Created By: mtlwriterguy on September 11, 2011 Last Edited By: mtlwriterguy on September 13, 2011

Steam Never Dies

Trains still have steam engines, cabooses, coal cars, conductors with hole punches and other dead tech.

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A sub-trope of Anachronism Stew. The cultural snapshot we have of trains, especially as portrayed in children's literature, seems frozen in time. Sister and Brother Berenstain may eat too much modern junk food, watch too much TV and do their homework on a computer, but when the time comes to take the train to visit Aunt Tilly, suddenly it's 1899 all over again. The Grizzly Express comes complete with steam engine, caboose, coal car, coal tender, dining car and conductors snapping their hole punches.

Thomas the Tank Engine and Chuggington continue the strange cultural confusion.

This trope was more general through the early 1980's. Movies and TV shows might still portray steam trains in exotic foreign locales, but as the 20th century wound down, Steam Never Dies retreated to children's literature and cartoons, where it seems permanently entrenched.

Community Feedback Replies: 4
  • September 11, 2011
    Just a note: Some trains in Europe still do have conductors with hole punches.
  • September 11, 2011
    • The Polar Express
    • Back To The Future 3: Emmett L. Brown has escaped the past and clearly gotten future tech, but his travel conveyance of choice is a steam engine that also flies.

    Western Animation
  • September 12, 2011
    The Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter series might be about this, but then the wizarding world hasn't adopted a lot of modern technology because they have magic to accomplish many of the same things.
  • September 13, 2011
    Russian Railroads don't have steam locomotives in actual operation, but most of the rest applies: there are dining cars, the passenger cars changed little since early Soviet times, you can encounter a conductor with a hole punch (though most simply rip your ticket by hand). In Russia, Diesel Never Dies. On the other hand, some steam locomotives are still kept mothballed in depots in case of power/diesel fuel shortages caused by war or whatever, so in case it gets worse (and in that country, it always gets worse) the trope will be in full effect.