Grand Canyon Railway 4960
Grand Canyon Railway No. 4960 is a class "O-1a" 2-8-2 "Mikado" type steam locomotive originally built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1923 for the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad. It was mostly used for hauling freight trains until 1957. It was spared from scrap by the Burlington Route for use on their steam excursion program alongside 4-8-4 class O-5b No. 5632, until the program was shut down in 1966. It was sold to the Circus World Museum before being operated again by the Bristol and Northwestern Railroad for only three years. Today, it runs for the Grand Canyon Railway, pulling tourist trips between Williams, Arizona and the Grand Canyon National Park alongside former Lake Superior and Ishpeming 2-8-0 "Consolidation" type No. 29.
|Grand Canyon Railway 4960|
GCRY No. 4960 at Williams, Arizona in 2006
Beginning in the early 1910s, the Chicago Burlington and Quincy ordered a total of 388 2-8-2 mikados from Baldwin Locomotive Works to replace their aging 2-6-2 Prairies in the growing heavy freight traffic. The first 60 class O-1 locomotives were built between 1910 and 1911, being numbered 5000-5059. In 1911, five E-4s, which were numbered 800-804, were delivered to the CB&Q themselves, as well as more for some of the CB&Q's subsidiary companies, including the Fort Worth and Denver Railway. Later on, one hundred O-2’s were delivered, numbered 5200-5299, just between 1912 and 1913. And then sixty O-3 mikados between 1915 and 1919, numbered 5300-5359. That same year, fifteen O-4’s arrived, being numbered 5500-5514. Then between 1917 and 1923, 148 O-1a’s were produced and delivered, being numbered 5060-5147, as well as 4940-4999, and 4960 was among the last locomotives completed for the railroad. In 1925, all the O-2’s were sent to the Burlington Route’s own West Burlington, Iowa shops to be rebuilt as O-2a’s and O-2b’s. All these locomotives were mainly used for hauling heavy freight trains mostly around the Iowa division for more than 30 years, but then diesels began to take over the secondary assignments, and by 1957, all 2-8-2's on the CB&Q were withdrawn from revenue service and mostly cut up.
1958–1966 excursion careerEdit
What saved No. 4960 from the scrapper's torch was being used for the Burlington Route's steam excursion program. Its first fan trip run occurred on December 28, 1958, which was sponsored by the Illinois Railroad Club. Back then, those fan trips would be sponsored by railfan clubs and groups from the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS). After the fan trips, the Burlington Route's president, Harry C. Murphy, would officially start the steam excursion program, which would star No. 4960, as well as O-5b 4-8-4 "Northern" type No. 5632, which was built by the Burlington Route's own shops in 1940. The railroad has given 4960 a complete overhaul, in 1961, in order to keep the locomotive working for the program.
During the steam program, the husky mikado was nicknamed 'The Teacher', as it occasionally hauled groups of school children for their field trips. In 1963, during the 50th anniversary of the railroad's service to Casper, Wyoming, No. 4960 was painted gold all over as the 'Tenshodo Mikado', as nicknamed by Trains Magazine. Afterwards, No. 4960 was painted black once again, and resumed to pull excursions for the CB&Q between Chicago and Ottowa, Illinois. Around the same time, the railroad reacquired one of 4960's sister engines, 4963, which had recently been retired from the Bevier and Southern railroad. However, she was only kept as a spare parts provider for the 4960. Between 1965 and 1966, No. 4960 was used to pull the Circus World Museum's train from Baraboo to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
However, the excursion program on the Burlington Route didn't last any longer. In 1966, Harry C. Murphy retired from his position as president of the Burlington Route, and Louis W. Menk took his place, who wasn't interested in running a steam program, and he had plans to combine the CB&Q with the Milwaukee Road, Spokane Portland and Seattle, Northern Pacific, and Great Northern railroads to create the Burlington Northern System. No. 4960's last excursion run for the CB&Q occurred on July 17, 1966. Shortly afterwards, it was sold to the Circus World Museum for static display. In November 1970, it was donated by the State Historical Society to the Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society's Museum at North Freedom, Wisconsin, where it remained in storage to face an uncertain future.
1981–1984 excursion careerEdit
After almost a decade of quiet storage in North Freedom, No. 4960 was leased to Harold Keene, who moved it to the Bristol and Northwestern tourist railroad, which ran over Ex-Southern Railway trackage in Bristol, Virginia. The mikado would find a new relationship with two employees, Ervin White and Robert Franzen. At this time, White was part of the crew that moved the locomotive to Bristol and restored it back to operation, while Franzen was a volunteer fireman and brakeman for the tourist railroad. The 4960 was back under steam again, however the restoration was still technically incomplete; the 4960 was missing it's boiler jacket and the cylinders were also partially uncovered. Regardless of some of the exposed parts though, the 4960 was still functional, and she began pulling tourist trips between Bristol and Benham beginning in the summer of 1981. Just three years later, however, No. 4960's time on the B&NW was already cut short, when the line had declared bankruptcy, due to the unsuccess of the line, and it was fixing to go out of business. This was the last time No. 4960 ran under her own power in her CB&Q appearance. In 1985, the 4960 was towed to Fort Wayne, Indiana for more time out of service.
Grand Canyon Railway Excursion CareerEdit
In 1989, the Grand Canyon Railway, a former Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe short line between Williams, Arizona and the Grand Canyon National Park, was reopened for public excursions, thanks to Max and Thelma Biegert, a couple from Phoenix. The first four locomotives they acquired were former Lake Superior and Ishpheming 2-8-0 consolidations, 18, 19, 20 and 29, and two of which were restored to run there. The GCR had the hopes of pulling ten or more loaded passenger cars on their trackage. However, the 18 was limited to pull five cars unassisted, and the 29 couldn’t pull any more than nine cars unassisted, so the GCR needed a larger and more powerful locomotive to meet the demand. Ervin White and Robert Franzen, the same employees from the B&NW, suggested to the railway that the 4960, which was still in dead storage at Fort Wayne, should be given another chance at life. The mikado was purchased by the GCR in 1989. When mechanics arrived at Fort Wayne, they disassembled the mikado into sections for easier shipment. The running gear was hauled by truck to Birmingham, Alabama for refurbishment, and the rest of the components, including the boiler, frame, cab, and tender, were hauled on flatbeds straight to Arizona. Restoration work finally began in July 1993 in the GCRY's Williams shops, and this time, the work was much more advanced than it was on the B&NW and even a little more advanced than most of her overhauls on the CB&Q. Flues, tubes, bearings, coal systems, and other old parts were removed to either be repaired, or be replaced. Boiler men, welders, and electricians took their time to get the work done, and Robert Franzen, who became 4960's fireman again, was supervising the restoration process. Ervin White also supervised the GCRY’s train operations. The restoration process was finally completed after three years, 80,000 man hours, and a cost of 1 million dollars, and the 4960 was back under steam once more. Only this time, it has been so heavily modified, it now has an appearance of a typical USRA mikado, instead of its CB&Q appearance. The locomotive's top speed was also increased to 65 miles per hour, but on the railway, it's limited to 40 mph.
The 4960 has now been pulling tourist trips from Williams to the Grand Canyon Village, and back, and it stole ex-LS&I 18's title as the GCRY's favorite steam locomotive. There was one historic night photo session of the 4960 parked side by side with the 18 and 29, as all three steamers would only operate together on the GCRY at the same time until 1998, when the 29 was brought back into the locomotive shops for a major overhaul that would last until 2004. In 2002, Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe 3751, a 4-8-4 "northern" based from San Bernardino, California, traveled to Williams to participate in that year's National Railway Historical Society Convention, and it performed a doubleheader with the 4960, as well as a tripleheader with No. 18, to the Grand Canyon, and back to Williams. This event was not without a night photo session. Once the convention was over, No. 3751 returned home, while the 4960 and 18 resumed on the GCRY. In 2005, the 4960 performed a doubleheader with No. 29, as well as posing side by side in front of the GCV log depot for some more night photo sessions.
By 2008, almost all the Ex-LS&I 2-8-0s rostered by the GCRY were sold off. No. 19 was sold to the city of Frisco, Texas, where it resides today in Frisco livery. In 2007, the GCRY purchased Ex-Spokane Portland and Seattle 2-8-2 No. 539 from Iowa Pacific Holdings with the hopes of refurbishing it to operation, and in exchange, Nos 18 and 20 were transferred to the Mount Hood Railroad in Oregon. Then, they ended up at the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad in Alamosa, Colorado, where No. 18 is put up for sale under the Ozark Mountain Railcar Equipment. No. 20 was sold to the City of Allen, Texas, in October 2020, where it also stays put with Frisco lettering.
In 2007, the entire GCRY was purchased by Xanterra Travel Collection, and the 539 only received some cosmetic improvements, instead of a full operational restoration. In 2008, Xanterra ceased all steam operations on the GCRY due to fuel costs and environmental concerns, and the 4960 was put on static display in front of the Williams Depot. Just one year later, the GCRY brought back steam operations for only one or two times per month, and in order to keep costs low, the 4960 has been burning recycled waste vegetable oil collected from restaurants in the South Rim and Williams instead of regular oil. By 2012 No. 4960's 1,472 day inspection required by the Federal Railroad Administration has been completed, and the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society took Santa Fe 3751 for a second visit to the GCRY, where she would perform another doubleheader with the 2-8-2 as part of the state's Centennial. Between 2013 and 2014, the 4960 pulled occasional freight trains for, yet, another photo shoot. In 2016, The 4960 performed another doubleheader with 29 as part of the Centennial of the National Park Service. As of 2021, the 4960 remains operational, only pulling excursions on Steam Saturday’s, and is occasionally on display at Williams during the winter season.
- When the 4960 and her sister engines were initially built, they came with vintage oil lamps for their headlights and their marker lights. At some point, supposedly during the Great Depression, the 4960 was one of the first O-1a's to receive an overhaul, which would come with standard golden glow headlights with lightbulbs.
- At some point after 1952, the sides of the coal bunker of the 4960's tender were inverted into slopes just a little bit.
- When operating for the B&NW, the 4960 was missing it's boiler jacket and cylinder coverings. It was also missing marker lights most of that time.
- During the 1993-1996 restoration on the GCRY at Williams, the 4960 received a smaller smokebox with a new arrangement for the smokebox door; a centered twin-sealed beam headlight with two lightbulbs, a rectangular number plate, and a golden mounted bell on top.
- It also supposedly took it's new curved grab iron from ex-LS&I 2-8-0 No. 20, as that locomotive has been missing its grab iron for a while.
- The mikado also received a new Santa Fe-styled cowcatcher, a smaller sand dome, and a new whistle.
- It also had its old tender replaced with a bigger six-axle oil tender that used to belong to a Soo Line 4-8-2 "Mountain Type" for greater and cleaner fuel and water capacity. The road number of the 4-8-2 in question is unknown.
- Two of the side windows in the cab were also completely enclosed with red GCRY symbols painted over the sealed spots.
- In 1999, the 4960 received a new custom made water injector for faster water flow.
- In 2004, the 4960's old blast nozzle inside the smokebox was replaced by a new custom made Lempor nozzle that would be more effecient for the exhaust system. It also received a new custom made smoke stack.
- In 2007, the 4960 was given another overhaul with a few more modifications. It was given a Chinese copy of a Worthington feedwater heater system that comes with a heat exchanger mounted into the top of the smokebox, as well as a hot water pump on the pilot deck. Now the 4960 is the only CB&Q 2-8-2 to ever support a Worthington feedwater as opposed to the Elesco feedwater that was more common on the CB&Q.
- It's grease lubrication system was also replaced with an oil lubrication system in the form of a mechanical lubricator that uses biodegradable oil for the main roller bearings.
- In order to operate under Xanterra ownership with low operation costs, the 4960 was converted to a cleaner and cheaper source of fuel, in 2009: Recycled waste vegetable oil that was delivered to the railway by third-party suppliers, which now collects the oil from restaurants in the Grand Canyon Village, Williams, or any other town in Northern Arizona.
Surviving Sister EnginesEdit
While No. 4960 was sold to the Circus World Museum, Nos 4963 and 5632 were sold to steam locomotive caretaker, Richard Jensen, who moved them to the Chicago and Western Indiana roundhouse for storage. In 1969, both locomotives were moved to a Chicago scrapyard, where No. 5632 was scrapped, after derailing on a switch. After Richard Jensen passed away in 1991, No. 4963, which was still in dead storage at a Chicago scrapyard, was acquired by the Illinois Railway Museum, who moved it to their property in Union, Illinois for static display. The 4963 still resides there today.
Chicago Burlington and Quincy 4978 was retired from revenue service in 1960 and sat idle in Galesburg for five years, until it was donated to the South County Historical Society to be placed on static display at Ottawa, Illinois. In 1997, it was relocated to Mendota Amtrak station in front of an Ex-CB&Q caboose No. 14451 in Mendota, Illinois, where it still remains on static display.
Chicago Burlington and Quincy 4994 is the youngest survivor of the CB&Q 2-8-2s. It was retired in 1960 and sat idle, until 1964. That year, it was acquired by the Texas Tech University, who put it on display on their property in Lubbock, Texas. Since then, it has been renumbered 401, in order to represent the CB&Q’s E-4 locomotives that operated on the Fort Worth and Denver Railway.
Fort Worth and Denver 410 is the oldest survivor of the CB&Q mikados, and it is the sole survivor of any E-4. It was within fifteen such locomotives built for the subsidiary in 1915, and it was used for freight service, until 1957. The locomotive was purchased by the Texas and Pacific Railroad, while being renumbered 400. It remained as a back up in flood protection service. When it was retired in 1963, it was donated to City Park in Marshall, Texas, where it remained on static display for decades. In 2007, the locomotive was moved inside a steel shed, as the park grew concerns over asbestos. In 2008, the locomotive was sold off and moved to a nearby station, where it received a cosmetic restoration and is now on static display just behind Union Pacific caboose No. 25687.
In Popular CultureEdit
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