Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum acquires a rare steam locomotive

EG Brooke camel back #1187 1958

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum in Sugar Creek, Ohio, is happy to announce that it was the high bidder for an unusual “Camelback” steam locomotive in a sealed-bid auction held on July 15, 2020, at the Strasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania. The amount of the winning bid was not disclosed.

A rare Camelback type of locomotive, #1187 is a former Philadelphia & Reading Railroad 0-4-0 steam  switcher constructed in 1903 that was specially designed to burn the smokeless anthracite “hard coal” found in deposits across the eastern part of Pennsylvania. It was the last Camelback steam locomotive in regular Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) service, and is one of only three such Camelbacks still in existence, all the others having been scrapped and melted down by the mid-1950s.

“The addition of this historically significant locomotive to the museum’s collection was important due to our founder Jerry Joe Jacobson’s long desire to acquire, restore and display it at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum,” stated Executive Director Noel Poirier. “We are ecstatic and proud to honor Mr. Jacobson’s legacy by successfully acquiring #1187.”

Because of the special firebox construction needed by these Camelbacks to burn anthracite coal with its lower heating value than found in other types of coal, the engineer had to sit and operate his engine in a cab mounted on top of the boiler instead of being attached in its usual location at the back end of the boiler. It was this hump-back appearance resembling the desert-dwelling animal that gave rise to the Camelback nickname of those steam locomotives having this unusual construction.

The fireman shoveled coal into the huge firebox in the usual manner, but from his own small, open-side cab located where the locomotive’s larger cab was normally located. Therefore, engineer and fireman had to work in two separate locations on the same engine, a situation that could be dangerous during the operation of the locomotive. Perched in his cab located atop a Camelback’s hot boiler, the engineer roasted during the summers, and working in his open-air cab during the winters, the fireman froze.

Construction of the beautiful Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum was completed in 2012 by Jerry and Laura Jacobson of Sugarcreek. The late Mr. Jacobson was the owner and operator of the 550-mile Ohio Central Railroad System. He loved old-time steam locomotives and was fortunate to acquire 22 of them for his private collection. In 2008 Mr. Jacobson sold his railroads, and spent the remainder of his life constructing this beautiful, 18-stall roundhouse and back shop complex to restore and display his stable of iron horses, which is believed to have been the world’s largest privately-owned collection of steam locomotives. Mrs. Jacobson continues that “love of locomotives” tradition and generous support begun by her late husband.

“Even though Camelback steam locomotives were operated primarily on a dozen railroads back East, they were also used on railroads out West, in Maine, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and even up in Canada,” Mr. Poirier added. “During the 1880s, three Camelbacks were operated on the predecessor of the railroad that borders our Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum property here in Sugar Creek.”

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum offers summertime tours, occasional fire-ups of some of our steamers, and many other special events. We are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Please visit our website at: , or visit us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Heavyweight Coaches - CB&Q 6144 & 6148

Builder:Pullman Company
Original Owner:Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Capacity:84 seats

As railroad travel gained popularity in the second half of the 19th century, railroads and passenger car builders sought to improve rider safety. Wooden railcars posed a fire threat in the event of a derailment due to the coal stoves used to heat them. Further, wooden cars were more likely to “telescope,” with one car piercing the end of its neighboring car due to the forces of a collision. Toward the end of the century, steel railroad cars began to appear, offering reduced risk of fire and significantly increased strength in derailments. Most steel cars were built on a robust metal frame and concrete floor, increasing the total car weight over the wooden equipment they were replacing. To help spread the load, most rode on six wheel trucks. As a result, many early 20th century steel cars were nicknamed “heavyweights.”

By the time coaches 6144 and 6148 were built for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, steel passenger cars were commonplace. Ordered for the CB&Q’s premier trains with 54 other coaches, these cars provided comfortable seating for 84 passengers. Car 6144 offering a separate smoking section for 32 of its riders. Air conditioning was added to the cars in the early 1930’s. As “the Q” modernized its marquee trains with newer cars similar to Age of Steam’s lightweight train set, the venerable heavyweights were bumped to Chicago commuter train service and renumbered into the 7300-series. The CB&Q’s heavyweights were gradually retired in the 1960’s as passenger service declined, with the last commuter cars being surviving until 1973.

Coaches 6144 and 6148 were retired in 1967 and sold to the Illinois Railway Museum. After passing through subsequent owners, the cars were sold to Jerry Jacobson and moved to the Ohio Central Railroad. Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum crews performed repairs and repainted the two coaches into their classy “Pullman Green” livery in 2019.

Steel Caboose - WM 1880

Builder:WM Hagerstown, Maryland Shops
Original Owner:Western Maryland Railway
Class:AAR Class NE (caboose)

Built to provide safe, functional accommodations for crew members at the rear of freight trains, the caboose is a symbol of the Classic Era of American railroading. Train conductors used cabooses as their offices to fill out forms, organize switch lists and do other paperwork. Other caboose crew members, called “brakemen,” would maintain a watch ahead for mechanical and safety issues from the elevated “cupola.” After being replaced by electronic monitoring equipment in the 1980s, cabooses mostly disappeared from the American railroading scene.

Caboose 1880 was built in 1940 by the Western Maryland Railway’s own Hagerstown, Maryland car shops. Along with over 50 identical sister cars, 1880 was assigned to freight trains across the WM system. After serving WM’s corporate successor, Chessie System, the caboose was eventually purchased by Jerry Jacobson and moved to his Ohio Central Railroad.

During 2014, Age of Steam Roundhouse crew members restored caboose 1880 back to its as-built 1940 look.

160 Ton Wreck Crane - P&LE X300505

Builder:Industrial Works – Bay City, MI
Original Owner:Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad
Capacity:160 Tons
Class:Maintenance of Way

Derailments, from the typically minor ones to the occasionally catastrophic incidents, disrupted the flow of trains along the railroad. If trains could not run, the railroad could not deliver goods and passengers, so companies staged wreck trains at most major terminals to be “on call” when accidents happened. The central component of these wreck trains was the wreck crane, sometimes known as a wreck derrick or simply “wrecker.”

When an accident occurred, the nearest wreck train would be quickly hauled to the site. The train carried the necessary equipment, tools and employees to get the railroad running again. Cranes could re-rail locomotives and train cars, or lift them onto flatcars to tranport back to workshops for heavier repair. Sometimes flatcars with pre-made track panels were included, and the crane could install these panels to permit a temporary connection, letting trains slowly slip by active worksites.

The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad purchased 160-ton wreck crane X100003 from Michigan’s Industrial Works – later known as Industrial Brownhoist – in 1919. Typical of most railroad cranes at that time, X100003 consisted of a heavy-duty flatcar supporting the crane’s boom, hoist equipment, operator’s cab and a small steam engine to power the hoist. The boom could rotate about its base, and outriggers could be extended to increase stability at a worksite.

Eventually, the crane was converted to diesel engine power and renumbered X300505. When the P&LE sold off large amounts of equipment in the early 1990’s, Jerry Jacobson purchased the entire McKee’s Rocks Wreck Train, including this crane. X300505 served the Ohio Central Railroad for many more years. The wreck train joined the Age of Steam collection when Jerry sold the Ohio Central in 2008.

CNR Lightweight Passenger Car Set

Builder:Canadian Car & Foundry
Built:1952 – 1954
Original Owner:Canadian National Railway
Capacity:52 – 76 Seats
Class:Lightweight Passenger Car

By 1952, the Canadian National Railway needed to modernize its passenger trains. Older coaches, dining cars and sleeper cars were worn out after heavy use during World War II. The automobile and airliner were ever-growing threats to CNR’s passenger business. Finally, post-war sensibilities were increasing the expectations of comfort and convenience in rail travel.

To answer these needs, CNR placed a massive order for an entire fleet of new lightweight passenger cars. Montreal’s Canadian Car and Foundry received the order for 218 new 80-seat coaches, while Chicago’s Pullman Standard was tasked with constructing accompanying dining cars, sleeping cars, and parlor cars. All were based on previously built Pullman “lightweight” designs, which used structural steel car bodies to save significant amounts of weight over previous body-on-frame “heavyweight” cars. All cars were delivered by July of 1954.

With a flourish of advertising, CNR put their new cars to work on their marquee trains, notably the Super Continental. Passengers responded, and ridership increased for a time. As the passenger rail business changed in the 1960’s, the coach fleet received modifications to better fit customer needs. Some had snack bars added for shorter runs where dining car service would no longer be offered. Cars keeping their coach-only status relinquished four seats in favor of end-of-car luggage racks, bringing total car seating to 76 people.

When CNR passenger trains were handed over to VIA Rail (Canada’s national intercity passenger, similar to Amtrak), the passenger car fleet was transferred as well. A handful of coaches received further modification, converting them into coach – baggage combination (“combines”) to handle baggage on secondary lines. VIA sold off the former CNR fleet in the early 1990’s, and many of the cars found their way to tourist train service. Age of Steam Roundhouse’s 10-car lightweight fleet is listed below:

Coach – Baggage 9300 seats 52 passengers and has a separate baggage area with sliding doors to carry passenger luggage.

Coach – Cafe 3208 seats 76 passengers and includes a small cafe counter for serving beverages and snacks.

Coaches 5443, 5444, 5499, 5582, 5583, 5584, 5595, and 6542 seat 76 passengers.

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum will reopen for public tours on Thursday, June 18. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will go on sale beginning next week via the Museum’s website.

“We want all of our stakeholders and potential visitors to know that the Museum will do everything it can to meet, and even exceed, health and cleanliness guidelines to insure that our staff, volunteers and visitors are as safe as we can possibly make them,” stated Executive Director Noel Poirier.

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum has instituted changes in its ticketing and tour structure to accommodate the COVID-19 requirements of the Ohio Department of Health. The changes are:

·     Tickets for all tour time slots must be purchased in advance. No walk-ins will be permitted.

·     Tour size will be strictly limited to 8 people according to the current health order by the State of Ohio.

·     Visitors should wait in their vehicles or the parking lot until 10 minutes before tour time.

·     Visitors and staff must adhere to social distancing requirements as determined by the State of Ohio.

·     Museum staff will wear masks at all times when interacting with visitors; Visitors are encouraged to wear face coverings.

·     Public areas (gift shop, restrooms, etc.) will be cleaned and disinfected multiple times a day; a deep clean is performed once a week by an outside, professional cleaning service.

·     After the tour visitors should not reenter the Depot building unless there is a need to use the restroom facilities, and that should be done one at a time.

We will be rescheduling our cancelled special tour programs for later this summer. The Museum is excited to once again be able to share with the general public the passion for steam railroading of our founders, Jerry and Laura Jacobson. Thank you for your continued support!