Since the early 1990s, Norfolk Southern (formerly Norfolk and Western) streamlined 4-8-4 steam locomotive has been dormant, with no plans for its revival, and placed in a museum.
In 2015, enough interest pushed finances to move forward to bring the beautiful locomotive back to life, and have the first test runs in the spring, then with full excursions from May through the summer.
Here are some video glimpses.
For information, contact the 611 page: http://fireup611.org/
Some of the most beautiful scenes of vintage European steam in film were crafted in French filmmaker Jean Renoir’s 1938 film entitled La Bête humaine (English: The Human Beast; and in the UK released also as Judas Was a Woman).
The film centers on an express train engineer who discovers his wife was seduced by a wealthy godfather and plots their murder. This murder is witnessed by a co-railway worker. The plot complexifies further with the ramifications of this murderous path.
The express steam train pulled by French steam type 231 plays a major star role in the movie throughout, representing and symbolizing the human journeys, with beautiful photography and atmosphere.
Read more here:
Here are some clips:
This posting is about dominant passenger rail travel around the world today–primarily, high-speed. Magnetic and other forms of path-making lead the way in the future of of a more ecologically-conscious, more swift, and beautiful ways of traveling on land.
Because of the recent rumblings of air travel and troubles with the automobile industry and frustration with the almost extreme levels of discomfort and stress associated with car driving, as well as the relative discomforts of air travel, train travel has always been the mainstay of the public consciousness around travel.
In Europe, Asia and South American, trains remain a heavy favorite and main way of travel. Recent billions put into the incredible railway terminals in Europe and China, as well as the more aesthetically pleasing designs for high-speed trains, continues to be normal and enjoyed by people. Not so in the United States.
I have, through recent years, met youth who have never “seen a train” or do not know or pay attention to anything except for, perhaps, the downtown trolley cars and subways in the city. In San Francisco, where I live at present, there are youth who know of trains to be only the city transit system (MUNI) or the high-speed underground (Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART).
Even though these youth may cross railroad tracks of the huge Union Pacific Railroad yards in Oakland on their trip on the BART, they do not notice. I, as one who loves trains and pays attention, have only seen five moving trains moving on that yard that we cross. Most of the time, you see the freight cars and their loads, and old locomotives sitting idle.
I think that those youth see those trains as museum pieces, even though they are out in the open. And since they are freight engines, there is not much relationship between them and those trains, even though the many things they use everyday in life, are transported to them, through the Union Pacific and other railways in the United States.
In Japan, where I grew up, it is a bit different. Trains are a main way to commute and travel. Cars and buses are secondary. In the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands where I recently traveled for research, trains are still a main way of moving and enjoying life. Because people have a relationship with trains, the governments, both national and local, pay attention to that relationship, with top-notch comforts, safety, speed, and beauty.
It may get that way in the US, back to a bit of how it was in the Golden Age, or at least through the 1950s and 60s, when rail travel was still a bit more respected. Thanks to railfans, model railroaders, and historians, railroads sustain a huge following of fans in the United States, but almost as artifact. Recently, however, local trains have seen a bit of a revival because of the state of the world.
I grew up with wonderful trains in Japan, when we can walk around and enjoy eating at the counter or at a table like we were at home. Traveling overnight on sleeper roomettes was something I experienced once.
When our family moved from the US to the US in 1962 (I was 7 years old), my father respected my love of trains. So he arranged that from the airport, we toured Los Angeles, then rode the famous Santa Fe (ATSF, or Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe) Railroad’s El Capitan, complete with their wonderful warbonnet design. The trains were spectacular and so comfortable. It wasn’t the cramped sitting experience of airline travel. It was more social, more open, more aesthetically pleasing. The train was swift (although nothing like high speed rail).
Those days seem gone forever, but perhaps not. Rail travel will revive to a much stronger position in the United States in the future, I feel.
In Europe and Asia, steam trains are also very well respected and cared for by their governments. In Germany, the monthly ‘Plandampf” is a government-sponsored weekend of full-steam regular service in many locations across Germany. In Poland and Slovakia and all around Europe, steam has has a strong revival and has even saved economies, because of their public’s interest in them.
In the US, private people have to raise money against the rising costs of insurance and over-regulation. It is truly depressing, even when it is clear that in the US, there is a strong love of steam trains as well.
In the mean time, I enjoy what I can here in the US, while I can perhaps get to Europe and Asia to experience the beauty of rail experience in those countries that still continue to respect and put energy into rail as an important aspect of movement and culture. Slideshow below.
The Swansea-Mumbles Railway, 1804 – 1960
Slideshow and Video
Although technical industrial know-how is often named and known by rail enthusiasts the world over, such as the invention of the steam locomotive, and speed record marvels, which are wonderful, of course–little known is the fact of the Swansea-Mumbles Railway line, the world’s first passenger rail service.
On March 25, 1807–the same day that the British Parliament passed the law outlawing the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Swansea opened the first passenger train in the world, charging a fee for passengers to be pulled on a rail line. At this time, the passenger carriages were pulled by horses. Then more carriages were added for form a multi-carriage horse-drawn rail train along the beautiful Wales coast line between Swansea and the charming town of Mumbles.
The line was closed and was derelict for a while, and various wealthy proprietors refurbished and re-established the line.
In 1877, steam locomotives were introduced to the line and pulled the train from that year to 1929, when trams took over. Steam locomotives of the wheel arrangement 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 steam locomotives, of various “tank” types, were used the pull the trains in the heyday of steam. The line began electrifying its motive power in 1928.
In 1960, after closing a couple of more times, the line was closed officially by the government, even though there were an overwhelming amount of signatures protesting the closure. The new owners at the time wanted to make busses the main way of travel, regardless of what the majority of local people wanted.
Golden Swansea website: http://www.welshwales.co.uk/mumbles_railway_swansea.htm
BBC: Early Mumbles Railway: Early Mumbles Railway
Swansea-Mumbles – Wikipedia
History – Video Clip from BBC Wales 1998:
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Reminiscences of Swansea-Mumbles. circa 1960 – by AceMovieCo:
After the Earthquake and Tsunami that hit Northeastern Japan, and while the entire nation struggles to change its mood and to struggle to continue and recover, many programs were started to bring Japan, as a nation, to a more positive mood. One such way of doing this was to inaugurate the return of the famous Japanese express steam locomotive from the postwar era–the C61. In February 2011, it was brought out from its short amusement park and museum locale, to begin test runs. From March through June, the C61 began its special excursion runs to motivate Japan. The C61, was one of the express passenger locomotives, to be built during the US Occupation of Japan, when new steam locomotives were NOT ALLOWED to be built in Japan, per Occupation orders. So Japanese officials built the C61 and C62 from the bodies and parts of older freight locomotives D51 and “Pacific type” passenger locomotive C57, with some modifications to fit the speed and smoothness, as well as power necessary for pulling passenger locomotives, resulting in the Hudson type C61.
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.
Karl Gölsdorf (1861-1916) of Austria, was one of the world’s most foremost designers of the steam locomotive in the early 20th century. What was considered his masterpiece is the most famous locomotive: Class 310 which he built in 1911. It was known for its tremendous speed and power, along with ELEGANCE in aesthetics at its time. Today, it is still one of the most popular steam locomotives for fans of European steam and history.
Older Video of 310 glory:
Part 1 and 2 of a segment of the April 2011 Run after rebuild: