The 1928 Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern No. 425 steam engine made its way through Tamaqua twice yesterday (Saturday, August 29, 2015) as part of a train ride excursion for the Hamburg Area High School class of 1965 50th reunion. Andrew J. Muller Jr, the owner of the railroad, was a member of that class.
Below are photos and video of the 425 taken yesterday by TamaquaArea.com Andrew Leibenguth and Eric Becker.
The locomotive first arrived in Tamaqua around 4:30 PM, when it stopped at the Tamaqua Train Station for about 30 minutes to let off all reunion members, who attended a reunion dinner at La Dolce Casa Restaurant. It then continued north to Hometown to turnaround and arrived back at the train station after 5:45 PM. After all members re-boarded the train (about 7 PM), the it resumed south and stopped in front of the New Ringgold Fire Company, where reunion members disembarked again at the New Ringgold Fire Company for desert. It is unknown where they went from here.
The engine is a 1928 Baldwin built 4-6-2 light “Pacific” type steam locomotive operated by Reading & Northern Railroad, based out of Port Clinton. The locomotive has gone through a number of railroads, numbers and paint schemes over the years, to include a new paint job a few weeks ago.
Below information about the locomotive via Wikipedia.com:
425 was built for the Gulf, Mobile and Northern by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Eddystone, PA as the first of two Pacifics ordered. The engine later became Gulf, Mobile and Ohio 580. It was retired in 1950.
Quickly after retirement, it was purchased by Paulson Spence as part of his Louisiana Eastern Railroad. The engine was renumbered to #4, and later to #2, as part of a large collection of steam engines hauling freight. It was purchased in 1962 by Malcolm Ottinger and became the main power of the Valley Forge Scenic Railroad of Kimberton, Pennsylvania, where it also regained its original number. In the 1970s, it was purchased by Brian Woodcock and others and moved to the Wilmington & Western Railroad, though it never operated on the line. In 1983, it was sold to Andrew J. Muller, Jr. to power tourist trains on the newly formed Blue Mountain and Reading Railroad based out of Temple, PA. The engine made many runs on this 26 miles shortline, as well as a few trips on the mainline. The high-stepping Pacific was later joined by Reading 2102 in 1987. The Blue Mountain & Reading became much larger with the purchase of nearly 300 miles of former Conrail trackage throughout the early 1990s. The railroad was renamed to Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern (often shortened to Reading & Northern). In 1995 both names officially Merged. Having more track gave 425 and 2102 a large amount of new areas to roam, and the engines became based out of the railroad’s own headquarters of Port Clinton.
Locomotive 425 in its blue paint scheme of the 1990s
On June 12, 1992 the 425 was painted into its most recognizable appearance with a dark blue paint scheme. Inspired by the Reading Company’s own blue painted Pacific (not, contrary to popular belief, the Central Railroad of New Jersey’s Blue Comet, the locomotive’s blue made it a distinct stand out. The idea came to Mr. Muller to paint 425 in dark blue by former Reading Company Engineer Charles W. Kachel. The locomotive was a featured guest at the Steamtown National Historic Site Grand Opening in July 1995, and made a number of excursions out of Scranton. The locomotive returned to Port Clinton in late 1996. 425’s last excursion was the Tamaqua Fall Fest on October 13, 1996. From 1997 – 2008 is when steam operations took an extended break.
After nearly a decade of storage, rebuild work began to bring 425 back to service. Following two years of restoration, the Pacific made its first operation under steam in December 2007 in a partially repainted appearance. Another test run was done on May 11, 2008 where the engine debuted in a new lighter blue color and an above-centered headlight. It made its return to excursion service in June 2008 on a round trip from Port Clinton to Jim Thorpe, a run it would make often. The RBMN’s new star made many trips to Jim Thorpe and other locations over the next three years, with employee runs, tourist trains on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, and a featured attraction of the 2010 NRHS Convention.
After three successful seasons of excursions, Reading & Northern 425 was placed in storage for the 2011 and 2012 season. Repairs included the rebuilding of the pilot and trailing trucks by the Strasburg Rail Road, including conversion from plain bearings to more efficient roller bearings, rebuilding of the air compressor, a new blower and replacing the bottom part of the smokebox. Repairs were completed in late August of 2013 and were followed by a few days of testing. The 425’s first public outing after her overhaul was a return to Steamtown for the first time since 1996 for its annual Railfest. While at Railfest 2013, 425 was on display, though under steam, near the entrance to the park. After Railfest had concluded, the 425 pulled excursions out of Jim Thorpe on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad on Labor Day Weekend. The engine later operated on numerous trips out of Port Clinton, and also doubleheaded with recently restored Central Railroad of New Jersey 113 on several trips.
The Reading & Northern runs regular tourist trains on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway usually with the railroad’s fleet of modern freight diesels.
TamaquaArea.com Video: (Includes multiple videos combined)
(Remember to change YouTube’s settings to HD-1080 for better viewing.)
Click HERE to view a 2009 TamaquaArea.com video of the No. 425 steam locomotive in Tamaqua.
TamaquaArea.com photos via Andrew Leibenguth:
(Click HERE to view these photos on Facebook.)
Below photos courtesy of Eric Becker: