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Letting off steamIt weighs nearly 1 million...


Letting off steam

It weighs nearly 1 million pounds. It needs more than a day of feeding with coal to heat its steam engine enough to chug down the track. But when the refurbished 16-feet-tall, 110-feet-long No. 614 rumbled into the yard at the B&O; museum this weekend, it was a celebration of the vintage rail era. The No. 614, also called The Great Engine," is considered the last big steamer built in America, produced in 1948 by the Lima Locomotive Company in Ohio. It was built to pull freight and passenger trains over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Curator John Hankey, museum director John Ott and representatives of the Steam Locomotive Corporation of America welcomed the behemoth engine, which will be on loan to the museum for a year. Samples of coal were distributed (contemporary children didn't recognize it but their young-at-heart relatives did).

Don Schlitz has been honored for the fourth straight time as country music songwriter of the year by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He was cited at an awards banquet Saturday for writing seven top songs during the past year: "Battle Hymn of Love," "Guardian Angel," "I Could Be Persuaded," "I Watched It All (on My Radio)," "My Arms Stay Open All Night," "Richest Man on Earth" and "When It's Gone." Named country song of the year was "Friends in Low Places," by Earl Bud Lee. It was recorded by Garth Brooks and is a finalist Wednesday for Country Music Association single record of the year.

Settling the score

The musicians and the management of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra were again in harmony after the players voted unanimously Friday night to end a two-week-old strike. The orchestra's first post-strike concert was scheduled for tomorrow night, with Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 on the program. The strike by the 109 musicians forced the cancellation of 10 concerts. "We'll be on stage where we really belong," said Donald Koss, a tympanist and chairman of the musician's nine-member negotiating team. "We have a contract settlement that's fair to both sides." The three-year contract, ratified on a 95-0 vote, provides for 4.4 percent base pay raises the first year, 5 percent in the second year and 4 percent in the third year, according to an orchestra news release.

All comedy

Finally! Some 150,000 cable subscribers in Maryland, including 100,000 in Baltimore City, will be able to see Comedy Central, the all-comedy all-the-time mix of old shows, stand-up comedy and new shows. The network announced Friday that three regional United Artists Cable operators will add the system beginning tomorrow: the city's UA of Baltimore and United Cable operators in Anne Arundel County and on the Eastern Shore. About 20,000 Anne Arundel subscribers and 30,000 Eastern Shore subscribers will newly receive the basic service, although the channel designation was not immediately available. Comedy Central was formed earlier this year from the merger of HBO's Comedy Channel and MTV's HA! network. Neither of those services, however, had been seen in this area.

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