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17: A Landmark in the Transition from Steam to Diesel Locomotves (editor's title)

Southern Railway, Cumberland River bridge
This spectacularly scenic, 1941 view along the Southern Railway at the Cumberland River bridge near Burnside, Kentucky, has connections to important developments in locomotive engine technology, in railroad publicity and advertising, and to railroaders’ lives and participation in national and world events. Originally taken in black and white on assignment by Marcus Linn, a Southern employee, the picture later was colorized by the Southern. (It also removed an outhouse that had appeared indelicately in the field at the left.) The railroad used the image for its own publications (most particularly on the cover of the first issue after World War II of its revived internal magazine, Ties, in March 1947) and in numerous other magazines and newspapers (and sometimes, with permission, by others). It is still used, as here, but now because it shows the first use of a diesel locomotive type—the 1939 Electro-Motive Corporation’s FT series diesel electric freight locomotive—that swiftly overtook steam locomotives and became the virtually exclusive form of railroad propulsion in North America, largely because of the builder’s advertising, demonstrating, building, and selling abilities. By 1960, General Motors (the owner of EMC in 1939; later GMC became a General Motors division) had displaced traditional steam builders. This locomotive, no. 103, served as a demonstrator set in 1939—a widely recognized “first.” It was in service as Southern Railway #6100 from 1941 to 1960 and became an ASME Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark in 1982. The lead unit is preserved at the Museum of Transportation, St. Louis. The social historical elements in the picture are personified by Charles F. Denny, the fireman waving from the cab. He represents a common phenomenon in the industry, that of being a second-generation railroader; his father, C. F., was a chief dispatcher on the CNO&TP. And he represents the thousands of men and women in the railroad industry who served in World War II. But unlike most of these, Denny lost his life in combat, at Okinawa. The bridge site is under water now, having been flooded by the waters of the Wolf Creek Dam Reservoir.

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Alternate Title Railroad History in a Nutshell
Source Southern Railway Historical Association
Coverage Spatial, Cumberland River, near Burnside, Kentucky; temporal, September 19, 1941
Rights Southern Railway Historical Association
Date Created 1941-09-19
Resource Type
Extent Not available
Depicted Railroad
Location Cumberland River, near Burnside, Kentucky
Creator Description Marcus H. Linn (1898-1971) was a lieutenant in the special services and claims department of the Southern Railway when he made this photograph in 1941. He went to work for the Southern in 1919, and retired as superintendent of the Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., in 1959.
Collection Southern Railway Historical Association
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