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NEWS

May 14, 2024


Irvine, KY


Kentucky Steam Heritage has received a major donation of vintage parts and equipment from Patriot Rail, a contribution which will help further equip the Irvine Kentucky-based nonprofit’s steam locomotive shop, and aid the continued restoration of C&O 2716, an 80-year-old engine currently undergoing a full mechanical rebuild. The effort to retrieve and transport these rare and valuable artifacts from Patriot Rail’s Anaconda Montana facility is thanks to contributions from Next Generation Rail Solutions, PaxRail, Diamond Rail Group, and hundreds of hours of contributed labor from Kentucky Steam’s volunteers. 


The impressive array of donated material and equipment is valued at well over $200,000 which contains 37,000 pounds of parts, tools, and supplies including an assortment of brand-new piping and fasteners from the steam era, still stored in their original wooden crates. Also tabbed in the gift are two flatbed trucks worth of machinery including four 35-ton whiting locomotive jacks, a lathe large enough to turn 2716’s pistons and rods, and an Allen journal brass boring machine, the last known purpose-built journal brass boring machine in existence. 



Jason Sobczynski, CMO for Kentucky Steam, and owner of Next Generation Rail Solutions, says that the donation is a significant milestone for Kentucky Steam, but is also a landmark haul of operable vintage machinery and new old-stock material from a bygone era.


“The Anaconda (Montana) facility was simply filled with things you would find in a well-stocked steam-era warehouse from seventy or more years ago,” he said.


“Many of these parts are still in their original packaging and will be of immense value to our restoration of C&O 2716 and other historic equipment. The machinery is vintage but has been well-maintained and used sporadically until recently. A historic collection like this is likely never to be found in this type of condition ever again.”


The donation is thanks to Patriot Rail, which operates over 30 regional shortline freight railroads, two scenic rail excursion trains, and rail-related services companies with over 1,200 total rail miles across the United States. Patriot operates the Butte, Anaconda and Pacific, a 63-mile shortline founded in 1891. Patriot acquired the line in 2007 and has plans to vacate some of their aging Anaconda, MT shop facilities, opening the door for the rationalizing and subsequent donation of decades-old items. 


David Bevins, Vice President of Operation at Patriot Rail, says that the donation is an excellent outcome for the surplus equipment and machinery. 


“Patriot Rail is proud to support rail preservation projects and partner with the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation,” he said.


“We are grateful for the opportunity to donate these rare tools and equipment that will assist Kentucky Steam with their endeavors as they build and expand their operations and museum. Kentucky Steam showcases and celebrates our nation’s railroad heritage while providing a unique steam-powered excursion experience located in the heart of the Bluegrass state of Kentucky.  Patriot Rail works closely with organizations across its network to conserve and restore these key components of railroad operations for future generations.”



Jim Evenson, a longtime KSHC collaborator, and owner of passenger railcar company Paxrail, donated nearly $10,000 of transportation cost-sharing to help facilitate the nearly 2,000-mile move of the items from Montana to Kentucky. 


“Paxrail remains a steadfast support of the mission of Kentucky Steam,” he said.


“We’re happy to have played a small part in securing some of the tools and equipment needed to maintain and restore C&O 2716 and other locomotives like her.”


Though the endeavor required an investment of over $20,000, KSHC president Chris Campbell says the overall value of the donation is practically priceless. 


“This generous donation is both unprecedented and timely,” he said.


“We cannot thank Patriot Rail enough for trusting us to be stewards of these useful artifacts, which are not simply museum pieces - much of it will be put to use almost immediately.”


“As we are in the thick of getting things poised for a big push with 2716’s restoration, the arrival of machinery, as well as nuts, bolts, and other new old stock items, will be a major boost for getting this massive machine running again sooner than later.”


Though the initial donation included 31 individual items and machines plus boxes of never-used industrial-age parts, several other unexpected discoveries were made during the lengthy identification and loading process.


“We found a new-in-box steam pressure gauge which is identical to what 2716 would have been outfitted with when it was coming off the production line in 1943,” said Sobczynnski who has been Kentucky Steam’s Chief Mechanical officer since the group’s founding in 2015.


“We were a bit giddy when we found it. There were several moments over the two weeks we were there when we just had to step back and internalize the quality and scope of what we have been given.”



Kentucky Steam hopes to offset the costs of procuring and transporting the donation by setting a goal to raise an additional $5,000. Visit www.kentuckysteam.org to learn more about making a tax-deductible contribution, and follow the progress on the social channels by searching Kentucky Steam Heritage on individual media platforms. 









March 5, 2024


Irvine, Kentucky 


The John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust announced on Tuesday that it has awarded $23,000 towards the restoration of Chesapeake and Ohio steam locomotive 2716. The award is targeted for the installation of oil burning equipment in the 80-year-old locomotive which will allow it to burn fuel oil rather than coal. 


The Emery Rail Heritage Trust was created by John Emery, a long time lover of classic passenger trains of America. The Trust was founded as a way to support Mr. Emery’s interests in the passenger trains of the 1920s through the 1950s. The Trust operates as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) foundation and awards are based on criteria that are aimed to help re-create and preserve the rail passenger travel experience as it was in the United States and to restore to working order rolling stock and other working artifacts from the “Golden Age” of the railroading.


The award is the fourth time Kentucky Steam has been tabbed to receive funds from the prestigious grant program, which allocated $250,000 towards 18 railroad preservation projects in 2024. The amount designated for 2716 is the second-largest award made this year.



The monies are dedicated to the production and installation of oil burning equipment in the locomotive, allowing the engine to explore more operational opportunities once its restoration is completed. 


Chris Campbell, President of the Irvine Kentucky-based 501(c)(3) organization, says the decision to modernize the locomotive to burn oil was an easy one, though some may not immediately recognize the reason it is warranted.


“Our goal is to get this captivating machine out and let the public experience it,” he said. “The only way it will be mobile enough to meet that goal is to make its operation as easy and seamless as possible with today’s modern railroads.”


“While some will miss the allure of coal smoke and cinders, the reality is that the use of coal and disposal of coal ash is a major hindrance to efficient and legal operations on today’s railroads.”


Founded in 2015, The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation has a long-term lease on 2716 from its owner, the Kentucky Railway Museum. The engine, built in 1943 by the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, New York, is the centerpiece of the organization’s ambitious rail-based tourism project based in Estill County, Kentucky. Kentucky Steam purchased a 40-acre former CSX rail yard in 2018 and has been steadily renovating the space into a railroad-centered campus which will feature the already-refurbished locomotive repair facility, as well as a concert venue which is in its final stages of completion, a restaurant, and a museum which is now open to the public. While trains are the theme, the complex is intended to be the hallmark of Appalachian revitalization, providing a springboard for experience-based tourism. 


The Emery Trust award is another feather in the cap of the organization’s fundraising efforts to get 2716 back to operation. In October 2023, Kentucky Steam received a $1.9 million grant from the Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands (AMLER), a portion of which will be dedicated to the restoration of 2716. Though the AMLER program grant will provide significant funds, grant program protocols will not allow monies to be available to the restoration effort until late 2024 or early 2025. Campbell says that allocations such as the one from the Emery Trust are imperative for the continued momentum of the project forward.


“Emery has been kind to us in the past, and their recognition of the good work that our all-volunteer effort is doing for both rail preservation and for the greater good of our Appalachian communities is greatly appreciated.”


“Much of the progress that has been made on the engine is due to private donations and trust awards. Emery continues to stand by our efforts and the efforts of all organizations who are striving to take this Country’s illustrious railroading past into the future.”


For more information, and for the opportunity to donate to an ongoing $10,000 match program, visit www.kentuckysteam.org and https://donorbox.org/match-madness


For more about the Kentucky Railway Museum, visit www.kyrail.org.

October 20, 2023


Irvine Ky - Kentucky Steam has painted former-Norfolk Southern SD40-2 locomotive to a classic as-delivered Norfolk and Western paint scheme. The move is the culmination of a collaboration between multiple contributors, and sets the stage for an exclusive photo charter to be held on January 27th, 2024; an event that will highlight the Irvine Kentucky-based nonprofit’s growing collection of 1980s-era regionally relevant rail equipment.

6162 by Casey Thomason
Newly re-painted 6162 alongside L&N 7067. Photo by Casey Thomason

NS 6162, a 3,000-horsepower SD40-2 locomotive, was built in May of 1978 by General Motors, Electro-Motive Division (EMD) in LaGrange, Illinois, for the Norfolk and Western Railway. It performed duty all over the railroad, predominantly hauling coal out of Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. In 1982, the Norfolk and Western Railway and Southern Railway merged to form today's Norfolk Southern Corporation, and NW 6162 became NS 6162. It remained on the active roster for NS until just days before Norfolk Southern officially donated it to Kentucky Steam in June of 2020.


The locomotive’s transformation from modern day livery to the classic Norfolk and Western look is thanks to contributions spearheaded by former Norfolk Southern corporate photographer Casey Thomason.


Thomason, who envisioned the transformation, enlisted the help of Steven Holmes for technical research and graphics, as well as Josh Putnam and Lindesy Poole who provided numerals for the era-specific number boards. The entire look was capped off by a fresh coat of black paint that was supplied by CSX Transportation earlier this decade.


“It’s a cool pet project that I brought to Kentucky Steam a year or so ago, and I’m glad they were as enthusiastic about it as I was,” said Thomason.


“I’m equally as excited to have a chance to run a photo event with 6162 and KSHC’s other locomotives from the same era.”


Thomason was on site this week to perform the task of prepping, painting and lettering the 45-year-old veteran engine. The sleek black look is a stark contrast to Kentucky Steam’s other diesel locomotive from the same era, former L&N C30-7 number 7067 which was donated and cosmetically restored by CSX in 2022. The two engines will eventually be featured as exhibits on the fuel rack and engine terminal that serves as home to Kentucky Steam and is in the process of full restoration, partially thanks to a recently-announced $1.9 million AMLER grant.


To celebrate the transformation, Thomason is partnering with Kentucky Steam to run a photo charter on January 27th, 2024. The all-day event will feature multiple staged scenes, a night photo shoot as well as a luncheon and several photo presentations, including a retrospective look at 1980s-era railroading in Kentucky through the lens of longtime rail photographer Emmett Bell.


Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, October 26th 2023 at www.kentuckysteam.org/events




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