Lineside Legacy - May, 2004

The West Virginia Railroad Museum

Middle Fork three-truck Heisler No. 7 arrives at the Baltimore & Ohio interchange at Midvale, West Virginia in September 1958. The last Heisler built, No. 7 will be acquired from the North Carolina Railroad Museum by West Virginia Railroad Museum, which plans to rebuild it. Photo: N. Kent Loudon

THREE significant steam locomotives, two rare diesels, and several pieces of Baltimore & Ohio rolling stock make up the West Virginia Railroad Museum, a new nonprofit organization based in Elkins that is dedicated to archiving, exhibiting and operating significant items that tell the story of West Virginia's railroad heritage. The museum recently announced plans to restore and run its equipment on 122 miles of stateowned trackage around Elkins; however, until operations commence some of the collection may be seen at the nearby Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad.

Perhaps the most noteworthy items the museum has acquired thus far are two longforgotten 2-8-Os owned by the Leap family of Hyndman, Pennsylvania. These are former West Virginia Northern Nos.8 and 9, both of which spent the majority of their lives working in and around the Mountain State.

The West Virginia Northern was a coalhauling short line based out of Kingwood. In the early 20th Century, the "Northern" serviced the coal mines of Preston County using a fleet of Baldwin Consolidations. Engine No.8 was purchased new from Baldwin in October 1904, while identical sister No.9 arrived in June 1906. Both engines came equipped with slide valves, 46" drivers, Stephenson valve gear and steel cabs. They burned coal (of course) and developed 35,000 pounds of tractive effort. One nice addition was their fancy capped smokestacks, rarely seen on industrial locomotives.

Nos.8 and 9 hauled coal trains on the WVN for close to four decades. Over time the railroad sold off its other motive power as mines in the area closed, and by the end of World War II, Nos.8 and 9 were the last steam locomotives left on the property. When the WVN decided in 1946 to purchase an NW2 diesel from EMD, the 2-8-Os' day became numbered. A second NW2 was purchased in 1947, and their fate was sealed Steam was dead on the WVN and the 2-8-0 were retired. They were subsequently offered for sale, and purchased by the Preston Railroad of nearby Crellin, Maryland.

The Preston Railroad Company, now abandoned, operated a 42-mile logging rail road between Crellin and St. George, Wes Virginia. On that line Nos.8 and 9 becam Preston Nos. 18 and 19 the numbers the carried until the end of their careers.

For several years the 2-8-Os plied the logging branches served by the Preston, but by the late 1950s both were in poor condition. Their retirement came in 1960 when the Preston was abandoned, but the 2-8-0 weren't immediately scrapped. Instead, both were purchased by Mr. Earl Leap, steam enthusiast who moved them to his property at Hyndman, Pennsylvania. Neither locomotive was in running condition a the time, and neither has steamed since.

Since their retirement, the Preston Consolidations have led lives of relative obscurity. Located on private property, they have rarely been seen or photographed. No. 19 is in the best condition of the pair, as it ha been kept under cover for the better part the last 40 years. Sister No.18 is another story. Stripped of parts and appliances after leaving the Preston, it sat unprotected in the Pennsylvania woods for four decade Today it is derelict and in poor shape.

Over the years, many groups and individuals have expressed interest in obtaining the locomotives, but their owner asked high price. Knowing their importance to West Virginia railroading, the West Virginia Railroad Museum agreed to pay a significant sum for the engines in order to ensure their preservation. Private funding was used for a down payment, and the museum has initiated a fund raising campaign to raise the additional $100,000 needed to pay off the locomotives and return them home via truck. (As of mid-February, some $20,000 had already been raised). Once back in West Virginia, the 2-8-Os will be inspected and, if possible, one or both will be restored to operating condition.

Another steam locomotive in the process of being acquired is former Middle Fork Railroad (Moore-Keppel & Company) threetruck Heisler No.7. This engine, which once worked out of Ellamore, West Virginia, is the very last Heisler produced. In 1964 it was placed on display at a park in Washington, North Carolina, and then later was acquired by the North Carolina Railroad Museum which started restoration in the 1980s. (Though much was accomplished, the restoration was never completed.) An agreement was recently signed between the museums that will see the dismantled Heisler returned to West Virginia from its current location in Raleigh, North Carolina. The West Virginia Railroad Museum estimates it will cost $15,000 to ship the engine to Elkins, and another $140,000 to put it back into operation. A fund raiser for this project is ongoing.

Diesels and historic rolling stock are also part of the West Virginia Railroad Museum. The B&O Railroad Museum has recently donated a former Baltimore & Ohio E8, a B&O class 0-41 drop-end gondola, a B&O class I18 caboose, and a Fruit Growers Express refrigerated boxcar. (The caboose and reefer are currently on loan to the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley and can be seen there.) In addition, the museum is looking after former Western Maryland FA2 No. 302, which is owned by the Western Maryland Railway Historical Society. Plans call for the FA to be delivered to the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley for use on their West Virginia Central tourist trains out of Bellington.

On April 24-25, 2004 the museum is sponsoring the "Highballin' For History Railfan Weekend" at the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley to raise funds for the restoration of the Preston 2-8-Os and the Middle Fork Heisler. The weekend features trips over former Chesapeake & Ohio, Baltimore & Ohio and Western Maryland lines pulled by vintage diesels, and the D&GV's restored Climax steam locomotive will make an appearance on a photo freight. Call 1-877-MTN-RAIL for information about this event.

For more information about joining the museum, or to make a donation towards the restoration of the group's steam locomotives or other equipment, write to West Virginia Railroad Museum, mc, P.O. Box 203, Elkins, WV 26241, or consult their web site at

Comox Logging No. 16

The West Coast Railway Association of Squamish, British Columbia, and the Ramloops Heritage Railway are working together to restore former Comox Logging & Railway 2-8-2 No.16 to operation. This locomotive ran in tourist service at several locations during the 1960s and '70s, but has not steamed in the past 20 years. It has most recently been stored, partially dismantled, at West Coast's steam shop awaiting restoration.

No. 16 was originally Chas. R. McCormick Lumber Company 2-8-2T No.101, and was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1929. It first worked in the woods around Washington State, then was sold in 1944 to Comox Logging & Railway for service out of Headquarters, British Columbia, and later Ladysmith. Comox modified the engine in the mid-1940s by removing its saddle tank and adding a tender. To compensate for the lost weight of the saddle tank, two small side tanks filled with concrete were added above its running boards, giving No.16 an odd appearance.

In 1960 No. 16 was retired, and in 1964 it was acquired, still serviceable, by the West Coast Railway Association. A reprieve came in 1967 when No.16 was leased to the Anchorage, Alaska, Kiwanis Club that sponsored steam excursions as part of the Alaska Purchase Centennial celebration. Operating over the tracks of the Alaska Railroad, the "Moose Gooser" took passengers on a 14mile round trip along the Cook Inlet between Anchorage and Airport.

Following its trip north, No. 16 returned to British Columbia and was leased in 1970 to the Victoria Pacific, a tourist railroad operating over a scenic Canadian National branch line on Vancouver Island. This operation didn't last, though, and after being stored for a time the 2-8-2 was returned to the West Coast Railway Association.

For the last few years No.16 has sat awaiting repairs at the WCRA's shop at Squamish, British Columbia. However, some recent acquisitions by the group, such as Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson No.2860, have shifted attention away from the 2-8-2, yet restoration of some type was still on the agenda. Enter the Kamloops Heritage Railway, which just recently finished the restoration of ex-Canadian National 2-8-0 No.2141 and was looking for a new project. Late last year an agreement was worked out between the groups which has seen No.16 moved to Kamloops for full restoration. KHR will guide the rebuilding and provide the expertise and volunteer labor for the project, and the WCRA will provide much of the funding. In exchange for rebuilding the Mikado, the Kamloops Heritage Railway will maintain and operate the engine for at least five years. In September No. 16, minus much of its jewelry, was trucked to Kamloops and restoration has commenced. Plans call for it to be restored back to a 2-8-2T as originally delivered. - WCRA NEWS

Bluegrass Diesels

Two diesels have recently been donated to the Bluegrass Railroad Museum of Versailles, Kentucky. R.J. Corman has given the museum former Illinois Central Gulf GP8 No. 7738, a Paducah rebuild Corman inherited from the Lexington & Ohio Railroad. It was originally Reading GP7 No.610 which was rebuilt by the ICG in 1975 into its current configuration, and is fully serviceable. Also new at Bluegrass is Kentucky Utilities No.001 , a 1951 45-ton GE switcher that formerly worked at KU's Green River Power Plant. Both units should be in service by this spring. THANKS TO CHARLES H. BOGART

Pioche Pacific Shay No. 3

In November 2003, non-profit West Side Narrow Gauge Preservation, which is working to restore an abandoned portion of the famed West Side Lumber Company, purchased former Pioche Pacific narrow gauge Shay No.3 from the Hacienda Hotel & Casino of Boulder City, Nevada, where it has been displayed for many years.

No.3 was constructed by Lima in 1909 and was originally Santa Barbara Tie & Pole Company No.1. It first worked out of Hodges, New Mexico, but in the 1920s it was sold and moved to Alta, Utah, for use by the Little Cottonwood Transportation Company (Salt Lake & Alta Railroad) where it was renumbered 3. When that company closed in the 1930s, the engine changed hands again, becoming the property of the Pioche Pacific, a Nevada mining road. In 1948 No.3 was purchased by a private owner, and eventually wound up on display in Boulder City, where, perched on a hillside, it was used as a billboard by the casino that owned it.

West Side Narrow Gauge Preservation, which was organized in 2002, is working with the current owners of the West Side property, the Me-Wuk tribe, to restore and rebuild part of the abandoned West Side trackage around the old mill site. Me-Wuk is already redeveloping the land, restoring several buildings (some are original; others were left behind by the defunct West Side & Cherry Valley tourist operation), and clearing the mill site of debris. West Side Preservation already has several pieces of original rolling stock, but lacked a narrow-gauge Shay, several of which were used by the West Side up until its abandonment in the early 1960s. The purchase of Shay No.3 gives the group an engine that looks right at home in Tuolumne. It is planned that No.3 will be restored and renumbered as "West Side No.16," one number higher than the last Shay the company owned.

Fort Wilderness Railroad

I received a great deal of mail concerning my columns on amusement park steam (January and February 2004 R&R). Robert G. Lewis wrote to ask about the disposition of Walt Disney World's Fort Wilderness Railroad steam locomotives, which were not included in my look at amusement park steam as they are no longer serviceable and are of recent (1972) construction. (Mr. Lewis covered the railroads at Walt Disney World, including the Fort Wilderness Railroad, in the June 1974 issue of Railway Age.)

The Fort Wilderness Railroad opened at the Walt Disney World Resort (near Orlando, Florida) in the early 1970s. The 3.5 mile, 30" gauge line connected the Fort Wilderness Campground with the attractions at Walt Disney World. Its four locomotives, built by Disney affiliate MAPO of Glendale, California, were 4/5-scale replicas of 2-4-2T Baldwins built at the turn of the century for sugar cane service in Hawaii. Good looking machines, the Fort Wilderness engines featured a deep green paint job with gold pin striping, brass trim, red drivers, diamond stacks and box headlights. Their small boilers, only 24" in diameter, were fed from small 225-gallon saddle tanks, and they carried a working pressure of 160 p.s.i. One concession to the 20th Century was the use of diesel fuel to fire them, fed from a 175-galion tank. Unlike most other Disney steamers, the Wilderness engines were not named, but numbered 1-4.

Just as much care went into the design and construction of the Wilderness Line's passenger cars. The fleet initially consisted of twenty four-wheel enclosed passenger cars built to an antiquated design by MAPO. The locomotives had just enough muscle to pull five of these little cars over the line; any more and they would stall.

Due to many unforeseen problems, the Fort Wilderness Railroad lasted only a short time in operation. It opened in 1974 to fanfare, but problems soon developed. Poorly laid track resulted in derailment after derailment. Worse yet, trains frequently became stranded on the line when they ran out of water (there was but one water tank on the entire route, and the young crews, most without railroad experience, sometimes forgot to fill the locomotives' side tanks). When a child was struck and injured by a train in 1979, the railroad was closed down for good.

For most of the early 1980s the Fort Wilderness equipment was stored indoors, but eventually the locomotives and cars were moved outdoors where they deteriorated rapidly. Some of the passenger cars were sold off, and others became ticket booths in the Disney resort. By the mid 1990s the equipment was in terrible shape; everything that could be stolen off the locomotives had been, and the remaining dozen passenger cars had succumbed to the elements and were in tattered condition.

Enter the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society, a railroad group interested in all things Disney. Through the efforts of Michael Broggie, Bill Dundas and others, after five long years of negotiations the Fort Wilderness trains have found new homes. Locomotive No.1 was purchased by Jim Zordich and moved to Oregon; Michael Campbell purchased No.4, and Dundas himself acquired Nos.2 and 3 (the latter three are now in California). The remaining twelve passenger cars have also been saved and are owned by various society members. Under the conditions of the sale, the locomotives cannot be returned to service; all are now in various stages of cosmetic restoration. Due to their deteriorated condition, this will presumably take years.

The tracks of the Fort Wilderness line are now gone, and steam whistles no longer echo through the campground where the trains once ran. Yet the colorful little trains survive, thanks to people like Bill Dundas and the efforts of the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society. - THANKS TO ROBERT G. LEWIS


Hercules, a 1912 Baldwin 0-6-2T long displayed at the Rock of Ages quarry at Graniteville, Vermont, has been cosmetically restored and will be moved to a new visitor's center there. Ferrocarril de Salavery y Trujillo No.13, a narrow gauge 1897 Baldwin 2-6-0 which has been displayed at the now-defunct Prairie Expo Museum of Worthington, Minnesota, has been sold to the End-O-Line Railroad Park & Museum of Currie, Minnesota.

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