Above: C&O 2716 as a Southern and C&O locomotive.
In 2014, I became involved with Project 2716: an effort to restore Chesapeake & Ohio 2-8-4 #2716 back to service by 2020. This steam locomotive, built by the American Locomotive Works in 1943, was “the one that got away,” according to group CMO, Jason Sobczynski. Since her first return to service with the Southern Railway steam program in 1981, the engine has had a troubled career of running for a short time, inspiring thousands of people trackside, and then being stored away to await another assignment. The potential this locomotive has to continue the education of new generations and inspire folks trackside was still there, it just needed a spark.
Below: The locomotive is seen under the shed at KRM, with volunteer Joel Marksbury cleaning the rods.
At Train Expo 2014 in Owosso, Michigan, my good friend, Chris Campbell of Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp., approached me with his vision: restoring the mighty Kanawha back to steam. As a big fan, supporter, and volunteer at the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, I couldn’t help my excitement. Another 2-8-4? Under steam? Sign me up! From that moment forward, we began to plan things out. An idea started to become an act in motion. But, it wouldn’t be until next summer that we met the right person to head the mechanical aspect of the restoration.
During the summer of 2015, Chris and I met with Jason Sobczynski during our search for a project CMO. Jason’s background is quite extensive in the steam railroading community. Known as “That Steam Guy” online, his experience with groups like Fort Wayne, American Steam, TVRM, and the Grand Canyon made him a great candidate for our project. Not only that, but Jason was among the new age of steam locomotive mechanics. He understood the fusion that is needed in 2016 of online presence and vision to gain traction and support for the restoration. I introduced the two of them and they hit it right off. You can hear Jason’s story below:
Once Jason was on board, we began to form a plan. Joining forces with other Kentucky steam enthusiasts like Joe Nugent, Chad Harpole, Jeff Lisowski, and Brett Goertemoeller – we spoke with the Kentucky Railway Museum, the current owners of the locomotive, about our idea. They were interested. Initial inspection of the locomotive was done in November of 2015 and the prospects were good: the rumors of the “unrepairable firebox” were untrue and the locomotive was in exceptional condition – especially for being outdoors for almost twenty years.
For the next several weeks, negotiations were made with the Kentucky Railway Museum for a long term lease on the engine. Once the terms were met, the restoration was set to start in the spring, with the official project announcement being made public on 2/7/16. I had the honor of producing the roll-out video for the project, which received nearly 20,000 views on the date of release. It has been an amazing journey from the initial conversation Chris and I had at Train Expo 2014 to the active work sessions at the Kentucky Railway Museum this summer. Though in its infancy, what was once Chris Campbell’s dream, has now been made a reality. A C&O 2-8-4 could very well be under steam again by the year 2020 and I am thankful to have a front row seat to it all. You can watch the rollout video below:
At Delay In Block Productions, we’ll be using all of our online reach to keep you updated on this amazing group of volunteers as they work to bring the 2716 back to life. Though we won’t be posting updates on our own YouTube Channel, we will be producing videos on the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp.’s YouTube Channel, which can be found by clicking here. Be sure to like C&O 2716 on Facebook and visit www.2716.org for more information on how to make a donation or become a volunteer.
Thanks for stopping by,