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Williams Grove Historical Steam Engine Association 7/21/2013

by Chris Guenzler

Dave Smetko and I drove from New Freedom to Williams Grove, Pennsylvania, but stopped three times on the way.

Stop one was for the Stewartstown Railroad station in Shrewsbury built in 1925. Stop two was at a Sheets Service Station for petrol and the third stop was in Mechanicsburg when we spotted more depots.

The Mechanicsburg Cumberland Valley Railroad station built in 1867.

The Mechanicsburg Cumberland Valley Railroad freight house built in 1886. Thanks to Dave's Garman GPS, we found where I had been once before but when we pulled into the grounds, saw Pennsylvania Railroad 0-6-0 653 reversing the train to the boarding area. I bought us tickets for the next trip and took a pair of pictures of an engine I had photographed before the 2010 National Railway Historial Society Convention in Scranton, but in just a few minutes would finally have an opportunity to ride behind her.

Two pre-trip pictures before I boarded the back of the two open cars in order to get some pictures of the steam engine on the curves on this line.

A brief history

It was the Winter of 1958-59 when a group of people met to discuss forming a steam association. The basis of this idea came from their memories of using old time farm machinery. They formed the Williams Grove Steam Engine Association with the purpose of preserving steam-powered equipment and to educate the public about the history of farming. The association uses steam engines for plowing, harvesting and sawing. It also has early gas engines and tractors plus a Pennsylvania Railroad steam engine. In 1959, Roy Richwine, Sr., owner of the 91 acres Williams Grove Amusement Park, invited the association to use his land which they then purchased.

The Train

Pennsylvania Railroad 0-6-0 643 built by the railroad in 1901. Considered surplus in 1917, it was sold to Central Iron & Steel Company 5 at Harrisburg which became Phoenix Iron & Steel Company 5 in 1955 as a result of a merger. Three years later, the company name changed to Phoenix Steel Corporation and it retained its number. In 1960, it was sold to a unknown party then in 1961, sold to the Williams Grove Steam Association 5.

WGRR open car 102 built from a Baltimore and Ohio flat car.

WGRR open car 101 built from a Baltimore and Ohio flat car.

Pennsylvania Railroad caboose 477130 built by the railroad in 1917.

Pennsylvania Railroad caboose 980894 built by the railroad in 1916.

The Trip

The train left the boarding area and headed for the first curve.

The steam engine was climbing the grade and would pass that tank car.

Once past the tank car, the train climbed the rest of the grade.

View inside the open cars.

The steam engine took the curve at the road that leads into the grounds.

We left the road behind us.

The steam engine rounding the last curve to the end of track.

The view from the end of track.

Now we headed back to the boarding area.

Reversing up that straight track.

Reversing across the road.

Reversing down the grade.

The train reversedus all the way to the boarding area.

The rear of Pennsylvania Railroad 643. Now it was time to put the engine away.

First the steam engine had to clear the switch which enabled me to get pictures of the engine in the clear.

Views of Pennsylvania Railroad 0-6-0 643. Next the diesel put the train in the siding.

The train has reached the siding led by WGRR 65 ton centre cab switcher 52, nee Pennsylvania Power and Light 3347 built by Vulcan Iron Works in 1953. The locomotive became surplus to them after that plant was converted from coal to natural gas and was purchased by the Williams Grove Historial Steam Engine Association in 2010.

The steam engine returns to its shed.

WGRR 52 returned with the two cabooses then tied down.

The Williams Grove Historic Steam Engine Association has preserved one of the few surviving pieces of Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Railroad rolling stock which was originally built for the Pennsylvania Railroad. This is caboose 15.

The rear of the steam engine in the engine shed.

Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad 40 foot wooden box car 727 built by Baltimore Steel in 1906.

Williams Grove Railroad 25DM 8, nee Pennsylvania Power and Light E129, built by Whitcomb Locomotive Company in 1953 and among among the last locomotives built under the Whitcomb name. E129 was purchased by the Williams Grove Historical Steam Engine Association in the 1980's and renumbered 8. It is used mainly for switching and track work but does see limited use in passenger service. From 2001-2006, it was our primary locomotive while our steam locomotive 643 was out of service.

Williams Grove Railroad steam crane 1 built by Ohio Locomotive Crane Company in Bucyrus.

A steam tractor.

TWOX tank car 149. With that last picture, I met Dave and we left Williams Grove two happy people then drove the Pennsylvania Turnpike west towards Ohio.

What does this cloud look like to you? North of Pittsburgh, we drove through more heavy rains before reaching a drier Ohio. We took the Ohio Turnpike to Interstate 76, that took us to Interstate 71, which took us to Ontario where we went to Outback Steakhouse and I enjoyed a large steak. From there we drove to the Comfort Inn in Marion, Ohio for the night.