Public interest in railroad technology and history has paid dividends in preservation of equipment and buildings. It has also led to some railroads' putting historic equipment into occasional use. This image by prominent art photographer David Plowden is a case in point. At the age of 28, Plowden "undertook [his] second expedition to eastern Canada and Maine, to photograph the very last active steam locomotives in North America," as he wrote in "Vanishing Point: 50 Years of Photography" (2007). During that trip in February 1960, he captured Canadian Pacific's long-lived steam locomotive 2816 at St. Luc engine terminal, Montreal, Quebec. Plowden recalls that "there was a sign 'Boiler Empty' hanging from the headlight." Natural light from the the clerestory windows provides the only illumination and makes the hulking locomotive appear as an almost mystical presence, a leviathan in respose. After Plowden photographed it, the locomotive was put back into service on the Montreal-Rigaud commuter line. It made its last revenue run in May 1960. In 2001, CP put the now-famous locomotive into excursion service, an important commitment to preservation by the railroad and aided by Plowden's photography.
Hear an except from an interview with Paul Hammond
, director of the California State Railroad Museum, in November 2008, discussing his thoughts on the future of railroad preservation.
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