News & Reviews News Wire Year in review: Preservation stories from coast to coast

Year in review: Preservation stories from coast to coast

By Bob Lettenberger | December 23, 2022

Projects from Maine to Washington state among those seeing notable developments

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Three-stall roundhouse building under construction
The new three-stall roundhouse was one of several major projects completed in 2022 at the at Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum. Volunteers completed the majority of the work. WW&F Railway Museum photo

Trains News Wire continues our review of the top stories of 2022. We’ll count down the Top 10 stories of the year, as voted on by Trains editors, columnists, and correspondents, beginning Dec. 26. As a prelude, we’ll be looking at major stories that didn’t make that list. Today: Preservation.

While some preservation stories did crack the upcoming News Wire Top 10 list, there are more significant accomplishments worth noting.

Up in Maine, the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum celebrated winning the Heritage Rail Alliance Significant Achievement Award — Infrastructure. It earned the award, in part, by constructing a new three-stall roundhouse. Work continued with track rehabilitation, construction of a new Trout Brook station, installation of a turntable at the end of the Mountain Extension, and opening the extension [see “Maine’s Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington prepares to open new trackage,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 2, 2022]. Over 200 volunteers worked on the projects.

Drone view of two electric locomotives and one diesel sitting vandalized in woods
Badly vandalized but historically irreplaceable New York Central electric locomotives sit near a former power plant site south of Albany in April 2021. Jose Alves

It has been decades since a S-1 or T-3a electric motor pulled a New York Central train. In a story that is still developing, S-1 No. 6000, among the last of its class, and T-3a No. 278, the last T-3a, found themselves abandoned in the path of a $350-million Port of Albany (N.Y.) development project on Beacon Island outside Albany. The units, owned by the Danbury (Conn.) Railway Museum, have been moved a short distance, but still need to be trucked from the area as the construction project advances [see “Rare New York Central electric locomotives still threatened,” News Wire, Nov. 22, 2022]. Ultimately, the museum plans to restore the two motors, which have suffered from years of exposure and vandalism.

In Washington state, a plan was announced to reopen and expand the Mt. Rainer Scenic Railroad. The Western Forest Industries Museum, based in Eatonville, Wash., will start the new operation in spring 2023 by introducing RailCycle Mt. Rainer. Patrons will be able to operate a rail-bicycle peddle cart along part of the line before train operations resume in the plan’s later phases. Steam locomotive operational restoration, a new depot building, and a 9-mile track extension are also planned [see “Mt. Rainier Scenic to return …,” News Wire, Sept. 19, 2022]. The railroad was closed in May 2020 by then-owner American Heritage Railways, owner of the Durango & Silverton Scenic Railroad.

Railroad watercolor artist Ted Rose was remembered in a Thanksgiving-weekend exhibition at the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, N.M. Rose, who passed away in 2002, exhibited a refined yet gritty style in the thousands of railroad-subject watercolors, monotypes, and photographs he produced. “The show was absolutely a brilliant light spot,” says Molly Rose, Ted’s daughter, who curated the exhibit. “… people were so appreciative to be surrounded by so many of his masterworks in such a truly elegant and appropriate setting.” Born in Milwaukee in 1940, Rose spent his college summers in the art department of what was Kalmbach Publishingt. He credited his time with David P. Morgan, Trains editor, and Gil Reid, art director and watercolor artist, with significantly intensifying his passion for railroads. Molly Rose spoke with Trains Live in this video.

Among the reasons railroad preservation holds our attention is the multitude of stories that can be researched and told. Such stories often seem small when compared to other preservation accomplishments. Where does the last of a particular passenger car class rank against a big, operational steam locomotive?

Outside of green heavyweight Pullman car in museum building
The exterior of the Joseph Lister at the National Railroad Musuem in Green Bay, Wis. Ben Wideman, National Railroad Musuem

One such preservation story for 2022 can be viewed in that manner. The National Railroad Museum (Green Bay, Wis.) unveiled the rebuilt Chicago & North Western Joseph Lister. The Lister is one of two Pullman sleeping cars built specifically to transport patients to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The other car, Ephraim McDowell, had been scrapped, and the C&NW gutted the Lister for storage space. The museum reconstructed this unique vehicle opening a window into this specialized field of rail transportation. The project is discussed in this Trains Live video.

The preservation discussion could easily continue ad infinitum. There are dozens of other projects, large and small, taking place in depots, train sheds, and workshops across the country. Whether these make an annual review, or a Top 10 list is not more important than the local support given to the project. Look back at 2022 as a good year for preserving our railroad heritage. For 2023, resolve to help advance a project of interest to you. A future generation will enjoy and learn from your efforts.

2 thoughts on “Year in review: Preservation stories from coast to coast

  1. How about the steaming of Santa Fe 2926 by the NMRHS this past year? A milestone for sure in a restoration/preservation project.

  2. I donated $10 to the effort to love the two electrics off the property. I don’t believe that all hope is lost for them.

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