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The Ultimate Steam Page

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Steam Locomotion in the 21st Century

The Recent History of Steam Locomotive Development

Information on the page author

updated 3 February 2022

A photo of my daughter and me visiting Norfolk & Western class J
4-8-4 No. 611 on its last run to Charleston, SC in November 1990.

page author
Recent photo of me.

I'm a 60+ year old married father of two and grandfather of three. I worked as an engineer after graduating from Clemson University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1978. In 2017 I retired after a long career.

More than any others, two people inspired my interest in steam locomotives:  my father, and one of my professors at Clemson, Dr. D.W. Bradbury.

My father grew up in the 1920's-1930's, living close to the mainline of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Like most boys his age, he took a great interest in watching steam locomotives thunder through town, and when I was growing up he told me several tales from his youth about his experiences.

While I was at Clemson University, Dr. Bradbury made an off-hand remark during a class once about seeing a train of dead steam locomotives during the 1950's on the Southern Railway which passed through Clemson. Dr. Bradbury made a comment about how it was a sad sight, but that steam locomotives were dirty, inefficient, and obsolete. Something in his manner led me to believe he didn't really believe that, and soon I found myself visiting the school library to find every book I could find on steam locomotives.

For two years in 1982 and 1983, I was employed by the Norfolk Southern Railway. I was fortunate to work with a lot of old railroaders, some of whom had actually enjoyed working on dirty, nasty, antiquated, aggravating steam locomotives. I got hands-on steam experience assisting with repairs and operation of NKP 765 on several occasions, and I was lucky enough to ride in the cab of N&W 611 from Bucyrus, Ohio to Bellevue, Ohio with Mr. Robert Claytor at the throttle. 

I spent a lot of time collecting books and technical information and reading about steam locomotives. In the early 1980's, I corresponded with American Coal Enterprises about employment, and I feel sure that I would have been right there when they lit the first fire if the ACE 3000 had ever been built.

Since retirement, I've had the opportunity to work with FMW providing engineering support on a couple of steam locomotive projects.

This web page is the result of years of saying "I wonder why nobody writes anything about the ACE 3000, or what's going on with steam around the world, etc."

Since this page went on line, I've gotten many e-mails from around the world from people who share my interests. I was even fortunate enough to correspond with steam master Ing. L.D. Porta, who passed away in 2003.

I hope you enjoy this page, too.

Hugh Odom
July 21, 1998 (updated 3 February 2022)


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