Weather forecasts were calling for high temperatures approaching the 90s, coupled with fairly high humidity for Saturday July 30, 2016 – a pretty normal occurrence for mid-summer in southern New England. Instead of seeking out the comfort of an air conditioned space, I headed out to do a little shooting – in an even warmer environment, the cab of a steam locomotive.
I visited the Valley Railroad/Essex Steam Train and rode along with the engine crew for the first run of the day. The crew on this Saturday consisted of Fireman Bill Fredrickson and engineer Fred Jordan – both veterans of the Valley Railroad in a number of capacities, but Fred was more recently marked up as a steam engineer. I had photographed Fred a couple years back when he was working as the engineer for the Essex Clipper Dinner Train, but this was my first opportunity to document him in the right hand seat of a steam locomotive.
Arriving around 8:30am, and after signing my waiver to ride the locomotive, it was time to check in with Fred and Bill in the Locomotive Servicing Facility. As a side note, the LSF is the newest building in Essex, which provides engine and maintenance crews with an enclosed space to service the locomotives, and also includes a pit allowing easy inspection and maintenance of the underside of the equipment. The new building is located alongside the existing shop at the south end of Essex yard.
Before the locomotive could be moved out into the sunshine of the emerging day, the pair needs to complete some inspections and lubrication of the running gear on the nearly century old locomotive.
And while they were doing that, I of course had to get a couple of my more artsy shots out of the way…
Part of that inspection is to clear any accumulated water from the cylinders – and doing that was a team effort, with
With all complete, it was time to head out into the daylight.
The next task the crew had on their list was to fuel up the locomotive – so a trip over to track 8 where the coaling ramp is located was in order. Working with his fireman on the ground, Fred eased the Mikado from the LSF over to the easternmost track in Essex.
Once there, and the coal bunker lined up with the ramp, Wayne Hebert operated the railroad’s backhoe, and proceeded to fill ‘er up with coal
As that was going on, Bill tended to the fire in 40s firebox
And Fred lent a hand by clearing some of the ash from 40s ash pan
As the coal was continued to be loaded, I felt it was right to take a couple more detail shots inside the cab.
Once the bunker was full of coal, it was time to head to the north end of the yard, and tie onto the waiting train.
With the locomotive and train now ready to run as one unit, Bill took the opportunity to wet down the freshly added coal in the tender.
And, yes, I and my camera got quite wet…but we’ve both been through worse. A quick dry-off of the lens and my face (and glasses), and we were back in business.
While waiting for our departure time to arrive, I took the opportunity for another detail shot…well, really my intent was to get out of the hot cab for a bit and cool off…
But at the same time, Fred also got off and did some more lube checks of the running gear.
With all that done, everyone climbed back into the cab for the remainder of time we’d be waiting at the station. During that time, some visitors from Austria came up to the locomotive and asked to come aboard. The crew welcomed them up and gave them a quick tour of the cab, and Bill gave them a demonstration of how to fire the locomotive – another facet of their jobs at the Valley Railroad, well outside of the normal head end duties.
Soon after the visitors made their way back to their seats on the train, it was time to depart. Instead of doing a play-by-play of that part, I’ll just post the rest of the photos. Feel free to click through them and check out the larger sizes.
Along the way, I did manage to sneak in a couple photos of myself for fun…
As usual, feel free to comment here, or drop me a line with any thoughts you may have on the photos.
Thanks for reading!