The initial verdict was negative: The Mirror wouldn't run another story on the steam locomotive traveling through Altoona from Harrisburg on Monday, after having run two stories about it passing through the city on its way from Pittsburgh last week.
But an editor and reporter revisited the question around noon Monday.
Residents from all over had been peppering the newsroom with calls about when to expect the engine, which was "deadheading" to Pittsburgh after weekend excursions in Harrisburg.
Mirror photo by William Kibler
Railfans gather along the tracks in Lilly on Monday to see a steam-driven locomotive complete an expedition to Pittsburgh. The voyage was a part of Norfolk Southern’s 30-year commemoration celebration.
The interest was intense.
So they checked the engine's website that showed the train had already passed through Altoona, gone around the Horseshoe Curve and had reached Gallitzin at the top of the mountain.
But wait. Maybe a quick trip up Route 22 could intercept it in Cresson.
The editor gave the go-ahead.
Then she rechecked the website, provided for the benefit of railfans by the engine's operator, Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society in Indiana.
Forget it: The locomotive was already in Cresson, and it seemed to be moving fast.
But what about Portage, several miles further west. Could the reporter make it there?
Sure enough, even before reaching Portage, the reporter saw a crowd along a grade crossing down a side road.
The next view to the tracks was in Lilly, and there were more crowds.
So he stopped and asked.
Train come yet?
"That's what we're waiting for," a man said.
One of those with a camera was Leonard Kowalczyk, 65, of Portage.
Steam engines used to come by all the time when he was a kid, until he was 13.
He can still visualize it.
"This is for verification," he said, clutching the camera.
Lilly was once the "Jewel of the Mainline," said Paul Deskevich of Hollidaysburg, who drove up with his wife, Gloria, a Lilly native, to watch.
The straight stretch where they stood was adjacent to an area known in the early part of the 20th century as Park Yard, they said.
Lilly was home to coal barons, and there were beautiful hotels and massive shade trees, they said.
They lived in Lilly for a while as a married couple and took their son, Michael, down to watch the trains every night next to Park Yard, Paul said.
Although Michael lives in Colorado now, he's "still crazy about trains," Paul Deskevich said.
People took steam engines for granted when they were still part of the railroad business.
Women complained about the coal dust.
Gloria can picture a housewife in her yard with a wash on the line, after a train went by.
"Ruined my sheets," she said.
But it was wonderful for kids.
When Paul Deskevich was young in Nanty Glo, his mom would send him across the tracks to the store, and he would dawdle, to increase the chance of being stranded by a train.
His mom would ask what took so long, and he had a good excuse.
Steam engines were noisy and smoky, much more romantic than the diesels that replaced them, he said.
He doesn't remember anyone rushing out to see the diesels, even when they were new.
Among the onlookers in Lilly were orange-clad workers from Cambria County Prison.
They stopped their maintenance work and waited with the others.
"It was kind of crazy," said Jason Ling of Johnstown afterward. "Go to jail and see a steam engine."
"A blessing," said fellow inmate Joseph Forsythe of Dilltown.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.