20th Century Steam

Photos by Mike Condren

I began taking photos of trains with a Kodak Brownie Star Flask, a non-focusing camera shooting 127, 2"x2" film, thus the less than perfect results. I got a used twin lens reflex shooting 120 film (2 1/4"x2 1/4") camera from Louis Marre in the summer of 1961. Over the years, I used various other B&W cameras using 620 film. After the 1962 Sugar Bowl, I bought an Argus C3 ("Brick", my first 35mm) with money left over from my band per diem. I began shooting serious slides with that camera. Before heading to the Expo 67 World's Fair in Montreal, my folks bought me a Sears single lens reflex with extra 135mm telephoto lens. While in grad school, I purchased my Canon cameras, an FX and a Super 8mm movie camera. For Christmas 1979, my folks gave me my first Canon AE1. I shot with AE1s, obtaining 3, before I got my first digital.

Shortly after graduating from High School, my father was graduating from the School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University. I drove Mother and I to Baton Rouge. After his graduation, we drove to New Orleans for a couple of days. I had read about a steam locomotive collection in Hammond, LA, north of New Orleans, so we returned to Van Buren via Hammond,LA, then Jackson, MS, and Memphis, TN. Below are a couple of snap shots of the power of the Louisiana Eastern operation, a 4-4-0 on the left and 2 hot 0-6-0s on the right. I climbed in the cabs of several other locomotives in the collection.

The following snapshots were taken on Dec. 27, 1960 at the Dardanelle & Russellville Railroad in North Dardanelle, AR on my first railfan trip outside of Ft. Smith/Van Buren area. The road in the foreground of the first snap shot is State #7 highway. In the distance we see D&R #9 under steam preparing for the days activities.
The purpose of this trip was to "test drive" the engine for possible purchase. The deal did not materialize. Howerer, the man at the throttle here would go back 20 years later and buy the RAILROAD! However, in the meantime the engine had gone to the Mid-Continent Rail Museum in North Freedom, WI.

I was in Dallas as part of the University of Arkansas Razorback Band for the Cotton Bowl game later on New Years Day 1961. I went to Dallas Union Terminal early in the morning to take this photo. That Hertz sign is on top of a building that would become imfamous on Nov. 22, 1963, the Texas School Book Depository.

In the spring of 1961 Gordon Mott and I rode the Frisco to St. Louis to ride a CB&Q fan trip behind #4960. Our train was late getting into St. Louis. We ended up riding the Q-RI Zephyr Rocket to Hannibal late in the afternoon. The shot below was taken the next day after the train arrived in Hannibal. We rode the excursion back to St. Louis, this time missing the Frisco back toward Fayetteville. We spent the night in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at Washington University, rode street cars the next day, visited the National Museum of Transport, and caught our train at Webster Grove that night. What a veekend! Unfortunately my photos of the steam train are not great as evidenced here.

On a visit to relatives in Jefferson City, MO, we visited the short line Bevier & Southern at Bevier, MO. The railroad used this CB&Q 2-8-2, #4963, for hauling coal from the mines.
The slogan on the tender was "Have Train, Will Haul", paraphrazing the poplar TV show "Have Gun, Will Travel".

On Sept. 11, 1961, Louis Marre, Gordon Mott, Jerry Pinkepank, and I visited the Reader Railroad. I was driving my parents car on this trip through Arkansas checking out the railroad action. We caught up with the Reader #108 at Waterloo. This was before the Reader began its passenger service on its mixed trains. Gordon and Jerry asked the crew for a ride in the caboose. Louis and I decided to chase the train back to Reader and get pictures. Here we see the train crossing State Highway 4 on its return to the shops at Reader.

On our first trip to what would become Silver Dollar City, MO admusement park, we shot this excursion train.

During the summer of 1963, I spent 5 weeks with friends at their cabin in southern Quebec. During that time they showed me much of northern New England, including Mt. Washington where I rode the cog railway to the top of the mountain. The first image shows the second section arriving at the top. The second scene was on my trip back down the mountain where we met 2 trains on their way up the mountain, four steam engines in one view.

In the early 1960s the Reader Railroad in southwestern Arkansas began running mixed trains behind steam. Here we see the engine and the freight cars for its train in Jan. 1964.
Here we see the engine switching the Barry Asphalt plant at Waterloo, AR, showing the very polluted ground covered with spilt asphalt.

I was in Dallas to help with the move of a great-aunt to Ft. Smith. While her sisters were helping her pack, I visited Six Flags over Texas amusement park in Arlington, TX to ride and photograph their steam trains.

These photos were taken by friend John Beirne in St Louis of the fan trip heading to Hannibal, MO on Feb 19, 1966.
My luck with CB&Q 4960 had not changed. The weather was not good, but I chased the excursion to Hannibal where I tried to shoot some images of the engine in Feb. 1966 while I was a grad student in Rolla, MO.

Here we see Reader 1702 in Waterloo, AR.

In 1969 I drove to Moberly, MO to catch the American Railroads train returning from the Golden Spike Centenial in Utah. I chased the train from there to St. Louis.
I caught the train several times on the trip.
I was expecting the train to pull under the 18th Street bridge in St. Louis and back into the station. However, unexpectedly, it pulled into the station, the only train I ever saw to do this.

This page was designed and is maintained by Mike Condren. If you have materials
that you would like to contribute, contact me at mcondren@cbu.edu