Kim Thurlow's

Portfolio of Queensland Railways

A Song from the 60's.

My local paper, the Toowoomba Chronicle, was my window to the outside world. Around the age of 13 or 14 I began to read it regularly, the comics fascinated me, they included Ginger Meggs, The Phantom, and some others lost to history. As the years rolled by, one's taste becomes a little more sophisticated, and other articles and news become worthy of perusal.

And like the good newspaper it was, the Chronicle occasionally had articles on progress in other parts of the world. I distinctly remember a number of articles within a few months, around 1959, announcing that the last steam engine had run on a main US railroad. This brought a chill to my bones, because it augered the end of steam in Queensland. Diesel engines were already here, but in limited quantities, and they were a lot more expensive to buy, than steam engines. I think that we all thought that the two forms of motive power would run side by side for another 50 years. After all, many steam engines were running no problem 40 years after they were built. I was then photographing engines that were only 5 years old.

Anyway, as a result of these articles in the newspapers, I got it into my head, that I HAD to record the steam engine in my locality, while they were still there. I had this quite blinding obsession, not only on somehow recording them, but learning how they worked, what made them tick. Most afternoons after school, I managed to hang around the local station, where goods trains shunted, got rides, and soaked up the working of the railway men. The Toowoomba City library became another haunt, they cooperated, and over a number of years, their collection of railway books tripled as a result of my continued requests.

In amongst all this, when I was 15, I coined the following poem.

Steam Engines Farewell

Never to be forgotten
In sight or sound.
Never to be heard.

While the deep blast pounds
the countryside it thrills
the hearts of youngsters
asleep to the world
awake to the beauty of this
man-made living thing,
striking deep into the young of heart
for ever.

The pound of steel on steel
the shudder of steel
as flesh holds steel
the man's hand nursing
the black beauty of power,
man's idea of aesthetic quality,
the awe of unseeing
is here.

No more- now
is the last chance
to hear the power
the heart throb of the continent
the beat of the exhaust
echoes for ever
in men's minds.

No more
will the youth admire
the engines racing by
on errands of economy
fulfilling the needs of the nation
in war, in peace.
The rythm
the beat of far flung smoke
the rock and roll of steel frame
imprints itself on hearing minds
no more,
yet for ever.

by Kimball Thurlow 1960.

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