Sunday, September 29, 2013

Do diesels dream?

...from a photographer's notebook

Sleeping Diesels    ©Steve Ember

MARC uses these MP-36PH diesels to haul commuter trains Monday through
Friday between Brunswick, Maryland and Washington DC.

On weekends, they get to sleep in ;-)

Last December, on a Sunday afternoon, I found these diesels (and several more),
all lined up with their trains, snoozing outside the Brunswick station. And I had to wonder...

Do diesels dream?
And if they do,

Might they dream like me and you?

Diesel pilots and train lines                                       ©Steve Ember
 Do diesels dream,                                                   

I’ve often wondered,

When tethered to a power source?

Might they conjure times long distant

When Great Grandpa was the Iron Horse?

 Charging down the gleaming mainline                             

Belching coal smoke

Billowing steam                                                  

Making music with their whistles…

Now there’s a lovely sort of dream.

If you're wondering what in tunket a "covered wagon" is, look no further. Reason for the nickname: When heavy maintenance was required, the shop simply lifted off the carbody to get to the guts. This EMD F-7 was a common example. It could pull both freight and passenger trains (as long as it had a steam generator as this one does - in its day, passenger cars' heating, as well as air conditioning, depended on a steam line coming from the locomotive(s). "Great Grandpa"would have approved!) And to explain the reference to the "567" for the non-train-devotee, that was the diesel engine most of these "covered wagons" used as their prime mover. That's the big yellow machine above. It drives a generator to make electricity for the traction motors on the axles (green). This was one of those "growling Fs" to which I refer.  E-unit diesels (designed specifically for passenger train service) were longer and sleeker, but had the same family resemblance and "bulldog nose." E's had two 567 prime movers and sat on six axle trucks to carry the increased weight of the machinery inside the "covered wagon." Many thanks to David Gagnon for allowing me to use this great illustration!

Or the “Covered Wagons” of the 'Fifties

Growling F’s and long, sleek E’s

Challenging the mountain passes

Roaring ‘cross the boundless prairies

Super Chief and Twentieth Century

The Canadian and the Royal Blue 

Southern Crescent, City of Portland

Pennsy’s Broadway Limited, too.

The mighty 567 made music quite unique

Each E had two above its wheels

And, oh my, could they speak!

But lash up three or four together

Hook ‘em up to twenty cars

Notch ‘em up to Run-Eight setting

They were 'fifties movie stars.

Does a diesel dream of music classy

While resting on its massive chassis?

Does Mercer’s “Laura” make him sigh?

Does he see Her on a train that is passing by?

Once, you know, it was romantic, 
Not all screeching cell phone frantic.

The Canadian was a superb long-distance train run by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It had several dome cars and a full consist of coaches and sleepers, lounges, observation car, great food, attentive staff. Gliding through the Canadian Rockies westward from Banff toward Lake Louise and on toward Vancouver, Molson in hand, in the observation lounge was a rail experience I shall never forget. Howdy, Alf and Joyce! Again, thanks to David Gagnon. And doesn't that ad just say it?

Mercer, once again, I took a trip on a train,

And I thought about you.**

And with Gordon Jenkins, a gentle query, Was it dusty on the train?

P.S. I Love You.

Slumber gently, sleeping diesels                        
Rusting Wheels, Sleeping Diesels  ©Steve Ember

Rest your motors,

Dream your dreams

Monday can arrive too soon, it seems

They’ll wake you up before the dawn

Time to haul those weary commuters

One giant collective Monday morning yawn.

Not that you’ll be yawning though

For you have slept the weekend through

And dreamed the dreams, the special dreams

That only diesel locomotives do. 
If you'd like to see my Sleeping Diesels in higher definition, please follow this link.

©2013 Steve Ember

** Enjoy some classic Mercer and Van Heusen - All aboard!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Only You" could dream up such a fanciful theme! I do remember the grandpa trains...chugging through the prairie landscape...stopping at each little railroad station to drop mail, pick up milk in galvanized cans...the conductor giving the "all aboard" call...plush linen clad pillows...a dining car with fresh flowers, linen tablecloths and napkins... lovely RR silver table settings....and the silver pot that delivered the best hot chocolate ever! All of this excitement experienced on many solo train trips, starting at age 5, to visit my grandparents (60 miles outside of Regina, SK). My grandfather was the Station Agent and resided in a house attached to the train station. The oiled wooden floors had a very distinctive odor....the red geraniums in every window were courtesy of my grandmother. A special treat was to melt the red sealing wax and stamp it with the official seal used for RR correspondence. I spent many happy summers there....greeting the arriving trains and passengers with my grandparents terrier, Tiny. The conductor, Sam Quigley, always had a big smile and a surprise treat for both of us. Thank you, Steve, for triggering those precious, long ago memories with your lovely, poetic ramblings....another winner!!! S.

October 11, 2013 at 12:36 PM  

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