Monday, February 10, 2014
Locomotive No. 97 (2-8-0 "Consolidation")
Locomotive 97 was built by Alco's Cooke Works (#65188) in November 1923 as a stock coal-fired engine along with twelve other 2-8-0's of various sizes, two 2-6-0's, and five 0-4-0T's. The 200 was her original road number and she was sold new to the Birmingham and Southeastern (an Alabama shoreline) in March 1926, running there through the 1950s. While being held in storage, the locomotive was purchased by a New York businessman about 1964 and hauled to the Vermont Railway. Her original number conflicted with one of Vermont Railway's diesels, so the 200 was renumbered 97. She worked occasionally in Vermont in 1965 and 1966, and was then hauled to Connecticut where she would play a significant part in the events leading up to the creation of the Valley Railroad operation in southern Connecticut.
In 1966 and 1967, the steam department of the Connecticut Electric Railway ran locomotive 97 on occasional day excursions out of Hartford over New Haven Railroad. These excursions were sponsored by the Connecticut Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. At the end of 1967, a group of individuals from the steam department formed our organization, the Connecticut Valley Railroad Association, and ran three trips during 1968 with the help of the Empire State Railway Museum of Middletown, New York. After the takeover of the former New Haven Line by Penn Central, which tended to discourage steam excursions, the locomotive sat in Danbury for almost a year before being shipped to the Valley Railroad. After repairs, she returned to service in 1973, and then underwent a major rebuilding in 1979 that returned her to a more original appearance. Since then, locomotive 97 has logged thousands of miles along the Valley line.