|The day after V&T #26 was due to be retired from service, embers escaped from the engine's belly and set its shed on fire. Locals supposed that the 26 had committed suicide rather than be scrapped or abandoned in a park. From www.aroundcarson.com|
This blog has gotten quite a decent amount of mileage out of exploring the way that steam locomotives are portrayed as and sometimes even give the impression that they are alive. It might be tempting to think that this comes about because pop culture proliferates with franchises like Thomas the Tank Engine and the Little Engine that Could which have anthropomorphic locomotives and trains as main characters, but references to steam locomotives seeming to possess a consciousness of their own actually date back almost as far as the railroads themselves.
One thing about the nature of personality and consciousness, though, is that just because someone or something is in possession of them does not guarantee it to be a friend and ally. In fact, one of the best benchmarks in deciding if something is conscious may be that it can choose not to comply with what we would like it to do. The superstitions that steam locomotives may be alive do not neglect this unpleasant aspect of consciousness. In fact, an entire mythology grew up to describe it: The Hoodoo Engine.