In the late 1970s, Jerry Jacobson bought and sold a couple of small steam locomotives, but had never tried to restore one to operating condition. He came across a standard Baldwin 0-6-0 tender engine that had been the plant switcher for the Jackson Iron and Steel Co. (JISCO), in Jackson, Ohio, around 1978, where it had been stored indoors since the mid-1960s.
Because the engine had been stored indoors, it was in good shape and did not need an extraordinary effort to make it operable. It was like finding the proverbial Model-T in a barn.
The plant had failed under the original ownership, was revived under a new group of investors, who added new equipment and tried to make a go of it, but they also failed. By 1978 the plant was idle and the owners were willing to sell No. 3 to Jerry.
Jerry was allowed to restore the engine to operating condition at the plant, using the building it was stored in to do the work. He brought in professional steam mechanic Gary Bensman to lead the mix of paid and volunteer help that worked off and on for more than two years to get it to the point you see in the photo.
Gary was also chief mechanical officer for the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society at the time, working outdoors on the first restoration of Nickel Plate Road No. 765 and working on No. 3 as time permitted. The 765 restoration was largely completed in the Fall of 1979 and Gary was able to devote a lot more time to going to Jackson for this project.
The bulk of the work was done during 1980. I spent several days down there that year, after graduating from the University of Akron, mostly doing whatever unskilled dirty-work needed to be done. This included needle-scaling the firebox and scraping rust off the inside of the tender. We were all a lot thinner then.
During this time Dave Corbett from Parkersburg, West Virginia, a long-time friend of Jerry and by this time an engineer for the Chessie System, bought his first passenger car, ex-Denver & Rio Grande Western Pullman-built lounge car Eagle Canon. This car had been built originally for Chesapeake & Ohio subsidiary Pere Marquette. The Spanish accent mark over the middle “n” was not included, which makes the pronunciation of the word KAN-yun.
He moved the car to Jackson to work on it there as well. By the time Jerry got No. 3 operable, it had been joined by Chicago Burlington & Quincy Mike No. 4960, which was being restored to operate at a short-lived tourist line in southwest Virginia, before going west and ending up at the Grand Canyon Railway.
This made Jackson, Ohio, an unlikely Mecca for railroad restoration projects. One of the other mainstays of Jerry’s volunteer crew was Bill Goslin, who Jerry had met working at Steamtown in Vermont, when Jerry visited there in the early 1970s. Bill later went to work for Jerry on the Ohio Central and today still works for the Genesee & Wyoming. I brought Jim Bacon down to Jackson a couple of times to help in the latter months of the work. Jim was a former Akron Railroad Club member, a12-inch gauge live steamer enthusiasts, and later a primary volunteer for the Friends of the East Broad Top. At the time, Jim lived in Cortland.
The photo that accompanies this article was taken on March 1, 1981, the day that No. 3 was fired up and operated for the first time since the mid-1960s. I’ve identified as many of the people in it who I can remember, which leaves several unacknowledged. So, if anyone recognizes himself or anyone else there, please pass that information along.
We ran No. 3 around the plant tracks for several hours that day. Further work was done on the engine from what was found out from that day and Jerry operated it a few more times on the plant grounds between then and in late 1982. At that point, the plant was being demolished, the connection to the outside world via the Detroit, Toledo &Ironton was going to be lost and Jerry arranged to move the engine to Bellevue, to store it at the Mad River and NKP Museum. That move was made in the Spring of 1983, and Jerry operated the engine there on a short piece of track along the Norfolk Southern Toledo line a few times in 1983 and1984.
When Jerry was researching the history of the locomotive, he discovered that it was originally built as a stock engine by Baldwin and served as the plant switcher at Eddystone for a number of years before being sold to JISCO. Because of the engine’s history, Jerry was able to trade the operable No. 3 to the now National Park Service-owned Steamtown in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the mid-1980s for inoperable ex-Canadian National 10 wheeler No. 1551, which became the first excursion engine used on the Ohio Central.
No. 3 then became the shunting/short ride engine for Steamtown as BLW No. 26, where it is currently undergoing its first major overhaul since it was at JISCO.