When I was very young, I used to love watch the puffer-bellies pull into the roundhouse near my home in Jamestown North Dakota.  Those steaming, hissing monsters were . . .  were AWESOME!

It fascinated me that those heavy engines could move on to the roundtable, and then be swung 180 degrees in the opposite direction!

Of course, I had a gen-u-ine Lionel train set with a replica locomotive!

Then diesel started taking over, and I was absolutely crest-fallen.  I mean, SAD.

The town I live in now – some 60 years later – wants to be known as the “Hub of the West.”  A gazillion tracks used to meet here, and even Robert Louis Stevenson made a stop here.  I think Mark Twain did also.

PromontoryFifty miles up the road, in the middle of nowhere, is Promontory Point, where the rails from the east and the west came together one magical day in 1869.  A golden spike was hammered into place commemorating the completion of the first trans-American railroad.

Enthusiasts still keep history alive in that bleak setting.  Replicas of the original engines that met cow-catcher to cow-catcher still fire up their boilers for the tourists.

Locally, even more railroad buffs run a museum, complete with several locomotives and train cars.

Imagine my shock a few years ago, when one of my sons walked up to the front of an old steam engine, found a handle, and OPENED UP THE FRONT OF THE LOCOMOTIVE!

Now I am showing my ignorance – as a child, I thought the inside “barrel” of a steam engine was hollow, full of wather.  Nope.  It is full of pipes!  The pipes get filled with water.  Much more efficient!

If all of those who already knew such things can stop laughing, I told you THAT story so I can tell you THIS one.

As I said, the engines at Promontory are as exact replicas as could be manufactured, including the pipes inside.  Those pipes, and all the fittings, need to be cleaned and maintained.  Every once in a while, the local paper runs a feature on the cleaning of the engines, along with some great photos.  Today was no exception.

Here is this year’s holiday treat.


Golden Spike historic train renovation to tell 150-year storySTANDARD EXAMINER, 21 Dec 2014

National Park Service engineers at the Golden Spike National Historic Site in Promontory are working alongside contractors to conduct a once-in-every-15-years renovation on two of the site’s most prized assets: working replicas of the Union Pacific No. 119 and the Central Pacific Jupiter steam engine locomotives.

The original two engines forever became a part of history when they met at Promontory Summit during the May 10, 1869 Golden Spike ceremony that commemorated the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad.




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