Funny how some things get started with just an off-hand, casual remark...
It was Sunday afternoon, Mothers' Day, and I was just kind of kicked back, relaxing after a very enjoyable dinner with my wife and our family. I had decided to check my email and found a note from my friend Art that pertained to some NKP Society business. At the end of his note, he said, "BTW, there is an ex-N&W 2-8-8-2 leaving St. Louis today, headed for East Wayne. It will no doubt travel through Fostoria, Bellevue and eventually to Roanoke."
Well! That caught my eye and piqued my interest very quickly. So I shot off a note to a few of my close RR friends and asked if they knew anything about it. A while later, one of them replied that, yes, it was due in Ft. Wayne "in a couple of hours." A further note to my friend Kelly got a reply that said that the train was not stopping except for crew changes and had left Ft. Wayne, "...about half an hour ago." CALL TO ACTION!
No one answered the phone at my friend Mike's house so I tried his cell. As luck would have it, he wasn't doing anything so we immediately made plans to head north and take up residence just east of Mortimer along the former NKP line that ran through Hancock County. He picked up his grandson and about fifteen minutes later, we were on our way. When we got there, the signals were red so we knew that we had some time... enough time to get wet around the edges when a brief shower passed over. But we were determined railfans; what's a little rain to them?
About an hour after we were there, the signal went green so we knew "something" would be coming. But it was another forty-five minutes before we saw a headlight to the west... and another fifteen minutes, give or take, before the train we were waiting for rolled into view.
One seldom gets to see vintage steam like this so it was a real treat and well worth the wait... even though the loco was dead in tow. Her piston rods were removed and I'm sure that there wasn't any water or coal in her tender but still, how often do you see ANY steam locomotive in any condition riding the rails?
The train passed all too quickly even though it was only traveling at about 25-30 mph. By then, it was after 8.30 in the evening and we could have given chase east through Fostoria but decided that the light was fading and it was late enough so we headed home. But we all agreed that it was well worth the time. And it was quite the sight!