The Power Of Live Steam

They are thirty years gone from our main lines, but all across the country steam locomotives are pulling trainloads of passengers into the past. A lifelong studenj of the great age of American railroadj reveals some of the most impressive.


Until 1955 steam locomotives were the dominant form of power on American railways. They pulled the fast passenger trains and the plodding freights. Their rapid replacement by the colorless but efficient diesel-electrics was very poss, iprecedented in technological history, where major shifts tend to be gradual because of capital costs. But the steamers disappeared from main-line railroads in just five years. Read more »

To the Swiftest

Steamboat competition was about more than speed.

If the Olympic Games demonstrate anything, it is that the urge to be the fastest lies deep in the human soul. And from the earliest days of humankind this urge has had its practical rewards beyond mere glory. The fastest caveman, after all, caught the most gazelles. Read more »

The Stanleys and their Steamer

Teetotaling twin brothers built the most wonderful car of their era, and its day of glory may not be over yet

At the turn of the twentieth century, the American automobile industry was in a stage of youthful indecision. Two courses lay open to it: to follow the already well-defined path of steam propulsion, or to explore the lesser-known byway of gasoline power. Steam seemed to have the brighter future and, at this point, was heavily favored by the early auto makers. In the year 1900 more than 1,600 steam cars were produced, compared to only goo driven by gas.

Farewell To Steam

The iron horses that built America are nearly all gathered on the other side of Jordan

It was the way they worked the cord and changed the steam pressure that made the whistle almost seem to talk. Of course, there was a regular language of signals—two long blasts for starting up; one long tremolo for approaching a station; and, at grade crossings, the familiar whoooo, whoooo, hoo, whooooooooo! mournful and infinitely expressive—but within these supposed rigidities there was plenty of room for individuality. An engineer was a man of importance, admired by young and old, and the whistle was his signature.Read more »