As the Footplate Padre I have had the opportunity to hear many stories from the days of steam. This was an era where drivers more often than not had time to 'kill' (as it were).
In my 1988 book, 'Tales of the Footplate', there is a story entitled 'Red Bull', which is a particular example of such a time delay. Along the Parkes to Narromine line (NSW) in the days of steam up to the 1960s, there was a lot of unfenced track.
Living in this area, was a big old red bull who was well known to the locomotive crews.
This bull had developed a habit of trotting along when he heard the sound of the train; every day, with every train. He would climb the embankment of the railway line and stand on the track.
The train driver would blow the whistle, and finally pull the train to a stop. The crew would then alight from the engine, pick up bits of coal and stones, whatever was handy and throw them at the bull.
If the bull was close enough, the driver would also release steam through the front cylinder cocks so that a rush of hot steam poured over the animal, but nothing worked.
After some time, having got tired of playing this game, the red bull would trot off back down the embankment until the next train came along.
Finally one of the drivers thought it was time to end this.
As he saw the bull trotting towards the train, the driver eased the engine right up to within a few inches of the red animal. He then opened the front steam cylinder cock of the 32 Class locomotive and at the same time the regulator!
The steam blew, blinding the view of the animal. Consequently, the engine butted the bull before the driver braked. The bull was forced up upon his haunches between the buffer and coupling, unable to move
The scene was unimaginable. This huge red bull was sitting perfectly square on his backside like a lap dog begging. Its front legs were stuck around the buffers. Stuck! The driver and fireman cautiously walked from one side to the other with the bull following their movement with its enormous head, unable to move its body.
The crew got back into the cabin and ever so carefully eased back the engine. That huge red bull was released and tore down that embankment, never to be seen again by locomotive crews between Parkes and Narromine.
Another story from an ancient time
That story reminds me of the bible story when Paul and Silas were imprisoned for preaching Jesus (Acts 15).
In the evening, as Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord, an earthquake caused the prison doors to spring open.
When the warden woke and saw the doors open, he assumed they had escaped. He was about to commit suicide because he felt so guilty at not 'doing his duty' and where his life would have been required for such negligence.
When Paul called out that they were all there, the warden was astounded and responded, "What must I do to be saved?"
Verse 31: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved ..... and they spoke to him the word of the Lord ... and rejoiced, believing in God ...."
The warden became a committed follow of Jesus..
This happens time and again in our world, where a dramatic event for that person opens the door for someone to tell them about Jesus and his forgiveness of sin. It also opens another line of biblical enquiry as there are many occasions in the bible where once 'praise is offered up to God' remarkable things happen.
Dr Mark Tronson - a 4 min video
Chairman – Well-Being Australia
Baptist Minister 44 years
- 1984 - Australian cricket team chaplain 17 years (Ret)
- 2001 - Life After Cricket (18 years Ret)
- 2009 - Olympic Ministry Medal – presented by Carl Lewis
- 2019 - The Gutenberg - (ARPA Christian Media premier award)
Gutenberg video - 2min 14sec
Married to Delma for 44 years with 4 children and 5 grand children