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Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/15/19 4:24 p.m.

In reply to Gearheadotaku :

There’s an excursion railroad here in the US that’s using a 1980’s Chinese steam locomotive to pull their trains. 

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/15/19 5:11 p.m.

In reply to Gearheadotaku :

That's an awesome photo. They actually built steam engines into the late 1990s. A few of them made it here to the US for use on tourist lines. The Chinese would sell them cheap, they are comparatively small and light so they don't beat up roadbeds and require heavy rail, and they are so new that restoration is rarely needed. Even if they do need restoration/repair, its usually less than an engine built in the '20s and parked in the '50s. Their logos also look pretty American, because the Chinese back-engineered American exports that we sold them, so they look pretty at home on US rails too. I know Iowa Interstate has two Chinese QJ-class 2-10-2s, and New York, Susquehanna & Western had an SY 2-8-2. 

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/15/19 5:23 p.m.

Iowa Interstate RR 7081 is left as delivered from China

Iowa Interstate #6988 is a little more Americanized. If I didn't know, I would have guessed the #6988 was American, other than maybe the "elephant ear" smoke deflectors, which were never super widespread in the US

NYS&W #142 is a Chinese SY 2-8-2, and again, I would have guessed it to be a North American engine, maybe a Canadian National engine

Connecticut Valley Railroad also has an SY, dolled up as a New York, New Haven & Hartford engine. The New Haven didn't save any of their engines, due to financial troubles

Weird thing about the Chinese locomotives is that the engineer sits on the left side. American locomotives sit on the right side of the engine. Yes, this seems backwards.

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/15/19 5:26 p.m.

The Chinese locomotives also had another advantage for US tourist lines, in that they had less legal strings attached. So many steam engines in the US are national landmarks, or owned by historical societies, or state-owned, or donations by railroads. So when you try and restore one, there are always all sorts of legal headaches. Paperwork that has to be filled out, the engine can't leave the state, it can't be changed in anyway because it's a "historical structure", museums don't want I restored because replacing any parts disturbs the "historical fabric", etc. As I said earlier in my post about Steamtown, they tried to fix up an engine with huge historical value and then the National Park Services sent everything to a screeching halt as soon as they started working on it because they failed to fill out some form, and now the engine has sat apart for years because it all has to be processed.

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
12/15/19 7:11 p.m.

I was in Saratoga Springs this week for work and had a few hours free on Friday before having to be at the airport. I thought I’d go see the HO scale layout at RPI. Turns out in the 20 some years since I’d been there, they restricted public access for security concerns (layout was in the basement of a dorm). Kind of bummed I didn’t get to see it again. 

Wally
Wally MegaDork
12/15/19 8:18 p.m.

In reply to T.J. :

I remember reading that there were renovations going on at the school and the layout was going to be moved to a more visitor friendly facility at some point. 

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/16/19 8:05 a.m.

End of the line. Canadian Pacific's scrap line at the Saint-Luc yard.

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/16/19 11:49 a.m.

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy #5632 in Hinsdale, IL on March 28, 1963

The #5632 in Savana, IL on April 1, 1962

#5632 in Lisle, IL on April 19, 1964.

 

November of that year, #5632 would be retired for a second time, torn down for an extensive overhaul, sold to someone who tried to get it up and running, then illegally scrapped. Long story short.

The full story of the #5632 was that she was built in 1940 and operated until the late 1950s, when the CB&Q dieselized. Destined for scrap, CB&Q president Harry C. Murphy had it pulled from the scrap line, given a thorough refit and put into service hauling steam excursions in 1958. In 1964, the #5632 was in need of more work, so it was sent to the CB&Q's Burlington shops and torn down for an overhaul, with tons of new parts purchased. Murphy retired at that point though, and his successor was not as sentimental and had the #5632, all the new parts and all of the CB&Q's steam tools and machinery sold off. Chicago steam preservationist Richard Jensen, who had another steam locomotives and was running excursions, grabbed the #5632 and all the new parts and tools and had them moved to the Chicago & Western Illinois' Chicago roundhouse which he was leasing as a base of operations, where he began putting it back together. 

In 1969, the C&WI changed ownership, and the new owners decided to not renew Jensen's lease. Before his lease expired, C&WI sent him a notice that his operations had to be out in 48 hours. While Jensen was trying to get an extension on time, due to the difficulty in moving the still disassembled #5632, the C&WI illegally sold the locomotives, parts and tools to a  scrapyard. The #5632 derailed while being moved into the scrap yard, and rather than rerail the engine, the yard cut it up on the spot. Jensen would end up suing the C&WI and win a $1.7 million dollar settlement, but the #5632 was still gone, and Jensen would actually not ever see a dime of the settlement before his death.

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
12/16/19 11:56 a.m.

When it comes to diesels, I always thought Delaware & Hudson had a nice look to them.

As a kid, Chessie was my favorite railroad. Now if I had to pick I think I would go with Great Northern.

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
12/16/19 12:03 p.m.

Anyone else ever visited Cass Scenic Railroad in WV? They have several Shay and Climax locomotives. There is also a couple other steam excursions nearby. Good place to visit if you are ever in the area.

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/16/19 1:16 p.m.

In reply to T.J. :

D&H did have a nice livery. And I like how they had their little heritage fleet in the '70s, where they bought up dwindling Alco PAs and Baldwin RF16s and restored them and ran them as excursion specials.

 

If I picked a favorite it would be Pennsylvania Railroad. Every one of their steam engines was instantly recognizable as a PRR design, and the diesels with either the Tuscan Red or Brunswick Green with the gold pinstripes was classy. Plus, they were always experimenting and building wacky and exciting stuff. Might not have helped them in the long run, but it was cool. Although lately I'm developing a soft spot for Grand Trunk Western equipment. The more of their Pacifics and Mountains I see, the more I like.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/16/19 2:11 p.m.

I finally snapped a couple pics of what I have left from my collection. 

Move searched for more info on this PRR poster, but haven’t found much regarding its value. When my father had priced it, likely in the mid-80’s, he’d put $400 on it. I think it’s probably worth a bit more now. 

 

I grew up along the C&EI mainline, and a couple great uncles worked for them before WWII. Somewhere I have a copy of their employee magazine with a pic of my grandfather & his brothers, who were part of a C&EI bowling team. My father framed this arrangement back in the early-80’s. 

 

Lastly, this is a painting my father did from an old b&w photo, I believe of the Dixie Flyer, as it passed through Central IL  

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/16/19 2:15 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett :

Wow, that is all very awesome. Especially that Pennsylvania poster.

JesseWolfe
JesseWolfe Reader
12/16/19 2:37 p.m.

In reply to T.J. :

I've been to Cass several times, the switchbacks and seeing stills in people's back yards were memorable as a kid.

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
12/16/19 3:26 p.m.

In reply to Wally :

Looks like the new address is in Troy and will be open to the public, but the article I read said they expect it will take a year to move and setup everything. I visited the old layout several times. I really hope it gets set up again in the new location. It was way to good to not be seen.

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/16/19 3:32 p.m.

Going back to my earlier post about CB&Q #5632, the whole Richard Jensen saga is a pretty depressing ordeal. Not only did he lose the #5632, he lost another engine as well.

Richard Jensen, the gentleman covered in grease on the right, was a Chicago bread vendor, and apparently an avid railfan. As steam locomotives were being retired, Jensen used his money to purchase Grand Trunk Western #5629, a USRA Light Pacific 4-6-2, after the GTW was wrapping up steam operations. 

Originally running it on the Baltimore & Ohio with financial success, it then began running all over the Grand Trunk Western's Illinois rails, operating out of the B&O roundhouse. Unfortunately, the GTW's line became oversaturated with other excursion operations, and several Chicago-based rail groups were involved in a price war (several things I've read show the Illini Railroad Club was particularly nasty about scheduling events the same day as other events for much lower prices) and Jensen was pretty much losing money on every excursion. Including at one point he ran a two-day event and only made $78 in ticket sales and had to cover everything else out of pocket. By this point the #5629 was starting to show wear and tear, and the B&O roundhouse was not conducive to repairs, so he made the move to the C&WI roundhouse. It was also at this time that he picked up CB&Q #5632 and CB&Q 2-8-2 #4963 (a difficult engine to find pictures of). CB&Q 4963 had been used as a parts engine for the CB&Q's company-run Mikado, #4960.

This is the point where the C&WI throws him out of the roundhouse and sends #5632 and #4963 to the scrapyard, and the #5632 gets cut up. His third engine, the #5629 was safe because it was being stored in Detroit at the time.

The #4963 sits in the scrapyard for the next 20 years until it is bought by Illinois Railroad Museum. Meanwhile, Jensen continues trying to run excursions with the #5629. But financially things are getting worse. In 1971 he tries to run an excursion from Chicago to Logansport, IN. First Penn Central backs out of the cars they were supposed to loan him. Then the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RR says they'll loan him the cars, but they are in Iowa and he'll have to pay to have them delivered. He gives them the money and then the day of the trip, the Rock Island says now he has to pay insurance coverage on the cars for the move to Chicago, despite the railroad being the carrier of their own equipment and the move occuring with their engines on their rails. He reschedules two weeks later, then gets bounced back and forth between Amtrak and Penn Central trying to get cars and has to cancel and refund the tickets. He sues the Penn Central, but the Penn Central is bankrupt, and he only gets back 38 cents on the dollar.

By the late 1970s, Jensen is in poor health from an accident. Between hospital bills and the disastrous 1971 excursion, the #5629 has not been run in quite some time due to finances, and sits in the Rock Island's Blue Island, Illinois yard. It looks rough, but is supposedly operable. 

Things aren't so hot at the Rock Island either, and in 1980, it files for abandonment. The Blue Island yard gets sold to METRA, the Chicago commuter railroad, and they have designs for the Blue Island yard that don't include storing the #5629. At some point the #5629 gets vandalized (it's trailing truck axle bearings stolen) with some saying it was done by pissed Metra employees and others saying Jensen had his associates do it so that the locomotive can't be shipped off like the #5632. This renders it unable to be moved long distance. Metra wants it out, but Jensen is too ill to move it, and Metra won't move it 150 yards to the Iowa Interstate, and Metra won't allow any of Jensen's associates to come move it, because it technically belongs to him. Illinois Railway Museum and Mid-Continent Railway Museum are also involved in trying to save it, but they don't have the parts to fix the trailing truck to make it movable. The courts finally rule that the #5629 needs to be gone in one shape or another, and in front of dozens of disgusted railfans, the engine is cut up in 1987.

Note the tender full of coal that was from a planned excursion on the GTW sometime between the 1971 disaster and the CRI&P's abandonment. The excursion was canceled due to Jensen owing the GTW a significant sum of money.

What is really depressing is that the building that was supposed to go where #5629 never got built. Also, technically Metra did not own or control the land that the #5629 was on at the time of the lawsuit, the courts just assumed that because Metra was suing, they owned it. They didn't technically take ownership until 1989. And finally, the missing parts that rendered the #5629 unmovable were stolen by Metra employees and sold for scrap. This was found out after the fact and the 9 employees were fired. Jensen, disgusted with the whole situation, stepped away from the railroad scene and died in 1991.

The only bright side to this, if there is one, is that neither the #5632 nor the #5629 were the last of their kind. Other CB&Q O5 Northerns and GTW Pacifics are preserved. If it had been the last NYC Hudson or PRR T1, the loss of both engines would have been even more devastating.

Nowadays, Jensen is looked back on in one of 2 ways. On one hand, this was a guy that tried to keep steam locomotives running out of his own pocket and got screwed at every turn. On the other hand, he's viewed as a guy who was involved with 3 steam locomotives, 2 of which ended up scrapped (Possibly 4 and 3 respectively. It's rumored he may have bought the last Nickel Plate 2-8-2 from a scrapyard, then never went and got it and it was cut up, while others say he never bought it) and as someone who got in way over his head, was always late paying his bills and leases (which likely lead to the C&WI evicting him and scrapping the #5632), who had no plans for what happened when things inevitably failed, and who fell prey to the old gambler's ruin of "If I pull this off, and something else goes perfectly, I'll be set".

I see both sides of the argument. I think he is a good cautionary tale of what happens when private individuals get too greedy and overstretch themselves, like Nelson Blount or Paulsen Spence. If he had been content with just GTW #5629, things might have turned out a bit differently. CB&Q #5632 and #4963 were both financial drains that never operated or generated any revenue. And him buying the #5632 didn't change its fate, it still ended up scrapped. Sure, the #4963 would have been scrapped too, but there are quite a few CB&Q Mikados preserved and even operational, and in better shape than the #4963. Without the expense of those, he might have been so financially strapped and not frequently missed payments and the C&WI might have been more willing to work with him. Although this is all "maybes" and "could haves." Maybe the end result would have still been the #5629 getting scrapped and non of his three engines saved.

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/16/19 6:08 p.m.

This is a really interesting thread! Thank you to everyone who has posted here.

02Pilot
02Pilot SuperDork
12/16/19 7:05 p.m.

I have no detailed stories to add, but I will share a few more photos from the Durango & Silverton that I shot a few years ago.

 

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/17/19 5:37 a.m.

In reply to 02Pilot :

I was looking at plane tickets to Durango the other night.

I keep hoping that the East Broad Top narrow gauge in Pennsylvania will reopen (They've been shut down since 2012 when the operating lease of the East Broad Top Railroad by the East Broad Top Railroad Preservation Society expired) but every year the announcement is "maybe next year". The good news is that since it's been closed, the staff has been there working to clean up and repair equipment, so its all just not rotting away.

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/17/19 8:17 a.m.

Suggested reading: The Mohawk That Refused To Abdicate & Other Tales by David P Morgan

A bit hard to find, as its not in print and was published in 1975, but worth the $60 it'll cost you on Amazon. In 1954, the author and photographer Philip R Hastings, both journalists, decided to roam North America and find the remaining operating steam locomotives. My favorite tale is the part where they watch 4(!) PRR I-1sa 2-10-0s trying to haul an ore train up a steep grade on the PRR's Shamokin district. I imagine that had to sound like the end of the world to anyone in the area.

 

NickD
NickD PowerDork
12/17/19 8:21 a.m.

I also highly recommend America's Colorful Railroads by Don Ball Jr.

I have a copy that the dust jacket has gone missing and the pages are literally falling out I read it so much when I was younger. This one is a collection of photographs from the '50s, all previously unpublished and in color, of railroads in the transitionary phase from diesel to steam. It has some great photos of the year the Pennsylvania got in a power crunch and had to borrow some Santa Fe 2-10-4s, and you get to see normally clean but now dirty Santa Fe engines doubleheading with normally-filthy but now spotless Pennsylvania J1s.

AdventurePiggy
AdventurePiggy New Reader
12/17/19 9:02 a.m.

From the Black River and Western Railroad in NJ a couple winters ago.  They have a 2-8-0 from the Great Western Railway of Colorado and run regular tourist trips in the winter.  I can hear the steam whistle from my house.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
12/17/19 9:04 a.m.

I live maybe 45 minutes south of Strasbourg.  It's been a while since I've been up there - last time I went was when we took the kids up for a holiday season ride about 15 years ago.

We also have a little excursion line local to us:  The Wilmington & Western, which runs from a trainshed between Newark and Wilmington, DE up along the Brandywine River and Red Clay Creek through some pretty countryside.

W&W only currently has 1 operational locomotive:  a little Baldwin 0-6-0 switcher that dates from around 1910:

They have 2 other engines: an American Locomotive 4-4-0, also from about 1910 (restored and previously in service, but currently down awaiting enough funding to pay for her 1472 inspection):

...and a 1910 Canadian Locomotive 2-6-0 that needs restoration:

Duke
Duke MegaDork
12/17/19 9:07 a.m.

Here's #98 in action.  The route runs through an area fairly rich in Colonial and early Industrial Revolution history:

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/17/19 9:14 a.m.

… And now I am off to research excursion railroads… Seems like something cool that the wife might be into.

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