Duke the Lost Engine is the twenty-fifth book in the Railway Series. It was first published on October 15th, 1970.
An engine lost in the South American jungle was found after 30 years. A tree had grown through its chimney and hornets nested in its firebox. When mended it gave good service for 30 more years.
"The Duke" was lost too; not in the jungle but in his own shed which a landslide had buried. Not long ago he was dug out and mended. His own railway has been pulled up, so he is now at the Thin Controller's.
Once upon a time, there were three little engines who lived on their own little railway named Duke, Stuart and Falcon. Duke was the oldest engine and was named after the Duke of Sodor, which he was very proud of. Stuart and Falcon enjoyed teasing him, but after being lectured about the downfall of "No. 2", they become "unusually good for several days". Together, the three engines work happily for many years.
However, hard times come. The mines close one by one, and the railway is closed too. Stuart and Falcon were both bought, but nobody wanted Duke, for they thought him too old. Duke is oiled and sheeted by his crew, and is locked away in the engine shed. He wonders if His Grace will come back to save him, but is unaware that the Duke was killed many years ago during the war. Duke decides to go to sleep to pass the time, and his shed is buried by a landslide.
Stuart and Falcon have been preserved, and now live on the Thin Controller's Railway as Peter Sam and Sir Handel respectively. They were excited to hear that the Duke was coming to their railway for Skarloey and Rheneas' 100th birthday, but were disappointed to find out that the Duke who had showed up was a man.
Peter Sam insists that the "Duke" who came to Skarloey and Rheneas' birthday was not the real Duke. Duncan scoffs at this and reminds Peter Sam what Duck had said, but Skarloey wisely points out that Duck does not know everything and asks Peter Sam and Sir Handel about Duke.
Long ago, when Sir Handel (Falcon) was new to the railway, the Manager was pleased with him, and allowed him to double-head the "Picnic" train with Duke, much to Falcon's chagrin. When the time comes to pull the train, Duke warns Falcon to attend to the track, but Falcon does not listen, believing Duke to be an "old fusspot".
As the engines make their way through the tunnel, Falcon derails on the Mountain Road and hangs dangerously over the edge. Duke manages to hold on, but is running low on water. His crew and the passengers work quickly to refill him from a nearby cottage, and Duke manages to hold on long enough for the breakdown gang to arrive. When the station reaches the top station, Falcon apologizes to Duke and thanks him for saving his life.
You Can't Win!
Duke enjoys pulling the "Picnic" train and seeing all his friends, but one day, he is feeling poorly. Stuart teases him and tells Duke that he is becoming too old, and he and Falcon would have to keep him in order. Duke scoffs at him and puffs away.
That evening, Duke is enjoying himself immensely, and all seems to be going well. However, he begins to lose steam, and he is forced to come a stop at a station. Falcon and Stuart arrive to rescue him, and while Falcon takes the Boat Train to the Harbour, Stuart takes Duke back to the sheds with Falcon's train. Stuart is delighted by this, and chortles to himself along the way.
However, Duke is still full of energy, and as the train makes its way up the hill, he uses the last of his strength to push Stuart and the train along the line. When the train reaches the station, a boy on the platform asks his father why there are two engines on the train, to which he tells him that Stuart had broken down and Duke had come to rescue him. Stuart is so annoyed that he wheeshes a large cloud of steam, as Duke chuckles and tells him that he can't win.
Word of Duke's story soon reaches the Small Controller and the two Clergyman, and the three gather around and begin looking at maps of the old railway. They tell the small engines that they want their help to find Duke and make him happy again, and promise to include them in the Thin Clergyman's new book if they are on their best behavior. The small engines happily agree to help them.
Every day, the three go up the line on Bert's train and search throughout the land for Duke, but are unsuccessful in finding him. Their journey comes to an end, however, when the Fat Clergyman falls through the roof of the engine shed and lands on top of Duke. Duke is surprised to see the men, but is happy to know that he is being rescued, and is further pleased to know that His Grace will be seeing him, and that Falcon and Stuart remembered him.
When Duke is removed to the shed, he is taken down to Arlesburgh by a lorry, where Donald is waiting for him with a flatbed. Lots of people gather around to see Duke being lifted onto the flatbed, and Donald takes him to Crovan's Gate. When Duke arrives, Peter Sam and Sir Handel greet him and teasingly tell him that they can now keep him in order. Duke plays along with them and sends him off, and happily falls asleep in the sunshine.
- Sir Handel/Falcon
- Peter Sam/Stuart
- Stanley (not named)
- The Small Controller
- The Thin Clergyman
- The Fat Clergyman
- The Mid Sodor Railway Manager
Does not speak
- Mid Sodor Railway
- Skarloey Railway
- Arlesdale Railway
- Ulfstead (map only)
Goofs & Continuity Errors
- In the third illustration, Duke's face is tilted sideways.
- Stanley appears, as an engine, inside the sheds in the second illustration, but it was stated in the previous story that he was turned into a pumping engine prior to Falcon's arrival and Falcon did not know who he was, thus creating a continuity error.
- In the third illustration, Duke is missing the Mid Sodor Railway's crest on his tender.
- Falcon gains a headlamp in the fifth illustration, despite not having one previously.
You Can't Win!
- With the exception of the last illustration, Duke's footplate is straight throughout the story.
- The text says that Duke "puffed and roared as though the whole train's weight was on his buffers". However, Duke does not have any buffers.
- In the first illustration, Ulfstead is misspelled as "Ulfsted".