Trains Preservation Award

Since 2000, Trains magazine has been making an annual $10,000 donation to a preservation project it selects from proposals submitted by museums and preservation groups. Here’s a look back at the awards and what they have meant to the recipients.
Collinsville Inn restoration.
70-ton steam crane

2000 - Nevada Northern Railway Museum, Ely, Nev.
The first Trains Preservation Award went to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in 2000 and helped restore its 70-ton wreck train steam crane. Museum executive director Mark Bassett said the crane had been unused for more than 20 years when the museum decided to restore it. "We had to reverse engineer it to figure out how it worked," he told Trains.

Bassett said the crane is fired up about three times year, during the museum's annual winter photographers' weekend and over the Memorial Day weekend in May.

"We have used it to lift a car back on the rails that derailed during one of our winter weekends," he said with a laugh. "We fire it up to teach the next generation how to use it. We don't want to lose that knowledge. Right now, our best operator is 21 years old."

Archive preservation
2001 - Western New York Railway Historical Society, Batavia, N.Y.

The 2001 award went to the Western New York Railway Historical Society to help upgrade its archives. Scott Hawbaker, the society's webmaster, said the Trains money allowed the society to insulate a donated boxcar as a temporary home for many boxes of paper items the museum had received. "We had lots of documents — employee timetables, maps, magazines, records, and so forth — that needed to be in a dry, temperature-controlled space," Hawbaker said.

In 2012, the society became a partner in the Heritage Discovery Center in Buffalo, N.Y.. In addition to railroad history, the center features the history of the steel industry in Buffalo as well as its maritime history, with each group complementing the others. Hawbaker reported that a society member purchased an office building in a former industrial complex that featured full climate control and plenty of space.

"It's a permanent home for the collection," Hawbaker said, adding, "The Trains award was the seed that got it all started.”

Richard Steinheimer photo preservation
2002 - DeGolyer Library, Dallas, Texas

The 2002 Trains award went to the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas to assist in conserving the photographs of Richard Steinheimer. Steinheimer's dramatic images of railroading, particularly in the American West, have been featured in Trains for decades and earned him the title "the Ansel Adams of Railroad photography."

The DeGolyer's task was to re-house thousands of negatives in acid-free, archival sleeves and digitally scan each one. Anne E. Peterson, curator of photographs, said Steinheimer made detailed notes of each photograph, and that material was copied as well.

"His work is a great resource," she said. "Dick and his wife, Shirley Burman, were of great help in this project." Steinheimer died in 2011; Burman continues the task today.

Russell L. Martin, director and librarian at the DeGolyer, said the work is continuing now, some 12 years later: "We wanted to get Stein online. We've got the majority of the images digitized, and we hope to begin putting them online in six months." Martin described Steinheimer as "a real artist. His images have more than documentary value, and there is great explanatory detail for every image."

"We have many great photography collections," Martin noted. "We continue to need staff and funding to preserve them."

Winton engine re-build
2003 - Flying Yankee Restoration Group, New England, U.S.A.

selected the Budd-built Flying Yankee train to receive the Preservation Award in 2003. The funds were earmarked to aid in restoring to operation the original Winton 201-A engine, which powered the train during its entire service career.

According to George Hamilton, who was treasurer of the Flying Yankee Restoration Group at that time, cylinder liners, pistons, main bearings and injectors were overhauled by outside contractors. Unfortunately, Howard recalled, "Many of the small parts were gone and could not be replaced. We were advised that it would be impractical to continue to overhaul the engine." Items such as gaskets and seals are impossible to obtain, for example.

Winton diesel engines have not been produced in well over 50 years. The Winton Engine Co. was acquired by EMD and folded into the Cleveland Engine Co. The Winton engines were a pioneering design and had a number of elements that were always problematic, according to a technical article written by Eugene Kettering of the Cleveland Engine Co.

Howard reports that the rebuilt components are currently stored with the train, now located at the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln, N.H. It's possible that the engine may be reassembled in the future as an historical and educational display.

Running gear overhaul on SP&S No. 700
2004 - Pacific Railroad Preservation Association, Portland, Ore.

A big 4-8-4 was the beneficiary of the 2004 Trains Preservation Award. The Pacific Railroad Preservation Association, custodians of Spokane Portland & Seattle No. 700, a 1938 Baldwin known as "The Lady," used the funds from Trains to launch a project that eventually saw the locomotive's entire running gear overhauled, according to Steve Sedaker, the society's vice-president.

"Those funds launched that project," he said. "We kicked in a bit more and we overhauled the lead truck on the locomotive. That got us started on the running gear." Since that initial project a decade ago, society members have overhauled the lateral motion devices on the drivers, repaired or renewed the springs, worked on the brake rigging, and most recently overhauled the trailing truck.

"The engine is in better shape now than it's been in a long time." Sedaker said. Currently, the society is seeking Amtrak certification and preparing to undergo the federally-mandated 15-year boiler overhaul in 2015.

Coal wharf restoration
2005 - Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Chama, N.M.

"The most iconic structure from the Denver & Rio Grande days" is Tim Tennant's description of the tall wooden coal wharf at Chama, N.M., which received the 2005 Trains Preservation Award. Tennant is the executive director of the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec, whose volunteer members help the 64-mile tourist railroad between Chama and Antonito, Colo.

The wooden coal wharf was in rough shape, Tennant said, leaning about 18 inches out of plumb and inoperable due to its condition. John Sutkus, a structural engineer and member of the Friends group, took on the task of straightening the building, including rebuilding the crumbling foundation, Tennant said. The job took several years. "That award went a long way to start that process," Tennant avers. "It accomplished what we needed."

"We've since put on a new roof, and we want to add lightning arrestors next year," Tennant continued. The ancient Fairbanks-Morse gasoline engine that powered the coal hoist conveyor has been overhauled as well. "While it probably won't ever be used regularly,” he said, “we want to be able to use it for demonstration purposes."

McKeen Motorcar Lamp.

McKeen motorcar light fixtures
2006 - Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City, Nev.

When the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City, Nev., decided to restore its Virginia & Truckee McKeen motorcar, one of the major missing components were its 11 interior acetylene lights. The 2006 Trains Preservation award helped address that problem, as Chris DeWitt, restoration supervisor, explained.

The McKeen car had been retired nearly 70 years ago, and all that remained of the lamps were their outlines on the walls. "I thought one of the original [lights] might still exist," Dewitt said. "This is a small town, and I thought someone might have one." He asked around to no avail.

The big break came when the last Virginia & Truckee master mechanic died, and his daughter offered the museum some railroad items she found in his house.

"We went to look, and there were a couple of lanterns and a lot of papers,” DeWitt said. “Then, in the one box, I saw two of those lights.”

Those lamps were used to make replicas for the McKeen, modified to be electric instead of the original acetylene lamps. DeWitt said museum personnel dismantled one of the lamps and sent parts out to be duplicated. Restoration workers took on the task of making the milk glass covers for the lamps, making a mold and heating and forming the glass themselves.

Virginia & Truckee No. 22, a McKeen "windsplitter" gasoline motorcar, was built in 1910 and served the railroad until 1945. The museum acquired the carbody in 1995 and started to restore it in 1997. Following a three-year restoration, the car went into service on holidays at the museum. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and became a National Historic Landmark in 2012.

Painting for the "All-American Diesel"
2007 - Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, Baltimore, Md.

In 2007, Trains awarded its grant to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore so the museum could repaint CSX Transportation GP38 No. 2002. As Baltimore & Ohio No. 3802, the locomotive was dubbed “the All-American Diesel” by Trains, which sought to identify the nation’s average locomotive in its 1982 Motive Power Survey. The locomotive carried a plaque on its cab denoting that honor. Donated to the museum by CSX, it arrived in a faded coat of maintenance-of-way orange.

"No. 3802 was built for the B&O, then went to C&O, and finally CSX," said Courtney B. Wilson, museum director. "We restored it to its CSX livery because we didn't have any locomotives in that paint scheme."

"It's not often that something as pedestrian as a locomotive is honored," Wilson said. The Trains award helped purchase the paint and prepare the locomotive for painting by the museum's restoration shop crew, Wilson said. The colorful CSX livery is quite popular with visitors. No. 3802, still in working order, powers the museum's short "First Mile" train ride.

Emergency clean-up
2008 - Mid-Continent Railway Museum, North Freedom, Wis.

The 2008 Trains Preservation Award went to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, Wis. On June 9 and 10 of that year, the heavy rains forced the Baraboo River over its banks and through the museum's depot, yards, and shops. The Trains award helped the museum begin the cleanup process.

"There was lots of building and equipment damage," said Jeffey Bloohm, museum president. "Every journal box had to be cleaned out and repacked. The traction motors on our diesels had to be sent out. The platform at the depot washed away, the first floor of the depot was ruined, and the basement was filled to the top."

The Trains funds were used to repair and modify the platform so it won't wash away in the next flood, Bloohm said. A concrete curb will channel water over the track and away from the platform area.

"The funds were well-spent," Bloohm said. "Those funds, as well as other grants and donations helped us recover." There is still more to do, he noted. Certain pieces of shop machinery still has not been repaired or replaced, and other structures have yet to be cleaned out and repaired.

Boiler work on 2-6-6-2T No. 4
2009 - Pacific Locomotive Association, Sunol, Calif.

The Pacific Locomotive Association received the 2009 Preservation Award. The funds were designated to aid the group in completing the boiler overhaul of Clover Valley Lumber Co. No. 4, a 2-6-6-2T Mallet.

Alan Siegwarth, steam road foreman, credited the Trains award with accelerating the restoration of No. 4. "We used those funds to finish the boiler work on the engine," he stated. "There were matching funds and other donations, but without the Trains funds, it would have been two or three more years before we would have finished the work." Siegwarth said the major work included replacing the bottom half of the front flue sheet and the knuckle at the front of the firebox as well as the bottom of the smokebox.

The locomotive, one of only two serviceable Mallet compound articulated locomotives in the country, is operated several times annually, Siegwarth said. It was the largest of five engines under steam for Steam Fest 2014, held on two weekends in June.

Wallace W. Abbey photo preservation
2010 - Center for Railroad Photography & Art, Madison, Wis.

Scott Lothes, director of the Center for Railroad photography and Art in Madison, Wis., believes the 2010 Trains Preservation Award was "a wonderful shot in the arm to get it going." He was talking about the Wallace W. Abbey collection, which includes 25,000 black and white negatives and 8,000 color slides dating from the late 1940s to the 1990s, which the Center is now cataloging and digitizing.

Abbey worked for the Soo Line, the Milwaukee Road, and the Transportation Technology Center in Colorado during his railroad career, and was managing editor of Trains in the early 1950s. "He had lots of access in interesting times," said Lothes. "He had a strong technique, putting him on par with the greats like Steinheimer and (Jim) Shaughnessey."

For several reasons, there were major challenges in organizing and cataloging the Abbey images, Lothes said. The project has required more resources than originally thought and has been on-going for two years. Utilizing student interns from nearby Lake Forest College, the Center has made low resolution scans of every image. "We can use those scans to view the image," Lothes explained. "We have every one on a spread sheet to include all of his notes for everything."

Re-painting of Norfolk & Western's Bicentennial SD45 No. 1776
2011 - Virginia Museum of Transportation, Roanoke, Va.

The 2011 award went to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, which allowed the museum to repaint Norfolk & Western's Bicentennial SD45 No. 1776 back into its 1976 garb. "It was really significant that we qualified for the award with our desire to restore that locomotive," said Bev Fitzpatrick, executive director.

The museum paid Norfolk Southern to repaint the locomotive at its Altoona, Pa., paint shop. "The locomotive has a prominent place on track 3 at the museum right next to N&W No. 1281 and No. 611," Fitzpatrick said. "It's wonderful to have Trains as a partner. It means that we're doing something well, and that means a lot to us."

Restoration of Collinsville Inn
2012 - National Railway Historical Society, Washington, D.C., chapter

In 2012, the Trains Preservation Award went to the Washington, D.C., chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, to help with restoration of former Pennsylvania Railroad car Collinsville Inn. Chapter member Jim Lilly, who wrote the grant application, said the restoration is moving ahead but not as quickly as he'd like. All the necessary work on the car's trucks has been completed except for the wheels, Lilly said. "Because Amtrak changed the requirements, we're probably going to have to replace the wheels," Lilly said. This may cost as much as $25,000, an unexpected development.

Collinsville Inn is a 1949 Budd-built car, originally a 21-roomette sleeper, and was rebuilt into a coach by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1964 to accommodate visitors to the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. It was rebuilt again in 1994 by Maryland Area Regional Commuter railroad, which donated the car to the Washington Chapter in 2008. The Chapter already owns and operates a sister car, Franklin Inn, as well as Dover Harbor, a heavyweight Pullman sleeper-lounge-buffet car.
"Without the support of Trains, we wouldn't have started on Collinsville Inn," Lilly said.

Cosmetic restoration, Atlantic Coast Line 4-6-2 No. 1504, Jacksonville, Fla.
2013 - National Railway Historical Society, North Florida Chapter

The North Florida Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, received the Trains Preservation Award in 2012, which was matched by CSX Transportation. The funds are to be used for a cosmetic restoration of Atlantic Coast Line 4-6-2 No. 1504 in Jacksonville, Fla. The locomotive has been displayed outdoors for over 50 years, including 28 years at its present location at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center.

No. 1504 is a USRA "light" Pacific-type engine built in 1919, the sole survivor of 81 locomotives built for four railroads. The effort, dubbed "Project Return to Glory," is off to a slow start due to a number of issues. While volunteers have made some progress, major work has yet to begin.

Volunteers engaged a contractor in early 2014, but issues including volunteer labor led to the contract being voided. Since then, a small cadre of volunteers has continued working, making new cab window frames and preparations for their installation. While a detailed restoration plan exists, including major steel reconstruction of the tender, the execution of the work plan is unfulfilled at present. The funds from Trains and CSX are currently held in a bank account, pending resolution of the issues.

26L brake for Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 2926
2014 - New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society

The New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society received the 2014 preservation award to fund a modern 26L brake for its Santa Fe 4-8-4, No. 2926. The group is working to return the 1944 Baldwin to steam by 2016. The project began in 2002.

“The next big step is the construction of the brake stand and related valves, filters and piping,” said Chief Mechanical Officer Rick Kirby. “Then it will be time to install the tubes, flues, superheaters, and firebrick; rebuild the safety valves; recondition or buy gauges and water glasses, and update the electrical system.”

C&O 2-6-6-2 restoration to operation
2015 - Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
The group will use the award money to professionally paint the locomotive, restore and install an appropriate bell and whistle on the locomotive, as well as restore in-cab gauges for operation.

No. 1309 was the last steam locomotive Baldwin Locomotive Works built for a U.S. railroad. The locomotive operated on the C&O in freight service between 1949 and 1956. It was eventually stored at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Md., as a static display.

Alco PA restoration engineering
2016 - Museum of the American Railroad
The grant will sponsor the transferring of engineering documents of the carbody, nose, and cab contours to a scalable, digital, three-dimensional format so replacement parts can be fabricated quickly and accurately for Santa Fe No. 59L at Frisco, Texas.

The work will focus on the cab area, speeding the day when the famous Santa Fe silver, red, and yellow Warbonnet paint scheme can be reapplied to this historic locomotive.
Santa Fe Alco PA No. 59L at the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco, Texas, is the 2016 winner of the Trains annual preservation award.
Museum of the American Railroad
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