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KSHC Receives Fourth Emery Rail Heritage Trust Award


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.

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