Wednesday, March 28, 2012

History Rollin' Down the Tracks

Schnickelfritz and I always try to view the steam trains when they pass through town (and judging by the crowds, so do a lot of others).  This train was special for a number of reasons.  First, it's the first one to pull through since Fritz's grandpa moved to town and they could go see it together.  Second, this train was carrying a group of Civil War reenactors to the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh. 

We barely parked  when we heard the whistle blow and saw a plume of black smoke rise from behind the trees.  The 844 pulled into the station decked out in red, white and blue bunting.

The workers spent the entire twenty minute stop with air ratchets and grease guns maintaining the drive rods.  Fritz's Papa was giving us a play by play of what they were doing.  (He had seen the  this train last fall when it overnighted in St. Louis and had a chance to talk to maintenance crew).  We weren't allowed to get very close this time.  The railroad tracks in the foreground were "live" and we had two freight trains pass by while the 844 was in town.  The second actually stopped before reaching the station.  I don't know if they were worried about hitting an onlooker or if they just didn't want to block the view of the 844 pulling out.   Unfortunately, the old train needed a little more work before it could leave so the freight train started up again.  The kids on our side of the tracks made a game of jumping over the shafts of sunlight that appeared between the cars.  The long train had picked up considerable speed before it had passed by and it was impressive to feel the ground shake and the breeze it created.

Once the "new" had passed by, the "old" blew it's steam whistle and began to chug away.  There were several passenger cars full of men in Civil War uniforms.  In the past, uniformed conductors with shiny brass buttons waved to the crowd from the viewing platform on the final car.  This time there were two generals--one from the North and one from the South and then a flatcar full of cannons!

If you'd like to see if a steam train is headed to your town you can find their schedule at Union Pacific's website.

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