Historic train on a road trip in New England
RAVENNA, Ky. (WTvQ) – An ambitious plan to restore and operate the C&O 2716, a 75-year-old steam locomotive weighing 400 tonnes, received a major boost. The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation has signed a deal that will bring the gigantic steam engine to New England on the first of several stops in an exciting residency program.
The Railroad Museum of New England, based in Thomaston, Connecticut, has committed to house C&O 2716, a massive “Kanawha” type engine built by the American Locomotive Company in 1943 for a month. The agreement will allow the engine to run. Be the star of the already popular tourist operation which operates a 19 mile route between Waterbury and Torrington, Connecticut.
The engine tour at Thomaston is the first and longest stop in an ambitious year-long stay from the engine’s home in Irvine, Ky. Several other stops will be announced later.
Howard Pincus, president of RMNE, said he was delighted to be the first operation to host the mammoth coin in rolling history.
“We are delighted to welcome the C&O 2716 to our railroad, as it will be the first large steam locomotive to operate in New England since 1976,” said Mr. Pincus. “This is a wonderful opportunity to partner with a capable and visionary group like KSHC. The movement of operational steam locomotives between heritage groups is quite common in Britain, but has only been done a few times in the United States.
Although the engine is currently undergoing an extensive restoration process at Kentucky Steam’s own workshop in Irvine, Ky., There has been no clearly defined opportunity for the engine to stretch its legs. Chris Campbell, president of the Kentucky-based nonprofit 501 (c) (3), says consolidating an operations goal breathes new life into the restoration effort that has been partially hampered by the challenges introduced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our goal is to restore and exploit this giant engineering marvel, creating and promoting tourism in our region,” said Campbell. “The 2716 residency program can be an opportunity both to empower new generations of people to experience the sensory overload that locomotives like this bring, as well as to promote our own tourism efforts here in Irvine to others. people who may not know us. We are delighted to be starting with a premier institution like the RMNE.
Founded in 1968 to preserve the region’s railway history and culture, the Railroad Museum of New England has operated its Naugatuck Railroad since 1995 for heritage tourism and commercial freight trains. The RMNE has an extensive collection of regional railway artifacts, including freight and passenger wagons, locomotives, and the restored 1881 Thomaston Station, the centerpiece of Naugatuck’s excursion operations. More than 30,000 passengers use the “Naugy” trains each year.
“We plan to feature 2,716 on regular and special passenger excursions throughout the Motor Residence,” Mr. Pincus said. “Our 1920s open-window coaches will allow cyclists to experience the sounds and sights of steam in the Litchfield Hills of northwest Connecticut. There will also be opportunities for special photo events, showcasing our collection of vintage freight cars from the 1920s to 1950s, making a historically appropriate freight train for 2716. ”
Pincus added: “We don’t have any operational opportunities for the engine while it’s there. There are bound to be surprises, and we have a lot of imagination. Think about seeing 2716 driving through a winter snowfall in New England! “
Founded in 2015, the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation has a long-term lease on 2716 from its owner, the Kentucky Railway Museum. The engine is the centerpiece of the organization’s ambitious rail tourism project based in Estill County, Ky. Kentucky Steam purchased a 40-acre former CSX rail yard in 2018 and gradually remodeled the space into a railroad-centric campus that will house the already renovated locomotive repair facility, as well as a concert hall. , a restaurant and a museum. While trains are the theme, the resort will be the hallmark of Appalachian revitalization, providing a springboard for experience-based tourism.
Campbell says the locomotive will both be an attraction at their Irvine facility, but will also often go on the road, acting as an ongoing marketing tool for Appalachian Kentucky’s own tourism efforts. “Our hope is that the locomotive will captivate new audiences wherever it goes,” he said. “2716 will bring people to whoever is hosting us and eventually attract them to visit us in Kentucky.” “
While the engine will clearly be a new and exciting draw to the Railroad Museum of New England’s own operations, the chairman of its board has some personal interest in bringing the engine to Thomaston.
“Personally, I have been following KSHC’s progress for years as they achieved their goals, and I believe in their project,” said Pincus. “Being able to house their locomotive on our railroad in Connecticut is great for both KSHC and RMNE; they’ll have an engine ready to go, and we’ve got a railroad to use it on! The excitement and drama of a large working steam locomotive is something that should be seen as often as possible.
The dates and times for the multi-month event will be announced sometime in 2022. As Campbell explains, the locomotive will need to meet several key fundraising and restoration progress goals before the events can be finalized. and that tickets can be offered in advance.
“We are several years away from our ascent to the east,” he said. “But with announcements like this, we’re hoping that people who have considered contributing to the restoration can see an end goal in sight. We’re excited to get the engine fully operational and bring people to Kentucky. But we’re just as excited to hit the road.
During the journey to and from Connecticut, there will be additional sites for 2,716 to operate in excursion passenger service on regional and shortline railways. These possibilities are being explored and will bring excitement to the operation of the 2716 in some areas that have not experienced major steam excursions for over 30 years.
Along with this announcement, KSHC is spearheading a fundraiser to raise $ 10,000 for the restoration of the locomotive by the end of 2021. To make a tax deductible donation dedicated to the rehabilitation project of the locomotive, visit www.kentuckysteam.org/donate or by mail to Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation, 499 Kirkland Ave, Irvine KY 40336.