Forward Motion #14826

Matted, canvas, & high gloss metal prints available. Questions? Questions?


The Story

Grey smoke twirls skyward as the regularly scheduled Strasburg Railroad train pulled by #475 goes past the special train bearing white flags waiting in the siding. Idling away, locomotive #90 lets black smoke straight up into the air with only casual effort as it waits in the pocket. Some smoke has blown down to the ground and drifts away thinly across the Amish farm fields of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. #475 is blowing the shrieking whistle for a road crossing just behind the camera and the bright white steam mixes with the spinning gray smoke. It’s steam train railroading days like they used to be every day here on the Strasburg Railroad.

It’s always quite a sensation when a steam locomotive goes chuffing by very closely with a whistle warning blasting so loud you can barely think. It can take a little concentration: just keep framing up the shots, spin the barrel on the big zoom lens, and keep the shutter going! You also have to make sure the crossing gate won’t hit you on the way down while standing in the road shooting, too.

There is always lots of action and noise photographing an old steam locomotive going by just as they did 100 years ago. Being so close meant total immersion in the moment with all the senses going! Of course, that’s a truly is a genuine thrill for a guy who loves history, trains, and photography.

Soon I and other photographers would board the train behind #90 and go further on to another stop to shoot the trains and all that smoke. Two short blasts screamed on the whistle as we began to move, then even more loud whistling as the engineer blew the warning for us to cross the road as we followed #475 up the line. There is no such thing as a quiet train, particularly a steam train.

Go to the Strasburg Railroad gallery on this website to see more of the interesting pictures taken there. To learn more about this unique tourist railroad that runs steam trains through the scenic Pennsylvania Amish country in Lancaster County, visit

Location: just outside Strasburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks

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