Twilight of Steam Locomotives, The By Ron Ziel 208 Pages Hard Cover
The Twilight of Steam Locomotives By Ron Ziel
Hard Cover with dust jacket
Copyright 1963, 1970
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Mechanical Splendor 8
Maintaining a Locomotive 16
Steamtown, U.S.A 20
Heritage of Steam 22
Forlorn and Forgotten 34
Monuments and Museums 56
Death of the 6316 76
The Last Roundhouse 88
Steam Safari 94
Short Line Freight 96
Carolina Short Line 110
Smoke, Steam and Snow 116
Little Workhorses 122
Last of the Narrow Gauges 134
Railfans and Daisypickers 152
Journey to Yesterday 166
Excursion Engines of the Sixties 180
The Continuing Motive Power Debate 193
Steam Locomotive Technology 196
The Last Fires Are Dropped 204
Recommended Reading, Recordings 208
Of the many facets of the entire subject of railroading, a locomotive under steam was the most attractive. It may have represented a technological achievement of specialized engineering design or it may have been among the simplest of man's industrial machines. In motion or at rest it was animate to an incomprehensible degree, and every locomotive had its own distinctive characteristics and personality. Rarely, if ever, have any two engines built from the same blueprints had the same performance and operating qualities, and no locomotive could be run efficiently if the engineer were not alert and sensitive to its individual peculiarities. It is with sharp insight that the British call their engineers "drivers" for the term "iron horse" is not merely a poetic fancy, but a recognition of these animate qualities.
The past two centuries have witnessed more changes in human society and economic environment than in all of previous history. Among the technical advances it is hard to find any machine that so symbolizes the Industrial Revolution as the steam locomotive. Deriving great power from one parent, the stationary steam engine, and great mobility from the other parent, the horse-drawn tramway, this offspring of many engineering skills can be considered as the most representative, as well as the most romantic, achievement of the Industrial Age.
In 1R25 there was one steam locomotive in the United States, operated as an experiment by Col. John Stevens on a circle of track in Hoboken. Ninety-nine years later the steam locomotive census reached its peak with over 65,000 owned by Class One railroads, plus the uncounted thousands operating on short lines and industrial, terminal and logging roads. The next year, 1925, began the decline, and by some strange coincidence the first diesel was listed by the Association of American Railroads that same year.
Many studies have been made and much has been written about the disappearance of the steam locomotive, but the hard facts of economics, highway competition and improved steam locomotive technology brought the decline to 40,041 locomotives in 1940. The spectacular ability of the railroads to move freight and passengers was tested during World War II and the statistics show fantastic records of achievements made with 40 per cent fewer engines than in 1924, but of far greater efficiency. Since there were less than 4,000 diesels and electrics on the rails during the war, this was chiefly an accomplishment of steam power.
With the peace in 1945 the decline of steam was resumed. General Motors, ALCO, Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton, General Electric, Fairbanks-Morse and others began mass-producing diesel locomotives like automobiles, and the fate of the steam locomotive was inevitable. In 1952, with more diesels and ever fewer steam locomotives, the lines on the graph crossed and ten years later, in 1962, there were less than one hundred surviving steam engines in the Association of American Railroads listing of Class One roads. Few of these can operate and most are museum pieces or are awaiting the scrapper's torch.
With steam all but extinct on the main lines, a diligent and dedicated search was necessary to find what remained on the short lines and the "little railroads." It is practically impossible to track down and report on every remaining steam locomotive. Such a listing and picture-taking would be quite repetitious and even dull, for the racers and the heavy haulers that were the most romantic and impressive are now gone, leaving only a few "work horses" on class-two and class-three railroads.
It is no wonder that the "iron horse" attracts a large group of enthusiasts. Among their number none is more active and zealous than Ron Ziel. This is his book and a personal document, for it is a record of a trans-continental search for surviving steam locomotives by an artist whose very youth made this book possible. Only a young man would have the energy to range more than 55,000 miles across 47 states and into Canada and Mexico in 16 months and the endurance to stay for weeks at a time on the road, flushing out the last steam engines in the bayous of Dixie, the forests of the Northwest and the factory yards of New England. One memorable journey, in the company of Marshall G. Moseley, a college friend, covered 15,000 miles by rail and highway in four weeks, and the air lines got no revenue from this railfan! In 1961 the first ideas were committed to film and paper during his senior year at Pratt Institute, where only two miles away the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal's eccentricities of saddle-tankers and rights-of-way occupied by parked automobiles, aroused his earlier memories of the steam power which thundered on the high iron through the suburban towns along the Long Island Rail Road of his boyhood.
Perhaps in other times this might have been the record of a companion of Jason or a hundred other such seekers of a treasure, but in the middle of our century Ron Ziel has completed a different quest. This was more than an effort to make a picture report of the last remaining steam locomotives. It is a valedictory prepared by a young man who feels a sense of personal loss and an awareness of the very real passing of an era.
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