Ross Rowland

Ross E. Rowland, Jr. (Born 1940) is a figure in United States railroad preservation. He has run public and demonstration excursions on existing railroads utilizing steam locomotives.


Rowland's most famous accomplishment was The American Freedom Train, a steam-powered exhibit train which toured much of the continental US over 1975 and 1976 in conjunction with the celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial.[1]

Rowland has been connected with and operated some of the most famous U.S. excursion steam locomotives such as the Nickel Plate 759 2-8-4, currently at Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, Pennsylvania; the Reading 2101 4-8-4, currently at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland and the Chesapeake & Ohio 614 4-8-4.

During the 1980s, during a spike in oil prices, Rowland was instrumental in forming American Coal Enterprises, an organization dedicated to the design and production of modern, coal-fired, reciprocating, direct-drive steam locomotives designed to reduce or eliminate operational concerns associated with steam locomotives such as dynamic augment and to operate with enough efficiency to be economically viable to railroads.[2] Rowland managed to obtain permission from CSX Transportation to operate a renumbered 614T in freight service in 1985 to obtain data in order to finalize the ACE 3000 design.

A preliminary design for the ACE 3000 was developed,[3] but active development stopped prior to any effort to build a demonstrator or prototype when oil prices fell in the mid 1980s and it appeared that the disparity between coal and oil would not be sustained at a level significant enough to expect that a coal-fired locomotive would be economically feasible.

In the 1990s, Rowland operated public excursions on New Jersey Transit between Hoboken and Port Jervis. He announced preliminary plans to operate another steam-powered exhibit train, and was a critic of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Steamtown National Historic Site.[4]

Pacific Wilderness tourist trainEdit

In the summers of 2000 and 2001, Rowland managed the Pacific Wilderness Railway (PAW) on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This short lived tourist train consisted of a few older coach cars pulled by 2 GP20 diesels, traveling from Victoria to the peak of Malahat before returning to Victoria. The operation failed and ended operations abruptly in July 2001.[5]

Recent developmentsEdit

In early 2011 Ross announced the planned restoration and operation of the Greenbrier Presidential Express, a luxury train set to operate from Washington, D.C. to the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV.[6] The train was being rebuilt in Pottstown, PA until financial circumstances forestalled its completion.


  1. ^ Freedom Train
  2. ^ "The Ultimate Steam Page". Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  3. ^ "U. S. Patent 4425763". Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  4. ^ "Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization". National Parks Traveler. Archived from the original on 2014-08-14. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  5. ^ "Pacific Wilderness". Retrieved 2012-07-10.
  6. ^ "Hotel Watch: The Greenbrier Express". Washington Life Magazine.

External linksEdit