Reportage : A Burning Passion for Steam Trains Darmstadt, Germany - 2016

Vapor climbs out of the big smokestack as Hans shovels the black coal into the firebox of the old steam locomotive. The majestic locomotive wheels slowly and majestically. A small smile emerges on Hans’ face. He is one of over 40 impassioned traditional railroaders, who, in their free time, work on old locomotives and trains. A passion for technical work and the community mostly drives these people.
In the year 1970, certain train enthusiasts rented the locomotive shed in a former classification yard in Darmstadt-Kranichstein. They began to collect and restore steam and electronic locomotives as well as wagons from all over the world. The railroaders from Darmstadt found one Prussian Locomotive Type G8 in Turkey, which they towed to Darmstadt in 1987, and thereafter restored completely. Presently, the museum owns some 200 railway vehicles; out of these, 40 are railway traction vehicles. The museum also has a collection of original uniforms and a miniature model railroad. All over Germany, there are about 150 heritage railways, which are run by volunteers with a lot of patience. The railroad museum in Darmstadt-Kranichstein is one of the largest in Germany.
The steam locomotive runs on the museum’s own railway section in Darmstadt-Kranichstein during the Steam Locomotive Festival in September 2016. The locomotive was built in 1954 by Henschel in Kassel, Germany.
A child in the engine shed walks between two historical steam locomotives.
Julius Sterzik climbs out of the firebox, the burning chamber of a steam locomotive, after emptying and cleaning it.
Two steam locomotives, 23042 (a 1954 model) and DME 184 (a 1946 model), drive on the museum’s own railway section. On the right side, there are common railways for short-distance and freight traffic.
Uwe Breitmeier (left) is the President of the railroaders club "Museumsbahn e.V.". Matthias Mampel (right), dressed in the true-to-original uniform of railroad engineers of the Baghdad Railway in 1910. He works for a German railroad company.
The railroaders get together for a shared breakfast during the Steam Locomotive Festival in September 2016.
A young porter patrols, wearing the true-to-original uniform, in an historical railbus during the Steam Locomotive Festival in May 2016. The passengers enjoy when the staff check their historical tickets.
A track motor car (a 1962 model) is parked on the turntable. In the background of the museum, owned locomotives can be seen. The engine of the track motor car was originally used in the Volkswagen Beetle and it was used to transport repair teams to their workplaces.
Two boys look at a steam locomotive (23042) standing on the turntable during the Steam Locomotive Festival in May 2016. The 23042 is the museum’s pride and joy.
Andrea Will (left) is a part of the club since her childhood; she is the daughter of Jürgen Will. Philip Krüger (right).
The engine shed fills up with visitors having lunch during the Steam Locomotive Festival in September 2016.
Visitors look at the steam locomotive 23042 while standing on the turntable during the Steam Locomotive Festival in September 2016.
There is no shortage of technically interested teenagers. A lot them come to tinker with the locomotives. “We are like a huge family—after you gain the respect from the others. Then, you realize your own ideas and assume responsibility”, says a 14-year old teenager. He joined the family at the age of 10.
Julius Sterzik prepares the old shunting and mainline lightweight locomotive DME 184 for the Steam Locomotive Festival in September 2016.
Julius Sterzik (left), he joined the club 2–3 years ago. Hans Gunkel (right) joined the club around 1992.
Günther Bender’s heart beats for the old-track motor car, which he restored completely. Bender also overhauled the engine originally made for the VW Beattle.
Gerhard Klatt walks past the museum’s locomotives. He wears the true-to-original uniform of the railroad engineers of the Baghdad Railway in 1910. He is in charge of the extensive uniform collection at the museum.
“Smoking forbidden” — “Does not apply to steam locomotives”
A small-scale steam locomotive gives some pleasure to the children at the Steam Locomotive Festival in May 2016.
Jürgen Will (left) joined the railroaders in 1976. Gerhard Klatt (right), who is dressed in the true-to-original uniform of the railroad engineers at the Baghdad Railway, is in charge of the uniform collection.
On a Sunday in August, the museum organized a practice session for the safety break. While driving at a walking speed, the visitors can pull the brake firmly and the train stops. After practice, the guide explains how the compressed air-brake works.
The railroaders pay a great deal of attention toward the authenticity of steam locomotives. Steam locomotives actually contain the newest security technology so the railroaders can drive on conventional sections; this technology is, however, hidden so the visitors cannot see it and the original appearance is not lost.
After a long day of work, a young railroader cleans the boiler of the 23042 locomotive.
Michael Freud (left). Moritz Bender (right).
Boiling water drops under the locomotive and hot steam hisses out of the valves. Hans Gunkel removes the cinder out of the boiler.
Every Saturday and sometimes on weekdays, railroaders tinker with the locomotives. On Sundays, they open the museum to the public. After tinkering, they sit together for a post-work pint.

This is the end, my friend ...

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