From the early 1900s steam locomotives were gradually superseded by electric and diesel locomotives, with railways fully converting to electric and diesel power beginning in the late 1930s. The majority of steam locomotives were retired from regular service by the 1980s, though several continue to run on tourist and heritage lines.
Popularity in Modern age
Steam locomotives have been present in popular culture since the 19th century. Folk songs from that period including I’ve Been Working on the Railroad and the Ballad of John Henry are a mainstay of American music and culture.
Many steam locomotive toys have been made, and railway modeling is a popular hobby.
Steam locomotives are often portrayed in fictional works, notably The Railway Series by the Rev W. V. Awdry, The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, and the Hogwarts Express from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. They have also been featured in many children’s television shows, such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, based on characters from the books by Awdry, and Ivor the Engine created by Oliver Postgate.
The Hogwarts Express also appears in the Harry Potter series of films, portrayed by GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall in a special Hogwarts livery. The Polar Express appears in the animated movie of the same name.
An elaborate, themed funicular Hogwarts Express ride is featured in the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, connecting the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios with the Islands of Adventure theme park.
By 1984 almost all commercial steam locomotives were put out of service, although many of them are preserved in museums or at railway stations for public viewing. Today only a few privately owned steam locomotives are still operating in some other countries including Myanmar.
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