Please accept my apologies for any typos that you may find in this post. The spell checking routine on the blog software isn't working correctly and it has been difficult to check for all of the errors. They tell us that they are "working on it..."
I've always been a believer in going through things once in a while... you just never know what you might find. Such is the case of this particular car and its unique load. A long time ago, a company called Airfix, a British company I believe, offered plastic kits of very old locomotives. I thought this one looked kind of cool so decided to get one for my railroad. But when you model a railroad set in the 1950s era, what do you do with a locomotive that is at least 100 years old??? When you ask me a question like that, my fertile mind starts to wandering and you will eventually get an answer.
It seems that a long time ago, a bunch of local citizens decided to form their own railroad to connect their town to the thriving metropolis just twenty miles away. They figured that this new-fangled "railroad" would be their link to the outside world and economic growth. Well, they got together, pooled their limited capital, sold some bonds and formed the From Here to There Railroad. Excitment was high in town as the day for the first rails to be laid drew near.
Wanting to create as much excitement as possible for the new, fledgling railroad, management decided to purchase a locomotive. This would be on display in town and would be immediately put to work hauling materials to & from the railhead, the point where construction was taking place. It didn't take long for trouble to arrive...
First, none of the organizers knew anything about building a railroad including the logistics of such an endeavor. So they started where there were no trees for ties nor iron for rails. Soon they realized that their new locomotive would be useless in hauling the construction materials because there weren't any. So management decided to put the loco in a local farmer's barn and rethink their vewfound folly.
Shortly after this, the financial panic of 1842 struck and the monies raised for the construction of the line were pretty much deemed worthless by the local bank's failure. The locals rebelled and management was only able to escape their coating of tar & feathers by sneaking out of town on a moonless night. But a few years later, there was a glimmer of hope as it was announced that a new railroad, the From There to Here Railroad, would build the tracks to connect them to the outside world. Eventually, the line was completed, prosperity reigned for many years and everyone lived happily ever after.
But what became of the locomotive? Well, it seems that only management and the farmer knew where it was hidden. When management left, that meant that only the farmer knew where it was. He was pretty tight-lipped about it thinking that there might be some value in that contraption hidden under his hay mow. The old farmer took the story of the locomotive to his grave and it wasn't until about 100 years later that his great-grandson rediscovered the loco in the falling down barn. Being a bit of a local rail historian, he believed that the loco he had discovered was indeed the original loco purchased by the original line many years ago. Being aware of the value of historical artifacts, he contacted the Smithsonian Institute and offered it to them.
The Smithsonian was indeed interested and dispatched a preservation crew to the rural locaton of the farm. They directed the loading of the loco onto a flat car and had it shipped directly to Washington for preservation and permanent display there. The special movement train was routed across the Eastern Division of the Nickel Plate Road... and THAT'S how this engine ended up on my layout! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
The loco kit was really easy to assemble using just the hobby tools I had on my workbench. I did fill both the boiler and the water tank with some lead shot for some additional weight. The special flat car was built with some odds & ends from the scrap box. I believe at the time, I was experimenting with using real scale wood lumber for the floor planking. Someday to complete the effect, I need to add some tie-downs to hold the loco in place. Once on the flat car, the smoke stack was too tall so I cut it in two and "folded" it down onto itself. I think that this was done with some of the older steam boats that plied the Ohio & Mississippi Rivers. A little black paint and a generous slather of rust and this unique piece was ready to go.
Special movements like this are a fun kink to throw into your railroad's operations. Often, they had to be operated very slowly due to the load being oversized or fragile and they were often a train of their own. Besides, how else can you justify having such a neat piece of rolling stock on your pike?
Next time, we will take a look at another couple of pieces of recently painted & lettered rolling stock... until then...