Amtrak, historical society to negotiate on future home of GG1

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Canadian National C40-8M No. 2408, C40-8M leads an eastbound Norfolk Southern road freight past former-Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 No. 4859 in Harrisburg, Pa., in April 2014. The GG1 was temporarily located outside the depot to accommodate past Amtrak work at the Harrisburg station. An Amtrak representative says the railroad looks forward to working with the local historical society to find the locomotive a permanent home.
Michael S. Murray
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A quiet debate is unfolding over the future of a Pennsylvania Railroad electric icon.

Amtrak is planning upgrades to its Harrisburg station and needs the Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society to cooperate in finding a temporary and then new permanent home for Pennsy GG1 No. 4859 and a Pennsy N6B cabin car, or caboose.

John Smith, president of the historical society chapter, tells Trains News Wire that the organization leases track space from Amtrak, though not necessarily a specific track. The chapter owns the locomotive, caboose, as well as nearby Harris Tower, a former Pennsy interlocking that became surplus in the modern era.

The locomotive is usually on display on Track 5, which is one of two tracks that Amtrak plans to upgrade to high platforms to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

Smith says the chapter is negotiating with Amtrak on "different levels" to find a permanent home for the equipment under cover. Smith says Amtrak has offered to place the locomotive on another track at the station, but one that he says is partially exposed to the elements. He also says the railroad talked about moving the rolling stock under a pavilion near Harris Tower, about 1,000 feet due north of the Amtrak station.

"My suggestion is to put another track in," Smith says, so passengers boarding trains could still see the equipment and so that it stays out of the elements.

Smith argues that because the locomotive is on the National Register of Historic Places that Amtrak — using Federal government money — cannot put the chapter and its equipment at a disadvantage. He also says he wants to make certain that the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is at least notified of the pending move so the commission can lend whatever support it is able.

An Amtrak representative says the railroad looks forward "talking with the historical society about a permanent home."

Pennsylvania Railroad workers built GG1 No. 4859 in December 1937 in Altoona, Pa., using GE components. This GG1 was the first electric locomotive to haul a revenue service train to Harrisburg in January 1938.

More information is available online.
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