His figure was frozen in an open room with iron bars doors. The walls in the form of woven steel wire surround the room with an area of no more than 200 square meters.
The sunlight that freely penetrated the sides of the woven wire walls made the jet black body even more shiny. But Mak Itam remained silent, as if he didn’t care about the hot sun.
There is a slight red hue on the front and there is an iron signboard with the words “E1060” on the forehead. That is the description of Mak Itam, a legendary old steam locomotive from Ranah Minang.
The name Mak Itam in the local language means black uncle. The name was given because in addition to its jet body, there was thick black smoke coming out of the chimney.
The result of burning coal in the large tubular combustion chamber which is the head of the locomotive made by the Maschinenfabrik factory in Esslingen, Germany, leaves a distinctive mark in the air. This locomotive was delivered on October 21, 1966 and became Esslingen’s last product before closing production.
Sawahlunto Station is the last home for Mak Itam after serving as a coal carriage and passenger carriage towing for 50 years in the Ombilin area, Sawahlunto.
He lives in Sawahlunto Station with five old carriages. This station has been used as the Sawahlunto Railway Museum since it was inaugurated on December 17, 2005 by Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
This was stated by Ella Ubaidi, a conservation and geopark observer who was once the Head of the Center for Conservation of Historical Objects and Assets of PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI).
Before settling at the Sawahlunto Railway Museum, Mak Itam had lived at the Ambarawa Railway Museum in Central Java. The location can be called Mak Itam’s first resting house, after retiring from duty. That happened in 1988 after PT KAI, which was then still called the Railway Bureau Company (PJKA), introduced a diesel-powered locomotive as a towing Ombilin mine.
Mak Itam returned to his hometown on December 3, 2007 at the request of the Sawahlunto City Government, to complete the old locomotive collection, when the Sawahlunto Railway Museum began operating.
When it was transferred from Ambarawa to Sawahlunto, Mak Itam was still fit for operation. He became one of three steam locomotives in Indonesia that was still able to operate after the tourist train towing steam locomotive on the Ambarawa-Bedono route and the Jaladara towing steam locomotive, a tourist train in Solo.
In early 2009 Mak Itam was employed as a towing locomotive for the short route tourist train, Sawahlunto-Muaro Kalaban, as far as eight kilometers, and alternated with a diesel locomotive to become a towing tourist train for Lake Singkarak in the same year. One way, a steam locomotive can use up one ton of coal for this fuel.
Mak Itam was last used as a tourist train towing during an international bicycle race, the Tour de Singkarak, in two consecutive events, namely 2011 and 2012.
At that time Mak Itam was tasked with bringing hundreds of bicycle racers from 23 countries on a tour before they started the race. After the event ended, Mak Itam was no longer operated for towing tourist trains in the Sawahlunto area.
Especially because Mak Itam suffered a fatal injury due to a leak in the water heater pipe in the combustion chamber. That left him temporarily paralyzed, because there were no more spare parts available.
Mak Itam is inseparable from the long history of coal mining in the Ombilin area, Sawalunto City, which has cool air and has been included in the list of world heritage in the cultural category established by UNESCO on July 6, 2019.
It all started with the discovery of coal deposits by Dutch East Indies geologist Willem Hendrik de Greeve in 1867. Citing the scientific report “Sawahlunto Welcomes a Cultured Mining City” written by Andi Asoka in 2005, it is stated that de Greeve found coal reserves reaching large amounts, namely 200 million tons with a quality above 4,500 calories per kilogram of coal and was in the best category at that time. The location is around the Batang Ombilin stream.
The Dutch East Indies Government followed up these findings with the construction of facilities and infrastructure. One of them is the railway line to transport coal products from the mining area in Sawahlunto to Emmahaven Port in Padang City as far as 150 kilometers. The port is known as Teluk Bayur.
The colonial government assigned the Sumatran railway company or Sumatra Staats Spoorwegen Westkust to carry out the construction that began in early 1891. Involving tens of thousands of workers including as many as 20,000 prisoners from various prisons belonging to the colonial government at that time, the railway was completed on January 1, 1894.
The train line not only crosses the open area, but also penetrates the Bukit Barisan hills through Lubang Kalam, an 825 meter long tunnel which is about 500 meters from Sawahlunto Station. The Kalam hole, which was worked on from 1891 to 1894, became the fastest access at that time from Sawahlunto to Muaro Kalaban. The tunnel is now included in the list of cultural heritage in Sawahlunto City.
According to train observer Yoga Bagus Prayogo in his book on the history of locomotives in Indonesia, Mak Itam is a special steam locomotive because it has teeth used to devour uphill and winding rail routes. Yes, there are many routes of this type on the Sawahlunto-Teluk Bayur route.
This path with beautiful natural scenery was devoured by Mak Itam non-stop for 10 hours. This locomotive uses a 0-10-0 wheel arrangement, which means it has 10 driving wheels which are driven together by a single drive rod.
This locomotive is capable of towing 40 coal wagons with loads of up to 130 tons per trip. This locomotive has four cylinders, two of which are cylinders to move the gears.
Desmiarti, a resident of Padang city who lives not far from the Teluk Bayur train door, reminisced about Mak Itam with his trademark scream when he crossed the train door to the port area. The 66-year-old woman can only see from behind the iron bars of the Sawahlunto Railway Museum, when Mak Itam is silent. Come on, get interesting information from Indonesiar.com.