Vintage rolling stock on home rails

By November 30, 2019January 1st, 2020Features

By Aaron Isaacs, HRA editor

With a few exceptions, railway preservation is a local or regional undertaking. Most museums concentrate on what used to run nearby. I’ve always thought it special when a museum or tourist railroad is able to run or display a piece of rolling stock where it ran before. What follows is my attempt to list the places where that is true. Think of it as a holiday parlor game.

Some assumptions and rules are in order. It counts if the rolling stock is on the original right of way, which allows for the relaying of track years after abandonment. It’s not enough for it to be stored nearby. Also, it’s not enough for a piece of mainline equipment to be running on some obscure branch line of the same railroad that it never would have visited. In most cases the equipment is operable, but I’ve included some static displays that are actually located on the railroad.

The narrow gauges that never stopped running are in the top tier of such places. The White Pass & Yukon still runs original steam locomotives, diesels and passenger cars.

Western Pacific Railroad Museum occupies the former WP Portola engine terminal and owns 17 WP locomotives, some of which it runs.

Western Railway Museum has revived several miles of the Sacramento Northern mainline, on which it operates SN interurbans #1005 and 1020, as well as steeplecab #654, freight cars and a caboose. It helps that they’ve replicated the overhead wire structure exactly, down to the location of the poles.

Railtown 1897 preserves the Sierra Railway roundhouse and terminal and runs on three miles of the railroad with Sierra 4-6-0 #3, 2-8-0 #28 and other miscellaneous Sierra rolling stock.

The Timber Heritage Museum leases and is in the process of acquiring the ex-Hammond Lumber Samoa Shops. Operation is still years away, but stored inside the roundhouse is Hammond Lumber 2-8-2 #15.

San Francisco Muni is a preservation double header, with the incredibly historic cable cars on their original tracks and a number of local vintage streetcars on the E Line and F Line.

The Laws Railroad Museum displays Southern Pacific narrow gauge 4-6-0 #9 and other rolling stock on original rails. 4-6-0 #18 has visited, located in Independence, CA, has visited.

California State Railroad Museum now owns the former Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops and stores rolling stock there, including Central Pacific 2-6-2T 223 which was built there, and several diesels that were probably serviced there. There are also a couple of freight and maintenance of way cars that were built there.

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum has San Diego, Arizona & Eastern 2-8-0 #104, a couple of freight cars and a caboose.

Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney #21 travels the revived Mountain Avenue line. Birney #25 is being restored inside the original carhouse, which is owned by the city.

Multiple Colorado & Southern freight cars occupy the recently relaid Denver South Park & Pacific/C&S tracks and roundhouse at Como.

The Durango & Silverton runs the 45-mile Rio Grande Silverton branch, inheriting several locomotives, most of the operable passenger cars and a large number of original D&RGW freight cars.

The Galloping Goose Historical Society brought its goose to the former Rio Grande Durango depot, from which it departed during its Rio Grande Southern days.

Although it’s a static display, D&RGW 2-8-0 #278 sits atop the very bridge it once traversed in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Colorado/New Mexico
The Cumbres & Toltec runs 64 miles of the Rio Grande narrow gauge and a large amount of original rolling stock.

Shore Line Trolley Museum rosters 12 Connecticut Company streetcars, some of which once plied its CtCo trackage that was in service until the museum bought it.

Wilmington & Western has restored the B&O SW1 that ran on its branch line.

When ex-Florida East Coast 4-6-2 #148 is restored, it will run on U. S. Sugar’s railroad, its second home.

Central of Georgia 2-8-0 #223 is displayed in the railroad’s main shop facility, now the Georgia State Railroad Museum.

Hawaiian Railway Museum preserves part of the Oahu railroad. It operates Oahu parlor car #64 and other pieces of rolling stock.

Fox River Trolley Museum occupies the former Aurora, Elgin & Fox River interurban and runs AE&FC #304 on home rails.


1920s steeple cab locomotives still haul the freight on the Iowa Traction in Mason City.

Rock Island E units #630 and 652 traveled the rails they now occupy at the Manly Junction Railroad Museum.

The New Orleans St. Charles streetcar line runs with 35 original cars from the 1920s.

The Southern Forest Heritage Museum occupies the former Red River & Gulf engine terminal. RR&G 4-6-0 #106 is being restored onsite.

The Waterville, Wiscasset & Farmington Railway Museum is rebuilding several miles of the railroad. They roster and run WW&F 0-4-4T #9, plus a coach and flatcar original to the line.

Eight pieces of Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes rolling stock run on a revived piece of the old SR&L right of way at Phillips.

Trolley Museum’s demonstration railroad is a piece of the old Atlantic Shore Line interurban, and they have completely restored ASL steeple cab #100.

The B&O Museum’s collection is rich with locomotives and other rolling stock built at their preserved Mount Clare Shops.

Their days are numbered, but the rebuilt PCC cars on the MBTA’s Ashmont-Mattapan line make it a rolling museum.

North Shore Scenic Railroad runs Duluth Missabe & Iron Range 2-8-0 #322, SD9 #192, business car Northland, and coach #33 on home rails.

Minnesota Streetcar Museum’s Twin City Rapid Transit streetcar #1300 ran on the museum’s Como-Harriet Line when it was still in service.

The Museum of Transport occupies the pre-1945 Missouri Pacific main line right of way, since diverted. MP commuter coach #6210 and Missouri River Eagle observation car #750 are displayed on the very right of way where they ran.

The Durham Museum, formerly Omaha Union Station, displays former Union Pacific passenger cars on its remaining track.

The Nevada Northern is another fine example of preservation in place, including three steam locomotives, plus diesels, passenger cars and freight cars.

New Jersey
Cape May Seashore Lines runs excursions with Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines RDCs M410 and M407.

New Hampshire
This list includes some non-preservation railroads that run vintage equipment and never went out of business. Exhibit #1 is the Mount Washington Cog. The coaches are original, and even though they’ve mostly dieselized, steam still runs regularly.

New York
The New York Transit Museum’s vintage subway cars occupy an original station and venture all over the system on special occasions.

Arcade & Attica still runs its steam locomotive, and the GE center cabs also qualify as vintage.

North Carolina
A Southern E8 and FP7 are displayed at North Carolina Transportation Museum’s Spencer Shops.

Columbus, Delaware & Marion interurban parlor car 501 is displayed at the Ohio Railway Museum, whose demonstration railway occupies the CD&M right of way.

Sumpter Valley railroad has rebuilt several miles of the original right of way, and operates an SV steam locomotive, passenger cars and freight cars.

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum runs on a short section of former Pittsburgh Railways track and features one of the PCC interurbans that ran there.

Reading & Northern uses ex-Reading coaches that ran where its excursions go.

They don’t have it running yet, but Maryland & Pennsylvania Historical Society owns ex-Ma & Pa EMD SW9 diesel #82.

The East Broad Top. Currently dormant, but everything is still there.

A Pennsylvania GG1 and caboose are parked on station tracks at the Harrisburg depot.

Delaware Lackawanna & Western displays 2-6-0 #565 at Steamtown, the DL&W’s main shops, plus several freight and passenger cars.

McKinney Avenue Transit Authority runs ex-Dallas streetcar #186 on original rails that were excavated and returned to service.

El Paso’s transit system has restored seven of the 1937 PCC cars to operation.

Texas Electric RPO interurban #360 sits on the TE right of way in front of the Plano Interurban Museum.

The Green Mountain Railroad qualifies thanks to original Rutland Alco RS1 #405.

Yakima Valley Traction Master Units #20 and 21 and motorized flat car #A run on original rails.

West Virginia
Cass Scenic preserves an entire logging railroad and its rolling stock.

East Troy Electric Railroad has a Milwaukee Electric line car and three steeple cab locomotives.

Laona & Northern runs its 2-6-2 that powered the railroad when it hauled freight.

Wyoming and elsewhere
Union Pacific’s steam locomotives and now vintage passenger cars periodically run on the very rails that were once home.

British Columbia
A pair of British Columbia Electric interurbans ply home rails at the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society. Two more are being restored.

West Coast Railway Association has acquired the former BC Rail Squamish Shops and owns BC Rail RDCs and several pieces of Pacific Great Eastern rolling stock that called it home.

Rolling stock is displayed at several station sites along the abandoned Newfoundland Railway.

I’ve probably missed some. Readers are welcome to add to the list.

Honorable mention

The replica 4-4-0s at Promontory, Utah.

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