Steam Doubleheaders

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Wed Feb 3 12:20:01 EST 2021

Thank you Tom, I’ve always had this question also in my mind. On a related note- how did the pushers (example Blue Ridge) operate in synch with the power that was in the lead? I would think that any difference in speed between the lead power and the one on the back would be disastrous. These are all probably simple questions- but one never knows until they ask!


Jim Detty

Lucasville, Ohio




From: NW-Mailing-List [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at] On Behalf Of NW Mailing List
Sent: Tuesday, February 2, 2021 9:21 PM
To: NW Mailing List
Subject: Steam Doubleheaders


I have a question about when steam engines pulled trains in tandem (if that's the right term for it.) I assume that today's locomotives are connected electronically which allows the power output to be balanced. But there was no such connection during the steam era. (I think.) And clearly each locomotive required an engineer and a fireman. So did the engineers communicate in some manner to balance the power? Would they set up a system of ropes and bells perhaps? Hand signals? Early radios? Or did the engineers just set a plan in place before they started the trip?



Tom Fulton

Asheville, NC

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