The Steam Era (Was: NYC 4 bay hopper lives too)


Tom Madden <tgmadden@...>
 

This is the Steam Era Freight Car List. The natural cutoff date is
1960, when the IC and N&W dropped their fires.
Yes, this is the Steam Era Freight Car List. But it's not the Steam Locomotive List. I have no interest in ACI labels, removed running boards, shortened ladders and the Penn Central, but multitudes of freight cars from "our era" served well beyond 1960. I should think we could fudge the end date forward a few years to encompass the period when Steam Era Freight Cars survived and served in close to their pre-1960 condition.

Look, I want to preserve the heritage of the Steam Era as much as anybody. But part of that preservation is passing our knowledge and interests on to younger modelers. I'll be 73 in a few months, and my railroad interests, both prototype and modeling, are firmly rooted in the 1935 - 1949 time frame. I'm concerned that younger modelers have little interest in our era. In the summer of 1950 my dad bought me the July 1950 MR at a local newsstand. The feature article was "An Excursion to 1880 - Old Time Rolling Stock". There was nothing.... NOTHING... in that article that interested me. Nothing that I could relate to the 1950 railroading I saw every day. I've mellowed a bit since then and will admit that 19th century RR equipment has a certain charm, but I have no interest in it. Give me a hulking 20th century 2-10-2 over a wood burning 4-4-0 every time.

That summer of 1950 my 14-year old self found nothing of interest in a 70-year look-back. Today's young modelers - whether 14, 24 or 34 - looking back 70 years find themselves smack in the middle of our era of interest. Should we expect them to find it interesting? These are people who lament the loss of Conrail, and consider it a Fallen Flag worthy of their attention.

Maybe I'm overreacting (again), but as I watch our 1960 cut-off date recede further and further into the past I fear that the Steam Era, and those of us who love it, will become ignored anachronisms for today's modelers, like the 1880's did for me.

Tom Madden

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