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Well today was a first.

After almost sixty years of life, I finally saw a steam locomotive. Up close and personal.

Running. With steam.

And for the first time in the almost two months that I have been doing this blog, word fail me.

Really.

I am so overcome with emotion here.

From remembering the fondest childhood memories of a Grandpap who worked on the PRR and lost a leg for the effort … to his oldest brother, who bravely journeyed away from his homeland in Lithuania at age 18 to start a new life in the new world … working for the PRR in Pittsburgh … then sponsoring each of his younger brothers in turn as they reached the age of 18 to do the same.

Then there are the memories of the Lionel Train sets which were lovingly assembled each Christmas on massive 3′ X 3′ X 3′ tables … five of them if I recall correctly … complete with all the houses and tracks and landscaping that any Super O train might want. And how this set up was left up for a period of years in an attic room … lovingly set up by my Grandpap and his friend from work.

Then flash forward to the fact that I have been collecting images for this blog entry for several days now. And of course all the attendant stories that always seem to go with any of my daily adventures.

Then there are the people. Ah, the people. I swear that most of the magic of the day today up at Horseshoe Curve was from the people … and yes, that’s where I got the shots today … and all the history of that special place in time.

And the people. Oh the people. Quite the collection of characters, as you might imagine. With stories to go with each. Real or imagined. And my new “best friends” who were taking pictures beside me … irreverent … almost as much so as yours truly. There is easily a whole day of commentary about the people I saw and met up there as I did my “Our Lady of the Geri-Curl” imitation in the falling rain.

I have mentioned my naturally curly hair, right?

Then there is the sheer magnificence of what I saw today. The strength. The beauty.   The majesty. The power. The sounds. The smells.

The plumes of smoke as they changed from perfect fluffy white to black tinged power. The haunting driving sensual sounds of the engine. And the piteous screeching of the wheels.

And my amazement at the fact that in addition to the engine, which I was expecting, there were many following cars. And even more cars after that of coal to power the behemoth.

All of it.

And I really want to do this entry justice … really I do. But to do it the most justice I need to break it out into several days. After all, I collected the images over several days.

One day for the memories as I’ve alluded to it here. And the history of the steam train and an homage to the area here.

One for the people. They so deserve a page all unto themselves. In typical Happy Holly fashion, of course.

And then today.

Today I will end simply with a few pictures and the few short videos which I shot.

As I said, I am at a loss for words.

I do apologize for the quality of the videos. And yes, that is indeed me in the background saying “Sweet” over and over again.

I was fighting an irresistible urge to jump up and down like a small child in glee. And unfortunately the quality of the video shows that. But I think I will have some links tomorrow hopefully … to the blog of the professional photographer beside me who took wonderful shots, and promised to share.

Enjoy these in the mean time.

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