Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum

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Check out our online store and order Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum logo merchandise, books, gifts, and more. New merchandise is added all the time and we’ll be offering “web only” exclusive deals!

United States Army locomotive No. 2630 leads a train of WWII-era military vehicles during the Steam to Victory event.

On July 5 and 6, 2019, the Age of Steam Roundhouse hosted Steam to Victory, an event to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings and to celebrate the role that railroads played in the war effort.  This unique event brought together WWII reenactors, historic military vehicles, and the Roundhouse’s own collection of WWII-era trains.

The “star” of the railroad exhibits was US Army 2-8-0 locomotive No. 2630, which was unveiled at the event after an in-depth cosmetic restoration.  Resplendent in Army Olive Drab paint, No. 2630 was featured leading two restored Army flatcars and a Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad caboose.  Atop the flatcars, military vehicles were displayed including an M3 half-track, M8 Greyhound armored car, a Jeep, and a unique “Weasel” tracked vehicle.  This unique exhibit represented a World War II train moving important equipment off to battle.

Around the Age of Steam grounds, numerous military displays welcomed guests with immersive experiences.  Visitors learned about the living conditions of soldiers on the front lines from reenactors of both the Allies and Axis forces.  Vehicle rides and small arms demonstrations gave guests a taste of how this impressive equipment was used in war.  Twice a day, the reenactors marched off for a simulated skirmish where US troops stormed a German bunker.  The Ohio Amish countryside surrounding the Roundhouse were a good stand-in for the similar fields and hills of Western Europe.

Other components of the Age of Steam railroad collection were also on-hand for guests to view.  Grand Trunk Western 4-8-4 #6325 led two restored Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad passenger coaches, simulating one of the thousands of troop trains which shuttled soldiers around the US.  One of the most colorful exhibits was a steam locomotive tender made up to represent the red, white and blue “Buy War Bonds” tenders created by the Nickel Plate Road as a means of advertisement to help in the war effort.  Another tender sported the insignia of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, which Age of Steam Roundhouse founder Jerry Jacobson served in.  Finally, 0-6-0T tank engine #4 proudly displayed its heritage as a US Navy switching locomotive.

Age of Steam Roundhouse would like to thank the following organizations for their participation in Steam to Victory:

  • Crew 1944 / 5th Rangers, Co. B and Baker Co.
  • 101st Airborne / 502nd PIR
  • 100th Jager Division
  • 352nd Infantry Division
  • Marlboro Volunteers Military History Mobile Museum
  • Dennison Railroad Depot Museum
  • Forever Young Singers

Despite some hot weather and a few pop-up thunderstorms, Age of Steam Roundhouse’s first large public event was well-attended and received positive feedback.  Stay tuned to the Roundhouse mailing list, website and social media channels as we work to develop more exciting events and experiences in the coming months.

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum (AoSRM) in Sugarcreek, Ohio, is excited and pleased to announce that it has successfully acquired B&LE 643, which is the only remaining 2-10-4 Texas Type steam locomotive of the 47 built for the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad.

B&LE 643 is a heavy-haul steam locomotive that was designed and built to move iron ore, coal, and other high-density commodities to and from the Great Lakes region. Built in 1944, the 643 saw an early retirement in 1952 due to the increased introduction of diesels to the Bessemer & Lake Erie’s locomotive roster. Fortunately, the 643 and two other smaller steamers were preserved by the B&LE in its roundhouse in Greenville, Pa.

B&LE 643 will become the largest locomotive in the AoSRM collection. This behemoth is just over 108’ long, stands over 16’ high, and weighs 308.32 tons without coal and water. Add 26 tons of coal, and 23,000 gallons of water, and B&LE 643 tops the scales at 908,720 lbs., or more than 454 tons!

AoSRM founder, Jerry Jacobson, nicknamed B&LE 643, “The King,“ as it is believed to be one of the largest non-articulated steam locomotives in the world. It had been Jerry’s life-long desire to acquire this historic iron giant to restore and display with the other 21 steam locomotives in his collection. The Board of Directors and dedicated Staff at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum, are deeply grateful to Glenn Campbell and The Steel City Railway Historical Society for saving B&LE 643 in McKees Rocks, Pa., and for their selflessness, by assuring the locomotive’s long-lived future at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum.

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum would like to recognize and honor the efforts of The Ernest Stern Family and his son, Rick Stern, of Pittsburgh for their direct and dedicated involvement in the critical phases of restoration of B&LE 643. Their one time ownership, and financial investment in the 643, are responsible for much of the early work performed that has greatly helped its survival for these many years!

Future official reports and updates about the movement of B&LE 643 from McKees Rocks to Sugarcreek will be posted on our website: www.ageofsteamroundhouse.org.

Bill Strawn, Board Chairman

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Columbus & Southern Ohio Electric Company 0-4-0F No. 2

Specifications
Builder:Heisler Locomotive Works – Erie, Penn.
Built:March 1940
Serial Number:#54
Wheel Arrangement:0-4-0 Fireless
Driver Diameter:36″
Cylinder Bore x Stroke:21″ x 20″
Boiler Pressure:250 psi
Pulling Power:14,700 lbs. tractive effort
Engine Weight:42 tons
Weight on Drivers:
Fuel:None
Status:Non-Serviceable

Constructed by Heisler Locomotive Works in 1940, this little locomotive is a “fireless cooker” switcher. This unique engine design was popular for use in areas where flammable substances were handled, such as in textile mills, chemical plants and coal-burning power plants. Fireless locos operated without the need of a fire to heat boiler water to make steam. Instead, these engines used heavily insulated boilers to store pressurized steam and hot water, both supplied from a separate source. At normal atmospheric pressure water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but under higher pressures it does not boil. Consequently, as the fireless locomotive performs work and uses steam, the boiler pressure drops, thus allowing the superheated water to start boiling again and make additional steam. When the quantity of water and steam inside the boiler was used-up and reduced to the point where the boiler needed refilling, the locomotive would have been recharged from the separate source. Typically, a fireless engine could be operated for about eight hours on a single charge of superheated water.

Little No. 2 was built for use at the Columbus and Southern Ohio Electric Company’s electric generating plant in Groveport, Ohio. There No. 2 and fireless sisters No. 1 and No. 3 were used to shuttle hopper cars full of coal around the property. Both No. 1 and No. 2 were eventually retired and donated to the Penn-Ohio Railfan’s Association. For several years these two fireless locos were stored in a field south of Canfield, but No. 2 was acquired by the Old Express Restaurant in Sharon, Pennsylvania, and moved to its diner display site on June 13, 1974.

Over the years the building and No. 2 passed into the ownership of Travel Centers of America and went through a number of different tenants. Finally, the structure was scheduled for demolition in 2017, and the future plans for the property did not include the old locomotive. In stepped the Age of Steam Roundhouse, with an offer to purchase the engine and preserve it in Sugarcreek.

The locomotive was tightly squeezed between a city street and an old railroad station—and, with electric power lines hanging overhead—made for a difficult extraction. After some clearing work to create space, a highway truck was backed-up to the engine and the 54-ton 0-4-0F was carefully winched aboard the lowboy trailer. No. 2 arrived in Sugarcreek in January 2018.

Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway 0-6-0 No. 3960

Specifications
Builder:W&LE Brewster Shops – Brewster, Ohio
Built:June 1935
Serial Number:#33
Wheel Arrangement:0-6-0 Switcher
Driver Diameter:51″
Cylinder Bore x Stroke:21″ x 28″
Boiler Pressure:200 psi.
Pulling Power:41,200 lbs. of tractive effort
Engine Weight:82.5 tons
Weight on Drivers:
Fuel:Coal
Status:Non-Operational

To save about $7,000 per locomotive over the cost of commercially constructed locos, the ever-thrifty Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway built twenty 0-8-0 switch engines between 1928 to 1930 in its well-equipped back shop in Brewster, Ohio. As 0-8-0’s were being successfully completed and deployed, the W&LE decided to turn to 0-6-0’s. Between 1929 and 1940, Brewster built 30 home-grown 0-6-0’s which were copies of the proven United States Railroad Administration design. All fifty locomotives included modern Nicholson thermic syphons in their fireboxes and Chambers front-end throttles in the smokeboxes. As was W&LE practice, road number series reflected 10 percent of an engine’s tractive effort, the 3951-3980-series for the B-5 class 0-6-0s, and the 5106-5125-series for the larger C-1a class 0-8-0s. It was very unusual for a small, 481-mile long railroad to construct any steam locomotives, but W&LE Brewster Shop built 50 of them!

After 7,230 manhours and at a cost of $28,686.56, 0-6-0 No. 3960 was completed at Brewster on June 8, 1935. Nearby Canton was home to the Timken Roller Bearing Company, and locomotives and freight cars of on-line W&LE were used to test the then-new idea of applying roller bearings to railroad equipment. Completed on September 25, 1935, W&LE 0-6-0 No. 3965 was the world’s first steam switcher built with roller bearings on all axles, including tenders (12.5 tons of coal and 8,150-gallons of water), as were all subsequent Brewster 0-6-0s.

All fifty Brewster-built switchers became property of the Nickel Plate Road with the December 1, 1949, leasing of W&LE by NKP. The homemade 0-6-0s were renumbered 351 to 380, with former W&LE No. 3960 becoming NKP No. 360. During its last year of active duty, No. 360 was assigned in Zanesville and made its last run under steam on October 31, 1957, when it chugged past a corn field that—53 years later—would become the site of the Age of Steam Roundhouse. In 1957, ex-W&LE 2-8-2 No. 6008 was chosen for display in Canton’s Mother Goose Land Park, but was later deemed too heavy and expensive to make the short, four-block trip by truck from the nearest rail siding. So, the smaller No. 360 was pulled from the dead line, cosmetically restored in Brewster Shop and placed into the park on June 19, 1958.

By 1971 weather had taken its toll on the engine, so a local W&LE fan cut off the boiler jacket with a hammer and chisel, and removed the water-logged asbestos insulation surrounding the rusting boiler and cylinders. Repainted in a thick coat of black enamel, NKP No. 360 was relettered to its original identity as W&LE No. 3960. The engine continued to sit outside and slowly deteriorate in Canton, eventually being acquired by the Silver Throttle Engine Association and Museum (STEAM), a group which had formed to restore it. In 1991, the engine was removed from the park, and after stops in south Canton and Louisville ended up in Minerva, Ohio. In the mid-2000’s, with STEAM low on funds, Jerry Jacobson attempted to acquire the engine, even sending a diesel locomotive and three coaches to Minerva to trade for the #3960. However, STEAM soon disbanded, and it was determined that Canton still had legal claim to the engine, setting off a decade-long discussion over No. 3960’s future.

After years of communications, the city finally placed No. 3960 up for auction, and Age of Steam Roundhouse was the high bidder. The wayward switcher is badly deteriorated and in need of significant work, but it is finally home in Sugarcreek and will eventually receive a full cosmetic restoration.

General Electric Diesel Locomotives

GEd 25-ton No. 2 was built in 1951 for the New York and Pennsylvania Paper Company for use on the 36” gauge railroad inside its plant in Johnsonburg, PA. Later purchased by John Uher and modified to standard gauge, the engine ran on John’s private Coshocton, Otsego and Eastern Railroad. While only 175 horsepower, No. 2 is frequently used to move much larger engines around the AoSR site.