Steam Locomotive dot Com FAQ
(Frequently Asked Questions)

I am often asked the same questions over and over. To help you find the answer for some of the more frequently asked questions, I have prepared this list. Please refer to it before sending any questions via e-mail.

  1. Where can I go to drive a steam locomotive?

    It would take years of learning in order to truly "drive" a steam locomotive. However, there are a few places in the USA where one can put one's hand on the throttle of an operating steam locomotive and feel the power that the engineer controls. Here are those that I know of. If there are any others, please let me know.

  2. When did the last steam locomotive operate in revenue service?

    According to an article in the Winter 2006 issue of CLASSIC TRAINS, J. David Ingles says that the last Class 1 to operate standard gauge steam in the USA in everyday operation was the Colorado & Southern, which last operated its 2-8-0 # 641 on Oct. 11, 1962. Second to last was Lake Superior & Ishpeming in "summer" of 1962.

    In a letter to the editor in the Spring 2007 issue of the same magazine, Les Beckman reports that the last daily revenue steam locomotive was at Northwestern Steel & Wire, in Sterling, IL, in 1980.

  3. My [ father | grandfather ] used to work for a railroad. I am trying to research his life. Do you have any information about that railroad or its employee records?

    You would not believe how many times I am asked this question. I am beginning to think that everyone had a grandfather who worked for the railroad. I am not a historian so I am unable to answer your questions. My best advise is to locate that railroad's historical society. They often have good historical documents that may help you.

  4. How does a steam locomotive work?

    As its title suggests, the web site: How a Steam Engine Works has some good information on how steam locomotives work. The site: Railway Technical Web Pages describes many steam locomotive appliances in great detail. Railroad Definitions is another good page. How Steam Engines Work has more good information. This page contains animations of many different types of internal combustion engines.

  5. I have a [ bell | whistle | builder's plate | other appliance ] from a <insert your railroad line here> steam locomotive. Can you tell me anything about it?

    Usually, the best way to find information about things like this is to post as much information as you know about it to one of the railroad bulletin boards or the railroad newsgroup. If you are looking to identify a locomotive from a builder's plate, Tim Moore can help you. If you are looking for information on steam whistles, visit The Voice of the Iron Horse or Steam Whistles. If you want to donate it, I'm sure a local railroad museum would be interested in it. If you just want to sell it at the best price, you may want to list it on eBay or on Railroad Memories. For whatever reason, there doesn't seem to be any web sites or even web pages devoted to steam locomotive bells. If anyone knows of any, please let me know.

  6. I want to build a scale steam locomotive. Where can I get plans to the original locomotive that I wish to replicate?

    Detailed plans such as this are hard to obtain. I have never seen any. If detailed drawings created by the original steam locomotive builders still exist, they would be in the possession of whoever now has their records. The Steam Locomotive Builders page lists the current disposition of the historical records for each of the three primary builders. Links to other steam locomotive builder forums are listed at the bottom of that page. The C&O Historical Society has drawings of most of their locomotives. You may also want to check SteamCad. There you will find 2D AutoCad drawings of some of the more famous and well known American steam locomotives.

    The California Railroad Museum has an extensive collection of original plans for many types of railroad equipment. You have to know exactly what you are looking for and there is not much detail about this on their web site. They prefer to copy material for you (at a charge) and mail it to you.

  7. Where can I find a railroad [ video tape | hat | poster | book ]?

    The first place to check would be your local hobby shop or local railroad museum. They often sell these items. These types of products are also advertised in either TRAINS or Model Railroader magazines. Here are some web sites to check.

  8. Where can I find information on <insert your railroad line here> locomotives?

    Check this page under Railroad Lines and Historical Societies. Also, David Treemarcki has an excellent collection of Morning Sun, Kalmbach and Four Ways West railroad books. He will most likely be able to come up with some information.

  9. Why don't you have any photos of <insert your favorite locomotive here>?

    Most of the photos found in the Virtual Tours section of my web site were taken by me. If I don't have photos of your favorite locomotive, it probably means that I have not visited it yet (or maybe I have, but have not scanned the photo or written any information about it yet). I will always welcome information about any steam locomotive from you.

  10. What was the [ fastest | oldest | first ] locomotive?

    This page on important milestones in railway development may answer your question. This page also has some good information on steam locomotive development. This page also has some general railroad history.

  11. How can I get copies of the pictures on your web site?

    I have collected the pictures on my web site over many years. They come from many sources which include: The only pictures that I can provide are from my own collection and I will only do so under certain conditions.

  12. Can I create a link to

    Sure, why not.

  13. I want to [ buy | sell ] a steam locomotive. Do you know of anyone who [ has | wants ] one?

    A few are listed here.