• MILW 261 - Dropped Fires and Back to Green Bay

  • Discussion relating to The Chicago & North Western, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road), including mergers, acquisitions, and abandonments.
Discussion relating to The Chicago & North Western, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road), including mergers, acquisitions, and abandonments.

Moderator: Komachi

  by Tadman
See att'd photo caption - is there trouble between the operators and owners of MILW 261?
  by mtuandrew
Tadman wrote:See att'd photo caption - is there trouble between the operators and owners of MILW 261?
It appears so. :( http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 13&t=66999

The Wikipedia article on Milwaukee Road 261 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milwaukee_261) was edited today to reflect an email from Steve Sandberg about 261 being returned to the National Railway Museum in Green Bay. I haven't heard specifically why - haven't been in touch with my Twin Cities railfan connections recently - but if I had to guess, I'd finger a combination of insurance and repair bills.
  by Tadman
Thanks, I have no idea what was said between the Friends and the Museum, but it seems the Friends was one of the most successful steam operators of the last decade. It's a shame the Museum can't find a way to accommodate the Friends. That said, I visited the forum hosted by the Friends - it's a small and lightly posted forum about 261 - and there was a rant by a Friends member. It was in red print, in very hostile tone, lambasting railfans for not donating. Not a friendly requesting, but an outright rant. It complained of how railfans only take pictures and call the Friends office looking for 261 but never donate or contribute. It also complained of how the 4449 cross-country trip had lots of unsold seats. I found it to be very off-putting. The 4449 trip was rough for a number of reasons. We're in a terrible recession and the railfans were left to arrange return transportation from obscure cities. Not exactly a recipe for people to buy $400+ tickets to Durand, MI...
  by mtuandrew
The latest from the Friends of the 261, posted on trainorders and copied onto the 261 forum:
News Release
Contact: Steve Sandberg
Friends of the 261 to return Milwaukee Road 261 to National Railroad Museum

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, Nov. 20, 2009:

The “Friends of the 261” was unable to accept the final offer for an extension of its lease agreement for Milwaukee Road 261 from the National Railroad Museum of Green Bay, Wis. As a result, the famous steam locomotive, which was built in 1944 and used by the “Friends” in excursion service from 1993 to 2008, will eventually return to the Museum as a display.
Extended article here: http://261.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=74

It sounds like they've been making a good bit of money from leasing their extensive passenger fleet and plowing it back into steam ops. I wonder whether we'll see that continue at the current level, cease, or ramp up in anticipation of buying a new steamer.

Incidentally, Steve Sandberg was in the hospital yesterday for some minor surgery - if anyone knows him personally, perhaps well-wishes are in order.
  by mtuandrew
Excellent news!

From the Trains Magazine newswire, via an email from my contacts at the Minnesota Streetcar Museum:
MINNEAPOLIS - The longtime operator of Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 steam locomotive No. 261 will buy the engine for $225,000 and continue operating it in excursion service. The deal, announced today, ends a long-standing feud between the engine's owner and operator that nearly saw it returned to static display.

The National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis., owns the engine, but has leased it to the Minneapolis-based Friends of the 261 since 1995. The two sides have been at loggerheads over a lease price going forward, and the engine hasn't operated since 2008.

No. 261 is a 1944 Alco product, and ran for the Milwaukee Road for 10 years. The railroad donated the engine to the museum in 1956. In 1992, a for-profit corporation, North Star Rail Inc., leased the engine from the museum and restored it to operation the following year. North Star dropped out in 1995, and the nonprofit friends group took over. From 1993 to 2008, Milwaukee 261 was a stalwart of steam, running at least one trip each year, a record unmatched by any other mainline steam engine. It pulled excursions until September 2008, when it came due for its federally mandated inspection and overhaul. That's when the rent dispute engulfed the engine.

Last fall, the museum put No. 261 up for sale through broker Sterling Rail for $225,000. It found a taker in a California businessman who hoped to buy the engine and have the friends overhaul and operate it. That deal fell through this March, and the museum then contacted Steve Sandberg, the friends' chief operating officer, offering to sell it. This week, a purchase agreement was signed and the sale went forward

In a TRAINS interview, Sandberg describes the sale as a winner for both sides. "We're pleased that we were able to purchase 261 and that it can now be overhauled," he said. "While it was not originally our intention to buy the locomotive, after the museum offered it to us, we decided that was the only option if 261 was to run again," he said.

While Sandberg's group now owns the engine, hurdles remain. The group had to use much of the cash it had originally earmarked to restore 261 on the purchase, which means it now doesn't have enough money on hand to complete the rebuild. Sandberg said that while crews will resume work on the 261's rebuild immediately, the group would also concentrate on fundraising.

"Through the years of negotiations, many people came to me and said, 'If you ever buy the engine, let me know and I'll make a donation.' Well, now I'm asking those people and anyone else who will listen that we need their help if 261 is to run again."

Museum Operations Manager Bob Lettenberger said money the museum is raising through the sale will go toward restoration of rolling stock displayed there. Bob Young, the museum's acting executive director, said he's pleased the engine will continue to operate as part of the agreement.

Donations can be sent to Railroading Heritage of Midwest America, friends affiliate, at 4322 Lakepoint Court, Shoreview, MN 55126 or by visiting http://www.261.com. - Steve Glischinski
I'm glad we get to see this locomotive on the rails once more! :-D Fitting that the announcement came on National Train Day.
  by atsf sp
Great news but it will probably mean less runs since the group has to fund it themselves.
  by wjstix
Except for owning the engine instead of leasing it, not that much has changed from what I can see. Once the rebuild is done 261 should be able to go back to a 'normal' schedule of events. The Friends of 261 owned the passenger cars already so that's no problem. They did some diesel powered excursions Oct 9-10 to raise money for the rebuilding of 261. I went on the one north to Boylston WI (near Superior) and back, nice 'fall color' trip!! :-D