Thief Steals Parts for C&O 1309

Restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 suffered another setback when thieves stole parts for the 2-6-6-2 locomotive from the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Also taken were parts for passenger cars.

WMSR Executive Director John Garner said he learned of the theft when local salvage yards reported receiving locomotive and passenger car parts.

Police believe the thefts were made by a former shop employee, but no charges have yet been filed.

“These irreplaceable artifacts are property that was entrusted to our care for preservation and for the education and enjoyment of the public,” Garner said in a statement. “Employees with access to the Western Maryland Scenic’s collection of railroad equipment and parts are trusted guardians who must not abuse their positions for personal gain.”

Among the stolen items were rare light fixtures and brass hardware from Western Maryland Railroad office car 204, bronze bearings and wear plates from No. 1309, and miscellaneous locomotive and passenger car parts.

Garner said the person suspected of the theft “had access to a wide array of WMSR’s collection of parts and artifacts,”

He said the tourist railroad will review its security and storage procedures and make changes.

Garner expects criminal charges in connection with the theft to to be filed in West Virginia in the coming days.

As for the restoration of No. 1309, Garner said it continues to move forward as funding becomes available.

A direct mail campaign netted $30,000 that will be used to pay for work to the drivers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that will be performed under the direction of Gary Bensman’s Diversified Rail Services using specialized steam locomotive wheel machines located at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s Soule Shop.

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