Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Engine No. 40 Celebrates its 90th Birthday!

Ninety years ago this month, in August 1920, Steam Engine No. 40 was built by the AMERICAN LOCOMOTIVE COMPANY, at their Brooks Works in Dunkirk, NY.

No. 40 had a long and interesting career prior to its arrival at Essex Steam Train & Riverboat. Originally, No. 40 was one of 3 identical engines constructed for the new Portland, Astoria & Pacific Railroad, however, the company building the PA&P went bankrupt before the line was finished. For over a year, the locomotive sat on the docks at Portland until it was purchased by the Minarets & Western Railway to haul loads of logs and lumber. When that railroad could not pay its debts, the locomotive was given to the Southern Pacific Railroad and then sold to a used locomotive dealer. Eventually, No. 40 was bought by The Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad in North Carolina.

On the A&R, Engine No. 40 pulled freight and passenger trains and was involved in one major derailment where it came to rest on its side (above photo). Around 1950, No. 40 was replaced by a diesel locomotive, retired and stored in a small shed. Finally, in 1977, No. 40 was discovered by an employee of The Valley Railroad Company, purchased and loaded onto flat cars for its trip to Essex, CT...and a new career pulling trainloads of tourists aboard the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat.

Today, No. 40 is one of less than 200 operable steam locomotives in the United States, versus the roughly 180,000 steam engines in operation at the height of the steam era. Each day it runs, No. 40 burns about 2 tons of low sulfur coal for fuel and evaporates about 6000 gallons of water, pulling a 400-ton train a total of 50 miles. This is pretty much the same distance that No. 40 has run for most of its life.

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