“That’s when the trouble started”

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I was already a life-long railway enthusiast when my mother shot this photo of me in the cab of Canadian National Railways 4-8-2 6060 – taken during a steam excursion between Toronto and Niagara Falls*. (I can’t remember the year – but it’s sometime in the mid-1970s.)

But I’m pretty sure this was my first exposure to mainline steam. And I’ve been a fan of steam ever since.

Now, I’m not a snob about steam: I won’t refer to diesels as “diseasels” and I have several examples in my collection. But I do enjoy the raw power of steam-powered prototypes and the physicality of model steam locomotives. (That’s when the trouble started: Steam models have been problematic for me in the past, since their performance would range from finicky to cranky. Today’s commercial models are much, much better – and the 1:64 models I run on Port Rowan, built by Simon Parent, are exquisite.)

In addition to the above photo, I have two more of 6060 – taken during a water stop in the Burlington/Hamilton area. (Railway water facilities were long gone so CNR 6060 was replenished by the local fire department, which parked a pumper truck on the roadway overhead and lowered a hose into the tank.)

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I wish I had more photos from this fan trip. And it’s clear my mum was not a photographer. But I’m happy that I have these pictures. They help explain why I love steam, even though it had been retired from regular service for about a decade by the time I was born.

(*Slowly I turn…)

12 thoughts on ““That’s when the trouble started”

  1. I always enjoyed steam as I saw it daily passing the farm where we lived. Shortly after we moved in 1957, steam was no longer on the Hagersville sub and by the 80’s there were no rails. So sad

  2. For me it was fan trips with my Dad in the early 60s out of Montreal, and the narrow gauge bug bit deep in 1963 during a trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota, where I saw three equipment for the first time in the same month as MR did a narrow-gauge feature. Those are impressionable years, the pre-teens. and so many of our interests are set then. Visions that we often chase the rest of our lives.

  3. One of my first memories was the cylinders of NYC engine at the Toledo depot. I had gotten away from mother when I was three and moved to see all the steam. I didn’t know I was three at the time until much later when I told the story and my mom realized I was only three at the time. It struck me early!

  4. My first steam was ex Denver and Rio Grand steam at Knox’s Berry Farm, when it was still a Berry Farm rather the just an amusement park. This would be mid fifties and then Walt Disney Land. Back then, you had a long drive out of Los Angeles on a two lane highway through orange groves and farms.

    I am old enough to have watched Walt Disney, on his TV show, describe the new amusement park he was planing on building.

    There were still street cars in Los Angeles that I would see the last day of. Angels Flight, a cable car up the cliff side of Bunker Hill, would stay running into the 1970s until they got ready to tear the hill down for new development. It remained five cents each ride right up to the end.

  5. I think my love of steam originated with the Royal Hudson in my hometown of North Vancouver, BC. As a kid, my parents took me to ride it to and from Squamish almost every summer, and one time I rode in the cab. I still remember pulling the whistle and staring into the fire as it went about the yard.

  6. Steam locomotives of the CNR rolled through Prescott, Ontario, where we first lived (born in 1954) and the railroad bug bit hard. The steam bug really bit when I was hoisted into the cab of a CP 1200 which was sitting on the pocket track behind the station in Brockville, Ontario, waiting for the Pool Train connection to Ottawa. The fireman opened the butterfly doors and I still vividly remember the site of the fire and of then being hoisted down – protesting that I wanted to go down the cab ladder myself. Came the end of the 1950s and we moved from Prescott to north of Brociville away from daily contact with the railway. The next steam encounter was with 6218 in the summer of 1968 followed by 6060 on several occasions. My proudest moments have been firing on ex-CP 4-6-2 No. 1201, ex-Merrill and Ring Shay No. 3 and ex-Swedish National Railways 2-8-0 No. 909. You are right, when steam bites you, it bites you. There is nothing like being in a cab of a steam locomotive that is working tonnage up a stiff grade and we have those in the Ottawa area on what remains of CP’s Maniwaki Subdivision that climbs into the Gatineau Hills. I have posted a number of steam exploits on my Facebook page and there is lots of information on the Bytown Railway Society’s Facebook page.

  7. I’ll need to dig out the pictures of me visiting my grandparents in Scotland and them taking me to the Bo’Ness & Kinneil Railway and the old Kelvin Hall Museum of Transport in Glasgow. I have my grandfather to thank for my love of trains and railways, and my first exposure to sitting at Lenzie Station on a summer evening watching the finest of the mid 1980’s British Railways equipment stream by and for my first model trains (some of which i still have, some of which i sadly don’t).

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