News & Reviews News Wire California group studying restoration of SP narrow-gauge steam locomotive

California group studying restoration of SP narrow-gauge steam locomotive

By Steve Glischinski | September 8, 2023

Laws Railroad Museum may rebuild 4-6-0 No. 9

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LAWS, Calif. – Another piece of narrow-gauge steam history may soon come to life in California. The Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site will conduct a boiler test on Southern Pacific narrow-gauge 4-6-0 No. 9 to determine if it’s feasible to return it to service. The museum is currently renovating the locomotive including paint and smoke box repair.

No. 9 was built by Baldwin in November 1909 for the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway. It was sold to SP in the 1920s and worked the rest of its career on the SP narrow-gauge lines in Nevada and California. The locomotive also appeared in the 1948 film 3 Godfathers and the 1950s TV series Annie Oakley.

In 1954 SP purchased a diesel to replace steam on the remaining narrow-gauge lines. By then three steam locomotives remained, all 4-6-0s: Nos. 8, retired in 1954, is now on display in Nevada; No. 18 retired the same year and was sent to display in Independence, Calif.; and No. 9 was retained by SP as backup power.

No. 9 was the last SP narrow-gauge steam locomotive retired. It pulled the last revenue steam powered freight on the SP system on Aug. 25, 1959. After the remaining SP narrow-gauge lines were abandoned on April 29, 1960, the 4-6-0 went on display in Laws.

Between 2009 and July 2017, sister No. 18 was restored to operating condition in Independence. Since then it has traveled to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado and the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. No. 18 has also been trucked to Laws to perform on-site photo shoots where visitors could photograph it posing with No. 9.

The Laws Museum includes the original SP narrow-gauge yard, turntable, water tower, oil facility, depot, and other structures that comprise a time capsule of small town narrow-gauge railroading.

The Museum has a fundraising goal of $50,000 toward the project. For more information and to donate go to the website.

5 thoughts on “California group studying restoration of SP narrow-gauge steam locomotive

  1. Trying to figure out where they are going to pit the electric motor to power the locomotive.
    You know all locomotives operating in California after 2035 must use alternative fuels. Mandated by Governor and Legislature.Figured Tender is where most of the batteries will go. A few will be in the boilers section. Got to do that because those are the one’s that they spray water on so they catch fire to generate the smoke coming out of the stack.

  2. A boost for the local economy indeed. Railfans, tourists and historians will come to see this historic equipment preserved and in most cases being operated on excursions and fan trips. When I was in California earlier this year visiting family and friends, I was able to see how many small California towns preserved their railroading history and heritage with restored depots, stations and wather towers, and way stations along with many pieces of historic rail equipment. In Fillmore where I was visiting family. The town which is a historic railroad town has carefully preserved the station the right of way and plenty of cars and locomotives. Another location was right outside Burbank Baldwin Park wih many steamers, Pacific Electric interurban cars, passenger equipment diesels and some narrow gauge equipment. Not to sound partial or judgemental but I believe that the state of California does more than most states in this country to preserve rail equipment, facilities and right of way and the great history and heritage of railroading. We need to preserve, restore and preserve many of these fine pieces from the past so that not only the current generation but future generations can see and experience what railroading is all about as well as the equipment and facilities and how railroads played a very important role in the growth and development of this nation.
    Joseph C. Markfelder

  3. Much of the ROW of the “Slim Princess” is still intact. Restoration for even occasional excursions would do wonders for the local economy!

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