"Sorry, but you're going to have to try. We have too many moves jammed up to shift you around," came the reply from the tower. Not to be outdone, Eldredge responded, "OK, but you get me lined up, and pass the word down the line. If I make it out of here and anybody stops me, they own the train!"
Adding to the challenge that Eldredge faced was that taking slack in the terminal was prohibited, lest the bumping blocks at the foot of the grade be smashed. It was tough getting even a regular load started under that restriction.
The relationship between an engineer and the fireman on a steam locomotive was something that either made lifelong friendships or fractured all reason. These Atlantics were hand-fired; no mechanical stokers for them. Eldredge looked over at the fireman, his longtime friend George Bailey, with the obvious question on his face. Bailey, a small, wiry man, simply said, "Well, I'm as ready as I'll ever be." Eldredge responded, "OK, let's give it a try. You just fire. I'll operate the injectors, handle the scooping at Ancora, and look for the signals."
Being a man who knew the rules but who also knew how to get a train out of a tight situation, Eldredge did back up to take slack, turning the big reverse lever and laying sand as he did. Two demanding blasts of his whistle assured that the signals were lined up. With the cutoff in full forward, he opened the throttle and waited for the eternity between each initial blast. As Eldredge later put it, until they got to Atlantic City fifty-five minutes later, all he saw of his fireman was the blur of his back side. The confidence in each other they built that day was everlasting -- and once again, No. 460 had proven it was no ordinary engine.
" How fast could an Atlantic go? You'd never want to find out!" Eldredge could say with authority. The flat, straight tracks of southern New Jersey, connecting Philadelphia with Atlantic City, provided the ideal place to find out -- but even here, if the throttle was all the way open, the cutoff was never at maximum power setting. They wanted to live to run another day.
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Speed was one of the Pennsy Atlantics' best-known characteristics. The United States steam speed record set by No. 7002 in 1905 -- when it was clocked at 127.1 miles per hour while making up lost time at Crestline, Ohio, at the head of the Pennsylvania Special (precursor to the Broadway Limited) -- left no doubt about that. But with the introduction of heavy steel passenger cars on the Pennsy in 1907, something more powerful than the 4-4-2 E2 class and more appropriate than even the 4-6-2 K2 and K3 designs was needed.
The speedy, reliable E6 design that evolved was, for its day, the answer.
No. 460 today has an electric headlight similar to the one that originally replaced its oil lamp. Its original circular number plate is now the keystone that was placed on it during its active life. Its tender is that of No. 1565, an E6s also built in 1914. When it was coupled to No. 460, or whether it was the tender whose scoop initially balked during the famous run of the Lindbergh Special, is not known.
Today, all E6's are gone except for No. 460. It no longer speeds; in fact it no longer runs. Number 460 is not operable in the traditional sense. Mechanical evaluation and restoration would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the museum is not anxious to operate its precious distinguished survivors -- especially not this survivor of the Atlantics.
Indeed, whether it was for the Lindbergh Special run in 1927, for engineer Al Eldredge in 1953, or for admiring visitors of the twenty-first century, No. 460 has responded to every challenge.
Today, you see, it teaches history at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania -- about the ingenuity of mechanical inventions, the skill of real railroaders, and the power of inspiration.