March 24, 2020
Irvine Ky - For the second year in a row, the Kentucky Railway Museum will receive a grant from the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust to be used for the restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio Railway steam engine #2716. The money is to be used by Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation, the lessors of the locomotive. Kentucky Steam has a long-term lease on the locomotive and is performing the restoration work.
The award comes on the heels of another generous grant made by the Emery Trust in 2019. The $43,000.00 will be used for continued boiler work on the locomotive, targeting the firebox sidesheet and staybolt repair.
“We cannot thank the Emery Trust enough for this extremely generous donation,” said Chris Campbell, President of Kentucky Steam.
“This significant gift will push us over an important fundraising benchmark that we needed to reach before fully committing to the boiler rehab. We are excited to ramp up the work on this locomotive.”
Last July, in a highly publicized three-day extravaganza, the Chesapeake and Ohio 2716 was moved from Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, Kentucky to the Kentucky Steam Heritage’s shop in Estill County, over 200 miles away. The odyssey was named “The Heritage Highball” and featured an excursion as well as stops in Frankfort, Midway, and Lexington.
The new home for Kentucky Steam is the CSX car repair facility near Ravenna which has been inactive for over 20 years. Since the locomotive’s arrival, volunteers with Kentucky Steam have focused their attention on bringing the steam shop back to life. Major utilities needed to be re-established before significant work on the engine could be performed.
“There was a lot of speculation that we were going to dive headlong into the restoration, but we had to act prudently with our eyes on the long term,” said Campbell.
“Now that we have put in the proper utilities, we have the foundation for a well-organized and thorough restoration of the locomotive.”
The 76-year-old locomotive received a comprehensive acid boiler wash in February, the first of its kind on a major steam locomotive. Conducted by chief mechanical officer Jason Sobczynski, the process took three days and essentially cleaned out the interior of the boiler of scale and rust to give a clean and unobstructed working canvas. More recently, large plates of steel have been delivered to the shop in preparation for the firebox sidesheet repairs.
Work on the boiler was scheduled to begin this spring until the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the nation. As of now, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has issued a statewide “safe at home” order, essentially limiting much of the volunteer work at the Kentucky Steam Shop for the immediate future.
“We are interested in the long-term viability of this project, and there’s no reason we should be forcing the issue and risking the health of our members and potentially the general public,” said Campbell. “We will be back at it soon, and cannot wait to put these generous gifts from the Emery Trust to work.”
Jim Fetchero, of the Emery Trust, comments “The Trust is proud to be a part of the restoration of the 2716 and is looking forward to working with Kentucky Steam and the operation of 2716 in Eastern Kentucky in the near future.”
The John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust was created by John Emery, a native of Chicago, and a lover of the classic passenger trains of America. The Trust was founded as a way to support Mr. Emery’s interests in the passenger trains of the 1920’s through the 1950’s. The Trust operates as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) foundation.
For a full listing of the Emery Trust grants for 2020, please visit emeryrailheritagetrust.org