TRACK ONE As we begin our adventure in "The Twilight of Steam Locomotives" the inside front cover beholds the World famous Reader R.R. in southwest Arkansas. This is the last 100% steam powered common-carrier mixed train to operate in the United States and according to Mr. T. W. M. Long, President of the charming shortline, "We're in the passenger business and having a grand time. You'all come down to see us." We hear No. 11, a weil polished 2-6-2 making up her triweekly train in the Reader yard. How about that perfectly tuned Nathan Chime whistle, a sound to stir most anyone.
TRACK TWO On pages 11-13, you will find a recent victim of dieselization, the Virginia Blue Ridge during the last days of steam. This recording has 0-6-0 No. 9, shown in both photos, topping a grade near Piney River, Virginia. Even the song birds seem to sense that the passing of an era is very near indeed.
TRACK THREE Apparently silenced forever, the last of Southern Pacific's esthetically pleasing G S series 4-8-4's is shown on page 65 in retirement. We hear her now during a portion of her "last run" to Reno, Nevada in 1960. This sound was typical Espee with big and beautiful Northern's that could start an 18 car train and roar by you at 60 mph in nothing flat. Witness same.
TRACK FOUR Until early 1963, the Bevier & Southern in central Missouri had a leased Burlington Mike, No. 4963. On page 96 the 2-8-2 is shown at Bevier. Listen to her walk a string of hoppers "over the top," past our trackside location.
TRACK FIVE Opposite the 4963, a handsome 2-6-0 No. 97 of the Mobile & Gulf is portrayed quite intentionally, on page 97. Her whistle is possessed of a deep melodic charm as the Mogul awakens the Alabama countryside during an early morning dew near Brownville.
TRACK SIX Many fascinations of the steam locomotive are evident when viewed emerging from under a bridge. The Kentucky & Tennessee's No. 10, a husky 2-8-2 is doing just that, partially camouflaged behind her own steam, on page 103. From the same location, we capture the Mike with a capacity load from Mine 16 and unless some miracle happens, the K & T will be dieselized by the time you read this for lack of spare parts and qualified machinists for maintenance.
TRACK SEVEN Upon turning the page, a color portrait of Magma Arizona's trim No. 7, star of Cinerama's "How The West Was Won," presents itself. With the temperature hovering near 105 degrees, the 2-8-2 moves right along near Queens, on the return trip to Superior, Arizona.
TRACK EIGHT One of the very last all steam shortlines east of the Mississippi is none other than the Mississippian, appropriately displayed on pages 106-107. No. 77 leaves the house to pick up the caboose in the yard.
TRACK NINE A "Carolina Shortline" devotes the entire chapter to the Graham County Railroad, which operates two Shays in the southwestern portion of North Carolina. The indescribable beauty of No. 1926 with engineer Ed Collins working the whistle cord over, illustrates in sound, that which cannot be done with words or photography. The next time you are in Bear Creek Valley, ask Ed to put on a show for you, just like this one.
TRACK ONE 0-6-0T No. 13 of the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal is the star of Chapter 12, pages 116-121. Here she makes her recording debut in the very last days of BEDT steam. Listen to the flange squeel as the side-tanker tows a box car within the shadow of Manhattan skyscrapers!
TRACK TWO "Last of the Narrow Gauges"-is the story of the Denver and Rio Grande in southwestern Colorado, chapter 14. The photo opposite the color plate shows Mikados No. 484 and 487 at the same time this recording was made on the eastbound assault of Cumbres Pass, from the locomotive tender.
TRACK THREE However, within this chapter, "Last of the Narrow Gauges" there lies the resurrected ghost of Pennsylvania. Crickets with intermit-tant gusts of wind rattling the corn stalks herald the approach of 2-8-2 No. 15 of the East Broad Top as her whistle echoes across the Aughwick Valley. Author Ron Ziel exclaims, "This is simply a great sound track!"
TRACK FOUR Sharing fame and fortune with other "Excursion Engines of the '60's" chapter 17, were Reading's T-1's. From the very first, No. 2124 to the very last, No. 2102, these beautiful Northern's thrilled hundreds of thousands of people in the population density of east-central Pennsylvania. October, 1963 saw these 4-8-4's under steam for the last time. We join Trains Magazine in saying "Thank you" to the Reading for a delight that will be unsurpassed for years to come. On an earlier "Iron Horse Ramble" in 1961, No. 2124 has just been cut off and is standing on a siding, saluting No. 2100 as she heads the special towards Valley Forge.
TRACK FIVE Canada's last excursion engine is the 6167, featured in a two page spread of sub-zero weather. Yes, those pages look mighty cold as the mighty Northern makes mock work of her train in tow as she effortlessly gains speed leaving the yard board at Toronto, Ontario.
TRACK SIX Just turn the page and you'll find the "Cozy and Friendly, The Strasburg" puffing through the cemetery. And that's exactly the sound you are hearing as well. Let us know if any other "ghosts" bother you, that is other than 0-6-0 No. 31.
TRACK SEVEN And turn the page once again to face "The Great Teacher, No. 4960." My, what an aggressive management that makes available an authentic steam locomotive such as this 2-8-2 for school children excursions and at the bottom of their inter-department transportation notices state "make every effort to handle with fact in mind these children will be future shippers and passengers of the Burlington." Leave it to the Q, a railroad that is currently making passenger traffic history, to go one step further. Let's listen as the spunky Mikado walks up the grade from Ottawa, Illinois, enroute to Streator with several hundred happy youngsters. By the way, that bird was a little upset being covered with cinders and such. Shouldn't happen to a bird.
TRACK EIGHT To close Volume One of "Twilight of Steam" we have selected an unusual track in that this sound story is all but forgotten in the annals of history. Fifty carlengths ahead and around a curve, Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0 No. 14 puts air into the train and whistles off. Then the slack comes roaring down the river canyon at Dundon and the train leaves for Widen. This is the sound that is so familiar to those crewmen whose home away from home was a caboose. To be continued.
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