Saturday, March 11, 2017
Who loves old trains? If you raised your hand, then you'll like today's post.
Let's start with this nice photo of a huge locomotive (circa 1971) as it passes through some unknown location. This was known as the Nickel Plate Road 759, a 2-4-8 "Berkshire" type locomotive, built in 1944 in Lima, Ohio. It was a fast freight locomotive, and was in service until 1959, when it was placed into storage. I would imagine that by 1944, traditional steam locomotives were already on the wane, with diesel becoming increasingly popular.
In 1965 it was purchased by F. Nelson Blount for display at Steamtown U.S.A. in New Hampshire, where it was restored to operating condition. It was used for hauling his Golden Spike Centennial Limited for the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. According to Wikipedia, it was used for numerous excursions until it was retired once more in 1977.
Here's a modern day photo of the same locomotive on display at Steamtown in Scranton, PA. It looks fantastic!
This next photo was taken in November, 1973 - once again, the location is unknown. This odd looking contraption is called the "Best Friend of Charleston", and according to my pal Mr. Wikipedia, "It is widely acclaimed as the first locomotive to be built entirely within the United States for revenue service". It was built in 1830, and was used in regular passenger service along a six mile demonstration route in Charleston (South Carolina).
The "Best Friend" was also the first locomotive in the U.S. to suffer a boiler explosion, killing the fireman (the engineer survived uninjured). Salvageable parts were used to build another locomotive known as the Phoenix, which ran up until the Civil War.
SO... this is clearly a replica of the original "Best Friend". One operable replica was built in 1928 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road; I suspect that's the one shown in the photo below.
Here is an early diagram showing the "Best Friend"...
I hope you have enjoyed these vintage choo-choos!