Maine two-foot locomotive steams again

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Boothbay Railway Village S.D. Warren 0-4-0T No. 2 as it was test-fired on July 30.
Submitted photo
A view of the firebox of Boothbay Railway Village 0-4-0T No. 2.
Submitted photo
BOOTHBAY, Maine — A steam locomotive from one of Maine’s most obscure two-foot gauge railroads will return to the rails under its own power this summer for the first time since the 1940s.

On Monday, the Boothbay Railway Village test fired S.D. Warren 0-4-0T No. 2 following an extensive rebuild. If everything goes according to plan, the locomotive will operate under its own power in the coming weeks, says Executive Director Margaret Hoffman.

The locomotive has been under restoration for two years and will eventually run on the museum’s three-quarter-mile loop of track near Boothbay Harbor. The Boothbay Railway Village was established in the 1960s and currently rosters a number of German-built 0-4-0 locomotives.

Hoffman says a number of projects need to be completed before it can run, including installing and painting the cab and the brakes. On Monday, the shop team was using steam from the test fire to bend the wood rafters that will support the roof of the cab.

While enthusiasts have heard of Maine’s five famous 2-foot gauge common-carrier roads, fewer know about the industrial railroad built to serve the S.D. Warren Paper Mill Company in Westbrook, just west of Portland, Maine. Originally using horse-drawn cars on narrow gauge rails, the paper company purchased three 0-4-0T locomotives in 1895 from the Baldwin Locomotive Works to move materials around the plant. The locomotives were used by the paper mill until the 1940s.

When the locomotives were retired from the mill, a man named Frank Van Walsh purchased two of the locomotives, Nos. 1 and 2, and moved them to an amusement park in New Jersey. In 1969, Van Walsh donated the locomotives to the newly formed Boothbay Railway Village. Locomotive No. 1 was put on display with equipment from other Maine 2-footers, including boxcars from the Wiscasset & Quebec Railroad and Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad. Locomotive No. 2 was parked along the highway under the sign that welcomed visitors to the museum. In 2007, it was moved into the shop for evaluation and the restoration began in 2016.

More information is available online.
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