The Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust wants to bring the steam locomotive back to the region.
The nonprofit, which restores and operates the Colebrookdale Railroad between Pottstown and Boyertown, announced it is launching a steam program this year and seeks supporting funds to make it happen.
“In many ways, the Colebrookdale was made for steam. Connecting the sites of the iron industries that launched Pennsylvania’s rise to industrial supremacy, the Colebrookdale experience is designed to take you to the place and time when the heart of the nation pulsed with the potent energy of the steam locomotive,” said Nathaniel Guest, executive director of the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust.
Pennsylvania built more steam locomotives than any other place on the globe, many of them with steel made in foundries along the Colebrookdale.
“If any machine embodied the power and spirit of this state, it is a steam locomotive,” said Guest.
Thanks to the generosity of a donor, the trust made an agreement with the City of Jackson, Michigan, to bring its first steam locomotive to Colebrookdale, said Guest.
Locomotive Number 5030, currently on display in Jackson, was built at Philadelphia’s Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Grand Trunk Railroad. It was completed just four months after the Titanic went down.
The 109-year old locomotive was involved in a famous wreck of a special train chartered by the Knights Templar, killing the engineer and fireman. It was repaired and operated for 30 more years before being put on display in the early 1950s.
"We are excited to partner with Colebrookdale to preserve the history and beauty of 5030, and to see it put back in operation after a long time on display," said Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies. "5030 has a lot of sentimental value here, but we were impressed by Mr. Guest and his team and are encouraged to see preservation, education and economic development go hand in hand at Colebrookdale. It's a good home for her."
“We will be returning 5030 to the state of her birth and raising funds to bring her back to life,” said Guest.
While operating steam locomotives are increasingly rare creatures, they have taken on a renewed relevance in the education of youth. The Colebrookdale’s steam program will be neatly-tailored to its STE(A)M education program, offered free-of-charge to Pennsylvania schoolchildren.
“The restoration of the engine will provide opportunities for teaching trade skills needed badly in our work today, including welding and machining, and will create jobs,” said Guest.
The Trust seeks donations and volunteers in its effort to bring steam back to the Colebrookdale.
“This has been a very difficult year. There are opportunities for amazing things ahead, steam included, but we will need the help of our donors and volunteers,” said Guest.
“And there is more really big news coming,” added Guest. “Stay tuned, and please join us in lifting the vision of steam on the Colebrookdale!”
For more information, visit www.colebrookdalerailroad.com/steam.