Milwaukee Rd 261 Restored and Powering! – Life to the Max

The American 4-8-4 locomotive – Milwaukee Rd 261, said good-bye in 2011, not knowing if it would ever be restored.  In 2013, it was indeed restored and running beautifully again!!  Yay!!

This is an episode from a 28-minute show called Life to the Max, which covers a Fall Trip in 2013.

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National Film Board of Canada: 1959 Documentary

Steamtown_ Ian Shive

Here is a wonderful short documentary done in 1959, logged in the National Film Board of Canada, documenting a small window panning across the middle of the last days of steam locomotive dominance in Canada in the late 50s to early 60s.

By 1960, all but preserved tourist locomotives were gone in the United States.  But in Canada, a few steam locomotives were in service in the 60s.

In the UK and most of Europe and Japan, a few mainline steam trains were operating through the 60s and into the early to mid-70s.  It is also true that in North America, trains in general, were becoming less important as the automobile and airline industries worked hard to push the railroad out of public consciousness (and did not succeed in many ways).

In Europe and Japan, for instance, the railroads have continued to play a major role.  The nostalgic emotions for steam locomotives are still a major aspect of most cultures around the world.  This beautiful documentary uses interviews and the lives of those who had worked intimately with steam trains, to portray loss, change, and the contradictions of the passing of steam locomotives into the category of ‘relic.’  However, train travel in North America is again on the rise.  The railroads also understand the steam locomotive to be strong central figures in the bedrock of most modern societies and reminders of colonial and imperial might and industrial-technological advancement and and nation-building itself.  The steam locomotive will most likely not go away from human consciousness completely.

This documentary is certainly worth a quiet 30 minutes of our time with a hot drink along with our deepest connections to our histories and where we are headed as humans.

End of the Line by Terence Macartney-Filgate, 30 minutes, 1959.

http://www.nfb.ca/film/end_of_line

This is a superb short film for any steam and/or railroad fan or historian/anthropologist.

Steam on Film: “La bête humaine” (1938) – Slides & Vids

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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:

Wikipedia

IMDb site

Here are some clips:

More UK steam at Speed!

Often, unknowing people only see toy trains and tour trains that travel slowly, making the people of today have unrealistic memories and images of how steam travel was.  Although I can say that in Europe, many steam excursion trains run at speed, sometimes, most of the steam trains in Japan and the United States travel at slower speeds than what it would have been like in the days when steam was everyday normal.

These videos give a glimpse of what some of the “at-speed” speeds were like.  Most of the express passenger trains pulled by steam locomotives in the 1930s through the early 50s, traveled at speeds exceeding 80 mph and the best of them traveled at over 100 mph.

Today, the fastest electric and magnet-driven trains can go over 300 mph.  In the United States, this has not been seen yet.  The United States, at the moment, does not seem to care too much about rail travel, even as more and more people are returning to the joys of train travel today, becoming tired of the monopoly of air, bus and car long-distance travel.

Below, from 1995, is a clip from a PSOV DVD, of the Princess Elizabeth #46203 locomotive speeding by at over 60 mph, and at 80 mph at stations.

Train at the Crossing!

This is one of those sensual memories for those of us who grew up with steam trains.

Although I grew up in Japan in the 50s and 60s, the sight of a running steam train coming through the crossing while we stopped, heard, felt, smelled—is forever burned in memory, no matter what country.

Below is an example from the UK. User willhayfield has posted this wonderful short video of 34067 Tangmere pulling the Cathedrals Express special through Mottisfont and Dunbridge on October 2011.

Turn up the volume!

Night Time Steam! PSOV video

Steam running full speed or coming into stations is rare in the United States and in places such as Japan, even, where steam used to be the pinnacle of passenger travel.

However, in places such as the UK, Germany, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, and Italy– one can still see Steam Trains running without diesel helpers, strangulated speed restrictions, and tour-train looks that make the steam train appear toy-like.

One aspect of steam trains that is sorely missed in most places, is captured beautifully on DVD video by the UK video company–PSOV (Preserved Steam On Video).  This is one of the top five steam video production companies from the UK, in my opinion.

Below I show a wonderful example.  It is their collection of preserved UK steam running at Night.  Spectacular colors, reflections, sound and energy emerge.

For more information on this video, you can see it at this link:

http://www.mainlinesteam.net/Steam_at_Night.htm

The music is by ‘The Pargeters

For more videos by the wonderful DVD site, visit:

PSOV mainline steam

Enjoy the Trailer!

 

The 4-6-4 Hudson of the New York Central

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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/