Posts Tagged ‘steam locomotives’

Pere Marquette 1225 to Pull March 14 Trip

February 26, 2015

Pere Marquette No. 1225 will pull a one-day excursion from Owosso to Clare, Mich., and return on March 14 to take passengers to the Clare Irish Fetival.

Coach tickets are $124 per person with limited caboose seating tickets priced at $149.

The train will depart from Owosso at 9 a.m. and arrive in Clare at 11:30 a.m.

There will be a three hour layover with the return trip slated to leave at 2:30 p.m. Arrival back in Owosso is around 6 p.m.

Times are subject to change. There will be at least one photo runby during the trip. For more information or to buy tickets go to

Steamer Returning to its West Virginia Roots

February 21, 2015

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad will acquire Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0 No. 4, a 1926 Baldwin-built steam locomotive with deep West Virginia roots.

The locomotive is now owned by the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The locomotive will move this spring to the D&B shop in Cass, W.Va., at the Cass Scenic Railroad

The D&B will then perform boiler work and other repairs

The railroad hopes to complete the restoration in time for the locomotive’s 90th birthday in 2016.

No. 4 will be given an appearance to approximate what it looked like in the early 1960s when it was one of the last steam locomotives in regular service in the U.S.

A saturated steam locomotive, it often showed signs of leakage on its smokebox front, thus earning it the nickname “Old Slobberface.”

“We are looking forward to returning this historic West Virginia steam locomotive to service not far from where she once operated. We are truly thankful to the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation for entrusting us to carry on the legacy of the Buffalo Creek and Gauley No. 4 steam locomotive,” said Durbin & Greenbrier Valley President John Smith.

“We know it’s been the dream of many who have contributed to the preservation of this engine over the years to see it under a full head of steam and on the tracks again. The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is proud to be a part of making this happen.”

No. 4 was built in Philadelphia by Baldwin Locomotive Works for use in Mexico.

However, it was sold to the Buffalo Creek & Gauley in Clay County, W.Va., where it became one of the most photographed steam locomotives in the East. It last ran in West Virginia in 1965.

The locomotive was sold to the Pennsylvania-based Quakertown & Eastern excursion operation in 1967; the Southwest Virginia Scenic Railroad in Hiltons, Va., in 1972; and the nonprofit support organization for the North Carolina Transportation Museum in 1978.

It was restored in 1986 and lettered and numbered as a replica of Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 604, which had been based at Spencer.

The locomotive pulled the museum’s own 3-mile train ride for years. It last operated in November 2001 and was partially restored in the 2000s before other priorities at the museum resulted in the restoration being stopped.

No. 4 was the first piece of rolling stock that a group of Southern Railway retirees restored at Spencer in 1986, a move that is regarded as the turning point for the North Carolina museum that is the home to the largest preserved roundhouse in the nation.



Way Cleared for L&N Steamer to Return to Ky.

February 20, 2015

Georgia officials have signed off on transferring ownership of a former Louisville & Nashville steam locomotive, thus paving the way for moving it to a Kentucky railroad museum.

The Bainbridge, Ga., city council agreed to allow the city of Corbin, Ky., to take ownership of C-1 class 0-8-0 No. 2132 in exchange for $5,000 in cash.

The deal also includes former L&N caboose No. 30, built at South Louisville in 1964 as number 1056.

The steam locomotive and caboose will be moved to Kentucky via CSX and R.J. Corman Railroad Group.

The engine will be repainted and lettered to appear as it did when it served the L&N service. The museum will seek to make the locomotive look as authentic as possible.

Expected to oversee the movement and restoration of the locomotive will be Steve Lee of Wasatch Railroad Contractors. Lee is a former manager of the Union Pacific steam program.

“The fact L&N 2132 exists at all is a minor miracle, but getting her back home to Kentucky—to be cosmetically restored and displayed adjacent to a major former L&N terminal—is extraordinary,” said Sid Johnson, president of the L&N Historical Society.

No. 2132 was built by the L&N at its South Louisville Shops in 1922, one of 400 steam locomotives built there.

“The L&N was one of the few railroads in the United States to build entirely new steam locomotives on a large production scale,” Johnson said.

There are only three former L&N steam locomotives still in existence.

Rogers-built K2A 4-6-2 Pacific No. 152 is part of the collection of the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven.

A second 0-8-0, L&N No. 2152, is also in the museum’s collection.No. 2152 is a slightly larger C-2 class 0-8-0 built by Alco’s Richmond, Va., works.

The last regular use of steam on the L&N was on Nov. 3, 1956, when M-1 class “Big Emma” 2-8-4 No. 1950 handled a coal train from Ravenna to DeCoursey, Ky.

However, a single J-4 2-8-2 Mikado, No. 1882, was still leased to the Carrolton Railroad.

When the L&N finally had an extra diesel switcher to replace No. 1882, it was swapped out for the Mikado at Worthville, Ky., on Jan. 28, 1957.

No. 1882 then pulled local freight No. 86 to DeCoursey, which was the last time an L&N steam locomotive ran in actual service. After that, every remaining locomotive was scrapped.



Stranded B&LE Steamer May Find New Home

February 13, 2015

A landlocked Bessemer & Lake Erie steam locomotive may find a new home about 20 miles away from where it sits today in McKees Rocks, Pa.

The 2-10-4 No. 643, which has long languished in outdoor storage, may be moved and put on display in Tarentum, Pa.

That city recently received a $500,000 Federal Community Development Block Grant and plans to spend $250,000 to build a pavilion to house No. 643. Borough Manager Bill Rossey told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the locomotive has been offered to the borough at no cost as a tourist attraction.

“There is an antique steam engine sitting in McKees Rocks that we are trying to get up here and put it on display,” he said. “It’s been restored, and we want to keep it nice. It’s privately owned and the guys who own it approached me.”

The prospective donors were not named in the newspaper article.

“In talking to them, it sounds to me like they have about $1 million in this engine. They don’t have any other place to put it,” Rossey said. The 643 would be displayed along Fifth Avenue. Built by Baldwin 1943, No. 643 was stored in the B&LE roundhouse in Greenville, the last remaining 2-10-4 from a fleet of 47.

In 1983, the locomotive was sold to Pittsburgh rail enthusiast Glen Campbell. He restored and test fired the locomotive in the late 1980s but it never pulled any excursions.

It has been stored outdoors at the AGF Warehouse in an industrial area of McKees Rocks for several years. The locomotive will need to be moved by truck because the track on which it rests is no longer connected to the nearby CSX mainline.

L&N Steamer to Move to Corbin Museum

February 6, 2015

A Louisville & Nashville steam locomotive is expected to be added to the displays at a railroad museum in Corbin, Ky.

The city council of Bainbridge, Ga., has agreed in principle to negotiate the transfer of ownership of L&N C-1 class 0-8-0 No. 2132 to Corbin.

The locomotive is one of three ex-L&N steam locomotives still in existence and the only survivor of about 400 steam locomotives built at South Louisville (Ky.) Shops between 1905 and 1923.

The deal would also include an L&N steel caboose. No. 30 is a bay window caboose built at South Louisville in 1964.

No. 2132 spent most of its service life working in DeCoursey Yard, south of Cincinnati. It also worked in Corbin, where four divisions of the L&N converged.

Rather than go to scrap, No. 2132 was sold to Gulf Power Co. at Sneeds, Fla., on June 27, 1951, for $6,184, including delivery.

The utility company used the locomotive to move construction materials between the L&N main line just east of Sneeds to Scholz Power Plant.

The mayor of Bainbridge, located 25 miles northeast of Sneeds, wanted to add “an old steam engine” to the city’s park and acquired the 2132 in 1980.

Bainbridge was served by the Atlantic Coast Line and a branch of the Seaboard Air Line.

The Louisville & Nashville Historical Society played a role in providing technical support to Corbin and Bainbridge during these negotiations.

On Photography: How, Why I Cropped the Image

February 2, 2015




Craig asked me for some tips on scanning and post-scanning treatments of photographs.

I’m far from an expert, but perhaps I can take an image and explain ways to change or possibly improve on the original.

Every once-in-a-while I’ll try to do that. It might be a week or two but who knows?

In the top image, it is late October 1977 and the morning Cuyahoga Valley Line southbound train has come into Akron.

If you look closely you will see that it is passing beneath the old viaduct that was torn down when they built Akron’s Y bridge.

One problem with this image is the blue flag used to keep the track from being used or a car moved.

It spoils the image by grabbing the viewer’s attention. While it could be “cloned” out of the image in Photoshop Elements 11 (as I have done), that takes a very careful hand and time.

Why not try cropping the image? Yes, I made some other changes but this is about cropping something out of an image.

The middle image has a tighter horizontal crop. Yes, the hopper is missing, but the historic viaduct is also emphasized.

In the bottom image, I posed to myself the question of why not take the same image and crop it as a square.

In that image the 4070 and its smoke plume are emphasized. Although it is not quite as sharp as the preceding image, it is still acceptable.

What did I learn? Since the original image is static, I can’t walk to another spot and remove the distraction, but I can crop the image to remove the distraction or make the focus on something entirely different.

My ways aren’t necessarily the best. They are examples of what can be done.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas



Pere Marquette 1225 to Pull March Trip

January 27, 2015

Railyard Productions will sponsor a March 14 excursion behind Pere Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1225.

The steam excursion will operate between Owosso and Clare, Mich., and take passengers to the Clare Irish Festival.

Tickets are $124 per person. Limited seating in a caboose is $149 per person. At least one photo run-by will be held.

The train is scheduled to depart from the Steam Railroading Institute facility in Owosso at 9 a.m. The expected arrival time in Clare is 11:30 a.m.

After a three-hour layover, the train will return to Owosso with an expected departure time of 2:30 p.m. and a 6 p.m. arrival.

For more information, go to

N&W 611 Restoration Work On Schedule

January 21, 2015

The Fireup611! committee says that restoration of Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 is on track for completion in late spring.

The steamer is being restored to operating condition at the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

Chairman Preston Claytor said that a new rear flue sheet has been installed, all the flues are installed, and the known boiler work is complete.

Hydrostatic testing will begin soon to determine if the boiler can hold 25 percent greater than the working pressure of 300 pounds with water temperature being between 70 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

The locomotive’s tender is in the process of getting a new coat of paint.



When the Nickel Plate Road 587 Made its Debut

January 5, 2015
Nickel Plate Road No. 587 pulls its first public excursion train after being restored. The train originated in Indianapolis and traveled via Conrail to Logansport, Ind., and back.

Nickel Plate Road No. 587 pulls its first public excursion train after being restored. The train originated in Indianapolis and traveled via Conrail to Logansport, Ind., and back.

Where were you on the morning of Sept. 17, 1988? If you were a fan of mainline steam locomotives you probably were wishing you could figure out how to be in three places on the same day.

In Ohio, Norfolk & Western No. 611 was pulling a roundtrip between Columbus and Portsmouth. The Nickel Plate Road No. 765 was pulling a one-way ferry move from Bellevue to Brewster.

And over in Indiana the latest mainline steam locomotive to join the list of steamers was making its maiden run after being restored to operating condition.

I was a graduate student at the time at Indiana University. I had found out about the Nickel Plate Road 587 making its first public excursion from Indianapolis to Logansport, Ind., and return and had purchased a ticket to ride.

Sure, I was thrilled to be part of a “first,” but I was also happy to be able to get some new miles over routes that Amtrak’s Floridian had once used and over which I’d never ridden.

The 587 is a 2-8-2 USRA light steam locomotive built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in September 1918 for the Lake Erie & Western. It carried roster number 5541 and was renumbered 587 in 1924 after the Nickel Plate acquired the LE&W.

Retired in March 1955, the 587 was placed on static display in Broad Ripple Park in Indianapolis where it sat until 1983 when it was displaced by a library expansion program.

With the locomotive needing a new home, a group known as “Friends of 587” determined that the steamer could be restored and moved it by truck to Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops for the restoration work.

By fall 1988, the 587 was ready to stretch its legs on a mainline journey after a satisfactory test run on the Indiana Rail Road south of Indianapolis.

Conrail agreed to allow the train to pull a public excursion over a former Pennsylvania Railroad routing between Indy and Logansport.

I use the term “mainline” loosely because the tracks over which the 587 and its train would travel were a secondary line, although not in poor condition.

The Indiana Transportation Museum, which would later acquire ownership of the 587, provided a train of mostly former Santa Fe coaches.

The train boarded at Hanna Avenue in Indianapolis on the Louisville line and made its way north to the Indianapolis Union Railway tracks at IU interlocking, rounding the curve toward Indianapolis Union Station just as the Pennsy’s South Wind and Kentuckian once did.

However, the train ran on the bypass tracks south of the train shed as did Conrail freight trains and as CSX trains do today.

We then followed the route of Amtrak’s Hoosier State and Cardinal westward on the former PRR St. Louis Line to the site of the former Davis Tower where Chicago-bound Pennsy passenger trains made a right turn. The former St. Louis line west of here is abandoned.

Amtrak trains make a left turn off the ex-Pennsylvania at CP Clermont to get onto a former New York Central route, the Peoria & Eastern, but we kept going straight.

Our route took us through Lebanon and Frankfort. At Van Tower in Logansport we went around the wye and backed into town on the former Pan Handle tracks, crossing the Eel River before coming to a stop just east of South Third Street.

I disembarked and took a few photographs and watched the crew service the train. Here are a few of those photos, all of which have been scanned from color negatives.

The journey to and from Logansport was made without incident. The train was no speedster but wasn’t crawling along either.

I don’t recall how close we were to the published schedule, but we probably were not too far off.

I rode behind the 587 twice more before moving away from Indiana in 1991. One trip was a one-way journey in April 1989 from Indianapolis to Bloomington over the INRD and the other was a June 1991 journey over the former LE&W between Frankfort and Muncie.

I would then have one more encounter with the 587, riding an excursion from Indianapolis to Worthington, Ind., and return over another former Pennsy secondary line.

I have not seen the 587 since then and online reports indicate that it is landlocked at the ITM where it continues to undergo another rebuilding.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The service stop at Logansport enabled passengers to get out and get a good look at the locomotive.

The service stop at Logansport enabled passengers to get out and get a good look at the locomotive.

There is always work to do with a steam locomotive. The crew attends to the NKP 587 in Logansport.

There is always work to do with a steam locomotive. The crew attends to the NKP 587 in Logansport.

Note the boy at left watching the crew service the NKP 587. Is he a steam fan today because he was here on this day?

Note the boy at left watching the crew service the NKP 587. Is he a steam fan today because he was here on this day?

The excursion train sits idle in Logansport during the service stop.

The excursion train sits idle in Logansport during the service stop.

I didn't take notes to accompany my photos, but judging by the tired looks on the faces of some of these passengers I'm guessing that this photo was taken during the return trip.

I didn’t take notes to accompany my photos, but judging by the tired looks on the faces of some of these passengers I’m guessing that this photo was taken during the return trip.

Steamtown May Have Operating Steamer in 2015

December 6, 2014

Steamtown this week fired up a steam locomotive and plans to offer steam-powered excursions next year.

A steam locomotive has not been operational at Steamtown National Historic Site in Pennsylvania for the past two years.

Baldwin Locomotive Works 0-6-0 No. 26 was fired up on Dec. 2. A test revealed a few condensation issues, but otherwise the engine steamed flawlessly the following day.

The locomotive was built by Baldwin in 1926 and was used as a shop switcher there and for the Jackson Iron & Steel Co. No. 26 has been on the Steamtown roster since January 1990.

“The staff at Steamtown National Historic Site are excited that the Baldwin No. 26 is nearing completion,” Steamtown Superintendent Deborah Conway told Trains magazine. “The engine is back in the shop for final assembly and adjustments, painting and finishing work. We look forward to having the engine operating next summer on our yard shuttles.”

The last operating steam locomotive at Steamtown was Canadian National 2-8-2 No. 3254, which operated in 2012 until being taken out of service for its 15-year overhaul.

For more information about Steamtown National Historic Site, go to


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