Heading for the House

A Chicago and North Western freight train from Chicago has arrived at the yard in Clinton, Iowa. The brakeman has cut off the locomotive and the crew is going to take the steamer to the roundhouse for servicing. Jack Delano has climbed into the cab for the short ride, and he documented the engineer as he was about to ease out on the throttle.

There is quite a bit of “clutter” around this backhead . . . typical of a modern steam locomotive. There are several details that I noticed which I’m not very familiar with. One in particular is what I initially thought was the boiler pressure gauge, which is indicating near zero! Upon closer inspection of the original hi-resolution image, I see that it’s labeled as “Locomotive Cut-off Control Gauge”. It also has dual needles (stacked one over the other). Just to it’s right is the air pressure gauge, with it’s dual gauges (one side mostly obscured by the larger gauge) for the braking system.

Over on the cab wall below the window is a vertical lever that I’m not familiar with. The cover of the housing has “General Railway Signal” cast into it, and the word “ACK” along with an arrow just behind the lever. The locomotive is equipped with an automatic train control mechanism (in which the key has been placed for the trip to the roundhouse), so I’ll speculate that the lever is perhaps used to acknowledge a signal as it’s passed along the line. If any of you can shed light on this, please enlighten us via a comment.

It’s likely chilly outside on this January day in 1943, evidenced by the engineer’s window opened only enough for him to glance out as required for the move. At least he has a toasty heater in front of him! Oh, and note the oil can nestled into a spot next to the backhead at the far left.

Heading For the House

3 thoughts on “Heading for the House

    • Matt, that’s the automatic train control mechanism. The original photo comments note that the key has been placed for the trip to the roundhouse, so I’m assuming the key is used to turn off the equipment once off of the mainline.


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