The Morehead News

Local News

November 18, 2011

Historic steam locomotive headed north

Nov. 18, 2011 —     Steam locomotive No. 12, the pride of the former Morehead and North Fork Railroad, is leaving Clearfield for a new home and extended life in Sugar Creek, Ohio.

    Said to be the last locomotive of its type in the entire world, the 70-ton switch engine was sold by the family of the late C. L. (Booge) Armstrong to the Age of Steam Roundhouse, the private railroad collection owned by Jerry Joe and Laura Jacobson.

    Jacobson said old No. 12 – built in 1905 – will be restored to operating condition and housed in a new, 18-stall roundhouse with his 12 other steam locomotives.

    “It’s a nice rebuildable size with a simple design,” Jacobson said. “It’s been kept in nice shape inside the engine house.”

    Jacobson is the former CEO and board chairman of the Ohio Central Railroad System (OCRS) which he sold in 2008.

    Neither Jacobson nor Rick Armstrong, representing the Armstrong family, would divulge the price paid for the engine which was last under steam in 1963.

    “We are confident that No. 12 will be properly restored and preserved by the Jacobsons,” said Armstrong. “They have been interested in her for many years.”

    The Morehead News is aware that the Rowan County Historical Society also made a purchase offer on the old engine.

    James Johnson, who describes himself as the historian of the old M&NF, watched this week as riggers prepared the locomotive and its tender (coal car) for truck transport to the Jacobson facility in Northern Ohio.

    He said of the activity:   

    “As a railroad historian, I find this transition a little sad but No. 12’s future could not be brighter. She is going to a good home with skilled mechanics and she will be operable again for the first time since 1963.”

    Johnson, who provided much of the information used in this article, said No. 12 was built for the former Southern Railway in 1905 and was used in Evansville and Princeton, Ind., as a switch engine in the railroad yards there. 

    Johnson said the M&NF purchased the engine in 1952 for $3,500 and brought it to Clearfield to move clay from Clack Mountain to Clearfield and then to the Lee Clay Products plant.

    The locomotive remained on the property after the Morehead and North Fork filed for abandonment in 1972 and was sold in 1973, along with the Lee Clay property, to Homer Gregory & Co., Inc.

    Johnson said it later was used to haul lumber to the Morehead siding of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway before the C&O closed down between Ashland and Winchester in 1985.

    Abandonment of the C&O line left the M&NF totally isolated from the national railway grid.

    Johnson recalled that representatives of the Bluegrass Railroad Museum expressed interest in the railroad’s rolling stock in 1978.

    Later, Johnson operated a machine shop in the old engine house and explored the possibility of creating a tourist railroad. 

    The locomotive was spruced up with new grease and paint in 1993 and 1994 and displayed during a couple of “railfan” weekends.

    Johnson, who is writing a book about the M&NF, says No. 12 is the only Southern Railway steam locomotive of its type left in existence. 

    The tender was loaded on a two trailers Wednesday and moved to Ohio on Thursday. 

    The locomotive itself will be moved in the next couple of weeks as soon as all the highway permits are approved in Kentucky and Ohio.

     Information about the new owner is online at www.ageofsteamroundhouse.com.

    Keith Kappes can be reached at kkappes@themoreheadnews.com or by telephone at 784-4116.

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