Desertdweller wrote:The purpose of all the steam locomotives you list, the ones you like as well as the ones you don't, was to earn their owners money. Railroaders felt (and still feel) some attachment to their locomotives, but that is secondary to their real purpose.
To use my local railroad (UP) as an example, I'm sure the Big Boys were a source of pride. Not only because of how they looked, but more importantly, what they could do. They could lift trains up the Wasatch grades singlehandedly that would have required two or three lesser engines (with two or three crews). If cost-effectiveness were important, they were beautiful machines indeed.
As powerful locomotives on a per-unit basis, they were superseded by the gas turbines. If you were a UP operating department manager, or even a stockholder, the turbines would have been more attractive than the Big Boys. It is instructive to note that the Big Boys were in operation through most of the gas turbine and multi-unit Diesel years of operation. The Big Boys were used into 1959, or about the time the 4500hp turbines were ready to be retired for 8500hp (later 10,000hp) turbines. Since the Big Boys could put out almost the combined horsepower of two first-generation turbines, they were not retired because they were not powerful enough. They were retired because of the cost of support facilities and staff.
The old steam locomotives you like were retired because newer ones were more cost-effective. The last new steam locomotives in this country were imported from China, and they were the last of production there, because of cost-effectiveness.
If you really want to resurrect some old locomotives, I suggest you look to Cuba.
Methinks that if so many of the rail buffs got their way, going on cosmetics and their "likes", any railroad run by them
would be out of business in short order!
Even now, the pure stockholder in those railroads who now runs excursion steam often questions that decision to do so. These are the "bean counters", the audits departments along with the stockholders who look with a critical eye at what they see as a "frivolous" undertaking! This was the same as it was in 1925, 1945, 1985.....and NOW! If it don't put no money in the pocket, OFF WITH ITS HEAD!!!!
The steam locomotive was the technology of the day; they had no other better way to pull trains. When the diesel came along, it was so infinitely superior to the steam engine, especially in labor costs, facilities, longevity that any further resistance was futile. And any CEO who ignored this fact would've been out on the street in short order!
While the sentiment is nice and the wish to build "new" steam is neat, the steam locomotive is DEAD. It isn't coming back.
Efforts to revive them with "replicas", rebuilds are admirable, but really isn't reasonable. I am, however, thankful for those railroads such as UP and NS that permit steam operations and do recognize the love for steam. During the 70's and 80's, I was privileged to BE a railroader with Southern/NS, and I was able to BE a part of our history. I remember standing on the platform waiting with Form 19's to hand up to the steam trains. I heard the melodious whistles and the engines working hard up the hill. ...............Then the plume of smoke, and time to get ready to hand up. ............Seeing the engine sweep by with a friendly toot (for me, the operator), acknowledging he had the orders, and a quick comment on my handi talkie, "OK, 611, you're lookin' good on the East side, over"! It kinda felt, and I can imagine was, like 1940. The sounds, typing train orders, the smells, my Hamilton Railway Special 992, yeah..........I was getting to participate in that culture that had mostly disappeared. And there was the night in Charlotte Yard that the Trainmaster who grew up in the steam era, "commandeered" ex-C&O Engine 2716. That night we were treated to to a couple of hours of a big steam engine switching out and putting together southbound pig trains. LIstening to them over the radio, hearing the chuff-chuff-chuffing of the engine as it worked........priceless. At the time, it was work, but also interesting and I realized I was lucky to be part of it. I'm kinda proud of it. But its not coming back.
Be happy we have what we have!