20 Big Wheels Keep on Turnin’

by admin on November 6, 2011

Big Wheels Keep on Turnin

Charles walked briskly toward the station platform and the waiting family.  As he came into view the Binghams and Samuel boarded the lead passenger car.  Moments later he joined them as the conductor signaled the engineer.  “ALL ABOARD.”  The conductor’s words rang out with authority and clarity.  With a loud hiss of steam and a billow of smoke the fireman and engineer began coaxing the locomotive to life.

Harold and Ida had not been on a train like this before.  Instead of the usual cramped two-by-two seating on either side of an aisle, this passenger car had plush seats that faced one another.  Samuel and Charles found seats half way down the aisle and motioned for Harold and Ida to sit across from them.  The boys took up residence on the seats across the aisle from the adults.  Michael sat facing forward, Alex sat across from him, facing rearward.  Both of them had a grand view from the large window between them.

The shrill sound of the steam whistle let everyone know that they were departing the station.  Slowly, the massive wheels began to rotate.  Each revolution seemed choreographed to the sound of releasing steam and the chuff of dark smoke.  The weight of the cars caused the engine’s big wheels to slip several times as the engineer balanced the application of power from the wheels to the rails.  With creaks and groans the passenger cars slowly responded to the locomotive’s call to movement.  Carefully checking his gauges, the engineer skillfully brought her up to yard speed.  Once clear of the station and rail yard the fireman shoveled extra coal to the boiler.  In response the engineer opened the throttle fully as the huge beast roared to life.  In no time at all she was barreling down the tracks at 65 miles an hour.

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