Reflections on Steam at Strasburg

Throughout October, TCS has taken multiple trips to the Strasburg Railroad, oldest continuously operating railroad in the US. N&W J Class steam locomotive 611 has been a “celebrity guest” at Strasburg for the last month or so, and we’ve been in the process of recording the engine for our WOWSound decoders.

Strasburg Steam

On our most recent trip, we had an amazing steam experience that I feel is worth talking about. The crew set up our recording gear at the northern terminus of the Strasburg line, near the runarounds and switching spurs. On this particular day, there was a guest operator outing where regular folks paid to take the controls of the various steam locomotives and drive or fire them. There were three locomotives under steam and moving between trains at the junction - all at the same time. Where else could you experience this?

Strasburg Steam

We stood between the spurs and watched and listened as these three iron horses worked around us, passing each other again and again. Each one traveled within 20 yards of us at times - it was a steam enthusiasts’ paradise! The sights and sounds were overwhelming, and very much timeless. It could have been a scene directly from the mid 1940s that we were lucky enough to experience in 2019.

Strasburg Steam 611

This event was not open to the public, so I’d imagine that there were relatively few folks who actually got to see these three steam locomotives in action together.  It was quite a rare experience and one that I will cherish for a long time. 

-John Forsythe