by Emmett Smith
Late-modern Depression-era streamlined steam locomotives to our jaded, postmodern, polysexual and rascally, much-drugged decadent eye are, well, just lame looking. Be that as it may, the 1935 Milwaukee Road engines erected to pull the line’s “Hiawatha” passenger train were the first American steam locomotives to be purpose-built streamlined, at the ALCO Schenectady works.
streamliner postcard from www.cccrow.com images
The “Hiawatha” locomotive was an oversized 4-4-2 Atlantic, the first of that wheel pattern to be built in America since 1914. It came out on the heels of 1934’s Burlington Zephyr and the NYC Commodore Vanderbilt, both in-house cosmetic jobs. Of the great streamliners, because I am a southern Minnesotan I am inclined to like the Commodore Vanderbilt best, it really does look like a fine slick boar hog with its snout in the groove!
Commodore Vanderbilt — Google Images
On the other hand, George H Drury, from whose 1993 Kalmbach Books Guide To North American Steam Locomotives I am drawing these figures, on pp 378-9 is just a tad bit too snide about the Lackawanna winged streamliner locomotives. On page 380 he calls them “almost laughable.”
Well…they ARE charming to look at, and plus they are way cute (!) too, Mr Drury, as the following (rather dark) UBoob footage of 1930s Lackawanna steam engines 1123 and 1152 shows:
For a fact, “cute” simply has got to be a lot better than terrifying, and “charming” is by far preferable to preposterous, the two terms that best type the PRR’s T1 4-4-4-4 “Sharks!” (You can darn well look up pictures of these on Google Images for yourself, they give ME the heebie-jeebies…and besides which the Buick-type portholes don’t help!)
[Emmett R Smith
[all original text-rights reserved & all other rights revert to holders
[23 August 2009]