Transportation Museum Forges Partnership to Preserve 20th Century Steam Locomotives

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Norfolk & Western steam locomotive #1134 waits to be moved after almost 60 years. The Virginia Museum of Transportation announced Wednesday they will preserve the long-abandoned train along with several others. This M2 class locomotive was built in 1910.

Norfolk & Western steam locomotive #1134 waits to be moved after almost 60 years.  The Virginia Museum of Transportation announced Wednesday they will preserve the long-abandoned train along with several others.  This M2 class locomotive was built in 1910.
Norfolk & Western steam locomotive #1134 waits to be moved after almost 60 years. The Virginia Museum of Transportation announced Wednesday they will preserve the long-abandoned train along with several others. This M2 class locomotive was built in 1910.

For nearly sixty years, one-of-a-kind examples of cherished American steam locomotives from the early 20th century have languished in a Roanoke scrap yard. On Wednesday the Virginia Museum of Transportation announced a partnership that will lead to the preservation of these locomotives and other rolling stock.

Originally faced with a cost of $50,000 per piece to remove the rail stock, the new partnership will provide an arrangement to save not only the steam locomotives, but virtually all but one of the pieces of rail equipment now impounded at the old Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal Co. yard in Roanoke.

“The Museum has been working to rescue these locomotives for nearly thirty years,” said Eugene M. Elliott, Jr., a long-time board member of the museum.

“We are grateful to our partners and the community that will allow us to bring these engines home, and save them for generations to come. Most of these pieces have a direct connection to Roanoke, and illustrate a story that should not be lost of the Valley’s hard-working railroad employees.”

VMT Executive Director Beverly Fitzpatrick (center) points to Museum Board Chairman Kenneth Lanford (right) at a press conference to announce plans to save the antique trains.
VMT Executive Director Beverly Fitzpatrick (center) points to Museum Board Chairman Kenneth Lanford (right) at a press conference to announce plans to save the antique trains.

The “Lost Engines of Roanoke,” and other rail stock, have been at the scrap yard since the 1950’s. The yard was recently sold to make way for Carilion Clinic’s growing medical campus on South Jefferson Street, providing a window of opportunity to save these engines.

The following organizations are playing a role in saving the Lost Engines:

The Virginia Museum of Transportation, Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal Co. (which donated the locomotives and rail stock),  The Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority, (current property owners) and The Railway Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth which has been working for several years to develop a rail heritage site.

“We are excited to be taking action on the Lost Engines and to be able to put together such a wonderful coalition of partners to make it happen,” said Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., the Museum’s Executive Director. “The Lost Engines will be saved, but it will take additional funding and support from the community to restore these pieces and put them on display.”

All of the equipment is expected to be moved by September 30, 2009. Will Harris of North Fork Lumber Co., has been contracted to move the equipment.

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