Railroad Find: 1944 Baldwin BLE 643 Locomotive

This is more like a roundhouse find than a barn find, even though it’s been sitting outside in the elements for six years now. This is quite a find and quite a project: a 1944 Baldwin 2-10-4 locomotive B&LE 643 from the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad. It’s listed here on eBay in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the seller has it listed for $375,000 or best offer. This one has to be saved!

“Hello, UShip? Yeah, I just bought a 1944 Baldwin steam train and.. click..” This is one incredible piece of history and it needs to be saved. Baldwin Locomotive Works in Eddystone, Pennsylvania is perhaps the most famous maker of locomotives on the planet, or they were up until 1956 when bankruptcy forced them to close their heavy iron doors and quit making these fantastic workhorses, or iron horses. 125 solid years of making over 70,000 locomotives had ended with diesel locomotives taking the overwhelming majority of the market share over steam-powered locomotives. That romantic steam train era will never return, unfortunately.

This model is known as a 2-10-4 and some of you may have heard steam trains being referred to by similar numbers in the past, known as the Whyte notation. In this case, that means that there is 1 leading axle (2 wheels), followed by 5 drive axles (10 wheels) and finally 2 trailing axles (4 wheels): 2-10-4. Now you know what it means in case it ever comes up among your circle of friends. And if it doesn’t come up, you need a new circle of friends. Train people are at least as passionate devotees to their vehicle of choice as any car guy or gal ever was.

For the record, one of the biggest steam trains ever built was a Union Pacific articulated locomotive – basically a single boiler with two locomotives attached to it – called Big Boy. It was a 4-8-8-4 and it weighed a mind-boggling 1,210,000 pounds! Here’s a photo of the only remaining, functioning Big Boy in action after a multi-year restoration that was completed literally a few days ago for the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike ceremony in Utah on May 10, 2019. If that photo doesn’t get your heart beating I don’t know what will.

Some of us were fortunate enough to have lived in an era when steam trains were still working their rails off hauling the things that were needed to keep the U.S. and other countries moving forward. And, also helping to win wars. This train was in service for several years during WWII according to the seller. If they weren’t working as freight, ore, or coal haulers, many of us have seen and ridden on steam trains thanks to tourist railroads which keep a lot of these locomotives alive and well. Here’s an old photo of BLE 643 when it was in action.

There is a lot of chatter on the internet about this beautiful train: B&LE 643 or BLE 643 – #643 from the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad. It sounds like this train has been for sale in the past and maybe the biggest problem is that BLE 643 is literally landlocked. Apparently, an Ohio-based organization called the Age of Steam Roundhouse, the largest collection of privately-owned locomotives in the world, tried to buy BLE 643 from the current owner a few years ago but they were turned down. A few years have passed since their offer was refused and CSX has since removed the switch which would have allowed BLE 643 to be moved off of the siding and onto their line to be moved “dead-in-tow” to a shop to be restored. If you thought that shipping your car was a hassle, just imagine trying to move a train!

There is almost literally no way to get this train to a shop to have it restored now. The streets where it’s located are too narrow and steep for it to be trucked anywhere, it’s literally stuck where it is. Warren Buffett, which oddly enough owns BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe), or a similar endless-pockets type of person or organization would have to step in to save and restore this beauty.

As you can see, the controls are just a wee bit more complicated than maybe any other vehicle this side of a space shuttle or ocean liner. BL&E 643 would pick up iron ore from boats on Lake Erie and haul it about 150 miles south to steel mills in North Bessemer in the Pittsburgh area starting in the early-1940s. It would then haul Pennsylvania coal back up to the lakeshore for the ore boats, it was a perfect system. No wonder there were so many steel, coal, railroad, and shipping barons in those days, they were all interrelated and they all made unbelievable fortunes. Sadly, it’ll take a fortune to somehow move this important piece of railroad history and get it restored, either for static display in a museum or even better would be to have it running the rails again. Are there any railroad fans out there?

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Comments

  1. Ramone Member

    Great piece, Scotty! These things were monsters that built our world. Sad that this one can’t be brought out to where it can be restored, and appreciated. From my experience, Train people are as fanatic as we are with our old cars, perhaps even to another level. The interest is there, the place to enjoy it is had to get.

    22
  2. Howard A

    Most informative, most interesting post yet. Steam locomotives simply fascinate me. Trains in general interest me, the sheer weight a train pulls, INCLUDING itself, are staggering. A modern train, not so much, they are pretty simple, a diesel engine, turning a generator, to electric drive motors, but these, I know how they work, but I can’t believe they can pull millions of pounds, and reliably, that we relied on for 100 years. Incredibly labor intensive, and extremely inefficient. When I moved to Colorado, I did a lot of research on the trains that ran through the mountains in the late 1800’s. Their goal was to have the 1st railroad to cross the Continental Divide. It was mind-boggling what these men did. The Alpine Tunnel and Palisades Wall, ( if interested, look them up, incredible) are engineering marvels, that they built BY HAND! Winter was the biggest obstacle and relied on steam powered rotary snowblowers that had to be pushed by 4 sometimes 5 or 6 locomotives. They progressed feet at a time, only to have it blown shut again within hours. The city I live in, Salida, was the crossroads for the Rio Grande and Santa Fe, plus many smaller rail lines and had a huge rail yard and repair facility, along with a beautiful Art Deco station, all gone now.
    To show the inefficiency of these behemoths, they used incredibly large amounts of water, stopping every 50 miles, and grease, they had these grease sticks that were forced into grease joints by air pressure, again, everytime they got water, not to mention the “firemans” job, shoveling coal.
    What to do with this? It could be moved, trucking companies move buildings, but wouldn’t be cheap, however, they do make great static displays. If preserving history has any place in the modern world, it should be displayed, just too much to get it operable again. Otherwise, it will fall victim to all the other locomotives fate, the cutting torch. What an impressive machine. Thanks, Scotty.

    43
    • On and On On and On Member

      I’m putting on my bib overalls and going to the basement to get my 1951 Lionel steam locomotive out! (its a 2-8-2). Believe it or not when I was a kid, I saw these things still working. I eerily remember the haunting whistle and horn distant sounds while laying in bad at night. The ’50s…………My question to you today Howard is what are the large sheet metal shields on some locomotives, and not on others. It seems mostly on European trains, not American ones. You can see them on the You-tube post by ‘Mike’ down a ways.

      13
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Say Gregg, Happy you have the bibs on. I hope Howard or some one else can help. Take care and happy to see you posting again, Mike.

        2
      • Warren Severin

        Those would be called if I’m correct steam or smoke deflectors. I model HO scale in the 40’s-50’s.

        4
      • Bruce

        When a stillness reigns in the country lanes
        and the wayside station’s bare,
        Stirs a faint, far hum that seems to come
        from the spirits in the air;
        And the long rails thrill with a murmer till
        There’s a bursting shell of sound,
        A clattering roar, like the rumble of war,
        And a trembling of the ground-

        A scudding blast has come and passed
        With the shriek tortured souls,
        And along the track is the echoing back
        That slowly to silence rolls.
        It is I the proud, the strong,
        I who sway the lives of men,
        Beating out my deathless song
        As I speed through field and glen.

        A stanza from “The Express” by R. Gorell Barnes
        My favorite train poem
        Bruce

        3
      • Patrick

        “on and on”
        Yes “Warren Severin” is correct, those are smoke deflectors. Sometimes called elephant ears also. When moving at speed the wind deflection would push the steam / smoke straight up thereby keeping the crews view clear.
        Awesome article!
        Not your typical “barn find” !!

        1
    • Rudy C

      I work for a railroad and earlier today I get a message from a friend asking if it’s possible that he just heard a steam locomotive go by. Yep, he heard the IAIS running one of their steamers pulling an excursion train towards the Quad Cities. The Boone and Scenic Valley has I believe the last steam locomotive built by some place in China. It runs a few times a month. So my point is, I get asked about one of these earlier and now I’m scrolling BF and there’s a story on one!

      The easiest way to save this one would probably be to trailer it on an all-terrain low boy via the old right of way (if they removed more than just the switch to provide access to the yard) then transfer it to a low center flatcar to move it to a facility that could restore it. I’m sure the actual purchase price would be the smallest cost of the restoration.

      4
  3. unclemymy Member

    In the 70’s and 80’s I drove as engineer for approximately 24,000 miles on 1912, 1914, and 1949 year model Porter locomotives (a tourist railroad in Florida). But they were TINY compared to this fabulous monster! During one derailment, it took two large cranes to get the loco back on the tracks – I can’t imagine how many it would take to budge a train of this size.

    The only way to move it is to lay track. It’s still hard to resist, though! Surely I could scrape up $375K from somewhere…

    17
    • Howard A

      Actually, this could be moved. I’ve seen some trucking outfits, with the low boy trailers with 50 wheels, move stuff like this. The engine you operated was very similar to the “narrow gauge” mining trains here in Colorado. For almost 30 years, those narrow gauge trains, due to track width limitations, hauled hundreds of gondola cars filled with mining ore, out of the mountains, and transferred to wider gauge car, BY HAND, until a “tipple” was built, that dumped the entire load into a bigger standard gauge car.

      12
    • Knott

      Just out of curiosity, what tourist railroad was this?

    • Bill McCoskey

      Unclemymy,

      I have a feeling those 3 Porter locomotives are in good health, and pulling passenger cars daily at the big Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. If I am not mistaken, the Cedar Point locos are also from 1912, 1914 and 1945. I saw all 3 up close in 2018.

      3
      • Bill McCoskey

        Here is a photo of loco #3 at Cedar Point

        5
      • T heron

        Send the train to steam town in Scranton pa. It will be restored and put back on tracks

        3
      • E Hamilton

        No, the three Porters are not in good health. Petticoat Junction Amusement Park, Panama City, FL, folded in the mid 80’s. The railroad collection was sold to a private party in Warrior, AL. The Midwest Central Railway in Iowa now owns PJ’s No. 7 (nee Argent Lumber No. 1). See http://www.mcrr.org for some more information and pictures of the narrow gauge PJ No. 7/Argent Lumber No. 1.)

        2
  4. RoughDiamond Member

    Oh my gosh it is amazing how at times something triggers in our childhood memories and instantly time warps us to the present. That was the case when I got my first glimpse of the actual B&LE 643 locomotive. I instantaneously knew that I had seen that train before sort of because as a child I had the exact Lionel Trains locomotive and coal car with numerous rail cars behind leading back to the caboose. This was back when the tracks were “O” scale. I vividly remember to fully appreciate the power and sound of all the B&LE 643 locomotive wheels churning, I had to set up an oval with long straights and back the transformer power down before the curves or the locomotive would simply lay over on to its side entering the curved track. Here is a link with some old pictures of the real B&LE 643.

    http://rrpicturearchives.net/Locopicture.aspx?id=59421

    GM’s 1950 Aerotrain from the Rock Island railroad: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_of_Transportation#/media/File:Aerotrain_1950%27s_stylin%27.jpgThis link to the

    8
  5. bobhess Member

    Wife’s family worked for various railroads in Chicago and Florida while I went nuts over electric trains. Brother-in-law just retired from Florida East Coast. Always loved trains. There is a “Big Boy” static display engine in Wyoming. Can’t remember exactly where but it’s impressive.

    7
    • IkeyHeyman Member

      The Big Boy (#4004) on display in Wyoming is in Holliday Park in Cheyenne.

      5
    • Eric B.

      There’s one on display here in Omaha, too.

      1
      • Jim Morris

        Big Boy # 4017 is in Green Bay WI at the National Railroad Museum, along with a GM Aerotrain, and General Eisenhower’s’ WWII train.

        1
  6. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Great article! I know it would be a pain, but as long as you are going to restore this beauty, break it down on site to make shipping to your shop a little easier. Apraised for a cool million. The BIN price is a smoking deal! Sadly, no room at the Inn for me. Thanks for the links RoughDiamond, nice stuff.

    11
    • Vegaman Dan

      It is also a huge liability as asbestos was the preferred insulation in the steam boiler jacket and that has to be removed in controlled conditions. You’re looking at a hundred grand at the minimum just in abatement.

      5
      • Ike Onick

        And everything can’t be saved. Sad, but true.

        3
      • Joe M.

        I worked in this locomotive many years ago. The abatment has already been done and the new insulation is an asbestos free product call KWool. This locomotive was 99% restored to operating condition and had been test fired. It will need completely gone over again and will need all of the flues removed and replaced.

        24
  7. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Scotty, you are an amazingly diverse gearhead!! Your research and sharing your knowledge of the transportation history of our country always makes for a great read. For instance for years I thought the Southern Pacific CabForward 4294 at the California Train Museum in Sacramento was the biggest was the biggest locomotive around but Big Boy must be the Optimus Prime of the locomotive world!

    And Howard A. you also well-versed of things mechanical: you surprise us regularly with details I for one hadn’t known prior. Thank you!

    For any of the train buffs with a penchant to trains, Amtrak has docents from the California Train Museum along for the ride detailing the area locomotive history from Reno to Sacramento, where you disembark next to the museum. A slow, traversing ride over the the Sierras, it’s definitely worth the price of admission.
    If you’re looking for a shorter ride with the steam train experience check out the V&T Ride between Virginia City and Carson City..https://vtrailway.com/

    Save that big hauler-truck it out, piece it out (for reassembling later), bring on the press for PR pressure in refitting the switch onto the main, but don’t let it molder away!!!

    11
  8. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Thanks for the nice comments, folks! It’s great to see that there are some train fanatics here! Keep the stories coming.

    18
  9. Ralph

    I was looking for a fun little work commuter……

    8
  10. sir mike

    Maybe Strasburg Museum in Lancaster County,PA.would be interested.Just wonder if another train could pull it?? And might there be tracks the whole way across PA anymore?? Just a thought

    6
    • Bill McCoskey

      Strasburg is still connected to the main lines, and last I heard, they still maintained their freight carrying permits and can handle freight. And they might have the necessary “influence” to get the switch re-installed in a temporary basis.

      5
    • Tinkertoy

      I’m in with Bill and Sir Mike. Strasbugh is the best match rail lines still in use from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. Not sure if Strasbugh still has room.

      3
      • John

        Strasburg might be hard-pressed for space, but right across the road is the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Strasburg’s crews do an amazing job of restoring, maintaining and keeping the old steam engines running.

        3
  11. benjy58

    Can’t have it, wife says it won’t fit in the driveway. Darn!

    9
  12. BlondeUXB Member

    Isn’t there a train museum in Scranton PA, “SteamTown” ?

    6
  13. Haig Haleblian

    Locomotive Breath.

    12
  14. Bradshaw from Primer

    after wwII most of the engines in Germany had been deystroyed…..when i was there in the early sixties we traveled by steam locomotive and until 65 in BadNauheim the big steam locomotives would puff along on the sunken tracks behind the BOQ……big clouds of steam and smoke and chuff chuff…..american tv did not work over there so AFN (Frankfurt) broadcast on AM Fibber Mcgee and the SHadow and other shows recorded from way back…..so for 3 years i grew up 30 years back in time….we also crossed the Atlantic by steamer …the Patch and the Darby…took 7 days (stopped in England)……

    8
    • local_sheriff

      …and did you know that at the same time you were there, Deutsche Reichsbahn in DDR had just put into service (1961)what is today’s fastest operational steam locomotive?When steam power was retired all over the world(well, apart from South Africa who never retired steam locos!) , DR 18201 was built to test high speed express wagons, with a top speed of 113 mph

      8
    • Bill McCoskey

      I was living in Germany in the mid 1970s, and my best friend from Heidelberg was able to get 2 tickets for the last steam train in service, we rode the tracks next to the Neckar river, and came back to Heidelberg on a new diesel electric.

      That trip was the last time a steam locomotive was in official service in the DB [Deutche Bahn or German Railway system].

      4
  15. Fred H

    Does it still run ? ))

    2
  16. Bill

    A few years back when we had actual rails running across our farm and not just a walking trail I was awakened by the sound of an idling diesel locomotive. Made my way back there in the dark, came thru the trees and there was a steam locomotive being dead hauled. They had stopped to pack more grease in!

    12
  17. Kenneth Carney

    We had something like this in our local park back in Bloomington, Illinois that had been there for what seems like forever. Used to go the park every Wednesday night during the summer with my mom and my sister for the free concerts they put on at the bandshell there. If we got there early enough, I’d climb into the cab and pretend that I was Casey Jones, as I used to watch the TV show before we went to the park to hear the concert. That was 1959 or 1960, and I’ll be 65 in August and I can still see Alan Hale climb into the cab of that locomotive and recall just how much I wanted to be like him, driving the engine and blowing the
    whistle as I sped down the track. Went back home to see my parents in 2004 and had a friend of mine drive me to the park to see it just one more time. I was sad to see that the City had removed it and broke it up for scrap in 2002. What a sad ending for such a fine locomotive. If That’s what they call progress, then I don’t want it! Oh man…I almost forgot about Floyd and Charlie and how they drove the Hooter Ville Cannonball on Petticoat Junction every week. With all that
    said, I think I’ll mosey on over to the Shady Rest for a glass of iced tea, go over to my workshop, and put the final touches on my niece’s ’73 Mustang. Great piece Scotty. That’s why I like coming up here–you never know what you’ll see when you get here!

    14
  18. Ike Onick

    A glimpse of it’s future.

    2
  19. Ike Onick

    A glimpse of it’s future.

    2
    • Ike Onick

      Sorry about the double-post.

      1
  20. Mountainwoodie

    Out here in SoCal down by the border in Campo , California is a great Train organization…….https://www.psrm.org/

    Pacific Southwest Railway Association…….I would be surprised if they had the interest or means to move this thing across country but you never know.

    There is also a great truck museum…….http://www.motortransportmuseum.org/ that has a boatload of old cars and trucks just sitting out in the open slowly deteriorating……..lots of cars I think should be saved.

    4
  21. redwagon

    Up for 2 hours with over 22 comments. That has to be close to a record here at BarnFinds.

    Sweet Jesus I think I am in love.

    Chuckled at “Local pickup only.”

    6
  22. Evan Allen

    Surely we can move it somehow

    27
  23. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I’ve had a chance to ride a steam locomotive a couple of times in my life. Once was about 65 yrs ago about 8 miles between towns and the other was a couple of years ago. Grand Canyon RR takes a steamer from Williams, AZ. up to the Grand Canyon one day a month. It’s not quite the same as it was, they run it on fryer oil from fast food restaurants, but it’s still something to enjoy.

    Here’s hoping this one doesn’t get cut up for Toyota bumpers and either gets to a museum or better yet brought back like the ones at the GCRR have been done to them and run on a regular basis.

    7
  24. Mike

    Auction states “local pick-up only” Hahahahahahahaha.

    Check out this video to get inspired:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp-b4Ce4Mf4

    5
  25. geomechs geomechs Member

    I was always interested in trains. When I was a kid the majority of them were still on steam but by 1960 they were pretty much all phased out. There’s a Giant on display in Cheyenne, WY. I took a lot of pics (but do not have them with me right now), and it is IMMENSE! There’s a few good videos on YouTube, entitled ‘Last of the Giants.’ It is a worthwhile stop. As for this one, I sure hope that there is a person or group of people who love this and are willing to raise the funds needed to move this and make it new again. Photographs and memories can only go so far; you need something tangible…

    4
  26. Clipper

    From online photos it appears this locomotive was restored and freshly painted for display in/by 1983. This is a sad state of affairs for a proud locomotive…

    8
  27. Clipper

    Let it not turn into THIS

    11
    • Tinkertoy

      That’s a boiler problem. Somebody didn’t know what they were doing. Probably ran out of. water 💦 Then added it to fast. KAAA BOOOM

      1
      • Clipper

        Well, no, that’s a photo of GTW 5629 being deliberately scrapped in 1987. Here’s that uplifting story:

        https://www.steamlocomotive.com/places/jensen/

        1
      • Tinkertoy

        Clipper Thanks for the info. Just can’t imagine anyone doing that. Even if it was a company. They have no heart. Interesting article tho. Thanks

        2
    • Patrick Farmer

      That looks like a whale carcass. It was unsettling to see.

  28. Keruth

    My uncle loved steam trains, and the electric inter-urbans from that time, too.
    Remember chasing a steamer across Ohio as a teen to get sound recording as it passed by. Good stuff that my grandchildren will have to see when the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad,(National Park) brings the steamer from Indiana(I think) once every 2 yrs. or so for a run from Cleveland to Akron.
    Regular engine is a diesel pulling antique passenger cars.
    Lots of excursions all year, if your ever in NE Ohio, check it out
    https://www.cvsr.org/
    Extremely costly to operate, track maintenance is a big problem on private right-a- ways, hope they extend it to Canton someday.
    And yes, it takes Buffet kind of backing

    3
  29. SC/RAMBLER

    My brother is a BIG Rail Fan he has been to “STEAM TOWN USA” now in Scranton Pa. Most of the locomotives there are in REALLY bad shape it’s a shame. I remember as a child seeing a BIG BOY being towed from the Leigh Valley Rail Road yard by a diesel switch engine although though I was under 6 years of age thinking that it was a disgrace to the monster to be pulled by a yard switcher like it was dead. This was around 1961 “I believe”
    The Baldwin Locomotive works actually started out here in Philadelphia. I would love to see this engine restored and used for an excursion train.
    I will one day get my wish to ride a steam powered excursion train.
    Like my fellow posters have said great write up Scotty and thinks for the research you put into your stories.

    4
  30. geomechs geomechs Member

    For what it’s worth, here’s a shot of the Giant in Cheyenne. One super locomotive that you have to be up beside to fully appreciate. They say that this could top out at 90 mph. I can imagine trying to stop 600+ tons of locomotive, not to mention the cars behind it. You’d have to begin your deceleration 10 miles before the stop…

    9
  31. Kenneth Carney

    Looks just like the one that sat in our local park for decades. In fact, the picture that you show here bears an uncanny resemblance to what I saw there so long ago. Makes me wonder if that picture wasn’t taken at Miller Park at some point.
    Either way, it’s good to see the locomotive I played on as a kid.

    1
  32. Haig Haleblian

    For us old farts. Here’s a little Ian Anderson. Saw him perform Locomotive Breath in Bend Oregon last year. All us grey hairs felt like we were 18.He rocked it at 70 years young.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSUdlUmtg3Q

    9
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Just watched it. A lot of memories from that song; not all of them good. But we had a lot of fun–I think. Thanks for posting…

      2
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Great tune Haig, that flute is killer.

      1
    • Howard A

      Thanks Haig, by gar, it’s been a while. Don’t forget Hellbound Train by Savoy Brown, and Casey Jones by the Grateful Dead. Guess that kind of dates us, huh.

      3
    • moosie moosie Member

      Thank you for that video, what I find amazing is that all these old rockers didn’t exactly lead a lifestyle conducive to longevity but here they are still rock’n & roll’n in their 70’s. This is a very interesting thread because when I was a kid in the mid 50’s I remember taking with my Mom & older brother a train from Narrowsburg New York to I think it was Jersey City New Jersey, but being a kid didn’t pay too much attention to what was pulling the train.

      1
  33. JerryDeeWrench Member

    There’s also a Steam engine on display at Wishram Washington. Worth the stop to see it.

    2
  34. davew833

    Some big names in the railroad preservation field have tried over the years to get the owner, Glen Campbell (not the musician) to part with #643 for a reasonable price. ($375,000 is not a reasonable price when you consider the effort and cost it would take to move it.) Campbell has refused all reasonable attempts at providing his locomotive a long-term home. Sadly, rust never sleeps and all of the restoration work done 30 years ago must be redone now. I hope it gets saved but I’m not optimistic.

    4
  35. Randy Bodine

    Just last week BigBoy 4014 met up with 844 at Promontory Summit to commemerate 150 years since the golden spike

    15
    • Patrick J.

      Heard that was going to happen, but didn’t know when.
      Now why wasn’t that announced on national television??
      With all the stupid stories they cover on the morning news, no one thought to submit or cover this??
      It’s only our national history and industrial heritage !

      • Burger

        Why not national news ? Because old and “yucky” does not sell new KIA’s and vinyl siding, that’s why ! Now, if the Kardashians suddenly got into steam locomotive preservation, EVERYONE would want to be a part of it !

        2
  36. Srt8

    My only knowledge of a Baldwin is what I learned watching the Polar Express with my Daughter.

    1
    • Jason Sobczynski

      Actually, over the years, the owner has refused to sell. It’s not worth but be between $100k-$150k, not $375k.

      It can be trucked out, once the boiler is separated from the frame.

      The person who is trying to purchase it intends to return it to service. The owner won’t sell.

      4
  37. bobhess Member

    Geomechs.. It was impressive standing next to it. Saw a picture years ago of 2 Big Boys in tandem pulling freight over the Rockies. Can’t imagine that much iron in one place on the move.

    4
  38. Brock

    Its a toss up between the Allegheny Class Locomotives (2-6-6-6) being most powerful and the UP Big Boy. Allegheny Class made 7500 HP vs the Big Boy at 6300 draw HP. Allegheny also weighed more…

  39. Jay E.

    Great post and the timing is impeccable. I’m sure it is no accident that the engine was offered for sale at the same time that the UP No. 844 and Big Boy No. 4014 are working their way from Ogdon to Cheyenne. In a perfect world, perhaps now that 4114 is completed, the shop can take all their expertise and continue the restoration of this one. Companies CAN do great things in the public interest when they put their mind to it. I wish there were more stories like this. It makes us feel great to be Americans.

    https://www.up.com/heritage/steam/4014/index.htm

    https://www.up.com/forms/steam-trace.cfm

    3
  40. Pontiactivist

    Before my time but, i grew up along side of the BL&E tracks in Albion pa. Even got to ride in a locomotive at the Albion station years ago. When school field trips were fun and educational. I bet this engine went past my family home many times when my dad was young. Have a fondness and interest along with respect for trains from growing up there. Makes me think back to what i think was a better time.

    2
  41. Thomas Allen

    Ran when parked, save the pantina.

    2
  42. Burger

    Locomotive = The self-powered machine that pulls the train.

    Train = the assemblage of non-powered rolling stock PULLED by the locomotive.

    4
  43. Stu

    The National Museum of Transport in St. Louis had a pretty good collection of trains in the 1990s. Some ran and some were being refurbished by some extremely dedicated folks.

    I have no idea if anything is still there today???

    • 86_Vette_Convertible

      No idea if it’s still around, went there a few times when I lived in St Louis back in the 70’s. Offbeat that it was, loved the Chrysler Turbine car they had on display there in addition to all the locomotives, etc. they had on site. Some were a little vandalized but all were recognizable.

  44. Butchb

    I’ve been watching the 4014 restoration on the UP website. Truly impressive what the UP steam shop did to get that engine back in service. Six years of work if I’m not mistaken. If you can make it out West by the weekend you can see her run…https://www.up.com/heritage/steam/4014/index.htm

    2
  45. David Frank David F Member

    The California Railroad Museum is an amazing place with an incredible collection. They run an excursion train down the river, often pulled by a steam engine. Last weekend as I was leaving the car museum where I volunteer driving a 1936 Plymouth Coupe the excursion train went by. Looking over the dashboard of that old Plymouth at the steam engine chugging along was truly a moment back in time. A few weeks ago as I was loading passengers into a1938 Buick an elderly fellow (someone older than me!) looked up at the steam engine going by and said: “I feel like a kid again back before the war”. After the ride, he said, “This is a day even I will never forget” as he watched the train chug back up the river.

    5
    • Steven Dunn

      I agree, the California Railroad Museum is one of the best uses of state tax money that I have ever seen. We toured with a docent one day and he was so knowledgeable and talented that the group spontaneously broke into a round of applause when the tour ended.

  46. Dave

    unfourtaintly, between the owner, whose inflated value of this locomotive has killed many attempts from various sources to purchase, and the many difficulties at moving it, this one may meet an unhappy end.The areas many narrow roads, bridges that won’t permit it’s crossing, it would cost a great deal to move it.
    Here’s hoping!

    2
  47. A.J.

    Finally, something that nobody wants to LS swap!

    7
  48. Clipper

    This is probably how it’d have to be moved, without chopping it up into (probably 4 large pieces first. But, if it’s going to be a display-only (highly likely), chopping it up and welding it back together IS an option. I’ve done similar with large farm equipment to ship overseas via container.

    I also just learned that this BLE is the last survivor among 47 built to the same basic specification. So some museum somewhere would probably love to care for it. But I agree the acquisition cost is onerous on top of the transport logistics and restoration effort needed.
    https://www.steamlocomotive.com/locobase.php?country=USA&wheel=2-10-4&railroad=ble

    3
    • Clipper

      I just caught (above) that a sister engine HAS been restored. That’s good news!

      And that, unfortuantely, local bridges and road restrictions won’t allow much to cross. This should have been sold off before the tracks/transport options went away, obviously. A shame.

      3
    • Patrick Farmer

      I would love to know how many dumb bunnies cut in front of the 18 wheeler and slammed on the brakes to get to the freeway exit for Whataburger. If they were to ever drive a truck with air brakes they would never ever pull in front of anything that was that heavy of a load.

  49. Dave

    there are other 2-10-4 locomotives preserved….but this is the only B&LE 2-10-4

    2
  50. Dave

    and the timing of the sale is largely because the land the locomotive sits on has been sold and must be moved in a couple months.

    2
    • Bill McCoskey

      If the land has been sold, and the owner of the loco has been officially informed it must be moved by a certain date, as that date nears, he may suddenly be willing to lower the price, as the new landowner can file a claim with the local court system indicating it’s been abandoned, and ask the court to allow the landowner to attach it, then hold an auction, where it WILL sell fairly cheap. No matter what happens, I foresee this whole mess becoming a legal nightmare for the current owner.

      I hope someone will keep us all up-to-date as to what happens in the near future.

      2
  51. Jack

    It would be nice to see this old iron horse saved. I live near the original main line of the Norfolk & Western in Virginia, and the famous N. & W. #611 sometimes pulls excursion trains through here. There’s nothing like watching these giants at work.

    3
  52. Roy L

    Let’s hope Barnfinds hasn’t jumped the shark and get’s back to CARS.

    • Jeb Bush

      Come on man!

      4
    • Dave

      why not…they’ve had airplanes before

      4
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      You gotta appreciate the diversity that this site offers. I knew nothing about steam locomotives and have now read through all of the posts – what a great and informative conversation.

      At over 100 posts, this is probably one of the most popular BF conversations ever.

      4
      • Burger

        Watching trains pass has had a hypnotizing effect on kids (and adult-aged “kids”) for as long as there have been railroads. The fallout, is that many, even if not certified RR nuts, have a soft spot for train-related stuff. Multiply by 1000 if it involves steam.

        Steam is what moved the 19th century, and as our post-war world became evermore “plastic” and “robotic”, our collective nostalgia for simpler, more down-to-earth times has seized upon icons like the steam locomotive. They truly are beasts like none other. Been wrenching on them for decades, and the lost sciences it takes to makes these go is a lifetime in the learning. But to see them move, hiss, smell the steam oil, all the parts dancing in a choreographed ebb and flow, is truly amazing, even for the total novice. No wonder a thread about a monster like this piques the interest of readers here.

        3
    • Mountainwoodie

      They could start Roundhouse Finds! (Copyright Pending)

      Always interesting to learn something new :)

      1
  53. Johnmloghry Member

    Who would’ve known so many car guys would have this much to say about a train. Better call Sheldon Cooper.
    God bless America

    3
  54. Matt

    Noticed the bell (chrome over brass most likely) is missing. Somebody has that in their garage somewhere…

    matt

    2
    • Jay E.

      Its included with the sale, per owner

      2
  55. Jim Benjaminson

    Been on several steam trains – Central City, Colorado was the first back in 1969. The Western Minnesota Steam Threshers in Rollag, Minnesota have two steam locomotives – a Porter and the one they use regularly during their show over Labor Day weekend every year. Can’t remember what brand it is but they call it the Train to Nowhere – it runs a 2 1/2 mile loop around the show grounds and its run every day of the show at regular times – and its free once you’re on the grounds.

  56. Gary Myers ( DOC )

    My Father was a 50 year man on the old Pennsylvania Railroad. He was very much into the Steamers, also built scale model steamers. He had a friend named Bob Fredericks that was into them as well. Bob was the President of the National Historical Railway Society, and used to go up to Logansport, Indiana and help restore old steamers. The paticular unit at the top of this ad, either needs to go there or to Steamtown in Wilkes Barre, Pa for a restoration. I think Bob also was involved in restoring the Norfolk & Southern #611. I remember when he used to be the engineer on the 611 on some excursions . Miss the steamers !!

  57. Bob

    I rode the steam powered Daylight a few times from LA to SF with my grandparents

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB5y33Jx43s

    I wish somebody would restore the cab forward.

    • Gary Myers ("DOC")

      Yeh, when I was a kid, my Dad had a pass for him and the whole familyand back in the late 50’s and early 60’s I was all across the country on the train…. was awesome !! Most today have probably never been on a train.

  58. Bob

    Our town has what’s called a swap shop. If you have something you don’t want to toss, you leave it there and somebody else will take it.

    Perhaps 10 years ago the paper said a caboose would be given away.

    I’ve always wanted a caboose. It didn’t say if it was a real caboose or a model or anything.

    I drove by on a Friday to see if I could spot anything. Nope.

    I was there on Saturday when they opened. I was told to come back at 10 and ask for a particular woman. My plan was actually to put it on Ebay and perhaps split the money with her.

    She told me where it was and that they used to live in it while their house was being built.

    When I got there, it was (1) not a caboose, but a boxcar and (2) it was wooden and rotting away.

    Oh well.

    1
  59. Gary Myers

    The 611 ??

  60. bobhess Member

    Need to pull this entire ad, bronze it, and donate it to a museum.

    1
  61. Bob

    Does anybody know exactly where it is? I’d love to find it on google maps.

  62. Steven Dunn

    I was lucky enough to grow up with steam engines. As an 11 year old, I was living in Colton CA, home to a huge rail yard. I lived with a family where the father was a fireman on a steam powered switching engine. This was 1951. After school, his son and I would race to the yard, drop our bikes and run across the maze of tracks until we spotted him in the engine. He would pull us up into the cab and we would spend an hour or more sitting the engineer’s seat and pushing levers while watching the father shoveling coal. We were lectured more than once about the dangers of running across a busy rail yard. Still, we were back whenever we could. Once in awhile I was put on the train for the short trip from San Bernardino to Los Angeles to spend time with my family. Great memories and I realize how lucky I am to have them.

    1
    • Bob

      Steven,

      I used to go with my grandfather on business trips and he knew I liked steam engines (and maybe he did too!) and I remember once pacing a switcher from Colton to San Bernardino!

      Also on those trips, the Cab Forwards, at the end of their careers were all over the SP lines. I remember watching those as my grandfather paced them out towards Palm Springs!

  63. Phil G

    When in the Detroit area, be sure to visit the fabulous Henry Ford museum in Dearborn. They have a giant Allegheny locomotive displayed indoors- Built by Lima works in 1941, it weighs 1.2 million pounds, and with the tender seems like about a city block long.

  64. James Petropulos

    VIVA VAPOR !
    I remember seeing No 643, back in 1963 when it was stored in the B&LE Roundhouse in Greenville, PA. I photographed it and ex-Union R.R. 0-10-2 No 604, along with B&LE No 154, a Baldwin built (1904) 2-8-0 that set next to No.643. The Union R. R. engine is displayed in a park there in Greenville.
    I don’t know what happened to the No.154 2-8-0.
    I hope No.643 eventually is saved before it’s too late……

    3
  65. Vudutu

    Wow
    What an amazing thread, a steam locomotive no less, more passion and input, links than I ever could invgest. I love this site.

    2
  66. Steve S

    I heard before I was born my great grandpa worked for the railroad in the town he lived in at the time which is about a half hour from where I live. That was back when the steam engines was still running. The big boy engine weights a little over 762,000 pounds and the tender weights 342,200 pounds. When it burned coal it held 28 tons of coal. Then after they started using oil it held 6,450 gallons of oil. The oil didn’t work very good because it burned unevenly and they stopped using oil and went back to coal. The water tank in the tender held 25,000 gallons of water and the big boy engine had a motor that ran a conveyor type of thing to feed the coal into the fire box and the max speed was 80 mph and could pull 4,200 tons

    2
  67. Howard A

    I’m really glad this got this much attention, I know Scotty, and he was bit worried it may be a dud. Over 110 comments on a non-auto post has to be a record, of sorts. Trains are something most of us grew up with, even toy trains fascinated us for hours. No steam locomotive thread is complete without mentioning the Hiawatha. It had 8 foot drive wheels, and routinely went 100 mph on long stretches, 120mph on test runs. In the 30’s, it was faster than flying! Sadly, I believe all these beautiful engines were cut up for scrap in the 50’s.
    https://www.american-rails.com/morning.html

    4
  68. Bill McCoskey

    Howard,
    One of these high speed locos was saved; The British Flying Scotsman, now owned by the National Railway Museum of York, UK. I’ve been to the museum and have ridden on the Flying Scotsman train, it’s still in use and does several trips on the mainline of British Rail every year.

    The FS was unique in providing non-stop service between London and Edinburgh a feat that was made possible using 2 interesting features: The drive wheels are a massive 80″, allowing it to go further per wheel rotation, using less steam per mile. Plus, it had a corridor running under the coal & water in the tender, allowing crew members to access the train cars, so a second engine crew already on board ,could take over without stopping.

    Anyone who is a rail fan should make a pilgrimage to England at least once in their life, to see the York museum, as well as the other rail museums like Petersboro, where they run steam excursions daily, and the Great Western Steam museum in Swindon.

    And while it’s not on rails, DO go see the Kew Bridge Steam museum , located in the northwest London suburbs. They have a WORKING Cornish walking beam steam engine still capable of pumping today. It was built by Boulton & Watt [Yes, James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine] around 1820.

    About 30 years ago I was permitted to start the 60″ [piston size] B & W pumper, using the unusual slide valve setup. They run that one on most Saturdays. They also have 2 more large engines, a 90 inch and 100 inch [piston size], but neither has run since 1943.

    1
  69. James Petropulos

    My earliest recollection of the steam locomotive was in PGH, 1950. I was 5 years old. My Dad loved trains and had a good photo collection of the B & O, his favorite.
    He used to take me to a bridge there in East Liberty somewhere to watch the coal trains coming up along the river ….all steam powered back then. And there right below us sat a steam locomotive…. probably waiting for a signal to move. I remember asking my dad if I could drop a pebble into the smoke stack….He said no, not to do that. I can still see that gray boiler below us in my mind’s eye to this day……

  70. Wellington

    CSX and other rail lines made it cost prohibitive to run a private locomotive or even private rail coach car on their rails. They don’t want the liability and consequently charge accordingly to discourage individual use of the track. Add to that the cost factor to rehab the locomotive bearings, the steam cylinder restoration, and the requisite updating brakes, etc. to meet federal standards and you are upside down financially. What is the value of a static display? Certainly not 375K! Maybe when it sat in the track maintenance building, before CDX tore it down, but not now.

  71. Wayne

    Evan Allen, I love Grommet also.
    Ok you guys, if you want to really see something usual. Look up a narrow gauge 3 cylinder Shay locomotive. They needed more torque in the forests but could not stand any additional width. So they built a 3 cylinder verticle, external crankshaft with bevel gears to turn the driving wheels. It is so cool to watch the LONG connecting rods spinning the crankshaft as it takes off and throwing grease everywhere. I have seen one at the “annual steam up
    ” in Porter County Indiana. And I believe that the Roaring Camp Railroad in Scotts Valley Ca. has 2. ( not seen those in person, so it is hearsay) Look one up. It is so cool to see on the right side.
    Also the railroad museum in Portola Ca. has more rolling stock than any railroad museum that I have ever been to. (Several) They only have one steam locomotive that there are presently restoring. But have many diesel electrics to climb on, in and look over as close as you want to. For a fee you get to “drive” a real train.

    • Bob

      In 62, when I was 17, my grandfather and I took a ride on a Roaring Camp RR train. We were behind a logging locomotive, can’t remember if it was a Shay, a Heisler or a Climax? But we sat in a gondola that had bench seats. The conductor picked me up and held me out beyond the edge of the gondola.

      Pretty impressive feat of strength…but I don’t think that would happen in this society today.

      I guy on my F1 list used to work there.

      I always wanted a brass model of a Shay, but they were too pricey for me. I once bought a plastic model, but I think I sold it or returned it.

  72. Andrew

    Was running when parked?

    1
  73. Patrick Farmer

    Isn’t this a shed find or a round house find.
    What is interesting is how much hot rodders love railroad locomotives. There must be a transportation gene in us because $5 will get you $10 that they also love airplanes and spacecraft. I wonder what came first the whitewall tires on locomotives or on automobiles? My money is on trains.

  74. pebblebeachjudge

    Sometimes the current custodian of these rare and limited value artifacts never come to the reality that the object’s value could be negative. That means, in its current condition, it could well be worthless . It’s value is actually scrap metal minus transportation to the melt down location. The cost of a restoration of this iron horse must be over 1/2 mill. I’d value it as scrap iron, and sell it to someone who wants to preserve it. Otherwise, wait and buy it from the guys estate – as he’s not taking it with him.

  75. Bill Freman

    I went from Boston’s North Station to Chicago with my mom in 1948. We started out on a steam engine until we got to Albany. Then switched to diesel. They didn’t think the diesel would make it up through the Berkshires.

  76. D Sludge

    He probably views selling it for $125,000 as not gaining $125,000 but losing $250,000. Seen many examples of this mindset. One guy was going to get a lake on his property restored with public means in a environment program. Lake cleaned, fresh water inflow sorted, fish inplanted, etc. The fishing/hunting association he was a member of would handle the work and the administration. The Government would foot the bill. Wouldn’t cost him a dime. Only his exclusive right to fish in it. Oh yeah, and the money from the fishing licenses the lake would earn would go to the association, not him personally. That was what got him to back out of the deal, he saw it as him losing the license money. He’d rather have the dead lake with no fish in it…

    1
  77. D Sludge

    You don’t need to put in a new switch to connect the siding track to that of the main line. Instead you lay a temporary track http://www.martinusrail.com.au/portfolio/special-trackwork/ up to and on top of the rails of the main line track, push/pull 643 onto the latter, remove the temporary track, and be on your merry way towards restoration shop and glory.
    Like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXbSE4kkrWQ
    Or this: https://youtu.be/6ZMuogLcUDw?t=204
    I believe this is called a “climbing switch”/”climbing turnout” or “jump switch” or something similar.

    2
  78. ThisGuy

    The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis has 2 small steam locomotives that the kids can climb on and explore. Also in Muncie their is a factory that builds locomotives. Went for a job interview but, never got a call-back.

  79. Patrick Michael Shanahan

    I lived by a small switch yard as a child and remember how upset mom would get when the engineer blew out the clunkers and the ash dust drifted over to her clothes on the line. I recall during the Korean War all the tanks and heavy weapons being shipped and pulled by steam engines…As a young man I worked on the railroad (ATSF) as a switchman then later during the Vietnam War, in a gov. owned ammunition plant, where I ran one of Baldwin’s first diesel electric locomotives. We had other locomotives but all of us engineers always wanted to run the Baldwins. They were well built and tough as nails.

    1
  80. Big Dan

    Does anyone happen to know if the Northern Illinois Railroad Museum in Union Illinois knows about this? This place is amazing. I’m told it’s one of, if not the largest, train museums in the country.

  81. Patrick Farmer

    Check out Union Pacific 4014 5/08/19 trip to Utah on youtube.

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