There was a cool article in the LA Times this last week about a group of train enthusiasts that have restored and maintained the Santa Fe 3751 locomotive, the ‘Cadillac of Steam’:
About 25 years ago, a group of Southern California train enthusiasts made either the best or the worst investment of their lives, depending on how you look at it.
For the grand sum of $1, they bought the Santa Fe 3751, a 430-ton locomotive that had once played a seminal role in introducing high-capacity, high-speed passenger rail service to the West. Then they set out to get the thing working again, which wound up taking five years, $1.3 million, including cash outlay and in-kind contributions, and the work of nearly 400 volunteers.
Now, the 3751 is about to make a triumphant return to the public rails, the latest turn in what has been both a glorious and tortuous history.
Continue reading more.
The locomotive is actually listed on National Register of Historic Places. Here’s some more reading on wikipedia:
Built in 1927 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, 3751 was Baldwin’s and Santa Fe’s first 4-8-4. Tests showed that 3751 was 20% more efficient and powerful than Santa Fe’s 4-8-2 3700 class steamer, which at the point was the Santa Fe’s top of the line steamer. In 1936, the engine was converted to burn oil. Two years later, the locomotive was given a larger tender able to hold 20,000 gallons of water and 7,107 gallons of fuel oil. In 1941, along with other 4-8-4s, 3751 received major upgrades including: 80-inch drive wheels, a new frame, roller bearings all around, and more. That same year, she achieved her highest recorded speed at 103 mph.