Brian in the office. Valley Railroad Engineer Brian Messinger keeps a sharp eye on the track ahead as he takes Valley Railroad Mikado #40 and Santa Special #4 north through the Deep River section of the line, on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Ordinarily, Brian would probably be spending at least some time leaning out the window of his cab, but on this particular day, with the air temperature never getting above 20F and a 20 mph breeze flowing past that window, the wind chill temperature on the skin would be just a hair above 0F. Fortunately, with a roaring fire going just a couple of feet away and the cab curtains in place, the "back office" on the 40 engine is nice and toasty, even with the windows cracked open. In just a mile or two, SS-4 will reach the north limit of its journey and will then back up to Deep River Landing (aka The North Pole), where the 40 will run around the train and pin on the south end for the trip back to Essex.
Many thanks to Brian, Fireman Tyler and the Valley Railroad Team for the opportunity to ride with them on the busiest day of their year. I think I have a new appreciation for how tough it is to see around the front of that big boiler on the curves, and what a challenge these folks face with all of the night running they do around the holiday period.