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Today’s gallery includes photos of three different railroad museum assets. A US Post Office Railroad Post Office, an articulated locomotive and a caboose.
The railroad post office is interesting to me because the interior is reminiscent of the sorting station inside the Post Office in which I worked for three summers and numerous holiday breaks while I was in college. Although I’m sure it looks primitive, it was actually a very effective way of sorting the mail. The individual bags and slots represented cities and towns the mail was likely to move to next. In addition to the next local towns, there would be a bag or two that would be sorted further once dropped at the next post office. Sorting in this manner extracted the mail that could be delivered at the next stop.
The caboose is interesting because it shows a little of the life of the conductor to whom the caboose was assigned as his office and his home. In the days before air brakes and automated signals at grade-level crossings, the caboose also carried the brakeman and the flagman. The brakeman could slow the train by setting the brakes on a car and then moving to the next car and setting its brakes and so on and so forth along the string of cars. The flagman would exit the train, proceed to the crossing, ignite flares to stop traffic. As the train passed, the flagman would enter the caboose. I am old enough to remember when flagmen were common. Also, we have an industrial grade-level crossing in the town in which I live where I saw a flagman in 2019.
The articulated locomotive is a fascinating piece of equipment. Rather than paraphrase the information provided at the museum, or force you to squint and try to read the images, I transcribed the plaques shown in the photos below the next two sections.
DM&IR number 227 was one of 18 articulated locomotives nuilt by Baldwim Locomotive Works for the Missabe Road during World War II. During its 20 years of operating life the 227 hauled 40 million long tons of iron ore from the mines on the Mesabi and Vermillion Ranges to the docks at Duluth and Two Harbors.Lake Superior Railroad Museum
Weighing 566 tons and stretching 128 feet in length, the 227 is one of the largest and most powerful steam locomotives ever constructed. Capable of developing 6,000 drawbar horsepower, it made routine work of handling 180-190 car ore trains weighing more than 18,000 tons. When working at foll power, it consumed 10-12 tons of coal an hour and evaporated water into steam at the rates of 12,000 gallons an hour. The amount of coal the engine used in one hour would be enough to heat a home for two winters. The engine is fired by a steam powered stoker since it would not be possible to shovel coal fast enough (350 lbs a minute) or to spread it evenly on the 108 square feet of grate surface.
Number 227 was restored for the museum through the efforts of the DM&IR Veteran Employees Association which contributed is excess of $8,000 toward the project. The DM&IR matched that contribution, performed all restoration, and donated the locomotive to the museum.
DM&IR 227 is an articulated locomotive; meaning that there are two engines hinged together beneath a single boiler. The articulated evolved because engines with four, five or six coupled axles became more and mote difficult to build. By hinging the driving wheels in two sets, a much larger and more powerful locomotive was built that could more easily travel through curves.Lake Superior Railroad Museum
The boiler was attached to the rear engine enabling the front engine (in the shaded box in the image on the right below) to pivot freely from side to side. The bolier rests on a sliding plate which transfers part of the weight to the front engine. Due to the lateral wanderings of the front engine, the boiler would swing far to the outside of curves (see photo on right below).
Thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoy the gallery below and I hope you will visit the posts by the other participants.
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