Lineside Legacy - September, 2004

Copper Range 29 to Mid-Continent

Copper Range No. 29 was photographed by Stan Mailer on September 28, 1958, at Houghton, Michigan, after its retirement. It was later stored inside the railroad's roundhouse.

THE MID-CONTINENT Railway Museum of North Freedom, Wisconsin, has obtained former Copper Range Railroad 2-8-0 No.29 from owner Clint Jones of Mineral Range, Inc. This engine, which last ran in 1971, makes an interesting addition to the Mid-Continent fleet, as the museum has two restored Copper Range passenger cars in its collection. The acquisition of No.29 completes the "train." The Consolidation was recently moved from Hancock, Michigan, to North Freedom, where it can now be seen.

The Copper Range Railway, based out of Houghton, Michigan, was incorporated in 1899 and was fully owned by the Copper Range Company, a local mining outfit. The railroad was used to transport raw copper ore from the mines of the Keweenaw Peninsula to stamp mills (copper processing plants) on Lake Superior or along the Portage River waterway. The Copper Range main line, which ran between Gay and McKeever, Michigan, was over 100 miles in length and opened in 1899. At McKeever, the railroad connected with the Milwaukee Road; interchange was also made with the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic (later merged with the Soo Line).

Passenger trains such as the Northern Michigan Special and the Copper Range Limited ran over the Copper Range in the early years, usually pulled by one of the road's high-stepping Moguls, and weekend excursion runs traversed the line between Houghton and Calumet to the tourist destination of Freda Park. The fleet of Copper Range coaches, 30 cars in all, was painted into the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific's colors of orange and red beginning in about 1911 as the CR passenger trains were frequently interchanged with the Milwaukee. Eventually, Copper Range passenger trains were discontinued with the coming of a bus line to the Upper Penninsula, and only mixed train service was offered by the late 1920s.

By 1920, the Copper Range owned a substantial fleet of 23 steam locomotives; No.29 was built by Alco's Schenectady Works in February 1907 and was class C2; it was one of twelve Consolidations owned by the railroad. Typical of Copper Range steam loco motives, No.29 came from Schenectady equipped with slide valves, Stephenson valve gear, an oil-burning headlight and highly polished boiler jacket covering its unsuperheated boiler. Over the years it was upgraded and received an electric headlight a modified tender, and an additional air compressor, and its fancy jacketing eventually disappeared under a coat of utilitarian black paint. At times, No.29 ran with a large steel snowplow pilot.

While normally used in freight service No.29 was occasionally called to sub for 2-6-0 No.58 on varnish after passenger service was reinstated in 1944. The Copper Range' Chippewa ran between Houghton and Mc Keever and connected with the Milwaukee Road train of the same name. The normal consist of the Chippewa was usually wow combine No.26 and coach No.60; unfortunately, the train was discontinued in 1946.

After two Baldwin DS-4-4-l000s were purchased by the Copper Range in 1947, the last remaining steam locomotives were re tired and scrapped. No.29 was officially re tired in April 1953, but unlike the other Copper Range steamers, it was retained by the railroad and stored at Houghton.

In June 1967, No.29 was sold to Clint Jones, who refurbished the locomotive (still wearing its snowplow pilot) at the Houghton roundhouse for service on his Keweenaw Central tourist train, which ran out of Calumet over Copper Range tracks, beginning in the summer of 1967. Remarkably Jones was also able to purchase Copper Range coach No.60, which No.29 had pulled years earlier on the Chippewa; the car had been sold a few years earlier to the Marquette & Huron Mountain tourist line, but was returned to the Upper Peninsula for use on the Keweenaw Central. Other equipment on the Keweenaw Central included an ex DSS&A caboose, a Burlington Route steel coach, a 1929 Pullman doodlebug and former Chicago & North Western R-1 4-6-0 No.175, which Jones had purchased in 1964 (lamentably, it never ran on the KC).

For four years the Keweenaw Central delighted tourists visiting "Copper Country." No.29 put on a spirited show leaving Calumet, barking up the steep two per cent grade of St. Louis Hill through the Trap Rock Valley to Lake Linden. The scenic highlight of the 13-mile ride was the crossing of Bridge 30, a 350-foot long, 120-foot high steel bridge that spanned the waters of Douglass Houghton Creek.

Unfortunately the Keweenaw Central was short lived, as the Copper Range was abandoned in 1972 and Jones was forced to move his equipment to Hancock for storage. "When the Copper Range was abandoned, it created a situation where the connection to an outside railroad was going to be removed," says Jones, "We were forced to move the passenger equipment off line, and the two steam locomotives were put inside a shed at the Quincy Smelter in Hancock...unfortunately the South Shore (Soo Line) abandoned service up into that area and then we couldn't get the engines out." After the shed collapsed, the two steam locomotive were moved outdoors, where they have sat in relative obscurity for the past three decades.

A few years ago Clint Jones, whose company Mineral Range, Inc., still holds title to No.29, was approached by the Mid-Continent Railway Museum, whose members were interested in obtaining the Consolidation for their collection. The museum already owned Copper Range combine No.25, which had been restored in the 1960s, and was working to restore coach No.60 that had been obtained in 1982; the acquisition of the 2-8-0 would give the museum a fantastic opportunity to recreate the Copper Range's Chippewa passenger train of the 1944-'46 period.

Talks progressed, and eventually an agreement was reached whereby Mid-Continent would get No.29 and Mineral Range would obtain in trade the museum's exUnion Pacific 2-8-0 No.440, which has been stored for years in a partially dismantled state. It was a good deal for all involved; the museum would get a locomotive with ties to other equipment in its collection (and one that fit in with its upper Midwest theme) and Jones would get a good engine for restoration. The only catch? No.29 would have to be moved out of Hancock as soon as possible, as its storage site near the Quincy Smelter was being turned over to the National Park Service.

Soon word of the pending acquisition hit the internet. Although the museum wasn't putting forth any money to obtain No.29, it would have to come up with the funds necessary to move it by truck out of the Keweenaw peninsula over 300 miles to North Freedom. Adding to the costs was the disassembly of the 2-8-0; because of close clearances between Houghton and Hancock, No. 29's boilder and cab would have to be removed from its frame and running gear and transported separately.

Fundraising for the move began in midMarch with a deadline of April 30, 2004. Over 30 persons contributed, and by May 1 the museum had adequate funding to finance the move. No.29 was coming to North Freedom!

Steven Butler's Mid-West Locomotive & Machine Works of North Lake, Wisconsin, was hired to dismantle and load No.29 at Hancock. Deppe Transportation Services of Baraboo, Wisconsin, and R. Becker Enterprises of Warren, Michigan, were hired to provide the four semi trailers needed for the move, while a local contractor in Michigan, Julio Contracting, provided the crane for loading. Work began on May 20 and, despite bad weather, the locomotive was loaded, secured, and departed for North Freedom on the morning of May 26.

By daybreak on May 27, No.29 was sitting in the parking lot at North Freedom, ready to be unloaded near the museum's coach shed by DRM industries. Prior to this, Mid-Continent volunteers put in many long hours preparing for the 2-8-0's arrival. Several loads of ballast were hauled to North Freedom and used to build a stable base for the unloading cranes. In additional, several ties were replaced in the coach shed so that former Green Bay & Western 2-8-0 No.49 could be moved from its longtime display location in front of the shed, as that spot was the ideal location for unloading No.29.

Railfans across the nation were invited to watch the unloading live via the museum's web cam, which was aimed to give a good view the unloading area. First the tender and tender tank were unloaded, followed by the frame and running gear. The boiler, which had to be transferred to another truck in the museum's parking 1t and turned (it had arrived facing the wrong direction), was placed back on the frame early in the afternoon. (During this procedure, the boiler was suspended by a crane and the running gear was pulled into position under it, then the boiler was lowered onto the frame.) No.29's cab was the last item remaining; it was set back atop the boiler late in the afternoon, completing the move.

What's in store now for No.29? After sitting in storage for 32 years (many of those years outdoors) it is in rough shape, and the deteriorated condition of the firebox will likely mean that the locomotive's restoration to operation is not feasible. Short-term plans call for stabilizing the 2-8-0 and securing it for long-term storage, with some sort of cosmetic restoration in the future. Ultimately it will be put on display with the museum's two Copper Range coaches to recreate the Chippewa. At the present time, the engine cannot be moved because of its rotted end beams and missing drawbars.

Donations are still being accepted for the Copper Range 29 Restoration Fund; details may be found at the museum's website at www.midcontinent.org, along with photographs of the locomotive and additional information on the move. Be sure to check out the museum's webcam for live views of the North Freedom depot and archived views of No.29's unloading. - THANKS TO CLINT JONES AND JEFF HAERTLEIN

Southern Pacific No. 1000

Holly Sugar SW1 No.1, formerly Southern Pacific No.1000, has been acquired by the California State Railroad Museum. This historic locomotive was built by EMC as SW1 demonstrator No.804 in February 1939, and was purchased by the Southern Pacific in April 1939 following a stint at the railroad's West Oakland coach yard. It is notable because it was the first diesel-electric to be fully owned by the SP (the E-units operated on the City of San Francisco were jointly owned by the SP, Union Pacific, and Chicago & North Western), and initially worked in and around Oakland until the mid 1940s, when it was reassigned to service in southern California. Later, No.1000 worked on the Northwestern Pacific in Mann County, and was retired and sold in 1967 to Holly Sugar, where it was renumbered 1 and put to work in Santa Ana. In 1981 the unit moved to Tracy, and has been in service there ever since switching hoppers of bulk sugar.

UP SD40-2 Donated

On March 6, 2004, the Union Pacific Railroad donated a retired diesel locomotive, No.9950, to the Western America Railway Museum of Barstow, California. In the past few years UP has donated several retired diesels to museums, so what makes the donation of No.9950 newsworthy? It happens to be an EMD SD4O-2, the first of this model that we know of to be preserved at a museum. (Yes, a Canadian Pacific 5D40 is preserved in Canada, but it is not one of the later Dash 2s, which many who ran them consider to be the finest diesel locomotives ever built.)

No.9950 was built as Missouri Pacific 3320 by EMD in 1980, one of 306 non-dynamic brake equipped MoPac SD40-2s (74 more had dynamics for unit coal train service). After UP merged with the MP, the unit was renumbered 4320 and eventually became UP 9950, acquiring a coat of Armour Yellow and Harbor Mist Gray in the process.

Last year, museum director Norm Orfall found the unit in the dead line at Yermo, sitting out of service with several other retired units. It was in need of repair, and was likely going to be scrapped. At Orfall's request the Union Pacific donated the locomotive to the museum; it was officially handed over this past spring during an appropriate ceremony. Other than needing a new coat of paint, the 9950 is in relatively good shape, and is a good representative of the UP motive power that ran through Barstow during the 1980s and 1990s.

No.9950 is in good company at Barstow. Since its opening in 2001, the Western America Railway Museum has acquired a substantial collection of railroad equipment, including former Santa Fe F45 No.95, and it has also worked with members of the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society on the cosmetic restoration of AT&SF 4-8-4 No.2921 1, currently displayed in Modesto, California.

Washout on the R&GN

Wisconsin's 15-inch gauge Riverside & Great Northern railroad (see LINESIDE LEGACY, December 2002) was dealt a major blow on the evening of June 10, 2004, when a large portion of its right of way was washed out during a severe thunderstorm. The washed-out section - part of the original 1850-built grade of the La Crosse & Mil waukee Railway - measures 200 feet wide and 55 feet deep. A preliminary estimate put the cost of repairs at about $250,000, Trains continue to operate, although the end of the line is now about a half-mile closer! The miniature railroad is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run mostly by the volunteers of the Riverside & Great Northern Historical Society; the group is currently accepting donations the repair of the right oJ way. For more information, visit the R&GN website at www.randgn.com. - THANKS TO MIKE MADSEN

Shorts Antelope & Western 0-4-OT No.1, a threefoot gauge 1889 Porter formerly owned by Sacramento Brick, has been returned to steam at the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Museum of Nevada City, California. Denver & Rio Grande Western Mikado No.484 has returned to operation at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad after an extensive overhaul that included fabricating a brand-new cab along with major tender, running gear, and boiler work. Former Southern Pacific 4-6-0 No.2248 has been taken out of service by the Grapevine Vintage Railroad of Fort Worth, Texas for needed repair work; it is expected to be back in service by late August. The Prince George Railway & Forestry Museum has purchased former BC Rail GF6C electric No.6001 from owner CIT Financial; the 6000 h.p. unit is one of only seven built for BC Rail's dormant Tumbler Ridge coal line, and the only one slated for preservation.

Antelope & Western 0-4-OT No.1, a threefoot gauge 1889 Porter formerly owned by Sacramento Brick, has been returned to steam at the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Museum of Nevada City, California. Denver & Rio Grande Western Mikado No.484 has returned to operation at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad after an extensive overhaul that included fabricating a brand-new cab along with major tender, running gear, and boiler work. Former Southern Pacific 4-6-0 No.2248 has been taken out of service by the Grapevine Vintage Railroad of Fort Worth, Texas for needed repair work; it is expected to be back in service by late August. The Prince George Railway & Forestry Museum has purchased former BC Rail GF6C electric No.6001 from owner CIT Financial; the 6000 h.p. unit is one of only seven built for BC Rail's dormant Tumbler Ridge coal line, and the only one slated for preservation.

This page, its content, images, and data © 2003, by Carstens Publications, Inc.