Here is the last railroad to use steam exclusively in freight service in the United States, the Crab Orchard & Egyptian Railroad. “The Crab Orchard & Egyptian Railroad: A History Of A Unique Shortline” looks at the railroad from its inception as a steam powered tourist line in 1973 to the present day. Along the way, through vintage 16mm and 8mm film and photographs we see the railroad’s passenger trains and the switch to freight in 1977. We see video from the 1980s featuring 2-8-0 #17 in daily service, including cab footage and the very last train pulled by #17 in 1986.
Once the railroad switched to diesels in 1986, we see all three former Missouri Pacific SW1200’s the railroad rostered, along with SW1 #6 and a rare gasoline powered Davenport 0-4-0. We ride the cab of SW1200 #1161 on the original line based in Marion, Illinois, and SW1200 #1136 on the line in Herrin, Illinois.
Interviews with one of the railroad’s founders and the current president of the railroad add to the story, as we see how the railroad developed over the years. This program is part historical documentary and part railfan video. The steam era features passenger and freight trains with both steam locomotives the railroad operated, and the diesel era includes a cab ride. Vintage film features synced sound, and all sounds were either recorded at the time or are appropriate to the locomotive featured; you won’t be able to tell the difference!