I'll be the first to admit it. I don't understand how some people obsess over steam locomotives. Growing up, whenever I looked at my train picture books, I would often skip over the pictures of steam locomotives because, to me, they all looked the same. Even now, I have a hard time getting all the excited about these giants. But, I never grew up with these brutes and I have never seen one in action.
Having said that, I have begun to appreciate steam locomotives much more in recent years. There are a few reasons why I have begun to come around. First, they are incredibly complex machines that are capable of incredible things. Second, they serve as vital reminders of the importance of railways through history. In many ways, these engines were the only lifeline people had to the outside world. Of course, the automobile and the development of freeways has changed the role of railways in people's lives, but these brutes serve as a useful reminder of how vital railways were to the development of Canada, the United States and a number of other countries (depending on where you are reading this).
This shot was taken in early March 2013 on the front lawn of the Canada Science and Technology Museum. The museum is located on Saint Laurent Boulevard in Ottawa's east end. The museum itself houses a number of railway relics inside, although the museum itself is closed until 2017, due to mold and other safety issues that are being addressed via a large rehabilitation and renovation of the old bread factory.
This locomotive, Canadian National 6200, is a 4-8-4 Confederation locomotive more commonly known as a Northern type steam locomotive. Thirty five of these engines were built by the Montreal Locomotive Works and the Canadian Locomotive Works in Kingston, mainly for the Canadian National. They were in service until the late 1950s before a number were saved from the scrap heap. Other cities that have a Northern on display include Toronto and Guelph.
This particular locomotive was built in Montreal in 1942. It was acquired by the museum in 1967 and is one of a number of railway artifacts either on display or in storage at the museum. A number of other pieces are maintained by the Bytown Railway Society at this site. You can read more about these locomotives here.
For the most part, the engine is in decent shape. Many preservationists now argue that leaving these locomotives outside is not the best way to preserve them. I'm not sure what more can be done to preserve these artifacts, given their size. This locomotive is a popular subject for photographs in Ottawa. It's certainly a fixture on the museum's front lawn.
Just walking around this behemoth is an experience. Even though I'm not a foamer when it comes to these locomotives, I've grown to admire them because they remind me of my grandfathers, both of whom worked on the CPR when these giants were in operation. I'm glad it's there.