Quick Table of Contents

The formative years

Villa Park, my home town

Doctor Geno E. Beery,Villa Park's pioneering woman physician

How I became a lifelong railfan

Father was a man of the automobile age

Grandfather's Watch

Railroad Time

Remembering the Chicago Great Western

Remembering the 'Ror'n' Elgin

Wabash Philo Station Destroyed

Pursuing Remains of the Glory Days

Riding the Electroliner

My first fan-trip

To a locomotive in winter

The boy who would buy a steam locomotive

In search of the eponymous Brewer, Illinois

The last all steam powered mixed train in America

Iron horses put out to pasture

Some thoughts on public travel then and now

Narrow Gauge Mania

D&RGW narrow gauge in the twilight years -- Part I

D&RGW narrow gauge in the twilight years -- Part II

Steam up the Rotary!

A rotary under the sun

Bob Richardson and the founding of the Colorado Railroad Museum

Is this any way to run a railroad museum? Part 1
Colorado Railroad Museum

Is this any way to run a railroad museum? Part 2
Colorado Railroad Museum

The Return of Colorado & Southern Number 9

Was the Georgetown Loop a poor design?

Riding the Sumpter Valley
Three-foot gauge steam in Eastern Oregon

Gold Rush Narrow Gauge
White Pass & Yukon Route

Rio Grande Southern narrow gauge
The spirit of this much loved, southwestern Colorado railway isn't dead, it just retired and moved to Southern California

Steaming Up
Looking on as Denver & Rio Grande Western Number 491 is readied for an evening on the Polar Express.

Narrow Gauge Steam Railways in the Land of their Origin

The Welsh Connection
The Ffestiniog Railway, Robert Fairlie and the origins of narrow gauge railroading in America

The Welsh Highland Railway
The newest and longest narrow gauge in Wales

The Talyllyn Railway
The world's first "preserved railway"

Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway

Standard Gauge Diversions

Royal Gorge Route

Steam Conquers La Veta Pass

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

Fun while they lasted

Boxcar Camping -- Wilderness Stay by Steam Train

End of an Eastside tradition
Spirit of Washington dinner train

The Engine is Royal; the Scenery is Magnificent
The Royal Hudson and the Caraboo Prospector


Corkscrew Gulch Turntable

The curse of Alpine

Thoughts on the Glory Days of architecture and interior design

Denver's Ghost Buildings

Denver Union Station Renewal

Who were those nabobs, the ones San Francisco's Nob Hill was named for?

Is there grammar to interior design?

To a locomotive in winter

My second fan-trip was behind Burlington's much photographed 2-8-2 No. 4960

© Glen Brewer

At the end of the glory days of mainline steam, the last opportunities near me, were provided by the steam program of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. Following My First Fan-trip behind Burlington's double headed special, with Northern 5632 and Colorado type 6315, I was determined to see what else the CB&Q had to offer. That opportunity presented itself only a few months later: a Santa Claus special train running from Chicago to Ottawa, Illinois and return. This Illini Railroad Club sponsored special featured a third locomotive for me, 2-8-2 Number 4960. Once again, despite severely limited resources, I just had to go.

Mikado 4960 was one of 488 workhorse 2-8-2s owned by the Burlington. The locomotive was built by Baldwin in 1923. Burlington classified it as O-1A, and in all there were 148 locomotives of this class. Four O-1As survive today including the 4960 which was extensively rebuilt by the Grand Canyon Railroad and still sees occasional use there.

Under the presidency of Harry C. Murphy, who succeeded Ralph Budd in 1949, Burlington kept a few steam locomotives around long after most railroads in the US had sent theirs off to scrap. These were either used in the steam program, started in 1958, or were slated for some kind of preservation. The steam program lasted until Mr. Murphy retired in 1965 after which it was quickly cancelled.

But Sunday, December 6, 1959 steam was alive. It was a typical December day in Illinois: cold, damp and overcast. I drove my parents' 1950 Chevrolet over to the nearest place I could board the special: Downers Grove. Yes, I couldn't help thinking how nearby was the home of EMD, that bustling producer of steam locomotive replacements.

We didn't have far to go before our first stop in Aurora. This was a prolonged stop where not only passengers were boarded, but the engine was provided with coal and water. There was time to step off for a few pictures.

After we were underway again, I soon discovered the Dutch door. This vantage is far superior to a seat for seeing, photographing and listening to our locomotive. This, of course, was well known to a train full of rail-fans, so space was very limited. It was a bit disturbing, however, when occasionally a slight mist would hit me in the face while I was hanging out of the door peering ahead. Perhaps the well occupied baggage car up front would have been a better choice, but I couldn't get near the open baggage doors.

Our route followed the Fox River all the way between Aurora and Ottawa where the Fox joins the Illinois River. Several run-bys, or movie-runs, were scheduled. Our first was at the railroad's bridge over the Fox River at Sheridan, Illinois, a small town named for Civil War General Philip Sheridan. The river crossing was a well chosen location probably the best photo opportunity on the trip.

On another movie run, our train stopped just outside a small farming village and unloaded all those who wanted to step off the warm train into the cool winter weather. A rather large crowd spread out along the tracks many more people than lived in the nearby community. We stood there along the right-of-way with a harvested corn field behind us and a country road on the far side of the tracks while our train backed up, completly out of sight, for a run-by. It was quite amusing to see the quizzical looks on the faces of occupants of passing automobiles and trucks.

Cold, damp air is ideal for photographing steam locomotives, the steam cools quickly and visibly adding to the drama. Standing behind me in the photo lineup was an army sergeant with a booming voice and a younger sailor. I remember the sailor asking the sergeant, "Why is the smoke white?" In an authoritative voice, the old sarge replied, "They must burn anthracite coal."

By-and-by we arrived in Ottawa. Water service facilities were no longer available, so after turning the locomotive, the tender was filled from a single fire hose. It proved to be a slow process.

This, my second fan-trip, ended without incident -- unlike the first which suffered an engine failure on the road. We arrived back in Downers Grove more or less on time, and all was well. Still my appetite for steam was far from quenched. I rode several times more behind each of Burlington's famous pair (4960 and 5632), and I have traveled behind 4960 on the Grand Canyon Railroad as well.

4960 on the Grand Canyon Railroad looks a bit different.

-- 30 --

Also see: My First Fan-trip Not one but two big steamers.