The Corry Railroad and Industrial Leads Society is raising $75,000 to purchase, transport and restore the wood-framed locomotive — one of only two Class A Climax locomotives known to exist — back to Corry. It was abandoned on the Alaskan tundra in 1910, where it remained until an enthusiast rescued it in the 1950s, according to the Corry RAILS group.
Built in 1902, the locomotive was No. 313 on the Wild Goose Railroad at Nome, which operated only during the warmer months. At its peak, the line, renamed the Seward Peninsula Railroad, extended over 80 miles inland across the tundra to a place called Lane’s Landing.
The new owner disassembled it and moved it to Eagle River, planning to restore it, but he passed away before he could accomplish that. The locomotive was an early model Climax, utilizing a wooden frame with a water tank at one end, the boiler and engine in the center and a fuel space at the other end. It would have resembled a boiler inside a wooden boxcar. In fact, Class As were sometimes known as “boxcar locomotives.”
The first Class A Climax was built in 1888, and manufacture of the low-cost machine continued until the early 1900s, when it was supplanted by the Class B, which looked more like a conventional steam locomotive. The Class A featured a two-speed gearbox, which gave it tremendous pulling power while sacrificing speed.
Climax locomotives were built until 1928 at a plant in Corry. In 1960, local businessmen found a Class B Climax at a short line in upstate New York and purchased it for a local history museum, where it is on display.