Saturday, October 15, 2005

Coal and big iron

For John McPhee, the two-parter in the October 3 and October 10 New Yorker is very short and condensed. One can't help wondering what has been edited out. Even so, for anybody who's fascinated by that sort of thing, it's a treat. It'll all eventually be in a book, to be called Uncommon Carriers, along with the fascinating article on UPS and supply-chain management that appeared earlier. He's writing about U.P. trains hauling coal from the Montana fields and how incredibly long and heavy these are to manage (plus about lots of other, related things, including, in passing, the Beacon incline railway, which I've also been fortunate enough to ride). Coincidentally, I found this somewhat faded photograph, taken during the course of the D&H sesquicentennial run in 1973 along the Laurentian route, all the way up to Montreal. I think this is somewhere between Whitehall and Fort Ti (Ticonderoga). I'd like to find my better photographs, especially the one of the driving wheels. This isn't the real D&H 302, but a locomotive from another line tricked out with "ears" to look like it. This was in April, and there was still snow on the ground in some places, with skunk cabbages and marsh marigolds in bloom. In the NYT or somewhere was recently an article about the last steam-powered rail operations in, perhaps, Mongolia. Wherever the location, the illustration was of an eared locomotive originally from the U.S. that certainly looked like this one.


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