STORY OF A TRACTION ENGINE


| July/August 1957



Chattanooga, Tennessee

AROUND 1900, IN a town of average size, lies a great brick building. From its depths come the bangings of many hammers. On entering you would see the smoke of many hot forges and what little light you have plays on a huge monster. Hot and sweaty men pour over her form, banging and drilling.

Up front an old man rubs the front of her boiler as if to give last minute instructions for a race.

A few days later the monster was snorting and spitting fire and smoke as if in defiance of being created. Steam came from not-yet-tightened pipes and her cylinder seemed eager to move. Then her pipes were tightened and final adjustments were made and with a heave on the mighty whistle she moved forward, bursting finally into the sunlight, brass-work glittering, her boilers shining as if the light came from within. She snorted triumphantly as if she approved of herself, and the old man was proud of her, too.

Delivered to her owner, she worked hard and faithfully for years, and never did she fail her task. Summer and winter she worked because she knew her faithfulness meant food and clothes for her crew.

Rain or shine she would lumber along at her modest 3 to 5 miles per hour. Years passed and the engine was beginning to show her years. She wasn't quite so shiny and she was getting greasy, but she was still proud and independent.