There was Much to Anticipate in April 1987

The restore Pennsylvania Railroad K4 steam locomotive chugs along at Milesburg, Pennsylvania, north of Bellfonte on the ex-PRR Bald Eagle branch in central Pennsylvania.

April of 1987 was looking to be a very exciting month. There would be inaugural steam locomotive trips featuring Pennsylvania Railroad 4-6-2 No. 1361 and Norfolk & Western 2-6-6-4 No. 1218.

Pennsy 1361 would make its debut at Altoona, Pennsylvania, and N&W 1218 would be ssteaming out of Roanoke, Virginia.

We chose to chase the 1361 because we knew the 1218 would be up in our area later that summer.

No. 1361 ran on Conrail (the former PRR mainline) from Altoona to Tyrone then up the Nittany & Bald Eagle, a former Pennsy branch, to Bellefonte on April 12, 1987.

The day was complete rain, fog and gloom; however, that did not hinder the first time seeing the K4 live since her days just recently on display at Horseshoe Curve.

I was with the Surdyks on this day along with hundreds if not thousands witnessing this historic restoration having come to fruition.

On April 26, 1987, there was a joint Akron Railroad Club/Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts photo special on the New York & Lake Erie out of Gowanda, New York.

This excursion on former Erie Railroad tracks was set up with the president of the NY&LE, Bob Dingman.

We were fortunate to have the locomotive and a coach used in the filming of the movie Planes Trains and Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy.

You may notice the railroad name Contrack is a takeoff of Conrail and Amtrak.

In the movie Candy plans Del Griffith, a shower curtain ring salesman who winds up traveling  with Martin , who plays marketing executive Neal Page, by train and automobile, after their flight from New York to Chicago is diverted to Wichita, Kansas, during a blizzard.

The NY&LE was also noted for the railroad scenes in The Natural with Robert Redford. Former Grant Trunk Western 2-8-2 No. 4070 was brought from Cleveland to the NY&LE for the early scenes in the movie.

Finally on May16, 1987, Louisville & Nashville 4-6-2 No. 152 was leased by Norfolk Southern for several trips as part of its steam program.

The trip I photographed was ran from L&N 152 from Lexington to Stearns, Kentucky. N&W 611 would then return the train to Lexington.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

No. 1361 passes a Conrail helper set on the Pittsburgh Line at Pinecroft, which is east of Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Doyle McCormick sits in the engineer’s seat of No. 1361 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

ARRC and RRE members ride in a a gondola during their excursion on the New York & Lake Erie. That is the late J. Gary Dillon standing on the porch of the caboose while Marty Surdyk stands at far right wearing a red and white hat.

The excursionists pose at South Dayton, New York, on the Contrack locomotive used in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Louisville & Nashville 152 at Danville, Kentucky.

L&N 152 is putting on a show at Moreland, Kentucky.

Norfolk & Western 611 pulls the excursion train over the Cumberland River at Burnside, Kentucky.

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