|Builder:||Industrial Works – Bay City, MI|
|Original Owner:||Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad|
|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.