Today's photo features the train engineer of the coal fired steam engine, Spirit of Roanoke, as it pulled out of Greensboro's J. Douglas Gaylon Depot 7:00 am Sunday morning. Being a train engineer requires a tremendous amount of preparation and concentration. Train engineers must be certified by the Federal Railroad Administration as well as have on-the-job training. Unlike the conductors, the engineer does not have ongoing contact with passengers. While he hopes passengers are happy, his job is to ensure they get from Point A to Point B safely and incident free. The round trips between Greensboro and Roanoke, VA were, indeed, incident free.
You can see the concentration on the engineer's face as he navigates the journey. Not seen in the photo were the exuberant spectators, hopping from gravel pile to gravel pile near the track, trying to get a good look and a photo or two of the Mighty 611. Onlookers were fascinated by the train's bullet-shaped cars, enveloped in steam. Equally thrilling were the sounds of the wheels rolling along the track and the whistle alerting onlookers that the train was in motion. It can easily take a train up to a mile to stop, so knowing what lies ahead is serious business to an engineer.