Voices From The Past: Old New England Engineman Preserved Wook On A Trainman’s Holiday In The Far West With The Union Pacific
by Joseph Curwen
“‘Global Warming’ you say? And the government be in on it too? Well, goodness gracious, count me in, where do I sign up for mine? What’s that…NOT to burn coal you say? How’s that again, but just how ever in Tophet do you propose getting to get to the warm part without some fires…lots of fires?
“Burning coal’s ‘bad’ you say? Why no, it’s good, real good…!
“I can tell you that alright, when you’re rolling westbound out of North Platte and making eighty miles per across Thither Nebraska. Out west there where it’s flatter than a dark far whaling ground on a black nighttime in February, flatter even than what the cowmen there call a ‘pissboard’ I mean, well now, a nice hot fire on the grate and an ashmonkey that knows his business, gee-Pharisee, that’s right nice and cozy….
“What’s that you say now, ‘catastrophic climate change’ be what the professors at Miskatonic denominate it?
“Now don’t that actually and pluperfectedly beat all?
“The effect can be but twofold, and it will be only to put me out of work and on top of it, why then we all must freeze as well!
“Do you know, I do believe that this is a case-example of why old Uncle Analdas has always said back home in Maine that this higher education is positively not for the common people, and that it just plain disturbs some folks in the balance of their mind. It’s a lot of stuff is all. And then it goes to work and does ‘em one right in the neck for good and all, and finally just out of spite, why it outright derails and then it unhinges ‘em completely — and then, oh Jehosaphat, we all have to suffer the chillblains AND while listening to the confoundedest consternationment….
“It’s a spectacle of confusion altogether like that of a duck as has been hit on the head.
“I will say I am thankful for this much anyway, that I at least never went to the university and never even set foot in as much as a little country college. Never a once. Man’s reason is that fragile an affair, I tell you. Old Uncle Analdas did always say this, that the bible is not meant for the little children and that the human mind can NOT bear even as much as the reading of all of holy scripture, let alone decipherment of the bare naked nature. No more than it can reverse sin or listen unblemished, to a radio or the melodeon….
“And I do actually now believe that both under God and the Republic there is nothing, I tell you not a thing, not even in old Mather, to beat this one that you have fetched in all crosswise and impossible-like at the doorway this time — NOT to burn coal…
[The above images are from the Otto Perry RR Photo Archive, of the Denver Public Library:
[Here’s the lowdown on these twelve-coupled American steam locomotives shown here. Built for the UP, they were the biggest rigid-frame single-expansion engines built here. They had three cylinders, one in the middle turning the 1st drive-wheel axle which was shaped like an automobile crankshaft, and one on each side, with rods to the crankpins on the outsides of the third drive-set.
[The following Union Pacific RR 9000 Series 4-12-2 figures give the impression that these locomotives had plenty of power although they only carried 220 psi, up but twenty pounds over the preceding era of saturated, but not superheated, steam. They were built by the American Locomotive Company Brooks and Schenectady shops, from 1926-30.
Fuel: 21 tons
Water: 15,000 Gal
Steam Pressure: 220 lbs
Cyclinders: (outboard dual @) 27 x 32″ (center single) 27 x31″
Dia. Drivers: 67″
Tractive Effort: 96,650 lbs
Weight: 782,000 lbs
[Mighty impressive, I got to admit — ERS]
[all channelling- and transcription-rights reserved & all other rights revert to holders
[1 October 2009]