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20: The Zenith of the Steam Locomotive Era (editor's title)

The zenith of steam locomotives on the Norfolk & Western
Norfolk & Western's fleet of steam locomotives and the facilities to maintain them were sources of pride for the railway. One of the N&W's most famous publicity photos is this view at Shaffer's Crossing in Roanoke, in the early evening of September 29, 1943, taken by company photographer Bryan Beard. Beard also arranged the photo, coordinating schedules and lighting. At least 50 locomotives of a variety of classes are pictured. Beard stood atop the coal wharf (modern coaling tower that provided the locomotives with fuel) looking east. The lubritoriums (greasing facilities) are the two lighted buildings on the left and right. Foreground locomotives, from left, are Y6a 2145 (inside); Class A 1206; Y6a 2137, 2125, and 2129; a streamlined Class J 601 (sticking its nose out on the right hand), and M2 No. 1132 (parked next to the building). This is one shot in a series of sixteen day and night views illustrating the zenith of steam power. At the peak, U.S. railroads operated 60,000 steam locomotives.

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Alternate Title Railroad History in a Nutshell
Source Norfolk Southern Historical Collection
Coverage Spatial, Shaffer's Crossing Yard, Roanoke, Virginia; Temporal, September 29, 1943
Rights Norfolk Southern Corporation
Date Created 1943-09-29
Resource Type
Extent 8 in. x 10 in. negative
Depicted Railroad
Location Shaffer's Crossing Yard, Roanoke, Virginia
Equipment, Locomotive Class A, 1206; Class Y6a, 2137, 2125, 2129; Class J, 601; Class M2, 1132
Builder, locomotive Norfolk & Western Railway
Creator Description Bryan Beard (1899-1991), a photographer for the Norfolk & Western Railway, started work for the company as a photographer's assistant at age 18 in 1918. He had no formal training, but learned quickly on the job and took over the studio two years later. He was employed by the N&Ws Motive Power Department, but he and his staff also took pictures for the Public Relations and Advertising Department and many other departments. When Beard retired after 46 years of service in 1964, the N&W Magazine said his work had appeared in every issue of the magazine since its inception 41 years earlier--a total of 499 issues. "With a natural talent for recognizing and executing good pictures, Mr. Beard early applied the craftsman's accent on quality to prosaic pictures of locomotive parts as well as to dramatic and beautiful photographs of trains and scenes," the magazine said.
Collection Norfolk Southern Historical Collection
Image ID NW.30551
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