AOS to Acquire ex-B&LE Steam Locomotive

B&LE No. 643 has been sitting in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, for several years awaiting restoration or a new home. (Photo courtesy of Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum)

The only surviving Bessemer & Lake Erie 2-10-4 Texas-type steam locomotive has been acquired by the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

AOS announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement to acquire B&LE No. 643, which for the past several years has been sitting in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania.

In a news release, AOS thanked Glenn Campbell and the Steel City Railway Historical Society for agreeing to allow the locomotive to join the AOS collection of 21 other steam engines.

The later Jerry Jacobson, who founded AOS, had long dreamed of some day owning No. 643.

During its active service life the 643 was a heavy-haul steam locomotive designed to move iron ore, coal, and other high-density commodities to and from Lake Erie.

It was built in 1944 but retired in 1952 as the B&LE phased out steam motive power in favor of diesels.

The 643 and two other smaller steamers were preserved by the B&LE in a roundhouse in Greenville, Pennsylvania.

Nicknamed “The King,” the 643 is believed to be one of the largest non-articulated steam locomotives in the world.

It is slightly more than 108 feet in length, more than 16 feet tall and weighs 308.32 tons without coal and water.

With 26 tons of coal and 23,000 gallons of water the 643 would weigh 908,720 pounds, which is more than 454 tons.

AOS said future announcements about moving the 643 to Sugarcreek will be made on its website at

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One Response to “AOS to Acquire ex-B&LE Steam Locomotive”

  1. pwwoodring Says:

    Only surviving B&LE 2-10-4. There are at least a couple of other “Texas” type locomotives still in existence, including Texas & Pacific #610, which hauled the American Freedom Train in Texas for the Bicentennial, and later was briefly part of the Southern Ry. excursion program. It did reach Cincinnati once for an excursion on the “Rathole”.

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