For Immediate Release
July 1, 2018 - Noblesville, IN -
The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp (KSHC), a Kentucky-based nonprofit rail preservation institution, announced Sunday that an agreement has been reached with the Indiana Transportation Museum to aid in an emergency move of pieces of their historic rail collection.
KSHC has agreed to purchase the museum’s tool car, an ex-Pennsylvania Railroad Railway Post Office Car as well as to transport 100-year-old steam locomotive - Nickel Plate Road number 587 - to their Ravenna, Kentucky shop for eventual re-build.
The Indiana Transportation Museum, which has been located in Noblesville, Indiana for over thirty years, has recently been handed a court order to vacate their city-owned property after a nearly-year-long legal battle with the city. The museum had requested an injunction of a previous court-ordered eviction to give the group more time to move their equipment out of the vicinity. The injunction was denied on Friday, and Hamilton Circuit Court Judge Paul A. Felix ordered the entirety of the group’s equipment - including 587 - to be moved by July 12th, two weeks from the date of issue of the order.
587, a Mikado-type locomotive, was built in 1918 and operated for the Nickel Plate Railroad in Indiana until being retired in 1955. It was placed on display in Broad Ripple Park in Indianapolis later that year. The engine gained significant fame in the late 1980s and early 1990’s when it was restored by museum volunteers and operated all over the eastern United States for the Norfolk Southern railroad’s steam program. It was in service for the Indiana Transportation Museum tourist operation until 2003.
ITM and KSHC have enlisted Underwood Machinery Transport, Inc of Indianapolis to move the engine, tender and tool car. Jim Irwin, Vice President of Underwood, said the company was initially responsible for moving 587 out of Broad Ripple Park in the 1980s during its first restoration. Because the museum track is not tied to the national rail system, all equipment will need to be removed and transported via truck.
The move will be overseen by KSHC Chief Mechanical Officer Jason Sobczynski and Director of Restorations Andy Wartman, who was also involved in the first restoration and subsequent operation of 587.
KSHC President Chris Campbell said that the partnership benefits both non-profit preservation groups, even though the circumstances are far from ideal.
“We are hopeful that this collaboration can help put a positive slant on an overall undesirable situation,” he said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to be the stewards of such a famous engine, and look forward to getting the engine fully operational for ITM in the not-too-distant future.”
KSHC has agreed to store 587 until ITM can raise the funds to restore the engine to active service once again. Since 2003, the locomotive has been undergoing intermittent restoration work. Progress has been made on the engine’s firebox and other key components, but major work has ceased since the museum’s future has become unclear while being embroiled in a feud with the city.
Recent court documents indicate that any property left on site in Noblesville after July 12th will immediately be deemed abandoned, and will be seized by the sheriff of Hamilton County, Indiana.
“In order to protect the future of this historic engine, immediate action needed to be taken,” said Campbell. “A major thanks goes out to Underwood Machinery Transport for mobilizing quickly to help make this possible.”
Kentucky Steam Heritage already has a large project in process, the rehab of former Chesapeake and Ohio steam locomotive number 2716, which is being leased from the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, Kentucky. Campbell says the 587 move does little to affect the 2716 project, and in fact may enhance it. KSHC recently signed a contract to purchase a large tract of a former-CSX railyard and accompanying buildings in Ravenna, Kentucky about 30 miles southeast of Lexington. The facility will eventually become the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center and will showcase the restoration and operation of historic rail equipment, particularly steam locomotives. KSHC hopes to have both engines stored inside the Ravenna facility and will perform work as time and money allow. The 587 restoration will be contracted by KSHC, and ITM will still retain ownership of the engine.
While Kentucky Steam won’t own the Nickel Plate locomotive, it will execute the purchase of former Pennsylvania Railroad RPO car, which the group will utilize as a crew and tool car for C&O 2716 when it operates. It too needs to be removed from the premises by July 12th to escape possible repossession.
“We are trying to make the best of a bad situation,” said Josh Spencer, ITM board member and director of assets. “We are optimistic that we can reestablish our operations elsewhere and eventually get 587 back running in Indiana again. We appreciate KSHC lending a hand at the 11th hour and getting the engine out of harm’s way.”
Fundraising efforts are currently ongoing to handle moving expenses, and any contributions to KSHC will qualify for a hefty 400% grant match from the Appalachian Regional Commission, which the Kentucky group will submit a strongly-supported application for in August.
To make a tax-deductible donation to KSHC, visit www.kentuckysteam.org/contribute
ITM and KSHC plan to share the cost of moving the equipment. Specifically-allocated donations to KSCH will be contributed to the move of 587 and the purchase of the tool car. The moving process is expected to begin on July 3rd.
For more up-to-the-minute information, please visit the Kentucky Steam Heritage Facebook and Twitter feeds at:
To read more about the KSHC’s Appalachian Regional Commission grant application, visit KSHC’s news section at their website www.kentuckysteam.org/news
Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation (KSHC) is a Kentucky based 501 c(3) non-profit organization working to rebuild, maintain, manage, and operate heritage rail equipment, including, including steam locomotive Chesapeake & Ohio Railway 2716, to operational status. The equipment will be operable pieces of "living history", and serve as an educational tool, enhancing heritage tourism and stimulating economic growth.