The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 4 (August 1, 1933)
The Old Queen's Dash
A whisper was heard in the Thorndon sheds,
“They are sending a special through
To carry the big men home in their beds—
Ere the break of the day she's due.
The Queen of the Ranges will take the train,
The order has just come in”
Ah! the grades and the distance would fight in vain
For the staunch old Queen would win.
Heavier trains would have burst her heart;
But the special was light, and so
They were going to let her play a part
That she played in the long ago—
When the hills and the valleys and open plains
Had rung to her whistle's chime,
Making the speed with the fastest trains—
To the tick of the clock—on time!
They backed her out ‘neath the wintry stars,
And soft as a ghost she moved;
They chained her fast to the silent cars,
For the task that the old Queen loved.
Her whistle spoke—just a signal low—
Her deep exhaust came fast,
And she took the road that the through trains know,
To the beat of her quickening blast.
She took the grade in a storm of sound,
High-flung and strong with speed.
She shook the bridge and the solid ground
Where the five quick tunnels lead
To the curving track, where the Ngaio hills
Look down, as the giants climb
On their all-night journeys whose magic thrills
As they fight with the miles and Time.
They clocked her out of the “Paikok” yard,
“One minute and ten” ahead,
With the Queen of the Ranges fighting hard
And the passengers all in bed.
She crossed with a roar the Ohau Stream,
And slowed for the Manawatu;
Said Jonah, who drove, “How little they dream
What this darned old Queen can do!”
By Palmerston North and Greatford Rise,
And Marton's branching ways,
She shot her smoke to the starry skies
From her furnace fires ablaze.
By viaduct, tunnel and papa bank,
Round Mangaweka's lights,
She sped with galloping wheel and crank
Toward Taihape heights.
She blew, as she raced, a boastful call
To let Taihape know
'Twas time to be letting the signals fall—
A long, deep-throated blow,
As though she would shout to the world that she,
An engine from out the past,
Could handle the special from sea to sea
And do it alone—and fast!
A heavier engine would take the train
To Auckland; her task was done.
She might not be making that trip again,
Or any such long, fast run.
As they backed her down to the engine shed,
Like a ghost of the past she moved,
And Jonah, who loved her, looked down and said
”‘Twas a job that the old Queen loved.”
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