Living history. During the dark years of World War II, America's industrial machine was perhaps its most critical weapon system, yet the workforce that made it run, which had historically been largely male, was severely depleted by the demands of the military services. It was during this time that this country first began to take full advantage a heretofore untapped resource in the form of its female population. America's women stepped up to the plate, entering the work force in unprecedented numbers, often handling jobs requiring skills and physical abilities that were previously only open to men. One such line of work included maintaining the country's railroads, which were the backbone of that massive industrial machine. In this scene, a young woman employed in locomotive service washes down the running gear of a large steam locomotive as it sits outside the engine service facility undergoing a boiler wash.
When the war ended, so did many of the new opportunities for America's "Rosies." Often, they were forced to return to traditional women's careers, or re-assume their roles as homemakers. The die had been cast however, and as time went on, most of the "barriers" fell permanently.
Fast forward to the 21st century and you'll find that the young lady pictured here is not an actress. Andrea B. is actually a very talented and experienced machinist employed by Pennsylvania's Strasburg Rail Road. As the line's Assistant Contracts Administrator, she's involved in all manner of projects, manufacturing custom parts to support steam locomotives at tourist railroads all over the country. And she's not alone.... Her employer has at least one other female member of the shop crew, who specializes in welding. Both are career employees and both are cab-qualified steam locomotive crew.