Third Eye #10530
This is the headlight of Nickel Plate Road #763 Berkshire as she sat at the Virginia Transportation Museum in Roanoke, Virginia, a few years back. This old Berkshire steam locomotive has since been moved to Ohio and is presently awaiting restoration to run once again.
I took this shot standing on a caboose platform staring directly at the huge front end of the locomotive just a few feet away. These old steam locomotives are simply massive. Up close and personal like that at eye level, staring right at the Pyle headlights, you easily understand how immense these machines are.
The larger freight locomotives were often very powerful in the later days of steam, which was needed for hauling long high-tonnage trains. Railroads would frequently put one or even two additional locomotives on the rear of heavy trains to make it up the grades in mountain country, particularly on branch lines.
Just imagine standing on a caboose platform while this monster was working pushing and heaving a heavy train down the line just a few feet away. The noise would have been great and up close, it would be the thing of nightmares. You’d also have to trust your caboose not to simply fold up being pressed by all that power! In fact, railroads eventually outlawed the use of cabooses with wooden undercarriages for that very reason.
You can learn more about Nickel Plate #763 in this article.
Here’s an old black and white picture of the same old Berkshire steam locomotive in operation back in the day, making a living hauling freight on the Nickel Plate Road mainline. The time is circa the 1950s. As an interesting sidebar, a reader of this website wrote to say he recognized this place from his younger days as a kid in Geneva, Ohio. He went further to say #763 is westbound with the passenger station on the left and the freight station on the right.
Location: Virginia Transportation Museum, Roanoke, Virginia. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks
Up Next: Driving Wheel #10529