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Mountain RailroadsMountain Railroads

Mountain Railroads

Mountain Railroads

Mountain Railroads, the latest special issue from Classic Trains, explores railroading’s battle with gravity and geography — getting heavy trains up steep grades and safely descending them. The 124-page special edition features new and rare photos, detailed maps, and classic articles from Trains magazine, including Horseshoe Curve, Cajon Pass, 2-10-4 to Revelstoke, Snowbound Streamliner, Saluda Grade, and more!

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
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CHF 12.94


access_time1 Min.
making the grade

Few experiences in railroading are as stirring as witnessing a train climb a steep grade. Locomotives send smoke skyward as they struggle to lift hundreds or thousands of tons uphill. Sand dust fills the air. The roar of the engines’ exhaust and squeal of flanges against sharply curved rails can be deafening. Extra power in the form of head-end or rear-end helpers often adds to the drama.In some ways even more compelling, in view of the stakes involved, is a train descending a heavy grade. One misstep by the engineer, or the failure of a key piece of hardware, can send a train hurtling out of control, a mortal threat to those aboard it or in its path.Such drama often unfolds amid the sharp topography of a mountain region, adding…

access_time11 Min.
horseshoe curve

Several of Pennsy’s 598 heavy 2-10-0s, the road’s preferred power for mountain freight work, dominate the smoky ready tracks at Altoona in the late 1920s. (Fred Eidenbenz)Boxcars follow a J1 2-10-4, one of 125 PRR built in 1942–44, through Slope interlocking on the way out of Altoona in 1949. Ahead 4.3 miles: Horseshoe Curve. (Linn H. Westcott)An eastbound freight has just traversed the Curve in this aerial photo from 1941. Fed by mountain streams, reservoirs supplying Altoona lie in the middle. (Mutual Magazine (PRR))The brakeman calls out, “Horseshoe Curve on your right in a few minutes.” The deadheads don’t even look up, but nearly everyone else in the coach crowds to the righthand side to get a good look, for this scenic wonder of the Pennsylvania Railroad main line is…

access_time1 Min.
mountain railroads in photos

CUESTA GRADE Sprawling from Oregon to Louisiana, the SP system had more mountains to cross than perhaps any other railroad. Cuesta Grade, on SP’s Los Angeles–San Francisco Coast Line, obliged big 4-8-4s to accept the help of 2-10-2s to lift the Coast Daylight the 12 miles out of San Luis Obispo. The photographer was on the train when he made this 1949 shot on the horseshoe curve at Goldtree. (Linn H. Westcott) ■…

access_time13 Min.
cajon pass

Brakeshoe smoke wreaths a westbound freight descending Cajon’s original 3.4-percent line behind 2-10-2 3879 in February 1951. The newer 2.2-percent line used by eastbound trains is in the foreground. (Robert Hale)Santa Fe types 956 — one of the original 2-10-2s of 1903 that gave the type its name — and 3881 assist an eastbound ATSF freight up the pass in the early ’40s. Military vehicles ride the flatcar ahead of the 956. (J. F. Banner)Pacific 1226 helps 4-8-4 3760 lift Santa Fe train 24, the Grand Canyon, up Cajon in the 1940s at Sullivan’s Curve, named for the photographer. (Herb Sullivan)Rails cannot reach Southern California from random directions, as they do at Chicago or Kansas City; they must seek openings through the towering mountains circling protectively around the region. Each…

access_time1 Min.
mountain railroads in photos

MULLAN PASS Northern Pacific Z-8 No. 5132 departs Garrison, Mont., with a freight for Helena and points east on May 31, 1953. In 30 miles the 4-6-6-4, assisted by a rear-end helper, will crest the Continental Divide by means of 3,897-foot Mullan Tunnel. The wye to the left leads to Butte and Homestake Pass, while MILW’s Pacific Extension is beyond the water tower. (George Krambles, Krambles-Peterson Archive) ■…

access_time9 Min.
tennessee narrow gauge

Carrying second-shift workers to their jobs at the rayon plants in Elizabethton, daily train 3 has just entered the dual-gauge trackage east of town on November 21, 1943. The coaches came from Massachusetts pike Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn in 1923. (A. C. Hudson)Winding through the deep gorges of the Doe River in the eastern part of Tennessee, where it extends between North Carolina and Virginia, is an unusual railroad with a rather long name, the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina. This is a remote section in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where ordinarily a railroad only 35 miles long would be thought of as little more than a lumber line on its last legs, but such is not the case here. This railroad last year (1941) earned more than…