Building A Locomotive

No, not a model one.  A friend of mine sent me this link to an amazing video of the construction of a “Princess Royal” class steam locomotive at the Crewe Works by the LMS Railway in Britain back in 1935. It is an amazing thing to watch these men building such a massive piece of complicated machinery without the aid of all the modern tools we take for granted. This is much more a work of personal ingenuity, muscle and determination than of finicky laser measurement and overbearing regulations. OK, so yes, I may be waxing a bit poetic, but it is still really cool! Next time I can’t figure out how to do some meager task with all the varied electronic tools I have at my disposal, I will think back on this construction and be humbled. And the next time you whine about your working conditions or amount of physical labor you have to do – watch this.

Random Local Track

A friend of mine made this mistake of asking me a question about local trains one day – so here is a version of the answer I gave. Note that not many people make the error in judgement of asking me these questions often.

Seaboard EngineNot many people in Charleston these days know that there used to be a train that ran through West Ashley and then down behind South Windemere Sopping Center. The walking path behind Starbucks, now known as the Charleston Greenway – even though it is being paved, is where the old rail line ran. It extended from down near Porter Gaud School, paralleled Highway 17, and ran out to meet the mainline where Main Road goes onto John’s Island.

Originally this was operated by the Atlantic Coast Line, but after the merger of course, it became part of the Seaboard Coast Line. This was what was known as the Croghan Branch or Spur and there is a road over by the river, next to California Dreaming, named after it.  Among other things this line transported items to a concrete factory that was over there and the Nabisco plant and warehouses that were also there when I was growing up.

And, more important to me as a kid, this spur was used to deliver Christmas trees to the Optimist Club tree lot where my father volunteered each year. The trees came down from North Carolina wrapped up tight and packed in snow. So we hot little lowcountry kids actually got to make snowballs and have snowball fights once a year when the trees came in!  Until I was in my teens that was the only snow I had ever seen.

Oh, and this all would have been the end of the 60s or very early in the 70s. The picture above is not mine and is not of the actual train – I don’t think. But it strikes a chord somewhere in my memory.

Perley A. Thomas Streetcars

The Perley A. Thomas Car Company is actually still in business today making school buses as Thomas Built Buses. This High Point, North Carolina company built some of the most recognizable trolleys in use in the United States – the street cars of the St. Charles Line in New Orleans.

Well anyway, I just picked up a nice little book of the car plans. Fourteen pages of plans and diagrams. Not bad for less than five dollars!