mark s posted:

To respond to the original question, The Illinois Central ran steam seasonally in regular service out of Paducah, KY, until April 1960. Engines employed were 0-8-0's 4-8-2's, 2-10-2's and 1 2-10-0. Grand Trunk Western ran 4-8-4's and 2-8-2's in commuter service, as well as Detroit Division extra freights for the auto industry, until March 1960; light 4-6-2's and 2-8-2's ran out of Pontiac, MI in freight service into April 1960. Norfolk & Western used 0-8-0's at Williamson, WV and 2-8-8-2's in WV mine run service until May 1960. Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range used 2-8-8-4's in iron ore service May-July 2nd, 1960. Also, (2) 2-8-2's and a 2-8-0 worked commercial business in Duluth, based at the Endion engine house during the same time period.

Of course the D&RGW narrow-gauge was still active, using K36's and K37's in freight service, until Spring 1968. Canadian Pacific was using 4-6-4's and 4-6-2's in Montreal commuter service until June 1960 and kept 15 locomotive on house steam in the St. Luc roundhouse until August 1960. Some Canadian Pacific Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick  and state of Maine Branch line activity was still steam powered into April 1960. These included 4-6-0's, 4-6-2's, 0-8-0's, 2-8-0's, 2-8-2's and 4-4-0's (these into early 1960, in NB). CP had quite a bit of steam working in/out of Winnipeg through 1959; don't know precisely when that wrapped up. CNR steam ceased in April 1960, with 4-8-2 #6043 pulling a passenger train into Winnipeg from LaPas, MAN. Again, an abundance of Canadian National steam was concentrated at Winnipeg through 1959, rapidly diminishing in early 1960. 

Mexico provided a marvelous steam respite through 1962, tailing off after that. In 1962, one could see live 4-6-0's, 4-6-2's, 4-6-4's, 4-8-0's, 4-8-2's, 2-8-0's, 2-8-2's, 2-8-4's, 4-8-4's and 2-6-6-2's, in passenger and freight service. Plus the NdeM narrow gauge, Mexico City-Cuatla, was entirely steam operated with 4-6-0's and 2-8-0's.

I was in Mexico City in 1965 and steam, 4-8-4s, were running on freight between Guadalajara and Mexico City. The roundhouse outside Mexico City has many hot locos during the day I was there. The narrow gauge was still running steam then too.  I do not think either operation lasted in steam much after that time.  

From 1969 to 1971 I made several port visits to Sasebo, Japan. Steam still served Sasebo and one of the local hot spots was the town of Haiki where the branch line from Sasebo met the main line to Nagasaki. The local railroaders were very friendly and pretty much let me roam around and shoot pics. The attached is NOT one of mine but it's the coaling tower at Haiki. When I visited there one of the roundhouse hostlers was kind enough to move a loco out from under the tower so I could get a better pic. There was also a full-functioning roundhouse and turntable which of course are long gone since steam operation shut down completely in 1972.



Photos (1)

In discussing foreign steam operations, had the opportunity to visit Europe with family in 1971. Visited Taragona, Spain and popped into the fenced railroad yard there - where steam operation had been previously reported - but found, alas, rusting, dead locomotives. Did get to inspect a Beyer-Garrett. Next, in Italy, spotted an Italian State Ry 2-8-0 simmering quietly on a work train. Viewed, from a high spire in the Vatican, a steam-powered passenger train puffing out of town.

Next, took a train from Paris to Luxembourg, and spotted a rusting  SNCF 4-8-4 next to engine facilities. We rented a car in Luxembourg, and crossed the border to Germany (was surprised to find armed French soldiers guarding the border entrance to Germany - guess they were making sure the Germans didn't take Paris again!) and was promptly greeted by two 2-10-0's running light. Next day, visited the engine terminal in Trier and witnessed perhaps 100 live steam locomotives, arrayed around a turntable and fan tracks plus another roundhouse stuffed to the gills with live locomotives. One German railroader guided me over to a steam rotary snow plow. It was like Roanoke in 1950!  

In '72, visited Oulu, Finland and was greeted in our hotel bed by the sounds of a 2-8-0 barking by. It was a switcher for local industries. Was able to cadge a ride in the cab for the balance of the morning. Went up to Rovaniemi, Lapland (it sits on the Arctic Circle), and found a wood-burning 2-8-0 in the engine house. Dead, alas.

There was much, much more steam operating in Europe in 1971, but steam reconnaissance information was quite limited, as was time!


Because of your age, yes, you did miss steam, and also the most interesting era of diesels, but all is not lost.

If you use a PC, you can get Trains Magazine's first 70 years on a set of DVD's, and read the magazine issues online.  They are full of first-hand accounts of steam railroading, both from employees and from railroad enthusiast authors.  If you are like me, and use a MAC, well, there is always Classic Trains Magazine, published quarterly by Kalmbach, which reprints some old articles from Trains, has new content about the steam to early diesel era, and has some first-person articles about the writer's memories of railroading past.

If you are ever at a railroad or model train flea market, old copies of Trains Magazine and Railroad Magazine are often available from vendors.  Some vendors think they are gold, but the reality is that the paper copies just don't have the market they once did, because of the DVD set I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Toward the end of the day, aging vendors sometimes can be quite reasonable when they think about loading up all those heavy boxes of magazines and hauling them home one more time.  Some hobby shops have some old copies of railroad magazines for sale.  You can make a few calls and probably find one that does.

Finally, if you are thinking about subscribing to Classic Trains, may I suggest that you first be sure that you are subscribed to O Gauge Railroading, which provides this forum where you posed your question, without making us pay a fee.  A few of the Forum advertisers handle old copies of Trains.  And the advertisers financially support this forum.

For trackside observations of revenue steam railroading, David P. Morgan is unbeatable.  Two fine railroaders who wrote first-hand steam articles are Walter Thrall and a guy from the Pennsy named Crosby (I can't recall his first name).  in Trains, is the largest depository of the information you said you are seeking.

Kalmbach is a good publisher, but is a competitor to much smaller O Gauge Railroading.  Don't forget to support OGR.



Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

Number 90 posted:

 and a guy from the Pennsy named Crosby (I can't recall his first name).  

John Crosby.

Years ago I recall crossing the B&O heading north on Harford Road in Baltimore with my grandmother and we stopped where the road crossed the tracks and watched a B&O freight headed south. It was the very first time I had seen diesels pulling a B&O freight. It was an ALCo A-B-A. The B&O generally had Q-4 mikados pulling their freights.

We went down to Pennsylvania Station in Baltimore sometime in 1952 when a fellow from our street was heading to Rantoul (sp?) IL for basic training.  His train was preparing to head up the Northern Central to Harrisburg and was pulled by a K4s.

I started the first grade in 1949 and our school bus went over the Pennsylvania's tracks of the Northern Central at Meadowbrook north of Baltimore. One morning in about 1950-51 I saw a T1 heading in to Baltimore on a passenger train. Many folks have told me it wasn't a T1. I guess then that it must have been a K6 which the PRR had none of.

While the turntable at Orangeville (Baltimore) couldn't have handled the T1 the wye near there could. Plus, according to a PRRT&HS article many years ago the T1's were tested from Wilmington to Baltimore and were turned at Orangeville to head north.

Mac should work.

I was born in 1944, in 52 or 53 my parents took my sister and I to San Francisco form Los Angeles on my first train ride. I loved trains even then as I got my first Lionel set in 1948, a 2026 freight. We took the coast Daylight behind steam. I would guess a GS-4. Even double headed over the hill with steam. I looked out the window most of the trip just to see that steam engine. Summers I spent with my grand parents in Washington State. South of Yakima. One evening us kids were down by the Northern Pacific tracks and a row of what I think were 4-6-6-4s were pulled into a siding. All had their rods removed and I realized even at that age, they were going to their end. The other time I was fishing with my Grandpa just outside of Dunsmuir California and I heard something really big coming up the track. It was the only time I saw a working cab forward. I could see the track pushing down from the weight of that monster. Even my Grandfather was impressed. Don

MARK S brings back interesting memories of my first trip to Paris in 1962 - to visit a girl friend, now my wife of 56 years.  While I had some time off (she didn't want me around on shampooing day), I went down to St. Lazaire Station and saw 2-8-2T locomotives on commuter trains - rode behind one to Poissy and back.   On a trip the next year, I rode the golden Arrow to London.  From Paris to Calais, it was pulled by a beautiful 4-6-2 with the Golden Arrow emblem on the smoke box.

RHEIL: John Crosby, yes, that's the guy.

RICHS09 and Don: I read something about a conflict when Apple brought out OS Yosemite.  Apparently this DVD is only available used, as it has disappeared from the Kalmbach site.



Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

I can still remember steam when it was in full service, diesels were just coming on the scene but steam was still king.  My dad was a professional photographer and also worked for the SP, he was in signal maintenance and rode a speeder to his work.  On weekends, he would take my uncle and I along with him and he would go shoot pictures of steam locomotives out on the mainlines.  I can remember seeing all kinds of SP steam along with some Santa Fe as well.  I was very young at that time but as I got older and just before they killed off the steam program and went over to diesels, I got to see them up close and personal.  I also used to go with my dad down to the SP shops here in El Paso and got to see them in a totally different way.

In the early 60's we moved to Stuttgart Germany and they were still running steam at that time too.  I loved seeing the German locomotives, I loved the way they were painted also.  Look up U-Tube and do a search on German steam trains, there are a bunch of videos showing all of the various locomotives that have been restored, that is a really big deal over there and a tremendous crowd drawer.  They have done many many restorations over the years and have brought back so many of the different locomotive classes back to life.

I agree with others, yes you were born a little too late to see in actual service but be thankful that a lot have been restored to running condition so you can see them run, now if only they would run them more often.  I know, it's a maintenance issue as it is very expensive but hey, the big guys make lots of money and they can afford it, besides, its a huge public relations thing too.  

Good thread.



TCA 12-67009


At North American Rayon in Elizabethton Tennessee, they ran a Porter fireless 0-6-0 around the plant from their steam boiler, as late as the early 1990s.

That might be the very last commercially run steam locomotive not used for tourists or a museum that I can think of. It never turned a wheel hauling people that I know of.

It ran interchange with ET&WNC 2-8-0s number 207 and 208 (today known as Southern RR #s 630 and 722), making this spot the last place in America where steam from two different owners worked in interchange, as late as 1967.

I have ridden a lot of steam,mainly SP here in Ca as a Child,the Daylite, the 4-6-2 Pacifics that ran from SF to San Jose and still in real service I rode the Greman Trains in the Harz Mountains that run in daily service from Weinergrode to Mt Brocken,Nordhausen and another town that I can't remember,they have a turntable in Weinergrode with stands where you can sit and watch them turn the engines and put Them in the roundhouse for the night.The question was about real steam in service otherwise I have ridden lots of steam  here in the US and Europe.


bobotech posted:

Very interesting!  See, you don't learn those kind of things with the casual mentions of the steam locos in general media, hearing stories from people who lived during those times is fascinating!  

How I regret not talking so much more to my grandfather who died in 2003.  He was 100 years old when he passed, born the same year the Wright Brothers flew their plane at Kitty Hawk.   I remember learning little bits of things from him like what it was like to live in the depression era.  

But now that I'm older, i realize that there was so much more I could have learned from him.   

one of the things I recommend is seeking out books where the authors interviewed people from older generations, there are also video interviews out there, audio recordings. I personally loved the books of Studs Terkel because he interviewed ordinary people about their lives, and his books on the Great Depression and WWII told in some ways a very different story than often seems to be told this day (the further we get from the Depression, impressions of the harshess of it lessen and myth replaces reality, with WWII the further we get from it, turns more into hero worship rather than remembering that the people who fought it were human, most of them young men, and their own view of the war was much different than what can be portrayed (my dad was a WWII combat veteran in Europe, and among things he hated writers that glorified the WWII experience, rather than wrote the reality of it..and I'll leave it at that). One thing I will add is that likely to the people of the time (not talking kids...), steam train services were simply part of the backdrop for most, the same way that modern diesel units and electric train service, or airliners or busses, are simply part of the backdrop to most people. There have always been railfans, and aviation fans, and the like, but if you asked most people about traveling by rail, or train freight deliveries back in the day, they would probably not make that big a deal out of it I would bet, and if they did remember it would be complaining about the problems with late trains, service that wasn't all that great, train stations that were not in great shape, etc . We often run into the argument that with trains these days more of a background thing, that people from the 'modern era' will be less interested in trains or train modeling than older people who had experienced trains in the golden age were, but I am not so sure, again, because trains back in the day to most people I suspect were infrastructure. By the time I was growing up and aware, passenger trains were in the realm of Amtrak, freight trains were in trouble, yet today a lot of the hobby is people my age or younger, not everyone is someone born in the 1940's or 50's (or earlier, and their are significant numbers of people younger than myself (I am in my late 50's). 

I remember reading an article a while ago about an engineer who was retiring from the Erie Lackawanna (by then prob was Conrail or NJ transit, don't recall if he was a freight or passenger engineer), and the article mentioned that the Erie retired their last steam engine in 1970 or so and this guy was one of the last of the engineers who had run steam. 

On the other hand there are a lot of rail fans/model railroaders who run steam, and many of them/us (I never saw steam, too young) who love steam engines and when we model do the steam/diesel transition era or even earlier when it was almost all steam. From looking at the articles in Model Railroader and elsewhere and looking at the layouts and the age of those building them, even younger modelers seem to model older railroads than modeling the trains they have seen themselves (obviously, there are still a lot of modelers who have layouts featuring modern equipment, I just meant that what you are exposed to might not automatically mean that is all they care about). 



The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Hot Water posted:
TrainMan1225 posted:

Surprised no one has mentioned this, but how about the runs of Chesapeake & Ohio 4-8-4 no. 614 between Huntington and Hinton, W.Va? She was numbered as 614T during this time, and hauled 4000 ton loaded and empty coal trains between the two cities, 6 days a week, in January and February of 1985. This was to test a project launched by Ross Rowland to build a brand-new coal-fired steam locomotive, in an attempt to reduce dependency on foreign oil, for which prices were high at the time.

Perhaps these weren't revenue runs, maybe someone could correct me on that.

They were indeed "revenue runs"!

Regardless, she put on a grand show unlikely to be seen again.


Since the 614T revenue runs took place during January & February of 1985 there were at least one day where she was the only locomotive operating since most of the diesels had frozen up due to the extreme cold.  It's a shame the project did not come to fruition but when crude oil prices dropped so did interest in the project.  I was born and raised in northeast Ohio and was able to witness the end of steam on the Nickel Plate Road.  They operated their celebrated Berkshires until mid 1958 when the unavailability and high cost of replacement parts forced the road switch to diesels.  They did operate a pair of 0-8-0 steam switchers until late 1959. 

It had been reported in the railfan press in the mid-50's that Nickel Plate planned to use steam until 1962, but the decline in traffic due to recession in 1958 made surplus C&O diesel power available to NKP. But not all was sorrow in 1958 - - - in the Fall of '58, the Union Pacific fired up (12) 4-8-4's for Council Bluffs-North Platte service, 10 Big Boys for Cheyenne-Laramie work and 4-6-6-4's for Cheyenne-North Platte plus helper service out of Ogden, UT. At peak, 50 UP steam locomotives were working in 1958.  Steam returned briefly in 1959, with  (6) 4000's running cheyenne-Larmie and (8) 3700's working Cheyenne-North Platte.

The other bright spots of steam operation in 1958 were DM&IR, IC, N&W, CB&Q, C&S, FW&D and GTW.

I was born in 1932 and lived across a field from the Southern's  St. Louis division main line...saw lots of Consolidations and Green, Gold and Silver 4-6-2 passenger engines. (Beautiful!).  As a young teen, we moved to Chicago.  The rear of our house backed against the NYC/Pennsylvania main line...hard to believe now, but I actually got to see the NYC Century and Pennsy streamlined Pacifics racing out of Englewood...every day.   Later, a move to California allowed me to see cab-forwards on the SP, GS-4's,  and ride behind SD&AE ancient 4-6-0's between San Diego and Yuma.  50 years of residence in El Paso followed, where early on SP's cab forwards, AC-9's, and Mountains were be soon replaced by diesels.  Also, lots of  beautiful Texas & Pacific engines, and well-maintained Mexican  big steam across the river in Juarez.  As a teenager I also got to see steam on the B&O, L&N, C&EI, Rock Island, Illinois Central and many more.  I wish now I'd paid more detailed attention...but at the time I saw them they were common everyday sights.  (But they were impressive big machines and I did appreciate them as such).  I had the opportunity to see a lot of iconic railroading sights...but I missed most of the Pacific Northwest and the industrial Northeast.  Thanks to some great photographers and authors I got to see those in pictures.

I Thought Growing Old Would Take Longer.

Hot Water posted:
bobotech posted:

I'm not really limiting to anything in particular.  I'm just fascinated by stories about people who were alive to witness live steam being used for its intended purpose rather than as excursion trains.  

OK, but just because a steam locomotive was/is being used in excursion service, does NOT mean that the locomotive may not be working properly, or working hard, no matter what is coupled behind the tender.

I can name one rather large locomotive that is mainly operated as a support platform for a Hancock Long-Bell, 3-chime whistle and as a load for diesels to push around.  At least the blower appears to be functioning and the cylinder cocks get a workout expelling all the condensation from wet steam, since the locomotive is seldom worked hard enough to produce much in the way of superheat.


Nick Chillianis posted:
Hot Water posted:
bobotech posted:

I'm not really limiting to anything in particular.  I'm just fascinated by stories about people who were alive to witness live steam being used for its intended purpose rather than as excursion trains.  

OK, but just because a steam locomotive was/is being used in excursion service, does NOT mean that the locomotive may not be working properly, or working hard, no matter what is coupled behind the tender.

I can name one rather large locomotive that is mainly operated as a support platform for a Hancock Long-Bell, 3-chime whistle and as a load for diesels to push around.  At least the blower appears to be functioning and the cylinder cocks get a workout expelling all the condensation from wet steam, since the locomotive is seldom worked hard enough to produce much in the way of superheat.


It made quite a bit of noise on the southwest tour.  There is a decent hill coming out of the Tuscon area at a little town called Vail, and the diesel was in idle and dead silent on the video.  It doesn't get worked consistently, but it does get worked--within the limits of the rather small load that it's towing.  Kinda depends on the day also, and whether you pick the right spot for the best sound.  Not to deviate too much, but I've seen days where 261 and 611 hardly made any noise for the vast majority of the day.  Just not enough train and not enough hills--and that's a common issue these days with big steam.

Speaking of steam performance though on excursion trains, the recent 2015-17 revival of 611 on the mainline was very impressive from a sound standpoint.  Those consists were quite a bit heavier than what was the norm back in the 1982-94 NS Program, and honestly, heavier than what the engine was designed for in regular service on the N&W.  Pick one of the numerous hills on the Southern mainline or the N&W out of Roanoke, and you got an incredible show.  I can remember coming out of Danville, VA one evening in the rain.  The station, where they changed EMT crews, is at the bottom of a good hill that used to be a pusher district in steam days.  The grade begins maybe 500ft from leaving the depot, so you aren't going to get a "run" at it, and there are some back to back reversal curves that you get into in short order.  Well, we got down to a walking pace and slipping, and there was a pretty decent chance of stalling.  They coaxed the engine through it, and as soon as it got tangent track, that thing took off like a rocket up the hill, cresting the hill faster than on many of the previous dry runs.  Very vivid display of the steam horsepower curve and superpower steam at its best.

The previous night, they had to stop about 2/3 of the way up the hill (on another rainy day), and then re-start.  We were waiting up near the top, and the slow, labored exhaust combined with the damp conditions was simply magical.  It was a pure timewarp seeing that rising cloud of steam in the distance and this booming exhaust with that headlight glow through the night that played out many times each day in the steam era.  It would have been easy to convince me that it was the 1950s.

Speaking of real steam, I can vividly remember a hotel in China being awoken from a deep sleep by a pair of QJ Class 2-10-2s struggling up Jingpeng Pass.   It was great watching the headlight and occasionally illuminated smoke plumes from the light of the firebox listening to them climb several levels of the pass for about 15-20 minutes.  Then, the sound faded and they went on.......soon to be replaced by another train doing the same thing maybe an hour or so later.

Hot Water posted:
seaboardm2 posted:
Rusty Traque posted:
Hot Water posted:
bobotech posted:

I'm not really limiting to anything in particular.  I'm just fascinated by stories about people who were alive to witness live steam being used for its intended purpose rather than as excursion trains.  

OK, but just because a steam locomotive was/is being used in excursion service, does NOT mean that the locomotive may not be working properly, or working hard, no matter what is coupled behind the tender.

As demonstrated by 1630 hauling 135 hoppers in 2016...


I have seen this and 135 cars with one locomotive.

They were empty coal gondolas, but still a pretty good load for #1630.

Pretty stout locomotive and I have seen dash 8 pull 65 cars.

Loaded cars on flat terrain? Not that big of a deal.


Dude!Really!Its still pretty good for one locomotive to pull 135 cars be it loaded or empty.BTW the dash -8 I have seen was pulling 65 gain cars empty.But I live in the piedmont section of N.C. Not flat very hilly and some are pretty steep.

FWIW -- the PRR ran steam on the Elmira Branch of the Northern Division (mostly Hippos) until sometime around mid-1959.  I have vivid memories of the coal drags climbing the grade out of Watkins Glen with helpers.  Also remember the countless brush fires begun along the ROW during the dry times.


It might not be much but I remember the CSXT used a steam engine in commercial business use in 1986....1986?  Yeah 1986.  I was on a local railfan trip around Atlanta when the train stopped.  The real crew uncoupled the 4-6-2 and used it to spot a boxcar at a loading dock some distance from where we waited.  After they dropped off the boxcar they came back and resumed our trip.  Now spotting that car was for real commercial use, wasn't it?   ODD-D


R. E. Ottosen

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