Climax locomotive A-313 returns to Pennsylvania birthplace (updated)

Trip from Alaska complete, focus shifts to restoring engine to operating condition
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Corry_A313_photo
Climax locomotive A-313, built in 1902, has been returned from Alaska to Corry, Pa., where it was built.
Corry RAILS collection

CORRY, Pa. — “It is home and it is tucked away.”

With those words, Carl Wassink declared Phase I completed in the project to retrieve 1902-built Climax geared steam locomotive A-313 from Alaska for its home city of Corry.

Crated in a trailer-mounted container, the 3-foot gauge engine completed the final lap of its 4,000-mile-plus journey on Friday, Oct. 16. It made the last lap from North East, Pa., past the same Corry factory that built some 1,050 Climax locomotives from 1888 to 1928.

The 15-ton engine was shipped by barge from Alaska to Seattle, arriving there Sept. 13. It then waited several weeks for truck availability, beginning its cross-continent journey on Oct. 8. It reached Chicago on Oct. 10 and North East, Pa., near Erie, on Oct. 11. The trip was complicated by the use of an over-height (high-cube) container, necessitating circuitous routing in places, and the issuance of permits from the 10 states through which it passed. In some cases, the shipment couldn’t make clearance under a bridge crossing over an Interstate at an interchange and simply diverted up the off-ramp and back onto the highway via the corresponding on-ramp on the other side.

The engine sat in North East until Friday, Oct. 16, when its return home could be coordinated with cranes to offload it and place it in its secure storage facility.

Corry_Climax_2
The Climax, in a high-cube container, arrived in Corry on Friday.
Corry RAILS

Wassink, vice chairman of the nonprofit group Corry RAILS (Rail And Industrial Legacy Society), said the arrival marked the end of the rescue phase of the project and the beginning of the steps to restore the engine to operation. Known as A-313 for the design type and builder’s number, it was built for use in the Nome Gold Rush but was abandoned in place at Council, Alaska, about 1910. The engine was built to Climax’s Class A design, consisting of a cab that covers most of the boiler to resemble a boxcar.

The exact number of locomotives built by Climax is approximate, because for a period of time, the company issued only odd-numbered builder’s numbers. The highest builder’s number known is 1694. Of the 21 Climax locomotives that remain, three are known to be operational: one at Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia (1919, Class C-1551), one at the White Mountain Central Railroad in New Hampshire (1920, Class B-1603), and one in Australia (1928, Class B-1694).

Engine A-313 is housed in a 60-by-80-foot building about three blocks from its birthplace. Fundraising, beyond the goal of operation, will target construction inside the building of an archives room, a storage area, a meeting/break room, and a visitor center. Other costs will include insurance as the organization transitions to a stand-alone non-profit from being under the umbrella of Impact Corry, a community development non-profit that has provided support since the project began a few years ago.

Further information is available at Corry RAILS, P.O. Box 313, Corry, PA 16407 or corryrails.com.

— Updated at 11:30 a.m. with historical photo of locomotive A-313.

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