Has anyone else caught the Trains Unlimited series on the History International channel? A little digging shows it was produced it about 10 years ago, but it's being rebroadcast. I've watched two so far; one about Speed, and the other about The Golden Age, 1900-1950. (Titles paraphrased.)
About 15 years go, I was fortunate to be up close to a live steam locomotive. It was a BIG sucker too. I don't recall what it was, only that it was built in the 1940's to haul coal cars in Virginia. (Probably one of the last steamers built.)
It was a hot, late August Saturday night, maybe 10:00 pm or so. I had the windows of my apartment open, and heard the unmistakable sound of a steam train whistle. I immediately got in my car and followed the sound. From the direction of the sound, I had a pretty good idea where to find it; on the tracks that ran by the Ohio Historical Society here in Columbus. Sure enough, there she sat, belching, hissing and groaning.
She'd just returned from a day trip. As the passengers disembarked, cars from all over the neighborhood converged into a small parking lot, spilling their passengers forth to have a closer look at the living behemoth before us.
This was before consumer digital cameras, and a film camera would have been useless. But I will never forget that night.