The fascination for trains occurred when I was about 4 years old. I lived across the street from the Great Northern Roundhouse in Interbay Seattle as World War II was coming to a close.

My father took me with him to the roundhouse one morning. I can remember these huge steam locomotives as we stood between two of them. I was fascinated by the experience until one of the engines blew steam out of a side valve. It scared the heck out of me and I grab my dad's pant leg and tried climb up his leg.

This experience didn't change my feelings for steam engines. I would cross the big street with one of my friends and we would watch the engines on the turntable.

When I was nine I rode the Union Pacific with my great aunt to Salt Lake City from Seattle. That was my first train ride and became my favorite railroad.

A few years later (about 1954) after the steam era had begun to close I rode my bicycle with friends to the Interbay roundhouse. This was several miles from where I was living. When we got there one of the engineers allowed us to board an F unit and ride with him for a few minutes. It was a great experience.

When I would travel with my parents I was constantly looking for trains. During the late forties and fifties, there were a bevy of trains to see along the route from Seattle, Washington to Salt Lake City, Utah. The highways usually followed the train routes and I saw all kinds of steam engines and early diesels. As the freeways took over the train tracks disappeared from view.

The loss of the steam engine era was sad and disappointing. The diesel became the king of the road and has remained so to date.

One should spend time reading books on these massive steam locomotives and begins to understand their prowess and power that helped the United Sates immeasurable during World War II. Find videos that were taken during those years and have been reproduced by several companies. There is always the hobby of trains which I have been doing for the last 50 years. There is a great deal of information available to investigate and learn from. Being a hobbyist intensifies the learning curve. The sad thing is very few Americans know anything about our railroad heritage. It has been going in a big way at least since 1838 in this country.

Joy Ball has been involved in the restoration and maintenance of a variety of Brass Model Locomotives. Through her years of expertise, Mrs. Ball has perfected the art of train restoration often spending countless hours preserving vintage Brass Locomotives to running condition of even the newest Brass Model Replicas. It should be noted that the above article was written by Joy’s husband Michael Ball. Receive her free newsletter at [].

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