mind that these locomotives have speed limits these days and for insurance purposes. Mechanical issues (since modern rail mechanics no longer serve steam) are circumvented by adding the diesel locomotives in case there are problems. But the diesel locomotives DO NOT HELP in pulling the train! It’s all steam baby!!
This great Video is by SD railfan!
This is one of the most famous express passenger trains that ran in the United States. In its various stages, it was pulled by many of the most famous steam locomotives such as the Hudson, the Niagara, and the streamlined Hudsons.
Here are vintage clips, where you can see these locomotives hauling at full speeds of between 80 to 100 miles per hour, unlike these days, where insurance and track mechanics, as well as wanting photographers to get good photos, have kept speeds of excursion steam between 20 and 70 miles per hour at best. The best and strongest steam were most often running between 60 to over 100 miles per hour (160.93 km/h).
Below are PoathTV’s commentary (from YouTube) on the 20th Century Limited:
The 20th Century Limited was an express passenger train operated by the New York Central Railroad from 1902 to 1967. The train travelled between Grand Central Terminal in New York City and LaSalle Street Station in Chicago, Illinois along the railroad’s famed “Water Level Route”. The NYC inaugurated this train as direct competition to the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Broadway Limited, both lines intended for upper class as well as business travellers between the two cities. Making few station stops along the way and utilizing track pans along the route to take water at speed, the train completed the 960.7 miles (1,546 km) journey in 16 hours, departing New York City westbound at 6:00 P.M. Eastern Time and arriving at Chicago’s LaSalle St. Station the following morning at 9:00 A.M. Central Time., averaging 60 miles per hour (97 km/h).
This collection of clips shows The 20th Century Limited in it’s heyday being hauled by classic NYC streamlined steam locomotives including the famous Hudsons.
The clip below is from the Great Vintage Video company: HERRON Rail, from their video entitled: Trains at Speed.
On July 3rd, 1938, in Great Britain, the A-4 class locomotive “Mallard” broke the world train speed record for steam, at 125mph. It was in the family of other elegant ‘streamlined’ locomotives that were popular for a short period around the world, then losing favor to the more ‘traditional’ design of the steam locomotive with boilers and other parts in plain view, giving them the grittier feel.
Before that record, the Empire State Express in New York, with the Locomotive #999, still proudly and beatufiully standing in the Museum in New York, was the first engine in the world to break the 100mph barrier, so it is said.
The Niagara locomotive, of the famous New York Central Railroad, was the most powerful, efficient, and fast locomotive in the late 1950s, before all were completely destroyed. In Time trials with the up-and-coming Diesel locomotives, the Niagara class locomotive was equal. It made the diesel engine promoters quite uncomfortable. But alas, they were working with the oil companies and the demise of steam was certain. Not one glorious ‘Niagara’ class locomotive is alive today. However, its earlier cousin, the ‘Mohawk’ locomotive, as of this day, is being talked about as being revived for later excursion trains.
Here is more video of the beautiful SP4449. SkipW at YouTube is one of my favorite videographers of Steam locomotives and steam trains in the United States. He is known to take beautiful High Definition videos of Pacing scenes. Pacing, for those of you who are not rail fans, is when the photographer rides beside the steam locomotive as they are running parallel in photographing/videoing. For me, it is almost the quintessential element of an all-round ‘good’ and ‘exciting’ video or film, when some kind of pacing scene is involved. So many videographers just show endless run-by scenes, it is monotonous and somewhat too detached. When pacing scenes are included in at least a part of the video, I particularly feel that the viewer can get more of the feel of the locomotive– its energy, strength, speed and motion– its spirit. Thank you Skip for your great Pacing scenes!
This video is from July 31, 2009 when the Southern Pacific ‘Daylight’ ran through the Rocky Mountains in the Western United States.
Photo courtesy of Chicago Super Chief at Railpictures.net
The streamlined steam locomotive was a short fad for steam engine designs in the World War II and postwar period in most western and northern European countries, the United States and Australia/New Zealand. It quickly came into disfavor, succumbing to both fans of steam who thought that steamlining ruined the basic aesthetic of steam locomotives, as well as mechanics who complained of more difficulty in reaching certain areas of the body to fix and maintain these engines. However, certain streamlined locomotives were ‘eternal’ in the steam history of nations. In the UK, Germany and France, certain streamliners were revered and kept in museums, while a few are running today in excursion runs.
In the United States, there are two streamlined steam engines and preserved: the Norfolk and Western Class J #611 and the Southern Pacific ‘Daylight’ #4449. Sadly, the NW 611 was built in 1950 and ran excursions through the 1990s. It is no longer running but preserved in fine condition at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
Arguably, considered the ‘most beautiful steam locomotive in the world’ is the famous “Daylight” locomotive of the GS-4 class: the Southern Pacific #4449. It was built in May 1941 and is still running today in special and excursion services. They are maintained by the Friends of 4449 .
The video is courtesy of ‘YardGoat‘ on Youtube.
Richard Steinheimer (1929-) is considered one of the world’s greatest railroad photographers from the United States. Railroad photographers, artists, and videographers are the main people who have allowed our memories to be kept alive, and to be remembered through generations, of steam locomotives, steam trains and the reminiscing of the days when steam-driven trains were the major form of transportation on land.
He started his photographic career in 1945, when one of the most illustrious and powerful railroad companies–the Southern Pacific Railroad, ran their trains past his home. In 2004, he was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease and in 2007, suffered a stroke. His photography will remain in our heart/minds to remind us of the glory of American steam.
Southern Pacific 4194 at Night, Glendale Station, California 1950
For further reading on Richard Steinheimer:
Photos from photographers at Rail Picture Archives.net & Rail Pictures.net
The Union Pacific (UP) 844, is one of the most famous locomotives in the United States. It has been called one of the most elegant and sleek locomotives ever created in the United States. It has also been the only locomotive of all the US railroad companies to have never been taken out of service, and is the longest-running steam locomotive to be in service in the US.
When it was due to be scrapped, along with most of the steam locomotives during the late 50s through the 60s, public pressure to save the locomotive was strongly heeded by the Union Pacific Railroad and the 844 was re-installed quickly. Its name was briefly changed to 8444, when a diesel locomotive by the name of 844 was built. The original 844 name was restored later.
Nowadays, the Union Pacific is proud of saving this locomotive, along with the giant 3985 Challenger. Their special excursion trains that run throughout the year at various times, are sold-out routinely and draw huge crowds, of young and old alike. There’s something about the steam engine…….