Being around a steam locomotive at night is an experience all by itself. Without the distractions of scenery and sunlight, an engine crew's focus is entirely on railroading and the locomotive. The perception of every sound, sight and smell is heightened, and the locomotive talks to its crew so much more clearly. Such was a night with Southern Pacific 2-8-2 786 on the Hill Country Flier out of Austin, Texas. Good friends Robert Franzen and John B. Charles were the engine crew this weekend. I was a freight conductor on the Morristown & Erie at the time, and while visiting in-laws in Texas I was invited to ride and work (volunteer) with them. This is indeed hill country and with the the five or six car passenger train the Harriman Mikado does put in an honest night's work on the 100-plus mile round trip between Austin and Burnet. Not far out of Austin we pause for a red signal at the diamond at McNeil, waiting for Amtrak to pass. This photo wasn't as posed as many might think. With Amtrak about 10 minutes away, I get out of the cab and set up a quick camera, popping off two flashes into the blackness. Franzen and John Charles struck a pose, and after one frame we could hear the Amtrak horn. Back into the cab and off we go into the night. This was a trip of timeless railroading as God intended aboard a locomotive has changed little since the 1920s.