One Afternoon in Sugarcreek

The Ohio Central began running its steam-powered Sugarcreek-Baltic tourist train behind former Canadian National 4-6-0 No. 1551 in 1989.

Although I moved to Northeast Ohio in August 1993, it would more than four years before I ventured to Sugarcreek to see that tourist train in action.

However, my first encounter with the 1551 had occurred two years earlier when I rode behind it on an Orrville Railroad Heritage Society excursion that originated in Beech City and ran to Coschocton. A diesel pulled the return trip.

What would turn out to be the last time that I saw the 1551 in steam would be on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon on Sept. 27, 1997.

I’m not sure how I learned about it, but the Ohio Central had two working steam locomotives in town that day.

The 1551 would be pulling the regularly-scheduled tourist train to Baltic and back. But also in town was the newest edition to the Ohio Central roundhouse, former Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 No. 1293.

OC owner Jerry Jacobson had acquired No. 1293 in 1996 from Steamtown and restored it to operating condition. It debuted in fall 1997 and would eventually take over the duties of pulling the Sugarcreek-Baltic tourist train.

My memory is a little hazy as to why the 1293 was in Sugarcreek on this day, but it probably had something to do with pulling an excursion train.

In the photograph above, the 1293 is idling on the siding as the 1551 prepares to depart for Baltic.

What is crystal clear in my memory was how I was thinking that on this day this was one of the few places in America that featured two operating steam locomotives. This remains one of my favorite Ohio Central steam memories.

Given that the Ohio Central steam program is a thing of the past, that makes those memories all the more special.

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