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Thread: Steam in the Piney Woods

  1. #1
    K5SSW Guest

    Default Steam in the Piney Woods

    A Saturday in mid-November 2006 began like many fall days in Texas- beautifully sunny, crisp and cool in the middle 40's. Milling around the Rusk, Texas depot of the Texas State Railroad, the quiet stillness of the East Texas pine forests was broken by the unmistakable sound of a steam locomotive whistle nearby. We watched as 2-8-0 #300 showed herself as she came around the wye to pull into the station, the cool air and slow motion allowed the steam to swirl around the locomotive
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    After the train was spotted for passenger loading, we headed around to the sunny side for photos.
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    This "Railfan Day" event had swelled the Rusk train by 2 cars, including a former Santa Fe Cafe-Observation. When the train reached Mewshaw, the mid-point and siding where the Rusk and Palestine trains pass, our train was too long to clear up the east siding switch. The Palestine train, with a re-engined RS-2 came in and stopped so the Rusk train could saw-by.
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    We continued our leisurely journey through the Piney Woods of east Texas and arrived in Palestine about noon. The sun was right for a quick roster, before heading off for lunch. The 300 blew the packing around the piston on the engineers side on the trip in. The crew worked quickly to make sure the locomotive was repaired for the return trip.
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    After a quick barbeque sandwich, we walked over to the T&P 610, a class I-1d 2-10-4, which had been pulled out of the shop at Palestine. The 610 ran on the 1975-1976 American Freedom Train, and then for a stint on the Southern Steam Program, before returning to Texas for display. I wandered around 610 for about an hour, exploring and investigating the behemoth. Close examination of the cab and tender revealed that the Southern lettering was showing through, as well as several places where the black paint had been scratched away, and the red, white and blue of the Freedom Train was showing.
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    Dad and I were invited to ride the caboose on the return to Rusk. The caboose is former MKT 129. We, of course, accepted the offer, and boarded while 300 was wyed. The 300 backed down onto the train, pumped up the air, whistled off and away we went. We had gone about 20 minutes when we slowed to a smooth stop, punctuated by a long blast from 300's whistle. We soon learned that the repairs at Palestine to 300 had failed. We sat for about an hour, while the Texas State's Alco MRS-1 #8 was brought from Rusk to Jarvis to pull our stricken train back to Rusk. This, of course, caused a lengthy delay to the Palestine train, sitting in the siding at Mewshaw. By this time, we were into the late afternoon, and the sun filtering through the tall pines made for an enjoyable ride. I was too busy absorbing the ride from the cupola and rear platform that I didn't take many photos. We soon arrived back in Rusk, where 1901 Baldwin 4-6-0 #201 was simmering away at the station, awaiting our arrival. #201 was posed for photographs, and then got to the business of switching three cars for a railfan special to Maydelle, about 10 miles west of Rusk.
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    After a brief pause to load the railfans back up, we whistled off and headed for Maydelle, arriving right at dusk. 201 posed briefly before backing up for a runby. Everyone else was pulling out flash units, so I decided to take a different approach and do some timed exposures.
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    After the runby, the 201 uncoupled and went off into the darkness and reappeared before backing onto the turntable for a spin. As I was resetting for some shots on the table, I heard our conductor as "Anyone want to ride the turntable?" I hollered at my dad to come fire the shutter on my camera, I was riding the table. Aside from the cameras, there was no indication that we were in the twenty-first century. The scene had the look and feel of being in the mid twentieth century. There was a quick, but slight jolt as the table began to move, then it glided smoothly around, the only sound from the air compressors and dynamo on 201, accompanied by the ever-present hiss of a live steam locomotive.
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    After the 201 pulled up and got back on the train, the open platform was coupled to the tender. We crodwed the platform as we rode back in sheer darkness, listening to the symphony produced as we marched back upgrade to Rusk. 201 was fresh off a rebuild and was ever so slightly out of time, making the stack talk that much more interesting. What an end to a great day of riding steam!

    Bradley Linda
    Waco, Texas
    Last edited by K5SSW; 02-23-2008 at 01:36 PM. Reason: adjusting to fall in line with review panel suggestions

  2. Default

    Sort of trip report mixed with a character sketch of the TSRR. Good selection of shots to illustrate the story ( although there might be a few too many ). The photos of the 610 bring back pleasant memories of a hectic chase of that monster between Cincinnati and Dansville in 1979.

    I vote to post.

  3. Default

    This is good stuff. Although not a deal breaker, I too think a few photos can be edited out. As an example, maybe show one of the 610. Of your series of the 300, I would suggest eliminating the the first shot, and using the shot with the black smoke and the men working on the engine.

    Sometimes less is more.

    It's up to you as again, not a deal breaker. If you want to do a little photo editing fine, if not I still vote to post.

    Martin Burwash

  4. #4
    Two23 Guest

    Default

    A pleasant read, and I'm always up for photos of live steam! Some of the photos are tilted a bit, always to the right. A 1 or 2 degree correction in PS would be an easy fix. I agree there are a few too many photos. Might consider thinning out the weaker ones and the ones that are basically duplicates. One small tip is you should not start a sentence with a numeral. The instance here is, "300 backed down..." It would be a little smoother to write, "The 300 backed down....." I vote YES if a few photos are trimmed, since I don't think very many people will open this many anyway.


    Kent in SD

  5. #5
    K5SSW Guest

    Default

    Thanks for the suggestions, I have gone back in and removed four photos and changed the grammatical faux pas that Kent caught. Too many photos was something I did consider, and I figured that it was easier to cut than add.

  6. Default

    I really like the look. The photos still flow nice with the text...

    It's a definitely "Yes" from me.

    Martin Burwash

  7. #7

    Default

    OK, since Kent said "Yes, if a few photos are trimmed" and he did that, I think we've got three yes votes.
    Bob Harbison
    RailroadPhotoEssays host

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