About The Time Machine


The Time Machine is a Steam Safari by Erik Ledbetter.  The Steam Safaris are a series of railway adventures aboard the great preserved steam trains of Europe and North America.  You can explore the other Safaris by clicking here, or on the Steam Safari! link in the navigation bar at the bottom of the page.    


The metaphor of the time machine to describe the Strasburg Rail Road was coined by William M. Moedinger in The Road to Paradise, the official guide to the Strasburg; I discovered it in the 1971 edition.  This essay is but a gloss on Mr. Moedinger's felicitous phrase.


The photographs in The Time Machine were taken by the author on series of summer Saturdays in 1984 and 1985.  All were created using an Olympus OM-1 SLR and Kodak Tri-X Pan black and white print film.  The negatives were printed in 3x5" or 5x7" format, and the prints were then scanned at 200 dpi resolution using a UMAX Astra 1220P scanner.  Additional image processing was performed using Adobe Photoshop 4.0.1 for Windows 95.


For those of you who would like to know more about the #1223 and the #7002, I can offer a few additional details.  Pennsylvania Railroad #1223, a 4-4-0 American, is one of the best preserved and most representative examples of this archetypal North American steam locomotive type.  She was born in November 1905 in the PRR's own Juniata shops, and entered service as a Class D16.   Designed as an express passenger engine, she later exchanged her tall original drivers for smaller, less slippery wheels as part of a general conversion for branchline work.  Upon conversion, she was reassigned to the PRR's Class D16sb.  By the 1930s, the 1223 found herself exiled to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, one of the most isolated outposts of the far-flung Pennsy empire.  Obscurity may have ensured her survival, for she eked out her humble existence far from the notice of ambitious PRR Superintendents of Motive Power who might have felt compelled to scrap the relic had she come to their attention.  By the beginning of World War II, 1223 was one of only 3 Pennsylvania 4-4-0s to survive on the railroad's roster, against an original total of more than 400 such engines.  In 1951, the PRR elected to preserve her as a representative of her class and wheel arrangement.  She was leased to the Strasburg in 1960s, and embarked upon a very active second career hauling the road's beloved wooden carriages up and down the line until her second retirement in the late 1980s.


Pennsylvania Railroad #7002 is a 4-4-2 Atlantic.  As such, she represents what most experts consider to be the most purely passenger locomotive wheel arrangement in the history of American steam.  Built as #8063, an E-7s of 1920s vintage, she was cosmetically altered by the railroad to represent E2 #7002, a Juniata 4-4-2 built in 1902.  In 1905, the original #7002 achieved a speed of 127.1 miles per hour during a record-breaking run-- still the world speed record for a steam locomotive.  Sadly, the genuine #7002 was scrapped, but in 1948 a regretful PRR quietly altered the #8063 to stand in for the missing record-holder.   During the 1980s she operated on the Strasburg via a loan arrangement with her owners, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Though something of an imposter, she still cut a fine figure at the head of long trains of the Strasburg's open-platform coaches.


Though you cannot ride behind the #1223 or the #7002 any longer, you can still visit them at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Pa.  The RMP is one of America's four or five premier railway museums.  It is unmatched in the comprehensive view it offers of the evolution of steam, electric and diesel motive power on a single railroad-- the lordly PRR. Best of all, the Museum is located directly across the street from the Strasburg Railroad depot, allowing you to sample the pleasures of both preserved and operating steam in a single entrancing day.  I encourage you to visit.  



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