RyPN Briefs July 3, 2007
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Steam Locomotive #100 to Return Home
Locomotive Leaves for Florida
Having left Century, Florida from a display track in 1974, #100 will soon be home once again. The locomotive and tender were loaded on May 14th, 2007 onto three trucks headed south. This last event was the culmination of several years of work by the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society and the Whitewater Valley Railroad, though primary by the society who had to write the grants (several times) and raise the other funds needed to make it possible. The Historical Society will continue to work on the project with the intention of reassembling the engine for display.
The Whitewater Valley Railroad was initially contacted in September of 2003 by the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society of Century, Florida to discuss the possibility of acquiring Locomotive #100, built by Baldwin, for the town's J. Houston Jones historical park. The society was formed to preserve the sawmill town's history and historic structures. Further information about this organization can be found on their website: www.algersullivan.org. At the time they weren't interested in acquiring a steam locomotive per say, but were interested in this engine specifically due to its local heritage ties.
While at the time the Whitewater Valley Railroad did not consider the locomotive for sale, the restoration of the locomotive had run into a considerable number of obstacles since 1989 when it was last in service. A project to replace the original lap seam boiler with a new welded design was approved in 1989 with Shop Services of Iowa indicating a delivery date of less than one year. The Whitewater Valley Board approved the contract and work was done immediately to remove the boiler and send it to Iowa. Shop Services had undertaken similar boiler projects before and though larger, this project seemed to be within their ability. Unfortunately the contractor almost immediately fell behind schedule due to issues with at least one subcontractor. Also the changing regulatory climate both at the State and Federal levels at the time caused a few changes to be made in the plan to meet the FRA standards as well as those of the state. This created a number of challenges in the construction of a new boiler for the locomotive. The death of the Stan Matthews (owner of Shop Services), who was to oversee the design and construction of this new boiler, created new delays within the project forcing a new direct relationship between the boiler subcontractor and the Whitewater Valley Railroad. This led to numerous problems in communication relating to why certain things had to be done certain ways (such as drilled stay bolts).
The essentially complete new boiler finally arrived from Iowa in April of 1997. Unfortunately several parts such as the washout plugs had to be redesigned and reworked by certified welders and others. Costs continued to climb and considerably more work was found to be needed on the running gear. Many of the volunteers involved in the original project to remove and reinstall the boiler were for the most part no longer involved in the organization. With the results of an evaluation conducted by Steam Operations Corporation in hand, the board decided that a re-evaluation of the entire project should take place. The total project cost was now substantially higher than original estimates and the engine would still be small with limited capabilities for the Whitewater's operations.
At the time when the Whitewater Valley Railroad was approached about the availability of the engine, the board of directors had looked seriously at idea of how the locomotive could be made available to the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society. Many of the members were attached to the engine and many hoped to run it again on the railroad. An understanding was reached with the railroad that if they decided not to pursue the restoration, the best home for the engine would be in the state where it spent most of its working life since the locomotive was not important to the region as an artifact and didn't fit into the collection.
An agreement was made with the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society by April of 2004 that would allow them to further explore the idea and begin fundraising for the project with the understanding that they would be given the sole "option" on the engine until they were either successful or determined the project to be beyond their scope.
The Whitewater Valley is pleased that the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society was successful in raising the funds needed, and was also able to obtain both local and regional support for the plan to have the locomotive back in Florida. A newly laid display track was made ready for the engine and funds are on hand to reassemble it in the future. Funds received by the Whitewater Valley Railroad from the engine sale will be used towards the construction of a shop building to allow for restoration work of other locomotives and rolling stock.
The non-profit Whitewater Valley Railroad is an operating railroad museum dedicated to the preservation of a historic branch line railroad, to the restoration of railroad equipment, and to the conduct of railroad educational programs. More information can be found at their website, located at: www.whitewatervalleyrr.org.
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