US Army 2-8-0 No. 2630
|Builder:||Baldwin Locomotive Works – Philadelphia, Penn.|
|Wheel Arrangement:||2-8-0 Consolidation (“Yanks” in England)|
|Cylinder Bore x Stroke:||19″ x 26″|
|Boiler Pressure:||225 psi|
|Pulling Power:||31,000 lbs. tractive effort|
|Engine Weight:||72 tons|
|Tender Weight||58 tons|
|Capacity:||Coal – 9 tons; Water – 6,500 gallons|
Upon America’s entry into World War II, the United States Army Transportation Corps (USATC) commissioned development of a locomotive which could be built quickly and inexpensively in large numbers to be deployed on railways around the world. The result was the S-160 class, a 2-8-0 Consolidation locomotive limited in size and weight to ensure compatibility with Europe’s lighter construction of rail lines.
A total of 2,120 S-160’s were built by the combined efforts of the three major American locomotive builders, and the engines saw service in North Africa, Asia, Great Britain, South America and almost all of Europe. In November of 1943, No.2630 rolled out of Baldwin’s assembly shop in Philadelphia. Unlike most of its sister engines which were sent off to war, No.2630 remained stateside for use in railroad operation and maintenance training at the U.S. Army Transportation School at Ft. Eustis, Virginia.
Renumbered No.612 in 1954, the engine remained on active duty for the Ft. Eustis Military Railroad for years; the Army kept operating steam locomotives to ensure no knowledge would be lost in the event that military operations began in a country still running them. Occasional weekend tourist trips around Ft. Eustis became popular stops for American railfans. The engine was finally retired in 1972 and donated to the state of West Virginia for potential use on the Durbin Branch, a state-owned line connecting to the famous Cass Scenic Railroad. Flood damage to the line ended these plans, and No.612 was stored outdoors for many years.
In 2010, No.612 was sold to Robert Franzen, president of Steam Services of America, and was disassembled and trucked to the Southeastern Railroad Museum in Duluth, Georgia, for storage. Age of Steam Roundhouse acquired #612 from Mr. Franzen in 2015 and shipped it via several highway trucks to Sugarcreek. In 2019 the engine received a complete cosmetic restoration, back-dating it to as-built appearance and numbering it back to No.2630 in anticipation of AoSR’s Steam to Victory event.