One of the tourist attractions in Gastown in Vancouver is the Steam Clock. Sitting on a street corner, this looks like a giant grandfather clock with steam whistles on the top of it. It was surrounded by tourists and the number of selfies being taken was substantial. We were there close to the top of the hour so we waited around to see what happened. Below is some video of the lock striking the hour if striking is the right word.
In the days of steam, power was produced by huge machines. If you needed a more powerful machine, you just made it bigger. The huge wheels and pistons that resulted were most impressive. The Henry Ford has quite a selection of these old steam engines of various designs. The efficiency improved as they introduced multiple phases to the machines to recover more work from the output of the engine. The big beams and pistons remained a theme, though. The large brick structures and the associated metalwork have been nicely preserved and displayed.
The Dearborn factory required a large power generation facility and, in days gone by, this was provided by a large steam engine driving generators. This machine is now nicely preserved. The scale of it is a bit hard to represent. The cylinders are huge and the controls are substantial. You can climb up on top of the whole thing to see how it went together. Surprisingly, this is not a place that was getting too many visitors which meant I was able to nose around in relative peace. It is hard to imagine what it would have been like when this enormous piece of engineering was in use and was generating the power for the plant. Now it is idle but it still looks imposing.
I know a few of the regular readers of the blog are in to trains so I hope this one pleases them. The Henry Ford Museum covers all sorts of engineering endeavors including a selection of rail vehicles. This was one of the last things we saw before we left so I didn’t explore very much. However, there was one rather large steam locomotive on display. This thing was a beast and I imagine it was quite the sight when it was in regular usage. Our visit coincided with the running of Big Boy after restoration so something similar to this can been seen for real once again!
We had visited Old Faithful on a previous trip to Yellowstone and had stayed near the falls. Therefore, I was not so desperate to see the geyser again. However, in the middle of winter, things are a lot quieter than during peak season so it was quite interesting to be there with so few people around. The geyser erupted not long after we arrived. It was quite a different experience. The low air temperatures meant that the hot water produced a lot of steam as soon as it emerged. The clouds of steam drifted downwind but they concealed the flow of water to some extent. Still, it was an impressive sight to witness and even better on a crystal clear day.
The colorful pools of hot springs in Yellowstone can be quite stunning to see. Visiting in the deep of winter means they are surrounded with snow and ice but a lot less people. The colors are still there but the low temperatures mean that clouds of steam form above the surface. Gentle gusts of wind might briefly blow the steam away to reveal the intense colors beneath but the steam rapidly returns. As you look into the pools you can see the colors well but it makes for a harder time getting photographs. You give it a try but then just spend time enjoying the impressiveness of the pools.
Preserved locomotives seem to appear in a lot of towns in Washington and Newhalem was no exception. This old steam locomotive seemed to be particularly well preserved given the rugged location it lives in for a good chunk of the year. I assume Seattle City Light has enough cash to keep it looking good for the many visitors to the town. Indeed, getting a shot of it without someone climbing all over it took a bit of patience!
I passed this locomotive several times while in Tokyo. It was sitting in a square near Shinbashi station. I never got off but I did finally get some shots of it while we were stopped at the station. Consequently, I know nothing about it although I suppose if I was truly interested I could look it up. There must be something about it on the internet. It probably has a Wikipedia page. Guess I won’t find out though.
I made a visit to the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento for a press unveiling of a new locomotive for Caltrans. After the event was over, I headed outside to make some calls and walk along the river. The museum doesn’t just have vehicles inside. Outside are a pair of steam locomotives too. They are beefy looking things too. Finished in black, they make for a difficult thing to photograph on a sunny day and the iPhone camera handled it surprisingly well.
I was quite taken with the texture around the boiler area where the outside of the loco includes a large array of rivets. I don’t know whether they were recently restored or just are well looked after but they were an impressive sight and attracted a large number of people having their pictures taken.
There are plenty of historic railways in the UK but most of them are a tourist attraction and operate at limited speed to allow people to experience something from days gone by. However, there is a slightly more unusual railway on the Kent coast. The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway runs along the Kent coast from Hythe down to Dungeness. It is a narrow gauge railway that, while popular with tourist, does provide a year round service. It is even contracted by the council to take kids to a local school.
The railway has been in operation for decades. In the Second World War they even had an armored train for coastal defense. The service was restored after the war. Most of the locomotives date from before the war and are outstanding scale steam locos. These are a few shots I got of the trains from a crossing in Hythe about ten years ago.