Sixty years ago today, 5901, the first of 20 oil-burning steam locomotives purchased by the NSW Government Railways from the United States entered service.
While these locomotives proved durable work-horses for their masters, they were perhaps the ugliest thing put on the rails in their home state. And while they ranged across the south and west of the state at times, their spiritual home was the north.
So, in honour of 60 years of service, here's a few snaps of the 59s....
While there is no photograph of 5901 in the family collection, its immediate sibling was snapped at Newcastle after working a passenger service.
Keeping on the short north, here's 5904 at Morriset on a pickup.
Polishing up 5911 and painting its boiler bands was a bit like putting lipstick on a pig. Here it is on a tour to Port Kembla on (thankfully) a dull day.
Back on the central coast, and on a sunny day, 5912 gets ready to take a drink at Gosford.
Towards the end of steam, several locomotives received ignominious roles. None more so than the roles given to 5908 and 5916 to provide steam for other purposes at Broadmeadow locomotive depot. Ironically, being assigned these duties took each beyond the reach of the scrapper's torch and into the 21st century.
Now its time to cover the two working survivors. First 5910 in a tidy glint shot, working back through Mount St Thomas after a day tour to Kiama.
And then there is the venerable 5917, presently getting a little TLC before returning to duty for the Lachlan Valley Railway. Here it is in Wollongong, 30 years ago, showing just how far occupational health and safety has come since then.
Happy birthday, 59ers.