locked Re: Two projects" A Southern Steam Book and an archives reading room

Dave Queener


I agree with Ike that a new Southern steam book could be a significant improvement over the Prince book, and not just in terms of photographic quality, although that in itself would be a plus. Several points come to mind:

(1) History of Development:

The Prince book has about a page of text for each major wheel arrangement. While better than nothing, this does not convey the history of development of steam on the Southern, for instance, why A series 0-6-0s evolved but then gave way to USRA 0-8-0s, why one builder got the bid over another, or what improvements were made over time within particular classes. There is also an economic angle to this story, since Southern did not purchase any new steam after the last Ps-4 in the late 20s, and avoided the Superpower revolution entirely. Was this hind-bound convervativism, or a shrewd move on the part of Southern's money-managers who kept the road solvent in the midst of the Great Depression and after the fiasco with the M&O acquisition. This would be a story in itself, and it was not for lack of the major builders continually hawking their products to Southern's Mechanical Department. I suspect the SRHA may have some fascinating data in the correspondence files between the builders and Southern's Mechanical department. The answers are probably in the preserved correspondence. What about it, Ike?

(2) Variations in Classes:

Related to the history of development would be some treatment of how different shops modified Southern engines to have a "Coster" look or a "Pegram" look. It may be an esoteric subject to some, but fascinating material to the model builder / enthusiast. The SRHA's Ties magazine ran a series of articles more than a decade ago on this very sort of minutiae with respect to the K class 2-8-0s and the Ss and Ss-1 2-10-2s. I expect there are other similar resources available.

(3) Technical Data:

The Prince book has rosters and build dates, which are wonderfully helpful, but only offers the diagrams for most of the major classes of Southern steam. A useful addition would be mechanical drawings, at least elevation and section views, for representative members of the main classes of Southern steam. The good news is that 1000s of Southern steam drawings still exist in the Bill Purdie collection now housed by the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth. The Purdie collection of steam drawings greatly out numbers that owned by the SRHA, which makes sense when you think about it, since he was Southern's last Master Mechanic--Steam and was apparently collecting drawings from many of Southern's shops as they were closing down or being re-purposed. I have seen some of the material, and it is stunning.

Perhaps our friends at both the SRHA and the SER could work together to make some of this material available in a definitive Southern Steam book. These sorts of materials would not have been available to Mr. Prince, but thanks to the efforts of dedicated archivists such as Ike and the curators at the SER, what was once inaccessible and unknown have now become available to a new generation of writers and their readers.

Best Regards to all,

Dave Queener
Knoxville, Tennessee

On 6/23/2022 12:47 PM, George Eichelberger wrote:
With all of the Southern Railway Steam photos and documentation in the SRHA archives, I believe a "better" book could be produced rather than re-printing Prince's book. Now with the network connections SRHA has in place and a huge amount of networked storage available, organizing a group of people to write and produce a book is certainly possible. I have no idea about the level of potential authors' interest or the market for such a book. I DO think a "steam" book would be of interest if it was more than a collection of photos. (The pages from one of the SR diesel books now being put together I posted some time ago are an example of the "more than photos" concept.) If anyone is interested in participating, send an email to archives@....

Now that we are getting the SRHA archives building organized, we can clean out and equip one of the rooms as a "reading/research room". Dimensions are about 12' x 14' with easy access to the archives "stacks" and other rooms. A comfortable reading chair and sofa, reading lights, table and office style chair (or two), a wall mounted video screen/terminal that can be used for videos and scanned documents or photos and a desktop computer for the screen and an attached scanner could all be included.

What is needed is for someone to buy the items and help set the room up. I ask again....any takers? If anyone helps us do a first-class job, "naming rights" for the room are available. (That name will join the (not yet formally named) "Jim Wrinn SRHA Photo Collections Room" that will be dedicated during the joint SRHA-L&NHS-RPM convention and meet at TVRM 9-30/10-1. More on that at the dedication.)  Archives@... if you are interested.

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