I knew when I saw this article that was passed along by P.A.I. that I would be blogging about it. (And thank you to P.A.I. for sending it along). Most readers here know I have a fascination with steam locomotives, and with the odd fact that various countries around the world are restoring their old steam rolling stock. The USA, UK, Germany and Italy have engaged in this activity, to name but a few. In the USA in particular, various railroads, led by the Union Pacific Railroad, have undertaken such restoration and have in effect (re-)created the infrastructure to build and maintain these old mechanical beasts of burden. Pretty much everywhere such activity has been done, it has been under the guise of supporting some sort of "railroad heritage" activity. Not that these old girls aren't capable of pulling their own weight (and a lot of it); consider this:
One interesting thing about these restorations is also their conversion to burn much cleaner oil not coal. But that's not the point of the above video. The engine in this case is a 4-6-6-4 articulated locomotive, single-handedly pulling a freight train of 143 cars by itself. The freight train it encounters coming in the opposite direction and going downhill is similarly large, but being pulled by several diesels...
... we'll get back to that.
But now, for some reason, wokeism has discovered that all these steam engines are huffing and puffing all over the place once again, and, of course, are claiming that steam locomotives are racist:
And we have at the top of this article a picture of a restored British steam engine to "prove" the point. Get this:
Steam engines are the latest to face ridiculous reassessment for their part in the Industrial Revolution and the imperialist expansion of the colonial powers, with a research project launched to highlight their links to slavery.
I pity the poor trainspotters. You know, those nerds in anoraks who stand on bridges and hang around railway stations so they can scribble down the latest sighting of iconic choo-choo trains such as the Flying Scotsman, the Mallard or the Tees-Tyne Pullman.
I mean, what harm did those freaks ever do anyone? They travel all over the world, these people, looking for exotic locomotives. Who knows what hideous histories might be hidden within those chuffing bits of metal?
Steam bursting out of funnels is suspiciously white and may not be as innocent as it looks.
And someone is now paying real money to investigate the inherent racism of steam. The cash – surprise, surprise – is coming from a university fund. The White Rose Consortium is shovelling £9,000 into Britain’s National Railway Museum in York to investigate its collection of steam engines for any links to slavery and colonialism.
The author of the article then notes that there may be another target for looney wokeness to put in its crosshairs:
Is there no end in sight for this track of woke nonsense? Surely it’ll all have to run out of steam soon? Where, really, is there left to go?
Oh, hang on a second, though... Most of the slave trade occurred way before the age of steam, when ships relied on sails to get from Africa to the colonies. For God’s sake, don’t tell the wokey managers of a university fund – they’ll try and cancel the wind next…
But for those of you who know my "steam locomotive restoration" hypothesis, I don't think that British Rail or Union Pacific are going to all the expense to build the infrastructure to restore these machines to working service just so they can sponsor publicity stunts for Railroad Heritage Days. The return on that investment would seem to be negligible. Then there's the added expense of training people to operate them. And in the case of the video posted above, we're not looking at a steam engine pulling a few passenger cars for a fun excursion down memory lane. We're looking at a very large freight train being pulled by a very powerful steam locomotive...
... to show it can still be done, if need be. We're looking at a "proof of concept" experiment, a beta test. Can this old girl still do it?
Answer: yes she can.
And that's my hypothesis: these old locomotives are being restored because of the necessity to maintain the ability to move massive amounts of freight in case your local Chinese communist dictator goes "a little funny in the head" (to paraphrase Dr. Strangelove) and orders an EMP to take out the USA or UK. That will take down your local diesel electric locomotives or trucks, but it won't do one whit of good against a steam locomotive. The Challenger locomotive in that video will still be huffing and puffing its way over the pass, pulling its freight, while the oncoming diesels and freight will be dead in their tracks.
Which brings us to what may, perhaps, be the real reason that wokeism is targeting these old engines. If you, as I do, view wokeism as a kind of internal fifth column, and perhaps ultimately under the direction of hostile powers or agents, the last thing you want your targeted enemy to have is a system of redundancy if the unthinkable should occur.
There is, of course, a flaw in my hypothesis, and it's worth mentioning (once again). While steam will still run, the semaphor signaling system, and the automated turnout controls on modern railroads are still electrical and remotely operated. Long (long) gone are the days of a little shack in the countryside near a turnout, with a person there who pushes or pulls a lever at scheduled times to control the turnout, or who physically raises or lowers a semaphor for the engineer to know track conditions and traffic ahead. Unless of course they're already hardened... or they're training personnel for the analogue operations of rail systems...
See you on the flip side...