SOOT IN THE FLUES


| January/February 1997



# Picture 06

'It takes a certain amount of restraint to resist saying, 'Pete was my fireman.' For that story we need a change of venue.

'The scene is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia circa 1924 with the peaks of The Friars as a backdrop in the benign shadow of Du Priest Mountain. This is the terminal of the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway where my father is Superintendent. It is late Friday afternoon and the fire has been dropped in their single 2-8-0 consolidation steam locomotive for there is no service on weekends. She is still simmering while the whistle valve leaks steam as boiler pressure drops. Our home was hardly more than a stone's throw from the shop and so I grew up with a very personal attachment to an operating railroad.

'Use your imagination and envision a small barefoot boy with cheeks of tan shuffling along a dusty road paved roads came later to the area of those magnificent mountains with arms imitating the side rods of a locomotive. It turns out that the boy is not only imitating a locomotive but its engineer as well, for there is an animated conversation with his imaginary fireman whose name just happens to be Pete.

'That era is now history, but it has left its mark. Now comes the next generation and its construction projects that squeeze the family car out of its home. The garage becomes the Lathrop Works as a track car takes form. Since it will be operated on abandoned rail lines this leads to the association with like-minded individuals. The end result is the formation of the Catskill Mountain Railroad Corporation and the learning to operate conventional trains in yet another era.

'Having been successful in my battle to put leukemia in remission, at least for the time being, that light at the end of the tunnel may signal yet another era. It may be I can no longer climb the ladder to the cab of a locomotive, whistle off and feel the power of a diesel engine at my finger tips. There can be no regrets. This association has opened doors for me around the world, literally, from the Aquba Railway in Jordan to B. C. Rail in Canada. Besides, the Corporation has elected to put my name on my favorite locomotive. Pete is still my fireman.'

Also we have this from DEREK A. RAYNER, Archivist of the Road Roller Association, 'Invicta,' 9 Beagle Ridge Drive, Acomb, York, Y02 3JH, England: 'During a recent visit to the Netherlands, in my capacity as Archivist to the U.K. enthusiast's organization the Road Roller Association, I was asked to look at a vertical boilered steam roller (commonly known as a coffee pot type), the origins of which seem to be some what obscure. The roller was under restoration by Jan Smeets, a dedicated steam roller enthusiast at Weert in the southeast of Holland. Jan has two splendidly restored examples of German built steam rollers made by the firm of B. Ruthemeyer of Soest. No. 771 of 1935 is a conventional three roll machine powered by a single crank compound engine, whilst the other, No. 716 of 1930, is a smaller roller having two high pressure cylinders and no flywheel. Both of these are in the style of earlier built British machines to which the designs owe a lot.