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Steam's Lost Empire

Steams Lost Empire

Steam’s Lost Empire takes you back to the classic era of railroading when steam locomotives ruled the rails. The 124-page special issue features classic articles from the archives of Trains magazine including riveting inside accounts from railfans and railroaders who worked the trains as well as dramatic black-and-white and color photographs. Experience the world of steam like never before – the grit, the power, and the beauty!

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
R 188,03

in this issue

1 min
a vanished world

Those of us who grew up after 1960 and who love steam locomotives are grateful beyond words for the precious few of those magnificent machines that remain in operation. Today, it’s still possible to be present as a 2-6-0 gives its all to lift three cars up a steep grade, or as a Berkshire accelerates to 60 mph on double track. Of course, in all but a handful of places, steam is the exception to the diesel rule. With fewer than 200 steam locomotives operable now in America, it’s hard to conceive of a time when more than 50,000 roamed the land day in and day out. That great army of locomotives, compelling in itself, required a physical and social infrastructure so extensive that it could be called an empire. Like…

7 min
day   with an   sp ho gger

Ever since the first fire was kindled beneath the boiler of the first locomotive, the engineer has been the symbol of all railroad men. We may have a good friend in the local station agent, the flagman may return our wave from his cupola post, but it’s the gentleman in the cab we watch for — the man behind the throttle, reverse gear, and brake valves. Perhaps that’s because the locomotive has ever been the trademark of railroading. Maybe the reason lies in the fact that the engineer is the one member of the crew actually handling the train — the man who slips a little sand under high drivers, then tugs back the throttle … the chap up on the right-hand seat as the tonnage freight works its way…

7 min
90 mph aboard a 4-6-4

Engineer Valentine Ureda pulls up the drop seat within the door of his streamlined Hudson’s vestibuled cab, wipes it off with cotton waste, then pauses to ask a logical question: “Ever ride a steam locomotive before?” “Yes — but never on a road this fast.” Over the compressed-air wail of brake tests and the roar of an open blower he shouts back: “Well, I should get her up to 90 today.” This, then, is it — the execution of a fantastic hope that has lived with you from the summer morn in 1934 when Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific standard F6 Hudson No. 6402 averaged 75.5 mph on a stunt run out of Chicago to Milwaukee — a run that streamlined Atlantics came to emulate with oddly styled trains called Hiawathas. Oh yes,…

16 min
standard railroading

It is a curious fact about the Standard Era of railroading — those relatively secure and complacent years from about 1910 through the late ’20s — that some aspects of it were far less standardized than they are in today’s practice. Take the matter of motive power. Today, as diesel locomotive models are produced in the thousands, a single model — an EMD GP7, say — may handle varied assignments on dozens of different carriers. In the Standard Era each of the carriers used a steam locomotive of its own design planned especially for a particular job (but frequently forced into other kinds of work as well). The comparison extends to the manner of motive power operation. Myriad different operating problems — caused by weather, terrain, type of traffic — make for…

4 min
cab ride on a   camelback

A human experience without parallel — a ride on a steam locomotive — is rapidly passing out of a man’s possession. Once you sling a boiler capable of several thousand horsepower high up over driving wheels as tall as a basketball player and exhaust the energy through a transmission of reciprocating steel rods, it’s patently clear that the men aboard operate in a world of heat and metal all their own. It is all that and more on a center-cab “Camelback” locomotive where the fireman rides at the rear as nature intended but the engineer holds down a seatbox affixed to the running board — right above the drivers and alongside the source of energy. This sensation is no longer available in scheduled service — but before it died, Trains…

25 min
ro undhouse   foreman

Life for a junior foreman in a secondary engine terminal may not have changed in principle since the last days of steam on the Canadian Pacific, but it must have changed in detail. First of all, in steam days, each of your engines needed various rigorous examinations of its motion. Ah, yes, the motion, shaking itself as if to pieces with every turn of the wheel: inertia forces, unbalanced forces, centrifugal forces. In consequence, side rods had to hold the driving axles their precise distance apart, supplementing the shoes and wedges, which couldn’t retain their precision in spite of your constant attention. Pistons started to or tended to bump cylinder heads. Engineers reported pounding, or you anticipated their reports; and periodically you instructed that rods were not to be greased on…