No more steam

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by nachoman, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I learned today that the grand canyon railway is suspending steam operations indefinitely, citing economic reasons :curse:. Seems the railway is losing money, and cutting the steam program will keep things going. That means, if I want to see steam in action, I need to travel to my neighboring states, Durango, Chama, Heber City, Ely, or various places in california. Hopefully GCR's steamers find a good home where they can continue to operate.

    Kevin
  2. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

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    I'd be willing to bet that labour and insurance are the culprits, in about equal measure. Diesels require about 25% of the work to maintain than steam, and do I really need to say anything other than "liability insurance"?
  3. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

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    Those locomotives, to my understanding, have been restored very well. I would think there would be a lot of tourist railroads that would have an interest in a well used, but well cared for locomotive (especially if they have had recent fluework).

    There sure are a boat load of running LS&I engines around. I can think of four: two at Grand Canyon, one on the Western Maryland scenic (or something like that) and one owned by the Ohio Central. Apparently scrap steel just wasn't worth that much way, way up there in Minnesota land!

    Where did the light Mike come from? Was it Grand Trunk?
  4. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Labor was a huge factor, as far as I have heard. It meant they could lay off 20 employees immediately.

    GCR only has LS&I #29. #18 is currently in operation out of Alamosa, Colorado. #4960 is ex CB&Q and has seen extensive rebuilding. They also recently acquired a Spokane, Portland, and Seattle 2-8-2 in exchange for #18. It is basically in pieces.

    Kevin
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    That is unfortunate. We have been planning an RV trip and one stop as to be the campground at the end of the GC railway.
  6. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    They only ran steam in the summer anyway, and this area has much more to offer than just the train. The town of Williams has some interesting shops and restaurants, and then there is the Grand Canyon, Route 66, and the nearby forests and mountains. Likely, the railroad will still run the old ex VIA Alco FPA-4s. Those are interesting on their own!

    Kevin
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    Just what I need! Travel 2000 miles to see ex-VIA units! :mrgreen:
  8. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

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    Just for informational purposes, LS&I runs in Michigan, not Minnesota.
  9. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

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    Is the SP&S locomotive another USRA type Mikado? I.e. was it traded for parts?

    Agreed - my family and I stopped in Williams a couple years ago while traveling. Having a panting steam locomotive replaced by diesels is certainly a loss though. I recall a lot of families milling about the head end looking at what is becoming a mythical beast for more and more people.

    DOH! :oops:

    Matt
  10. railohio

    railohio Active Member

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    The simple fact is that the economics of these operations don't support steam power. Sure, the steam draws larger crowds, but those crowds aren't in proportion to the added expense of operating the steam. I've talked to a couple railroads recently and the answers are all the same, if the diesel operations pay the bills with bother with steam?
  11. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Neither of the 2-8-2s are USRA. The 4960 is an ex CB&Q Baldwin, the SP&S 539 is an ALCo. other than basic appliances, there would be no common parts.

    Kevin
  12. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

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    I guess I'm lucky.
    Back when I visited my parents in 1990, thats all the Grand Canyon was running at the time.
    Here's a couple of pics from, I guess, "Days Gone By"

    First is GC #19, 2-8-0. If you notice, the drive rod from the piston to the drivers is missing.

    Second is GC#29. Another 2-8-0. That one was running up to the canyon the day I was there. I did video tape it leaving Williams, and arriving at Grand Canyon, just have to get it converted one of these days. By the way, thats my father standing to the right, wearing the blue hat.

    Attached Files:

  13. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

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    Thanks Nachoman. I think the smokebox front had me fooled.
  14. brakie

    brakie Active Member

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    Indeed..Steam is a high maintenance labor intensive locomotive.That's what killed it 50 years ago.Diesel are much cheaper to maintain and operate and that looks better on the bottom line of the locomotive maintenance budget sheet.
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

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    I hope the steam engines will be kept in running condition by the railroad. It may be cost prohibitive to run them day in day out even for just the summer months as they have done previously, but it would be nice if they could schedule 2 or 3 steam weekends a year when the steam would be brought out and run for the steam fans. It would not be a lot different from way the U.P. uses the Northern and Challenger, or the way 3751 is operated on the BNSF once or twice a year.
  16. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

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    That was one of my favorite parts of staying in the Kaibab lake campground near Williams... the fact that you could hear the echo of the steam whistle drift down through the pine trees at least twice a day.
  17. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

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    It might have to do with how long the LS&I 2-8-0s lasted in service - until 1962. Not many people seem to know this.