I took this unique steam locomotive pacing photograph last night, at the Oak Park
Society of Model Engineers,H.O Scale Model Railroad Club in Oak Park Illinois.
My good friend and fellow club member Martin Faland, was recreating some of
the mainline glory of North American steam locomotive railroading, as it was at
least a good 60 to 70 years ago before the big railroads were bit by the modern
dieselization bug after World War 2 had ended in the United States and Canada.
A unique northeastern United States region "Icon" from the late steam era, were
the trusty and powerful coal burning "S" Class 4-8-4 Niagra steam locomotives
that were owned and operated by the New York Central Railroad.
Although "New" diesel electric locomotives were taking a good foothold in everyday
railroading, the early models were prone to breakdowns on the road, and sometimes
had to be assisted by the soon to be quickly outdated steam locomotives.
The New York Central office management was "Bent" on dieselization by the mid 1940's, and wanted nothing more than to retire their remaining steam locomotives. The NYC 4-8-4 -
Niagras were excellent and very powerful machines, and in some cases were actually
better than some of the newer models of diesel electric locomotives from this era. These
big engines were dual service machines, that were comfortable mechanically hauling heavy
freight trains, or fast long distance passenger trains.
Although the New York Central actually preserved very little of their steam locomotives
for display or historic preservation, sadly...none of the NYC Niagras were spared
the scrap yard cutting torch at the end of the steam era.
MTH has done a very nice job of preserving the large "S' Clas NYC Niagra steam
locomotives from the 1940's era, and this photograph can give one an idea of how
these majestic and powerful machines must have been like to witness working at
speed on the mainline with a fast train in tow.