While the accent in this book is on the oldest and rarest photographs in the Rogers collection, many modern portraits are included as well to demonstrate how highly developed the American steam locomotive had become before the advent of dieselization. Among the engines depicted are the España, a diminutive model built for the Spanish government in 1858; engine no. 216 of the Pennsylvania Railroad, a "fearsome apparition of Gothic character" built in 1861; the Chimbote Emilia, an inspection engine built for railroad company officials in 1868 that is considered a masterpiece of the engine builder's art; and a Union Pacific 1940s' "Big Boy," the largest and heaviest type of steam locomotive ever built.
Clearly, builder portraits are the most revealing record possible of the evolution of the American steam locomotive. This rich selection offers railroading historians and enthusiasts a peerless record of a great age in railway history. Railroading expert Ron Zeil's introduction and captions provide readers with a brief railroading background, a commentary on the art of the builder portrait and key details on each locomotive depicted.