Ol’ CNW 175 moving down track downstate
HANCOCK — Since the late 1950s the locomotive for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway (CNW) 175 has been silent at its location near the Quincy smelting works site.
Now it is leaving the Copper Country to be restored to operation by the Steam Railroading Institute (SRI).
The 1908 R1 class 4-6-0 American will be used for educational tours out of Owosso, Michigan, with the SRI’s Pere Marquette 1225, aka “the real Polar Express.”
The 175 will be able to run at a lower cost on lighter rails, giving the SRI room to expand.
“We’re always looking on the market for a smaller steam locomotive but what drew us to this one was its Michigan history and its Michigan ties,” said Kimberly Springsdorf, executive director of the SRI.
Mineral Range sold the locomotive in early December, but the engine itself won’t depart the area until spring, depending on the weather.
“They’ve got the interest level and the means to undertake the restoration of it,” said Mineral Range operator Clint Jones. “It was brought up to the Copper Country in 1966 and what proposed to be restored to operation on the Keweenaw Central Railway…but that didn’t happen and we saw this as the best alternative.”
Both parties felt the 175 should be restored and remain in the state.
The SRI is seeking grants and contributions to make the restoration possible but plan to do most of the restoration using volunteers.
“We are 80 percent volunteer-driven here at the railroading institute…part of our mission is to educate on the steam railroading era,” Springsdorf said. “That involves a lot of us, because the rail hands are getting older, so we will have a lot of volunteer participation on this, but there are obviously things that we will need to be doing contract labor with as well,”
Springsdorf is aiming to have the 175 operating within five years, though there are many unknowns at this point.