Thursday

Locomotive Park, Kingman, AZ

On a trip to Laughlin in January of 2009, we stopped by Locomotive Park in Kingman, AZ, home to famed steam engine #3759. Built in 1928 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Eddystone, PA, Engine No. 3759, a “Northern-type” coal burning steam locomotive ran passengers between Los Angeles and Kansas City for more than 20 years, and before it was retired by the Santa Fe Railroad, it had run a total of 2,585,600 miles. This engine was a 4-8-4 "Northern" type steam engine. It was one of sixty-five engines of this type used by AT&SF. 4-8-4 refers to the wheel configuration of the engine. There is a four-wheel leading truck, supporting the cab of the engine. This four-wheel truck is followed by an eight wheel driver arrangement. The driver wheels on the steam engine were 73 inches in diameter. The driver wheels are followed by another four-wheel truck, the trailing truck, which supported the fireboxes and the boilers. The 4-8-4 configuration made locomotives faster, and was used mainly on fast freight and passenger trains. In 1941, Engine No. 3759 was rebuilt and converted to run on oil fuel. Engine No. 3759 was presented to the City of Kingman by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1957 as a historical monument. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Area Description: Kingman, the Heart of historic Route 66 & one of the hidden treasures of Arizona, is conveniently located on Interstate 40 and is the perfect launching point for "Route 66 and Beyond". Scenic hiking, historic charm, great cafes and restaurants, and the allure of Route 66 combine to make Kingman a remarkable destination. At an elevation of around 3,300 feet Kingman offers a temperate climate year-round. Kingman was founded as a railroad settlement and a monument in the park pays tribute to those who forged the route, such as the wagon trails of the early settlers and the surveys of Lt. Edward Beale. Located directly across from the Historic Route 66 Museum, Locomotive Park is a place where visitors may get up close and examine this marvel of earlier locomotive structure and design while listening to the modern trains whizzing by on the nearby railroad tracks across the street.

History of Old Steam Locomotive 4960:  Locomotive 4960, last used on the Grand Canyon Railroad, is on display at the Grand Canyon Railroad depot in Williams, Arizona. The 4960, a 2-8-2 was first used in CB&Q excursion service on December 28, 1958 when the Illinois  Railroad Club sponsored a trip between Chicago and Ottawa. 4960 received a major overhaul in 1961 where she received new tires, flues, arch tubes, and arch brick. On March 4, 1966, after over seven years of excursion service, the CB&Q announced that steam trips would be discontinued after 4960's July 17 trip. However, 4960 was not scrapped. In 1966, 4960 was retired to the Circus World Museum where she remained until donated to the Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society's museum at North Freedom, Wis. In 1980, she was leased to an excursion operator, the Bristol & North Western (B&NW) Railroad, in Bristol, VA. A short-lived reprieve, she entered service running out of Bentham, Va., during the summer of 1981.

During this time, a personal relationship began between 4960 and two present Grand Canyon Railway employees: Ervin White, train master, and Robert Franzen, superintendent motive power. White was part of the crew that prepared 4960 for the trip and moved her from North Freedom to Bristol. He stayed on with the B&NW in charge of train operations and maintenance of track. At this same time, Franzen signed on with the company as a fireman. Both worked on the engine to prepare her for the 1981 season and continued to operate her throughout the summer as firemen and engineers. By 1984 the picnic was over. The B&NW went out of business and Franzen ran her for the last time from Benhams to Bristol. Both White and Franzen bid her farewell, not knowing they would eventually meet again.

In March 1985, the engine was moved to Ft. Wayne, Ind., where she declined in storage until purchased by the Grand Canyon Railway. Shortly after the reinaugural of the Grand Canyon Railway on September 17, 1989, mechanics dissembled most of the components and shipped the running gear on trucks and the frame, boiler, cab and tender on flat cars to Williams, AZ.

Finally stopped in July 1993, she began one of the most thorough overhauls of a steam locomotive in modern times. Stripped of all running gear, tubes, electrical systems, bearings, pumps, stay bolts, and coal systems, she looked a bit forlorn. But, as newly manufactured and rebuilt equipment is added to the basic frame and boiler, the huge engine continued to take on a new life of her own. Boiler men, welders, electricians, and mechanics turned out flue sheets, pumps, fittings, and running gear to low tolerance specifications from raw material that made 4960 the queen of the United States steam fleet. No rebuilding in the past 45 years has been so complete. Franzen was in charge of this massive rebuilding project that spanned more that 24 months and expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ervin White supervised train operations.