Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What I learned about steam locomotives

Backing Across The Trestle, Bryson City, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

A huge disappointment yesterday: After waiting about an hour for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad's steam locomotive to return to Bryson City, I had to settle for a picture of it being pulled backwards by a diesel-electric locomotive. The GSMR makes a "there and back" run to Nantahala. When it reaches the end of the line, the locomotive must uncouple, move on a parallel track to the other end of the train, re-couple, and then pull it back the opposite direction to Bryson City. Diesel-electric locomotives can pull backwards and forwards with equal ease and speed. Steam locomotives, which must remain coupled to its coal tender car, can only pull forward. To get around this problem, GSMR pulls one way under steam power, and then returns the other direction pulled by a diesel-electric locomotive.

So the photo I got was the steam locomotive being towed backwards across the trestle (note the direction of the flags). A decent photo, but not the one I imagined beforehand. There were no clouds of billowing smoke and steam like I had hoped for. To get the photo I want, I'll have to wait for another day and catch the train on its outbound leg.

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