Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad 425 is a 4-6-2 light "Pacific" type steam locomotive originally built in 1928 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Gulf, Mobile & Northern Railroad. After the GM&N was consolidated into the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio in 1940, the locomotive was renumbered No. 580 and served in passenger service before being retired in 1950. Today, the locomotive is owned and operated by the Reading & Northern, based out of Port Clinton, Pennsylvania in excursion service.
|Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern 425 |
Revenue service (1928-1950)Edit
Locomotive 425 was built in January 1928 for the Gulf, Mobile and Northern by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Eddystone, PA as the first of two G-1 Pacifics ordered, the second being 426. The two locomotives later became Gulf, Mobile and Ohio 580 and 582, respectively until they were both retired in 1950.
20th century excursion career (1962-1996)Edit
Quickly after retirement, Nos. 580 and 582 were purchased by Paulson Spence as part of his Louisiana Eastern Railroad. Both 580 and 582 were renumbered to #4 and #3, respectively as part of a large fleet of steam engines which Spence had acquired over time, and hauled trains of gravel and occasional passenger trips. When Spence died in 1961 and the Louisiana Eastern collapsed, No. 3 was sold for scrap (along with most of the line's engines), while #4 was purchased in 1962 by Malcolm Ottinger and became the main power of the Valley Forge Scenic Railroad of Kimberton, Pennsylvania, where it also regained its original number, 425.
In the 1970s, it was purchased by Brian Woodcock and others and moved to the Wilmington & Western Railroad, though it never operated on the line due to its high axle load. In 1983, it was sold to Andrew J. Muller, Jr. to power tourist trains on the newly formed Blue Mountain and Reading Railroad based out of Temple, Pennsylvania. The engine made many runs on this 26 miles shortline, as well as a few trips on the mainline. The high-stepping Pacific was later joined by Reading T-1 4-8-4 “Northern” 2102 in 1985. The Blue Mountain & Reading became much larger with the purchase of nearly 300 miles of former Conrail trackage throughout the early 1990s. The railroad was renamed to Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern (often shortened to Reading & Northern). In 1995 both names officially merged. Having more track gave 425 and 2102 a large amount of new areas to roam, and the engines became based out of the railroad's own headquarters of Port Clinton.
The locomotive made a guest appearance at the Steamtown National Historic Site Grand Opening in July 1995, and pulled a number of excursion trips out of Scranton, Pennsylvania. 425's last excursion was the Tamaqua Fall Fest on October 13, 1996, when steam operations on the RBMN began to ceased until 2008.
21st century excursion career (2008-present)Edit
After nearly a decade of storage, rebuild work began to bring 425 back to service. Following two years of restoration, the Pacific made its first operation under steam in December 2007 in a partially repainted appearance. Another test run was done on May 10-11, 2008 where the engine debuted in a new lighter blue color and an above-centered headlight. It made its return to excursion service in June 2008 on a round trip from Port Clinton to Jim Thorpe, a run it would make often. The RBMN's new star made many trips to Jim Thorpe and other locations over the next three years, with employee runs, tourist trains on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, and a featured attraction of the 2010 NRHS Convention.
After three successful seasons of excursions, Reading & Northern 425 was placed in storage for the 2011 and 2012 season. Repairs included the rebuilding of the pilot and trailing trucks by the Strasburg Rail Road, including conversion from plain bearings to more efficient roller bearings, rebuilding of the air compressor, a new blower and replacing the bottom part of the smokebox. Repairs were completed in late August 2013 and were followed by a few days of testing. The 425's first public outing after her overhaul was a return to Steamtown for the first time since 1996 for its annual Railfest. While at Railfest 2013, 425 was on display, though under steam, near the entrance to the park. After Railfest had concluded, the 425 pulled excursions out of Jim Thorpe on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad on Labor Day Weekend. The engine later operated on numerous trips out of Port Clinton, and also doubleheaded with recently restored Central Railroad of New Jersey 0-6-0 #113 on several trips.
The Reading & Northern runs regular tourist trains on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway usually with the railroad's fleet of more modern freight diesels.
On September 4th, 2017, No. 425 struck a car leaving a parking lot in Jim Thrope.
- Upon arrival of the LE, the locomotive's original headlight was replaced with a larger one. It was eventually replaced with a smaller visor headlight.
- On June 12, 1992 the 425 was painted into its most recognizable appearance with a dark blue paint scheme. Inspired by the Reading Company's own blue painted Pacific, the streamlined Reading Crusader (not, contrary to popular belief, the Central Railroad of New Jersey's Blue Comet), the locomotive's blue made it very distinctive. The idea came to Mr. Muller to paint 425 in dark blue by former Reading Company Engineer Charles W. Kachel.
- In 2007, when the locomotive began test runs, she was fitted with a new headlight, off of Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad 4-8-4 #1501. This headlight remains on the engine today.
- Upon return to service in 2008, the locomotive was slightly repainted, notably with a slightly brighter shade of blue. Her original bell was replaced with a new one that came off of a Reading G class 4-6-2. The headlight was moved to the center of the smokebox door, and the bell was mounted to the top of the smokebox. A rectangular numberboard was mounted beneath the headlight.
- In 2014, the old front spoke pilot wheels were replaced with solid ones to match the rear truck.
- In August 2015, No. 425 was given another new paint scheme that included a darker tone of blue, light grey cylinder caps, and a symbol on its tender loosely inspired by the one from the GM&N.
- "Gulf, Mobile and Ohio 425". Steam Locomotive Information. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Vazquez (2008), p. 43.
- "Gulf, Mobile & Northern / Mobile & Ohio / New Orleans, Mobile & Chicago 4-6-2 "Pacific" Locomotives in the USA". www.steamlocomotive.com. Retrieved 2021-07-06.
- "HawkinsRails - Louisiana Eastern". hawkinsrails.net. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
- "Gulf, Mobile & Northern No. 425 Ownership". steamlocomotive.info. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- "Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern 425".
- "Steamtown's Grand Opening 25 Years Later". Railfan & Railroad. White River Productions. June 26, 2020. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
- Geary Jr., Kermit E. (July 2008). "Reading & Northern 425 Hits the Road". Railpace Newsmagazine. Vol. 27 no. 7. White River Productions. p. 14-15.
- "Any update on R&N #425?". Railway Preservation News forums. May 28, 2012.[unreliable source?]
- "Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway". Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "Norfolk Southern features No. 765 in 2015 excursion season".
- "CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Train Collides with Car". WNEP.com. 2017-09-05. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
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