Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Steam Locomotive Begs Rochester Firemen For a Drink

September 1966
  What happens these days if a steam locomotive needs water? There’s not a standpipe left along any railroads around here to give a thirsty, tired old engine a drink.
  So why worry? There are no more steam locomotives, you say.
  But it could be a problem in Rochester on Saturday, October 22. On that day a steam locomotive pulling a passenger train will make a stop here and it will expect to take on water— lots of it.
  Some 600 members of the Michigan Railroad Club and their guests will be riding the train in what is billed as the “Last Run of the Steam.” The club had a rough time finding a steam locomotive to do the job. One is being brought all the way from Toronto, being rented for the day from the Canadian National Railway. The club says this may be the last time they can secure a steam engine.
  PASSENGERS WILL board the train in Detroit. It will then pull through Birmingham and Pontiac and cut eastward on the Grand Central & Western tracks through Rochester and on to Port Huron. When it arrives in Rochester, according to the club president, the locomotive will need a lot of water to complete its run to Port Huron.
  Writing to Fire Chief Lyle Buchanan, the club president has asked if the department could furnish the engine around 5,000 gallons of good clean water. The tanks in the tender hold 13,000 gallons. Chief Buchanan replied that he will be glad to oblige.
  The train will pull into the Grand Trunk station here on First Street around 10:30 a.m. Most of the 600 passengers, loaded down with camera gear, are expected to alight and photograph the water tending operation. In fact, no Rochester depot will have ever seen such activity— in the past and certainly in the future.
  Beside the crowd traveling with the train, a throng is expected from among Rochester’s old-time train lovers to crowd around the station or watch the scene from the nearby Main Street bridge.
  Furnishing “good clean water” is sort of a problem for the fire chief. Rochester’s water comes from wells and is as hard as rusty nails. It certainly would not be healthy for the aging engine. So he will pull the fire department’s pick-up truck with its 500 gallon per minute pump alongside the nearby Clinton River and take the water from there.
  Of course the Clinton River is polluted, but no one’s heard yet of a steam locomotive dying of hepatitis.