Going to Steamtown
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Local locomotive relocates
Towanda-based locomotive to be part of Steamtown National Historical Site
By James Loewenstein
Published: January 11, 2015
TOWANDA — A railroad engine that was a familiar sight in the Towanda area over the past several decades will now have a new home: the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton.
Joe Zadrusky of Scranton said he is donating the 100-ton, diesel-powered locomotive to the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society, which will house the engine at Steamtown.
Zadrusky, a former owner and operator of the Towanda-Monroeton Shippers Lifeline Railroad, said he used the locomotive from 1979 to 2009 to haul freight on the 5 1/2 –mile line between Packer Avenue in Towanda and Monroeton.
The line ceased being used a few years ago.
“This (moving the engine to Steamtown) is a good end to what happened,” Zadrusky said.
The locomotive was scheduled to arrive at Steamtown on Thursday, Zadrusky said.
Even though the Historical Society will own the locomotive, it will be used by the Steamtown National Historic Site, Zadrusky said.
Debbie Conway, superintendent of Steamtown, explained that the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society has an agreement in place with Steamtown that allows Steamtown to use certain Society-owned equipment that is based at Steamtown.
The locomotive, which was manufactured in 1939, will be used to move rail cars within Steamtown’s rail yard, a role that the locomotive had historically played in the past, she said.
The locomotive, which is called a “switcher,” had been used decades ago to make up passenger trains in Washington, D.C. and had also been used to move rail cars at a quarry, Zadrusky said.
In addition, the locomotive will be available as a backup engine to power the passenger trains that give train rides to the public at Steamtown, Conway said.
Normally, Steamtown would use a steam-powered engine for those rides, she said. However, if the steam engine were being repaired or was undergoing an inspection, the engine that had been owned by Zadrusky could be used in its place, Conway explained.
The Zadrusky engine will also help the museum tell the story of the transition from steam locomotives to diesel locomotives, she said.
Zadrusky said the locomotive he is donating, which was manufactured by the Electro-Motive Corp., is a first-generation diesel engine.
While the locomotive has had “mechanical stuff done to it, it (the locomotive) is all original, the way it was,”
The locomotive, which is 600 horsepower, is too small to be used on main freight lines today, he said. Most engines today are 1,000 horsepower or greater, he said.
When the engine is not in use, it will be on display for the public in Steamtown’s rail yard, Conway said.
While in use on the Towanda-Monroeton rail line, the locomotive hauled grain hoppers to and from Shaffer’s Feed Mill in Monroeton, which was the Towanda-Monroeton Shippers Lifeline Railroad’s biggest customer, Zadrusky said.
The locomotive also hauled wooden billets that had been manufactured in Troy, which were being shipped to Kentucky to be fashioned into Louisville Slugger baseball bats, he said. It had also hauled veal feed that was being shipped to Formula One in southern Bradford County, which was used by the many veal farmers in the area, he said.
In the early 1970s, the Shippers Lifeline Railroad used the locomotive to move tanker cars that contained carbon dioxide under high pressure. The carbon dioxide, which was shipped by rail from Louisiana, was transferred to tractor trailer tanker trucks in Towanda, which transported the gas to the Taylor Beef Packing plant in Wyalusing. Taylor Beef used the carbon dioxide for refrigeration, in order to quickly freeze meat, he said.
Following its arrival at Steamtown, the Historical Society will fix up the locomotive and “get it in good running condition,” Zadrusky said. The upgrade will include repainting the locomotive and replacing a couple of its wheels, which are worn down, he said.
He said he believes the locomotive will be painted its original color. The locomotive’s current red color is not original, he said.
The Historical Society has also been restoring other rail cars at Steamtown.
At this point, it is not clear whether the Historical Society will retain ownership of the Zadrusky locomotive, or whether it will transfer ownership of the locomotive to Steamtown, Conway said.
But even if the Historical Society retains ownership, the locomotive will remain at Steamtown on a long-term basis, Conway said.
As for the Towanda-Monroeton rail line, it appears likely that it will start to be used again this year to ship sand for fracking to an offloading site near Monroeton, Zadrusky said. Zadrusky said he currently owns the 33-acre parcel where the offloading would take place.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: [email protected]