Lineside Legacy - June, 2003

Columbia Steel No. 300

Columbia Steel 0-6-0 No. 300 will be removed from display at the Geneva Recreation Association park at Provo, Utah, and rebuilt for service on the Heber Valley Railroad this year.

THE HEBER VALLEY RAILROAD of Heber City, Utah, has acquired a rare 0-6-0, former Columbia Steel Corporation 300, which is currently on exhibit at a park in nearby Provo. A true "Utah" engine, the 300 worked all its life in the Beehive State, and has slumbered in relative obscurity since it was placed on outdoor display around 1960. Plans call for the locomotive to be moved to the railroad's shop at Heber City during the spring of 2003, and after a complete overhaul it should be back in steam by 2005.

No.300 spent all its working life as a switcher at the Columbia Steel Corporation's iron smelting plant at Ironton, Utah. The Ironton Works, as it was known, was one of the largest pig iron plants in the west, and was built beginning in 1922 by Columbia Steel on a 385-acre site near Springville. To move slag cars between the coking plant and blast furnaces, Columbia ordered a single 0-6-0 from Baldwin that was delivered in 1923 and numbered 200. By the next year the plant was in full production, and the first pig iron was produced. Coal (to be con- verted to coke for use in the by-product ovens) was mined locally and delivered to the plant by Columbia's own short line, the Carbon County Railway.

Columbia returned to Baldwin shortly after the plant opened for an additional 0-6-0, No.300, which was built and delivered in May 1925. Modern in design, the 300 features piston valves, power reverse and a Westinghouse cross-compound air compressor. By comparison, sister 200 was a bit older in design, having just one single-stage compressor. A slope-back tender was necessary for visibility while switching.

No.300 toiled at Ironton well into the 1950s. Columbia Steel operated the plant until 1930 when United States Steel Corporation acquired it, although USS kept Columbia as a subsidiary company for a time before the two were combined. The 300 worked faithfully for both companies.

During the early 1940s, the Ironton plant began a slow decline after the Defense Plant Corporation constructed the huge Geneva Steel works at Orem, Utah. United States Steel purchased Geneva in 1946, and No.300 became "Geneva Steel 300" on paper, though in all likelihood it never worked at that mill. With Geneva occupying over 1500 acres and being much more modern in design, most steel production in the area shifted to that plant.

The last days of steam at Ironton came in the late 1950s. It is unclear when 200 and 300 were retired, but by 1960 the plant had switched over to diesel operation and both locomotives were out of service. No.200 was eventually scrapped, but a better fate was in store for 300. The Geneva Recreation Association (GRA), a steelworkers employee group, obtained it in the early 1960s and had it painted and placed on display at their private park in Provo near the Geneva mill. Many items were welded in place to prevent theft, and soon railings were installed on the running boards, cab roof and tender to provide some measure of safety for the children climbing on it (it has never been fenced). As an added precaution, No.300's tender and firebox were welded shut to prevent entry.

For over 40 years the 300 has been an integral part of the GRA's private park, a place where employees are often found after work enjoying a barbeque or playing softball, and the engine is by far the most popular piece of playground equipment. But unfortunately, the steel industry in Utah has changed dramatically since the 0-6-0 was placed on display. Today the Ironton Works is just a memory, the Carbon County Railway has been abandoned, and the Geneva Works is shut down and will likely never reopen. With the loss of the Geneva mill and the subsequent layoff of many employees, the Geneva Recreation Association is selling the park, and the planned redesign of the area where No.300 is located does not include the locomotive. In early 2003 the GRA donated it to the Heber Valley Railroad.

"We have inspected the engine completely and feel like it is a very good candidate for operation," says John Rimmasch, Heber's Chief Mechanical Officer. "If you compare this engine to our 75 (1907 Baldwin 2-8-0) it only has about 1000 pounds less attractive effort, so we feel that it would be a good engine to pull our shorter trips."

But looking at No.300 today, it is easy to see one major complication: several major components are missing. It is unknown whether the 0-6-0 was parted out after retirement to keep sister 200 running, or (more likely) was in the process of being dismantled and scrapped when the call came down to save it. Missing are the main rods, eccentric cranks and eccentric rods, and also most of the appliances on the backhead. The boiler is completely gutted.

"The flues are out of it and the front flue sheet is gone along with the blast nozzle," says Rimmasch, "It certainly looks like it was in the process of being scrapped - the way the main rods were cut off looks like there was no intention of saving them. They were just butchered off." Interestingly, the 300's heavy power reverse and air compressor remain intact, although its whistle and bell are missing. Some of the smaller items may have been removed by the Heber Creeper tourist railroad in the 1970s as spare parts, and those that remain (such as the injectors and the unique number plate with raised "CSC" letters) have been removed by the Heber Valley for safe keeping.

At first there was hope that the missing parts would be found. "We had heard from a number of people that the missing items had been sealed up in the tender or firebox when the engine went on display, but when we opened up the tender (which had been welded shut) there was nothing in there, and nothing in the firebox," says Rimmasch, who must now look for replacements. "Some of the parts that are missing, like the mechanical lubricators, the bell and the whistle, we are going to buy new from China. We will have to make everything else."

The park's sprinkler system sprayed the right side of the engine and tender on a regular basis, which has contributed to some rust and decay, especially on the cab, which will probably need replacing. The engine is missing its smokestack, also. The present stack was made from a steel drum.

Heber Valley hopes to move the engine out of the park by mid-2003, with an eye toward restoration beginning later this year. But first the overhaul of 2-8-0 No.75, which is getting new flues and a new tender tank, must be completed. For the 300 project, the railroad has applied for a $100,000.00 TEA21 grant that will be used to rebuild the 0-6-0's running gear and to perform the boiler work necessary for a new Form-4.

At Heber, No.300 will join former Union Pacific 2-8-0 618 and Great Western 2-8-0 75 in service. Remarkably, 618 and 300 have probably already met. No.618's last Union Pacific assignment was switching the Ironton yard from 1952 until its retirement in 1958. - THANKS TO STEVEN SEGUINE, MIKE LEWIS, AND JOHN E. RIMMASCH

Mount Washington Cog Railway Converting to Oil

Ever since the first trains of the Mount Washington Cog Railway reached the summit of Mount Washington in 1869, its locomotives have been fired by hand. Wood was used at first, and then the railroad converted to soft coal. Today the railroad uses 1500 tons of low-sulfur coal each year to fuel their seven operable steam locomotives, all of which is shoveled in by hand during the three-hour ride to the summit.

But coal, unfortunately, has its drawbacks. For the past two decades the railroad has been experimenting with using oil to fuel its locomotives in an effort to reduce pollution and cinders, and increase passenger enjoyment. During the ride up Mount Washington cinders and soot from the locomotives rain down on the passenger cars, creating a sometimes-unfriendly environment for passengers. Also, years of using coal have created huge deposits of cinders on either side of the tracks, some up to 36 inches deep.

A few years ago the railroad converted the Col. Teague, one of the road's 0-4-4-Os, to burn oil without much success. The Teague, a notoriously poor steamer, was built new by the Mount Washington shops in 1972 and, like all Mount Washington engines, was designed to burn coal. Unfortunately the experiment was not a success; steam pressure could not be properly maintained, and the Teague was soon converted back to coal. But now a redesigned oil burner has been developed, and another Mount Washington engine has been converted to burn oil and will debut this spring. The Cog is confident that all the bugs have been worked out, and the problems that plagued the Teague will not be a factor. If all goes as planned, the Cog plans on converting its entire fleet to burn oil in the near future.

Lake Shore Restores a Fireless

The Lake Shore Railway Historical Society of North East, Pennsylvania, has restored Former Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company 0-6-0 fireless No.6 to operation. The engine, which was built by Heisler in 1937, had been a static display at the Society's Lake Shore Railway Museum since it was acquired in 1973. Members Joe Rodney, Fritz Rickrode, Roy Davis, Roger Thoms and several others spent over three months preparing the engine for operation at its 65th birthday party in September 2002. The work included replacing the rusted-out tank jacketing, reinstalling valve gear components and cab fittings, and giving the 0-6-0 a new paint job. Also, No.6's original whistle, bell, headlight and builder's plate were installed after being in storage for 30 years.

No.6 operated at the museum for the first time on September 29, 2002, using compressed air instead of steam. Rides were given to members who rode inside the cab and on the footboards as the engine chugged up and down the museum's short stretch of track at speeds up to 15 mph. Since the museum does not have access to a live steam line to charge the locomotive, it is planned to acquire an industrial air compressor mounted on a flat car so that rides may be given to the public on a regular basis.

This project is unique; I know of no other museum or tourist railroad has ever restored a fireless engine to operation. - THE LAKE SHORE TIMETABLE

A K-28 Bumblebee

Fans of the D&RGW narrow gauge will definitely want to visit Durango, Colorado, this coming August for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad's annual Railfest. The D&SNG has confirmed that they will be repainting 2-8-2 No.473 back into the shortlived yellow "Bumblebee" scheme it wore for a short time in 1950. The yellow paint will remain in place for the railroad's photographers special in September, and then 473 will go back to black.

No.473 was the only D&RGW 2-8-2 to be painted in the Bumblebee scheme popularized by 2-8-0 No.268 at the Chicago Railroad Fair (See LINESIDE LEGACY, January 2003) and based on the coaches used on the D&RGW's Prospector. The Silverton Branch grew immensely in popularity after the release of the movie Ticket to Tomahawk in 1950, which was primarily shot around Silverton using Rio Grande Southern 4-6-0 No.20 in 1949. To capitalize on the success of the film, which premiered to the world at Durango on April 16, 1950, the D&RGW ordered that one of the K-28s assigned to the Silverton Train be painted into the bumblebee scheme in order to present a more "old time" appearance.

The 473 was selected, and soon its cab and tender were painted Rio Grande Gold with black striping, and brass bands were added to the boiler and domes along with a fake oil headlight and diamond stack (incidentally, the latter would become standard equipment on K-28s in the 1960s and '70s when the Rio Grande decided to actively promote the Silverton). Combine 212 and coaches 280, 306, and 320 were also painted in the new scheme.

The yellow paint proved so popular and attractive that soon the entire Silverton Train was repainted yellow, as it still is today. But 473 didn't stay yellow for long. In July 1951 it derailed at Needleton and was laid up for repairs for nearly a year. When it returned from the Alamosa shops it was black, ending a brief but colorful chapter in the annals of the Colorado narrow gauge.

CN 7817

On page 28 in the RAILNEWS section of the May 2003 issue, you'll find a photograph of former Canadian National 70-Tonner 7817, recently restored by the Prince George Railway & Forestry Museum of Prince George, British Columbia. This unit was built in June 1950 (plate No.30623); one of 18 built for CN numbered 7800 to 7818 for service on Prince Edward Island. In 1954 it was renumbered 1543 and then later to 43. It left CN in the early 1970s for a new career at Acadia Coal, and eventually worked at two other mines before it was purchased by Eurocan Pulp Mills of Kitimat, British Columbia, in November 1973. For this service it was painted orange and numbered 307.

The 70-Tonner was deemed surplus in 1996 and was donated by Eurocan to the Prince George Railway & Forestry Museum. Former owner CN kindly donated the use of two bulkhead flats to transport No.307 and an ex-BC Hydro locomotive that Eurocan gave to the West Coast Railway Association. Removed from their trucks, the locomotives were set on wood cribbing and chained down for their trip through British Columbia.

After it arrived at the museum, the 307 was set back on its wheels and used as a static display until the summer of 2002 when it was moved into the museum's shop and repainted into its as-delivered green and gold colors and renumbered back to 7817. Today it is back on display looking just as it did when delivered.

Can the unit ever operate again? Yes, but not without a great deal of work. During its last few months at Eurocan it was cannibalized for parts, and today several items are missing. Also, the wheels are in very poor condition and would need to be replaced.

Besides No.7817, the Prince George Forestry Museum has several other interesting locomotives on display, including former Canadian National 4-6-0 1520, CN F7Au 9169, Pacific Great Eastern RS10s 586, and two small industrial switcher There is also a former Great Northern F7B which was converted into an unmanned radio control "robot" car by the British Columbia Railway for use in helper service.

Most of these engines head up "trains" the museum's large display site. Sever passenger cars, including Grand Trunk business car Nechako, can be viewed alor with a wide variety of freight and work equipment. The museum is located on cityowned land near the Canadian Nation yard near downtown Prince George. A no] profit organization, it is staffed by volunteers of the Central British Columbia Rai way and Forest Industry Museum Society. - THANKS TO DARYL MOULDER

A Diesel for the V&T

The original Virginia & Truckee never owned a diesel - it didn't survive past the steam era. The "new" V&T, opened in the mid-'70s at Virginia City, Nevada, running over a portion of the original grade, and operated steam every summer until last yea when its two engines came due for repairs under FRA Part 230. While the steam locomotives are in the shop, the V&T is continuing operations using diesel power. Last sun mer the railroad borrowed a GE 44-Tonner (ex-Quincy) from the Portola Railroad Museum, but this year an 80-Ton GE, fresh] repainted into V&T green and yellow, will pull the train. It was obtained from the Feather River Rail Society, operators of the Portola Railroad Museum, in exchange for the former Western Pacific turntable fro] Oroville, California, which the museum eventually plans to install at Portola along with a replica of the Winnemucca, Nevada, roundhouse. The V&T's new diesel will pull regularly scheduled tourist trains this se] son until 2-8-0 No.29, formerly Longview, Portland & Northern 630, is repaired.

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