The lost engines are lost no more and their future keeps growing more and more promising.
In July, 2009, the Virginia Museum of Transportation announced a partnership which it had formed to save the "Lost Engines of Roanoke." Employing the resources of all of the partners, the group announced plans to save the three steam locomotives (Norfolk & Western Class M2 Numbers 1118, 1134, and 1151 built in 1910-1911), one of two first generation diesel locomotives (Chesapeake Western #662 built by Baldwin in 1946), several tenders and a flat car.
For nearly sixty years, these one-of-a-kind examples of cherished American rail history from the first half of the twentieth century had languished in a Roanoke scrap yard.
News of the announcement was picked up by local, state, and national media, but the challenges of moving these multi-ton giants lay ahead, as well as the fate of the final Baldwin diesel locomotive #663. Through the expertise of the North Fork Corporation, all of the equipment was successfully moved out of the scrap yard to intermediate or final destinations ahead of the September 30 deadline.
(A feature story on the current successes at the Museum of Transportation is in the October issue of Valley Business FRONT, which went online yesterday. The magazine will be mailed this week.)
The last Baldwin diesel has found not only a home, thanks to the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, but also the promise of restoration. The Museum has donated #663-which was first donated to the Museum by Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal Co.-to the Roanoke Chapter.
In exchange, the Chapter has committed to performing a cosmetic restoration of the Museum's #662 to be returned as a new Museum exhibit within two years. Both locomotives will be restored to their striking blue and gold Chesapeake Western paint scheme. The Chesapeake Western operated in west-central Virginia and was purchased by the Norfolk & Western in 1954.
"It's a miracle," says Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., the Museum's Executive Director. "When people work together, miracles can happen. Everybody assumed that someday these locomotives would be scrapped, and together we have saved them all. Many thanks, especially, are due to Mary Ann Ward, president of the Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal Co. for donating all of these to the Virginia Museum of Transportation. It's been an honor to work with them and all of our partners on this project."
The "Lost Engines of Roanoke" and other rail stock have been at the scrap yard since the 1950s. The yard was recently sold to make way for Carilion Clinic's growing medical campus on South Jefferson Street, providing a window of opportunity to save these engines. Most of these pieces have a direct connection to Roanoke, and illustrate a story that should not be lost about the Valley's hard-working railroad employees.
Where are they now?
- Norfolk & Western Class M2c steam locomotive # 1151 and a tender have been moved to the Virginia Museum of Transportation but are not currently on display.
- Norfolk & Western Class M2 steam locomotive #1134 and a tender have been moved to Goshen for restoration by North Fork Corporation. Once restored, they will be moved to the Railroad Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth.
- Norfolk & Western Class M2 steam locomotive # 1118 has been moved to the facilities of the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. The Chapter traded its Baldwin steam locomotive #34 built in 1923 to North Fork Corporation in exchange for the #1118.
- Chesapeake Western Baldwin diesels #662 and #663 have been moved to the facilities of the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society for cosmetic restoration.
- Norfolk & Western Maintenance of Way Flat Car has been moved to Goshen for restoration by North Fork Corporation.