BRIDGEPORT, N.J. — A well-known 1960s and 1970s short line and tourist railroad steam locomotive is back. SMS Rail 0-6-0 No. 9, an Army brat built by Alco in 1942, test-fired Saturday for the first time following a 12-year restoration, just two days shy of when it was taken out of service in 1981.
The engine, part of the roster on the Northeastern industrial switching railroad made famous for its fleet of Baldwin diesels, passed a hydrostatic test in 2020. The steam test went off well, and now the crew will finish the running gear, line the cab interior with wood, and install the cab. Additional work includes air brake valve installation and piping, lubrication lines, insulation and jacketing.
No. 9 began life as U.S. Army No. 4023 moving freight at Fort Dix, N.J. At Fort Eustis, Va., the engine was No. 616 until retirement in 1958, when the engine was sold to Virginia Blue Ridge in Piney River, Va., and became the short line’s No. 9.
Next stop was New Hope & Ivyland tourist railroad in Pennsylvania, where the engine ran sporadically in the late 1960s and 1970s.
SMS’s website says of the locomotive: “In the mid 1990s, NH&I put No. 9 up for sale. Sitting for several more years in New Hope, it caught the eye of SMS Rail Lines President Jeff Sutch. Jeff, and several other SMS Rail Lines employees had spent time on the NH&I and some particularly on No. 9. In 2009, SMS Rail Lines purchased No. 9 and moved her to the SMS Locomotive Shop in Bridgeport, N.J., with the intent of restoring her back to operation. The engine faces another new life doing what she was built to do; hauling freight.”