The Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, located in Calera, Alabama. Each May they host Steam Days and relive the golden age of steam railroading.
Cindy and I were able to join them this year. We had worried about the weather. It had rained the day before and then earlier in the day before we arrived.
However, it appeared that the rain had stopped and it looked like the worst was over. When we arrived we visited the museum and toured the trains.
Our train was a beautifully restored 1930s-era coal-burning saddle tank steam locomotive named the Flagg Coal Engine #75.
This locomotive was purchased from Vulcan Iron Works by the Flagg Coal Company of Avoca, PA.
In 1935 the engine was sold to the Solvay Process Co. in Jamesville, NY. There its number was changed to 75. Number 75 was to push cart loads of rock from the steam shovel to the rock crusher from 1935 until 1953, when the quarry converted to using only trucks.
In 1954 Number 75 and 12 other engines that were used at the Jamesville Quarry were sold to Dr. Stanley Groman of Syracuse, NY. Dr. Groman built Rail City Museum, the first operating railroad museum in the country.
In 1991 Number 75 was purchased and rebuilt by Gramling Locomotive Works in Ashley, Indiana. GLW owns several engines and travels the US with their Steam Engines.
For our trip, we planned for the optional wine tasting and tour at Ozan Vineyard. The engine pushes its cars along a 6-mile excursion through the forests of Shelby County to the Vineyard.
There our group disembarked and toured the vineyard.
While we sat inside the vineyard’s outdoor (but covered) pavilion enjoying the wine tasting, it began to rain.
It came down pretty hard, but only lasted for a few minutes. Then the skies cleared.
Afterwards, we boarded the next train which pulled us back to the station.
Along the way the engineer stopped and allowed those interested in photographing the train to step off. He then he backed down the track, stopped, built up a head of steam, and came roaring down the tracks.