2013 a new year for us all, and as I reflected on what railway story might be applicable for a fresh and exciting year, I couldn't get past the "great race' between the car and the steam engine.
There have been movies made about cars racing – who can forget the classic 1965 cinematic production titled 'The Great Race'. The movie cost $12 million, making it the most expensive comedy film at the time. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Race)
We all need a bit of a lift as the new year creeps on at the end of January, the holiday is over and its time to get back into the program at home, play and work.
Lake Grace in Western Australia was a rail centre each of Wagin, on the southern line from Perth to Albany, through Northam, Narrigan and Katinning. One branch line which ran through Lake Grace went as far as Newdegate. Another went to Hyden.
This is a story from my Footplate Padre's book titled Steam Stories. This article was titled "Swapped Wheels" on page 29.
In 1951, at Lake Grace, a driver was working a freight train with a W Class, 4-8-2. There were 60 W classes and they were most suited to the 45lb rail line which ran to Lake Grace and beyond.
The driver of this particular train was having a well earned refresher in the local pub while the train was in the siding. In the pub having a quiet one with the crew was a former engineman, now farming.
The farmer was the proud new owner of a large, flash, brand new American vehicle – the large yank tank types of the era. At the same time, this was the first W Class to be seen at Lake Grace, so they both had something new to their experience. The farmer and ex engineman said to the driver, that he'd like to have a drive of that W Class.
The driver exclaimed he'd like to have a drive of the new American vehicle – so a deal was struck. The driver would take the new American automobile to the next staff station, and the ex engineman – come farmer would drive the new W Class.
It would be a race!
The train had a light load, so the engine with a good head of steam and the farmer now driving the train, hunted out of the siding – bent on winning the race. The train driver now in the new American vehicle was restricted in speed due to the gravel, windy roads, but went as best he could.
The result was a tie – they both arrived at the next staff exchange station at the same time!
This reminds me, as the Footplate Padre of evangelism methodologies. In my now 36 in Christian ministry the Lord gives the increase and the joy of Salvation regardless of the method of evangelism.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html