Editor's Letter

| November/December 2001

By the time this issue lands in the mailbox, most of this year's shows will be settling in our memories. And what a mixed bag of memories it's turning out to be. By and large it was a great year, with plenty of old iron hitting shows across the country, and in the process thrilling those both new and old to the steam hobby. But then there's the inescapable memory of the tragedy at the Medina Ohio Fairgrounds, a tragedy that took five lives, and in the process became a benchmark for the hobby, a reminder of steam's awesome power when unleashed uncontrollably.

It's a somber period in the hobby's history, and its impact is not lost on me, especially as I try to rise to the task of piloting Iron-Men Album into a new period in its long life. Many of you know that Iron-Men Album was acquired in August by Ogden Publications, Inc., here in Topeka, Kan. It appears that, as with the magazine, the hobby of steam is also entering a new period in its life, possibly one that is a little more complicated and perhaps a little shyer in its exposition of our agricultural heritage. Our response, the community of steam's response, will be critical in guiding the hobby in the upcoming years. We need to show, not only to to the public at large, but also to each other, that we appreciate and respect the power we harness and display. We need to show that steam engines, properly maintained, properly restored, and properly operated, are safe. We need to show that steam engines should be displayed and operated so those who wish to share in the memories of steam and the harvest can do so in real terms, not just viewing static displays, but engaging in operating, working exercises that show, as only true operation can, just what these engines are capable of and why such a large group of us embraces them for what they were and what they are.

I encourage readers to contact me at any time for any reason - whether to air a complaint, to offer praise, or to suggest new topics or directions. I also encourage all of you to send your articles, pictures and ideas - they are what make Iron-Men Album what it is. Write to Iron-Men Album, 1503 SW 42nd Street, Topeka KS 66609-1265, (785) 274-4379, or email: rbackus@ogdenpubs.com.