Posts Tagged ‘steam locomotives’

Yes, Mr. McCaleb Would Have Approved

May 24, 2015


Jim Semon’s presentation last Friday night of Willis McCaleb’s color slides of mainly Nickel Plate Road steam is on my list of the top five programs that I’ve seen at the Akron Railroad Club.

Obviously, Mr. McCaleb’s technical quality was exceptional, but his depth of detail in capturing a scene instead of just a train photo made him one of the masters of railfan photography.

How thankful those of us who saw the program can be not only for Mr. McCaleb’s slides but Jim’s interesting narrative.

As for me, capturing a scene was a rare event. I wanted a “train” photo. Still, once in a while, I was blessed with a photo that not only captured an event but a slice of history.

I was looking for a photo to put online and went to a box of black and white negatives.

I had no idea what I’d choose but found this. It is Sept. 8, 1968, and NKP 759 is heading east over the ex-NKP trestle in Conneaut.

NKP 759 is running its first excursion after being restored in Conneaut.

Steam-starved people of all ages from die-hard railfans to families with their children seeing the beauty of a live steam locomotive for the first time lined the tracks.

Down in the valley, the field was dotted with people, cars and cameras. Perhaps Mr. McCaleb would have approved of this image. I like to think so.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

N&W 611 to Make Test Run in North Carolina

May 21, 2015

In preparation for a test run today, Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 ran under its own power on Wednesday into the roundhouse of the Spencer, North Carolina, Shops.

The Class J locomotive is to pull a train of eight cars over Norfolk Southern tracks on an 88-mile round-trip jaunt to Greensboro, North Carolina.

The 611 eased its way into the Bob Julian Roundhouse late Wednesday afternoon so that workers could take a look at its running gear from the inspection pit.

The roundhouse was built in 1924 by the Southern Railway and is now owned by the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

It is thought that the 611 is the largest steam locomotive ever to sit in the roundhouse. The largest Southern locomotives that would have used it were a 2-10-2 or a 4-8-2 during the railroad’s steam service era and Texas & Pacific 2-10-4 No. 610 during the excursion era of the 1970s.

Other chores executed by 611 crew members on Wednesday included adjusting the power reverse, touching up a scratch on the bullet nose, and painting slip marks on the driver tires as a way of checking for slippage of the tires while the engine is running.

On Saturday, the museum will host an all-day 611 send-off party. The 611 will leave on May 30 to return home to Roanoke, Virginia.

BC&G No. 4 on its Way Back to West Virginia

May 21, 2015

As one steam locomotive prepares to leave the North Carolina Transportation Museum to go home to Virginia, another is already on the road, albeit by highway, back to West Virginia.

Buffalo Creek & Gauley No. 4 hit the road with a convoy of four tractor-trailers en route to the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad.

The Baldwin-built steamer spent most of its working career in the Mountain State. It last ran in 2001 and has been at the North Carolina museum for several years.

The D&G plans to restore No. 4 to operating condition at the Cass Scenic Railroad and begin operating it in 2016.

The return home began when a crane hoisted the boiler, running gear, flues, cab and miscellaneous parts of the locomotive onto flat-bed trucks.

No. 4 entered tourist train and excursion service after the BC&G halted operations in 1965.

It worked for the Quakertown & Eastern tourist railroad in Pennsylvania and the Southwest Virginia Scenic in Hiltons, Virginia, and the North Carolina museum.

Up Close and Personal With the Reading 2100

May 18, 2015
Made in Reading, Meet made in LaGrange. Two distinctive forms of motive power go nose by nose at Rockport Yard in Cleveland.

Made in Reading, Meet made in LaGrange. Two distinctive forms of motive power go nose by nose at Rockport Yard in Cleveland.

Reading No. 2100 arrived in Cleveland on Saturday afternoon en route to the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse that is now operated by the Midwest Railway Preservation Society.

The T-1 class steam locomotive made the trip via BNSF and Norfolk Southern on a flatcar from its former home in Washington State. The American Steam Railroad Preservation Association is leading the efforts to restore the 2100 in Cleveland to operating condition.

That means transforming it from being an oil burner into a coal burner again. To pull off the job, the group needs to raise $700,000. It has established a website to solicit donations and provide news about the restoration of the 2100.

No. 2100 was among a class of 30 Northern locomotives churned out by the Reading shops in Reading, Pennsylvania, between 1945 and 1947.

Carrying road numbers 2100-2129, the 4-8-4 locomotives were a hybrid built from salvaged parts of the railroad’s I-10a Consolidations (road numbers 20-20-2049) and new parts supplied by Baldwin and other contractors.

No. 2100 thus began life as I-10a No. 2020, a 2-8-0 built by Baldwin in 1936.

The T-1 locomotive was designed for fast freight service, but the final 10 of the class were equipped to haul passenger trains. This was largely limited to troop train duty.

All of the T-1 locomotives served in freight service and in their later years of revenue service the T-1s were pulling coal trains as diesels infiltrated the Reading motive power rosters.

No. 2100 was one of three T-1 locomotives that Reading assigned to its Iron Horse Rambles, a.k.a., Reading Rambles, between 1959 and 1964.

The Ramble was not a new program. The Reading began the Rambles in 1936, typically operating as excursion trains taking passengers out on mainlines and branch lines to see the fall foliage.

Running steadily until World War II, the Rambles resumed after the war and became diesel powered in the 1950s. However, the trips became less frequent and seemed to have faded away until the Reading announced their return as steam-powered trips to be known as the Iron Horse Ramble.

The first of these operated on Oct. 25, 1959, behind T-1 No. 2124, which pulled 16 cars from Wayne Junction to Shamokin. The Rambles continued to be a fixture on the Reading with No. 2124 joined by No. 2100 and No. 2102 also sharing the duties of pulling the trains.

Citing high locomotive repair expenses and deteriorating track conditions, the Reading said that the 50th Ramble on Oct. 17, 1964, would be the last.

Including the 2100, four Reading T-1 locomotives survive today. A year after the last Iron Horse Ramble took a ride on the Reading, No. 2100 was sold to a Baltimore scrap dealer along with the 2101 and 2102.

But the 2100 was not scrapped and 10 years later steam impresario Ross Rowland Jr. purchased the 2100 in order to obtain parts for the rebuilding of T-1 No. 2101, which went on to pull the American Freedom Train.

The 2100 sat in Hagerstown, Maryland, between 1975 and 1987 before it was restored by a group known as 2100 Corporation whose leaders included Rowland, Bill Benson and Richard Kughn.

The group spent more than a million dollars to overhaul the 2100 but no railroad would agree to allow it operate on its tracks, although it did make some break-in runs on the Winchester & Western.

Over the next several years, the 2100 would embark on a long, strange odyssey that brought it to Ohio.

The journey began with a trip to the Wheeling & Lake Erie’s Rook Yard in Pittsburgh that eventually led the 2100 traveling to the railroad’s shops in Brewster.

The 2100 Corporation donated the 2100 to the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority, which had plans to operate the steamer. But those didn’t pan out and the 2100 wound up on the Ohio Central in Coshocton where it was stored until 1998.

On Jan. 16, 1998, Tom Payne of RailLink Ltd. in Edmonton, Alberta, purchased the 2100 at an auction from PORTA. The locomotive made some test runs under steam on the Ohio Central in May 1998.

Payne moved the 2100 to a former Michigan Central shops in St. Thomas, Ontario. Now part of the Elgin County Railway Museum, the shops transformed the 2100 into an oil burner.

During that restoration the “Reading” name on the tender was removed in favor of the name “Ferroequus.”

He also purchased an auxiliary tender and 12 passenger cars with the idea of offering excursion train service.

Then he made a disturbing discovery. There was no suitable tracks in St. Thomas over which to operate a heavy steam locomotive in excursion service.

In June 2005 the 2100 was sold to the Golden Pacific Railroad in Tacoma, Washington., traveling there atop a flat car.

In Washington, the 2100 was steamed up and able to pull trips over former Milwaukee Road tracks between Tacoma and Frederickson.

Accompanying the 2100 on those trips was a former Amtrak F40PH. The train, which consisted of three bi-level commuter coaches formerly operated in Chicago by Metra, operated in push-pull fashion with the F40 serving as a cab car.

Tickets for the trips were $50, which included a catered lunch in Frederickson. The high cost of tickets was blamed in part for the failure of the service to make money and the last trip ran in 2006.

The next year the Spirit of Washington dinner train used the 2100 over the same route, but this service was short-lived, lasting just a few months. However, the dinner train united the 2100 with a remnant of the Reading Crusader, an observation car.

The 2100 was moved to Richland, Washington, for storage where it sat until it began moving eastward for Cleveland last month.

The Fireup 2100 group Tweeted on Saturday that the 2100 is expected to remain at Rockport Yard until Tuesday or Wednesday when NS is expected to move the steamer and its entourage to Campbell Road Yard and then the ex-B&O roundhouse at West Third Street.

Roger Durfee visited the 2100 this past weekend and sent along these images of it. Note that in the eighth photograph down an American Airlines jet is landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Roger’s detailed images show a locomotive that has acquired some rust, but otherwise looks like with a little TCL it could be brought back to life.

Will it be? It is going to a while and will hinge on a number of factors beyond the control of any one person or organization.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photography by Roger Durfee














Reading 2100 Makes it to Cleveland

May 17, 2015

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I got a call Saturday morning that the Reading 4-8-4 No. 2100 was on Norfolk Southern train 364 between Bellevue and Rockport yard.  I hurried over to Olmsted Falls where I caught the move.

I then went to Rockport and got some more photos.  NS then tied the move down in the yard, although it is visible from nearby Interstate 480.

The 2100 is going to the roundhouse at West 3rd Street in Cleveland for restoration and conversion back to a coal burner. It had previously been converted to burn oil.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

N&W 2156 Moves Briskly Through Indiana, Ohio

May 12, 2015

Norfolk & Western steamer 2156 passed through Ohio Sunday night and Monday morning before leaving the state in mid afternoon on Monday. The locomotive was not in steam.

The 2-8-8-2 Y6a began a ferry move late Saturday morning at the Museum of Transportation west of St. Louis along the former Missouri Pacific (now owned by Union Pacific).

It took much of the afternoon to move the 2156 and its train through the St. Louis metropolitan area.

The train, which included a Norfolk Southern diesel locomotive, was picked up at the museum by a Union Pacific local and taken to UP’s 12th Street Yard in St. Louis.

Using the NS diesel, the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis moved the train to Granite City, Illinois.

NS took over moving the 2156 ferry train from there and it traveled through the night via Decatur, Illinois, where it was reported to have passed through at 1:30 a.m.

Daybreak found the 2156 near the Illinois-Indiana border, passing Attica, Indiana, at 9:08 a.m. and Clymers at 11:10 a.m.

After a service stop at Peru, the steam engine, which was being pulled by NS GP40-2 No. 3068, departed at 2:20 p.m.

The ferry movement was restricted to a maximum speed of 25 on NS track. It was reported past Wabash, Indiana, at 2:50 p.m. and Huntington at 3:45 p.m.

Online reports showed the 2156 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at 4:50 p.m., at Leipsic, Ohio, at 7:45 p.m. and at Fostoria at 9:40 p.m.

Traveling the Sandusky District during nighttime hours, the 2156 was reported by Cooke Road in Columbus at 7:12 a.m., Circleville at 8:35 a.m. and Chillicothe at 10:14 a.m. It arrived in Portsmouth Ohio, at about 12:15 p.m. where the ferry train underwent a crew change.

While in Portsmouth, the 2156 was greased and inspected. It departed about 2:30 p.m.

Although not adhering to a schedule, the ferry move has moved steadily since leaving the St. Louis museum.

Railroad officials had said the ferry move to Roanoke might take as much as a week, depending on traffic. The 2156 is en route to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, where it will reside for the next five years.

In Roanoke, the 2156 will join two surviving steam locomotives from N&W’s Big Three – Class A 2-6-6-4 No. 1218 and Class J No. 611.

The ferry train also included auxiliary tender VMTX No. 250001, office car No. 20 (Ohio), tool car No. 1407 and coach NS 44 (Florida).

No. 2156 was built in 1942 in Roanoke and retired in 1959. It is one of two 2-8-8-2s in existence, the other being Y3A No. 2050.

Built by American Locomotive Co. in 1923, the 2050 is on display at the Illinois Railway Museum.

N&W 611 Takes Unplanned Baby Steps

May 12, 2015

Norfolk & Western 611 made its first trip in steam on Saturday, a movement that officials said was unplanned.

The class J 4-8-4 moved under its own power onto the Spencer Shops turntable during a National Train Day celebration at the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

Trains magazine reported that as the 611 moved on its own for the first time in 21 years that the steamer was blowing smoke and the crew was blowing the whistle.

The magazine reported that the 611 crew had added a ton of sand to the dome, tested the engine’s appliances and expression satisfaction with the locomotive’s performance.

The running gear has yet to be painted and the sheet metal cover over its air pumps has not been installed.

Chief Mechanical Officer Scott Lindsay said he drew up a list of minor fixes that need to be made but otherwise there were no major problems with the 611’s performance.

Ahead for the restoration effort lies more testing, a Federal Railroad Administration inspection and a boiler wash.

The 611 is slated to move under its own power later this month in a return to its home at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke.

N&W 611 Excursion Tickets Selling at Brisk Pace

May 8, 2015

Nearly half of the available tickets for excursions to be pulled this summer by restored Norfolk & Western No. 611 have been sold.

“Ticket sales are not only where we expected them to be, but slightly beyond our projections,” says Peg McGuire, the marketing manager of the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Orders have been placed from all over the United States as well as Japan, Italy, Germany and Russia. “Standard coach and deluxe coach have been the fastest selling tickets so far,” McGuire said.

Some classes have sold out already, including standard coach tickets for the Manassas to Front Royal, Va., excursions on June 6 and 7.

Standard coach tickets have also sold out sold out for the weekend excursions operating to Petersburg from Lynchburg, Va., on June 13 and 14.

The excursions being the J-Class 611 will operate in June and July out of the Virginia cities of Manassas, Lynchburg and Roanoke.
For more information, go to

Reading 2100 Spotted in Ohio on Wednesday

May 7, 2015

A steam locomotive en route to Cleveland for restoration was spotted in Bellevue on Wednesday.

Reading No. 2100 is being taken on a flatcar to the roundhouse of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society.

The 4-8-4 is owned by the American Steam Railroad Preservation Association and began its journey in Washington State.

The locomotive may be on display during an open house at the roundhouse, a former Baltimore & Ohio facility, on Saturday during National Train Day. The roundhouse is located at 2800 W. 3rd St.

N&W 2156 to begin Ferry Move to Roanoke

May 4, 2015

Another Norfolk & Western steam locomotive is about to embark on a return journey to Roanoke, Va., but this one will not be under steam.

N&W Y6a No. 2156 is set to begin the trek from St. Louis to Roanoke on Saturday, expecting to arrive in time to mark the arrival of Class J No. 611’s return.

No. 2156 is currently housed at the Museum of Transportation near St. Louis and is being loaned for five years to the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

The expected route of the 2156 is via Union Pacific tracks from the museum site in Missouri to an interchange with Norfolk Southern in St. Louis.

Once on NS rails, the 2156 will go dead-in-town at 25 mph via Decatur, Ill., Fort Wayne, Ind., and Bellevue and Columbus, Ohio.

Railroad officials have said that the dead-head move will not adhere to a schedule and may move at any hour of the day.

The journey may take as much as a week, depending on traffic. Included in the consist will be NS office car No. 20 (Ohio), a newly painted canteen car that will accompany the 611 on excursions this year (VMTX No. 250001) and tool car No. 1407.

In exchange for the 2756, the Missouri museum will receive an FTB diesel unit.

No. 2156, a 2-8-8-2, was built in 1942 in Roanoke and retired in 1959.


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