Wednesday, October 21, 2009

History and Culture by Bicycle Part 195; GN1355 Old Ironhorse

I am dedicating this blog post to my late father in law. He recently passed away from cancer. I knew him for over 20 years. One of the similar interests we shared was an appreciation for vintage and antique trains. We prefered the full size trains and steam engines vs. the scale models.

On Saturday October 17, 2009 was the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the GN1355 Old Ironhorse Steam Engine at the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association Museum. The museum, located at 3400 Sioux River Road off of Hwy 12, has had GN1355 since the 1990's and have fully restored it to non-operational cosmetic condition. GN1355 has been in Sioux City since 1955. When it was learned it was going to be retired a letter was sent to Great Northern Railroad asking that it be donated to Sioux City as a tribute to the railroad workers in the community. It was cleaned up and sent to Sioux City where it sat on display outside the Sioux City Auditorium.

Great Northern Railroad was the railroad company that owned and operated GN1355 during it's long career and history, most of which was for passenger service. Here is a brief time line of that history:
October 16, 1909 - built at the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, PA, Engine #B1477 (#33908) coal burning radial stay boiler, was fired up and tested. It was one of 25-E14 class 4-6-0 engines to be built by BLW, for the GN. The 25-E14’s were shipped to St. Paul, MN to the Dale St. Shops.
November 13, 1909 - Dale St. GN workers fired the boiler again to test it.
November 19th, 1909 - it was ready after inspections and was given the number of #1020. It was a numbered series from GN that ran from #1008-1032. #1020 was sent directly to work in the Hillyard, WA region.
August, 1919 - #1020 was sent to Spokane, WA Division passenger service.
Feb. 19, 1924 - it would became a future historical engine. That is the date it was rolled into the Dale St. Shops for a major rebuild. The other 24 E14’s would also become new H5 class engines in time. #1020 would be the 8th E14 to be rebuilt to an H5 4-6-2. It would receive 23.5”x 30” cylinders, Belpaire boiler at 210 psi, type “A” header super heater tubes, larger fire box, longer boiler, Delta trailing trucks, pilot wheels replaced with solid wheels, brake modifications, new paint and converted from coal fired to fuel oil fired. (The change between coal and fuel oil would happen 4 times in its career, ending with fuel oil).
May 29, 1924 - It was rolled out of the plant. It was now numbered #1494 & had been converted from fuel oil to coal fired. The rebuild cost was $32,118.96 total. In 2008 dollars, that would be $391,888.44 total. Through interviews and records from Engineer’s and Firemen, it was unanimous that the H5’s, with the added power and traction, were compared to be as strong, faster and more economical than the 2-8-2, O1 class engines on the GN. Then, #1494 started to run on the Willmar Division (Old St. Cloud). It is believed that it pulled the “Gopher” passenger train.
January 1925 - #1494 was put in the Dale St. Shops. It received a “Booster”
April 10, 1926 - #1494 was renumbered to #1355 and converted again from coal fired to fuel oil fired. The number series now ran from #1350-1374. #1494 was the last H5 to be renumbered from the 1400 series into the #1350-1374 bracket. It was then sent to the Butte Division. GN #1355 was assigned to handle the “Oriental Limited” for about 5 years. In its career, it is known that it handled the “Empire Builder”.
May-June 1929 - The "booster" and the Delta trucks were removed.
1944-50 - Handled the “Winnipeg Limited” (by eyewitness accounts). GN #1355 also pulled the “Oriental Limited”, the #223 local from Williston to Havre, and Snowden to Bainville, MT route. It is believed that it also handled the “Cascadian”, and “Gopher”.
1953 - #1355 was sent into the Mesabi Iron Ore Range for hauling ore.
1954 - a letter from Mr. I.W. Reck of Sioux City, IA, reached GN, requesting they donate a steamer to the city as a tribute to the railroad workers that were and are yet, a major part in the industrialization and expansion of the U.S.A.
1955 - #1355 was retired with the closing of the steamer age after 46 years and awaited the torch.
June 6, 1955 - The letter sent by Mr. I.W. Reck was granted.
July 1955 - #1355 was cleaned, then brought from the Kelly Park, MN area to the southernmost part of GN’s lines in Sioux City, IA. It was placed on outside display.
1984 - a group, of city and business leaders, retired railroad men and interested volunteers, formed a group called the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association to save #1355. This was spearheaded by Larry Obermeyer, Sr. of Sioux City, IA. Many volunteers moved #1355 and Tender #1451 to the old IC Shop site.
1995 - Work was begun. the operation was moved across town to the former Milwaukee Railroad Shops and Roundhouse. The site had seriously deteriorated. It was a salvage yard with many trees and weeds. Volunteers, besides working on the engine, commenced to clean the site up. A grant was issued and a new roof was placed on the roundhouse over #1355 and tender #1451 along with masonry tucking and new windows. The entire site has been saved and so has GN #1355 and Tender #1451. In 2008, #1355 sits dry, on static display with new paint, boiler skirting, piping, interior works and components cleaned and/or rebuilt on both units. It sits absolutely proud and ready for visitors and pictures. It is an official project of the Federal, “Save America’s Treasures Program”, by the White House and the National Trust of Historic Preservation.
October 17, 2009 - 100th Anniversary celebration and dedication of GN1355 Old Ironhorse.

“Of all the surviving steam locomotives in the U.S.A., only Great Northern Railway Steam Locomotive #1355 is the best remaining national resource to illustrate the historical associations between the railroads and the National Park Service, along with the historical development of visitation to the National Parks”.

GN13355 is on the National Register of Historic Places:
Great Northern Railway Steam Locomotive No. 1355 and Tender 1451 *** (added 2004 - Structure - #04001352)
Also known as Chief Ironhourse;GN1355; Engine 1494,GN1494;Engine 1494;
3400 Sioux River Rd., Sioux City
Historic Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering
Architect, builder, or engineer: Great Northen RAilway Mechanical Dpt
Architectural Style: Other
Area of Significance: Transportation, Engineering
Period of Significance: 1900-1924, 1925-1949, 1950-1974
Owner: Private
Historic Function: Transportation
Historic Sub-function: Rail-Related
Current Function: Transportation, Work In Progress
Current Sub-function: Rail-Related

Web sites:
Sioux City History and Culture by Bicycle Part 69: Railroad Museum
History Behind GN #1355 for GNRHS Website
GN 1355 H-5 class 4-6-2 steam locomotive
Milwaukee Railroad Shops

Here are photo's of GN1355, musuem, roundhouse and turntable as well as other train cars on display: