One of my unforgettable childhood impressions is seeing the shadow of steam of a passing steam locomotive billowing high above the street where I was walking by my grandparents‘ hand. This fascination never quite left me. And so, I became a volunteer fireman on steam locomotives and have been on the boards of various national and international railway heritage organisations for some decades.
The steam locomotive was the first motive power for land transport beyond man and animal strenght. With the dawn of the railway age in 1825, it dominated rail transport for about 130 years, until the midst of the 20th century. Only a few are still in regular use today, most of them in Germany by chance.
But starting at the Tallyllyn railway in Wales in 1951, volunteers and enthusiasts have kept steam locomotives in operation on railways around the world to run museum or tourist trains. In these now almost 75 years, they have written an own chapter of railway history. Thus, the fire has not yet been extinguished and the shadow of steam falls into the present.
As a reminiscence to those who have contributed to this chapter of railway history, this gallery brings together my contemporary photographs of steam locomotives and trains around the world to pay tribute to the colleagues who keep them running. Where possible I deliberately show the trains in their present rather than in a seemingly historical setting to generate an interference with the past we came from. Unfortunately the present doesn’t differ very much in some countries. The fact that these trains nevertheless represent an outdated technique is conveyed by the presentation in black and white, which corresponds to our visual habits of historical photography.