When Smokey, the old steam engine who works in the railroad yard, hears that he is to be scrapped, he decided to take a long trip out on the mainline.
Smokey, an old steam locomotive, works "lining up gfreight cars for day after day so the big diesel engines could haul them away." After work he sits at the end of the track, listens to all the engines talk about the places they've been, and dreams of going someplace himself. When he hears that he is going to be scrapped he takes off on an adventure on the mainline that is fraught with dangers but comes to a happy and useful ending. The rhyming text cries out to be read aloud and the illustrations, done in watercolor pencils in Peet's humorous style, excel at bringing the characters to life.