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We took a trip to the Museum of Transportation yesterday, a place of near heaven for railway enthusiasts. Not that I number myself as fully amongst them, but the attraction of a steam locomotive is nonetheless strong. Suffice it to say that I have a copy of Microsoft Train Simulator.

However, a computer graphic pales into insignicance compared to the real thing, and I stood in wonder in the cab of the Union Pacific #4006 Big Boy, a massive 600 ton 4-8-8-4 steam locomotive.

How on earth did the crew manage all those wheels, levers and valves? The photograph only shows half the cab! For someone used to the electric world of computers, such archaic controls really do mark out a different age. One with strong visceral appeal.

A group of grizzled retired railway workers regarded us as we walked by the engine. It was their hard work that has restored this goliath to its former pristine beauty. I doubt if I will ever see a more content group of men.

The Union Pacific #4006 Big Boy