Of Big Steam, a 2-10-4, video, and Baldwin diesels

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Friday, May 19, 2017

I’ve been away for a few more days than I anticipated, so I want to catch up on a few housekeeping notes.

First, our new 90-minute video, Big Steam is Back, has returned from the replicator, which gives me great joy, having just taken a ride and done some chasing with Norfolk & Western No. 611 earlier this month. I’m excited about this video project because it captures all of the big locomotives out there running today and gives a preview of many of the projects that are in the works.

Second, our Big Steam is Back special 100-page issue goes to the printers today, and, like the video, is packed full of great storytelling, photos, and info. Just looking over the list of locomotives that are featured is exciting: 844, 261, 765, 4449, 700, 4501, 3751, 1309, 2926. I also dug into my own collection of images from almost 40-years of railroad photography and pulled out photos of several contemporary main line excursion engines that are sadly cold once more. I call that photo story, “To absent friends” and it led me to dig out an old photo of Texas & Pacific 2-10-4 No. 610 coming under the Interstate 40 bridge just east of Black Mountain, N.C., on the way to Ridgecrest at the top of the Loops. This was July 1978 with the running of one of the Roanoke NRHS Chapter’s famous Independence Limited excursions. Check out all of the fans in the open window car, Lookout Mountain, right behind the canteen. No. 610 is on display at Texas State Railroad today, and Lookout Mountain is at Rio Grande Scenic in Alamosa, Colo., where I rode it a few years ago.

 Third, videographer Kevin Gilliam was on his way to South Carolina’s Pickens Railroad earlier this week to check out those rare U18B diesels that everyone loves. These baby U-boats, second hand units of Seaboard Coast Line, have a delightful charm: They’re small and light and sound not unlike a lawn mower. Digging back into my own archives again, in the summer of 1978, the Pickens was still a short line between its namesake and Easley, S.C., still run with a pair of end-cab Baldwin switchers, and still a lot of fun to chase. I’ll share a couple of images here. Kevin’s U18B segment will appear in our first-ever Locomotive video, a companion to our Locomotive annual, set to appear in September.

 I’ll try to be a better correspondent starting next week!

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