Road transfer of iconic steam locomotive is music to preservationists’ ears


By Geoff Courtney

ONE of the United States’ most iconic preserved locomotives is to undergo a major restoration following its eagerly-awaited road transfer across the busy city of Nashville in an operation that cost £390,000, took two years to plan, and involved a self-propelled, electrically-driven, 24-wheeled trailer that was controlled and manoeuvred by just one man walking alongside.

The painstaking two-mile road operation on January 13, from the city’s Centennial Park, where the giant 4-8-4 had been on display for 65 years, to a nearby railhead was watched by thousands of fascinated residents and tourists.

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There it was transferred to the tracks and was due to be towed in February five miles to the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, where the four-year, £1½ million restoration will take place.

American power: Nashville, Chattanooga and St Louis Railway No. 576 rests at Memphis in 1948. The J3 class 4-8-4 was preserved after withdrawal in 1952 and is soon to start a major restoration that will see it return to steam for the first time in more than 65 years. NASHVILLE STEAM PRESERVATION SOCIETY

No. 576 was built in 1942 by the American Locomotive Co of New York state for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St Louis Railway.

One of 20 members of the J3 class, it was designed for both express and heavy freight trains, but due to dieselization saw only 10 years’ service.

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All its classmates were scrapped but No. 576 survived into preservation, so becoming not only the sole extant member of its class, but also the only NCStLR loco to escape the cutter’s torch.

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