C&O 2716 restoration effort gets several boosts

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At long last, 2716 arrives in Ravenna, Ky. following a three-day trip from the Kentucky Railway Museum.
Chris Anderson
RAVENNA, Ky. — Chesapeake & Ohio 2716 has arrived in Ravenna, Ky.

The three-day move of the 2-8-4 “Kanawha” from Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, Ky. to Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp.’s headquarters in Ravenna was completed Sunday afternoon when the locomotive rolled into the small twin towns of Ravenna and Irvine, Ky., and was greeted by what seemed like the entire community. Kentucky Steam plans to restore the locomotive to running order and have it as its centerpiece for a large multi-purpose economic development and education project. Joe Crawford, a Kentucky Steam board member and the director of the Estill (County) Development Alliance, said the locomotive arrived a day after Ravenna-Irvine was certified as a “Trail Town,” which will help with tourism marketing, and with the arrival of No. 2716, the town experienced a tourism windfall over the weekend.

“Yesterday, we were certified as a Kentucky Trail Town. What happened today serves to remind us that for over a hundred years, we’ve been a certified rail town,” Crawford said during the Ravenna Railroad Festival, held to celebrate No. 2716’s arrival.

The move started Friday morning in New Haven at the Kentucky Railway Museum with an excursion train trip to Lebanon Junction where CSX took of the duties of moving 2716, the 800 and a short train including restored C&O caboose No. 3203, which was donated to Kentucky Steam by CSX. R J. Corman Railroad Group then moved the train across the former C&O Old Road Subdivision from Louisville to Frankfort, where hundreds of people turned out to watch the 2716 roll into Kentucky’s capital city. On Saturday, the train was taken to Midway, Ky. for display during a street festival in the historic railroad town, and later to Lexington for an event in the city’s brewery district. Both the Midway and Lexington events also drew many hundreds of spectators young and old to see the locomotive. On Sunday, the rail lines of R.J. Corman and CSX were lined with onlookers at the train passed by before, again, drawing several hundred people in Ravenna for its arrival.

The completion of the move of 2716, which was led by Clinchfield Railroad F7 No. 800, was enough to bring tears of joy to the members of Kentucky Steam who have already logged thousands of man hours in just getting the locomotive ready to be towed to Ravenna.

During the railroad festival, however, their faces lit up as their organization got several boosts. Model railroad manufacturer ScaleTrains presented Kentucky Steam with a check for $6,000, a donation from the proceeds for the sale of the company’s HO and N scale models of CSX 3440, which has been dubbed “The Spirit of Ravenna” and wears the Kentucky Steam logo. CSX Director of Network Planning Eric Hendrickson, after receiving a proclamation from the local and county government in Ravenna declaring July 28 as CSX Railroad Heritage Day, thanked Kentucky Steam and its volunteers for their efficiency and safety. He capped off his remarks by telling Kentucky Steam that CSX plans to donate SW1500 switcher No. 1100, which is the former Louisville & Nashville No. 5000, to Kentucky Steam to assist in switching at its yard. A family which volunteers for Kentucky Steam also donated a van to the organization.

All of those donations came a day after Kentucky Steam received a massive donation from the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust in the amount of $46,000 which had been awarded earlier this year. A representative with the trust said Saturday that his organization had already disbursed all of the grant funding it had planned for the year when he found out about Kentucky Steam’s efforts, and the trust decided to double the amount it would grant this year, with Kentucky Steam getting among the largest portions of that money.

Kentucky Steam President Chris Campbell said the weekend was very emotional for all those involved in prepping 2716 for move and for all of the volunteers who helped move it. He said the donations made to Kentucky Steam, as well as the reception the locomotive got upon its arrival in Ravenna, are overwhelming.

“We’ve known from the beginning that this is a worthwhile project, and we continue to see that others recognize that as well,” Campbell said. “It’s not just the monetary donations, but it’s the volunteer hours and the resources that so many people and entities have kicked in to not only moving the 2716 but to welcome it into Ravenna and celebrate its potential as a key piece to an economic turnaround in Eastern Kentucky. We couldn’t thank these people enough, we couldn’t thank CSX and R.J. Corman enough.”

The rebuild of the 2716 is expected to take about a year and a half. The work will be done mostly at Kentucky’s Steam’s shops at the former CSX Ravenna Yard, which Kentucky Steam purchased last year.

For more information, visit, www.kentuckysteam.org

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