• Whitcomb diesel sighting in S.D.

  • All about locomotive rebuilders, small locomotive works, and experimental works
All about locomotive rebuilders, small locomotive works, and experimental works

Moderator: Komachi

  by mowingman
While on vacation, we stopped in Hill City, S.D., to ride the Hill City Train. Besides the steam engines and a high hood Gp, they have a Whitcomb, 80 ton center cab diesel on the roster. One of the employees told me it runs good, and is used for moving cars around the yard during the offseason, when the GP and steamers are mothballed for the winter.
This is only the second Whitcomb centercab I know of, that still operates on any kind of regular basis. The other one is on a tourist line in Pa.
  by dsrc512
As was explained to me a number of years ago by a couple of Black Hills Central RR employees, the Whitcomb had been the plant switcher at a relatively small coal burning power plant near Deadwood. The power plant, which wanted continued rail service, had an adversarial relationship with BN, which wanted to abandon the entire branch which ran along the spine of the Black Hills. Ultimately, BN won. Nursing a grudge, BN made it very difficult for the power plant to ship out the Whitcomb on its own wheels. In the end, the power plant made a deal with the excursion railroad. In exchange for a train ride for the plants' employees and their families, the Whitcomb would be given to the railroad. At the time I saw it the Whitcomb had a leaky radiator at one end, so that engine wasn't used. The BN line had been abandoned but not yet torn up. The then owner of the BHC was trying to keep the line in place for reasons that weren't shared with me. Possibly he was concerned about his operation becoming landlocked, which it now is. In any case, he had his winter crew run the Whitcomb over the BN's line to discourage any attempts by landowners to fence off the right of way (I surmise). I took a few slides of the Whitcomb in places you would not expect to see it and now can't as the grade is now a paved trail.
Alex Huff
  by mowingman
Thanks for the interesting background info.
By the way, we also stopped by your old Dakota Southern operation, in Chamberlain. Lots of stored engines makes it an interesting place to visit. Appears that only one or two of them are operable right now.