York, United Kingdom. The city is home to the National Railway Museum, where I’d stopped by in the morning. It was gargantuan in size (given that it houses dozens of full-sized rail cars and engines), and yet out of everything an outsized part of it is devoted to a showcase for the Flying Scotsman, one of the fastest early steam locomotives that was the first train to break the 100 MPH barrier, and which is a particular point of pride among locals.

Despite occupying a full section of the museum (and being owned by it, after a winning bid of £2.3 million in 2004), the Flying Scotsman wasn’t actually present because, after being furloughed and spending the 70s on tour in the United States, it’s since been rehabilitated and travels around the UK on a semi-regular basis. I spoke to a museum volunteer and he said that although I wouldn’t be able to see the Scotsman itself, they were expecting a steam locomotive to come into station later that day.

I didn’t wait around for it, but as I was exploring the rest of the city, I found it by accident. Parked on the track just a few hundred feet from my hotel, steam billowing from its chimney and a full load of coal in the hopper. This is SR Merchant Navy Class 35018 British India Line, built in 1945 and restored 2012-17.

As I was crossing the bridge to take this photo I came across another man who was using a 90s-style handheld camcorder to carefully record footage of the old steam engine in action. In the UK trains have fans. I love it.

Published May 20, 2023.

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