Fires started by passing steam engines

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Jul 31 09:38:32 EDT 2017

R.P.C. Sanderson, born in Birkenhead, (his father was an international coal merchant) trained at Cassal Polytech in Germany and apprenticed at Laird Bros., Birkenhead, came to the U.S. where he worked for the Shenandoah Valley, Norfolk & Western and the Virginian in the motive power departments. The following is one of a few stories he told about going to court for the Norfolk & Western when the railroad was sued for starting fires.

     "A trunk and box factory in Petersburg burned down one night. The owning company's witnesses testified that

       the fire was caused by one o four engines going up the hill, heavily loaded, throwing fire from the stack which

       shot away up in the air, and was blown by the wind across a block of housed and two streets, and falling found

       its way up under the eaves and into a bird's nest from which the fire spread to the roof, etc.  Having previously

       looked up the weather reports, I had the local U.S. government observer there to testify that at the time and

       place mentioned the wind was blowing exactly in the opposite direction. The jury nearly died laughing and the

       plaintiff's counsel withdrew the charge."

Peter R. R. Getz

Good afternoon from the UK,

There is a Big Boy in the museum in Denver. It is an impressive piece of
kit. I was lucky enough to see this a few years ago. It is in good

Was the range fire problem a big issue when steam was in full operation on
the N&W and the UP?  In our rain drenched conditions in Britain this is less
of a problem other than in dry spells of which we seem to have very few. It
is raining now!


Phil Mortimer

End of NW-Mailing-List Digest, Vol 149, Issue 32
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