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Steam-Era Supplies Donated By Patriot Rail

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. 








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