N. WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. – Hitchhiking on a plateau, a 1955 Plymouth locomotive drove home.
“It will be like the icing on the cake. We had 320,000 people using the trail last year, and this is another attraction to draw people in,” said Ray Deutsch, commissioner of the Ironton Rail Trail.
Deutsch led the effort to bring the locomotive, donated by a Texan company but built for Dragon Cement of Northampton, onto the North Whitehall Township Trail, which celebrates the industry’s past.
“There are 12 cement mills along this 15 km stretch. Lots of history in a short time,” he added.
Getting up on the trail tracks was a tricky dance at best, as two cranes had to be brought in to lift the 20 ton motor. Crews rocked him back and forth to put him on the track.
Train historian Kermit Geary Jr. says it was worth the effort.
“What’s good about it is a survivor. It actually lasted longer than the new locomotives built for the cement industry which have since met their demise and have become razor blades,” a- he declared.
Geary informed Deutsch of the train that was parked in Texas. Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua donated it and the Township of North Whitehall paid $ 10,000 to have it transported. The IRT hopes to reimburse them.
The engine was a visible staple at one time in the Borough of Northampton, as its route crossed the Main Street.
George Ruhf remembers seeing him as a child.
“We were playing ball and watching it come and go. Two cars were rocking out of the quarry,” he said.
Jim Olesak, my stepfather, worked for Dragon and spent two weeks working on the train.
“It’s a sad sight right now because it’s not what it used to be. We’re not taking care of it. It was our only way to get the quarry stone to the factory.” , did he declare.
Olesak added that he was glad it was back.
After a spring paint job, the locomotive’s local heritage will be firmly cemented.