LIMA — Riding the rails. It hearkens back to a bygone era. On Saturday afternoon, a train carrying more than 200 passengers made Lincoln Park in Lima their destination for the day.
The train started its journey in Springfield, Ohio and its passengers, many of them railroad buffs, were excited to view the final Shay Locomotive made in 1949 at the Lima Locomotive Works.
“It only ran on the Nickel Plate for nine years. It was retired in the spring of 1958. The more efficient diesel locomotives came along and that’s what pushed these into retirement,” said Wayne York, an advisory board member for the John Keller Endowment Fund.
“These will go 80 miles an hour. They will pull a half mile of freight. They’ll fly and they’ll pull, but they required a lot of maintenance, a lot of manpower. There’s no idle position. You have to have a fireman to tend the fire overnight to make sure it stays hot,” said York.
The public was also invited to view the locomotive and the other cars in the exhibit.
“We usually try to do it at least once a year. There’s a lot of rare artifacts in and on the equipment, so we have to have it staffed with volunteers so usually there’s an antique car club that comes. In this case, we have a diesel-powered excursion train coming from Springfield, Ohio, so this obviously makes it a good time to have a public open house,” said York.
Funding for the Lincoln Park exhibit was established in 2000 on John Keller’s birthday.
“The endowment fund was formed at the time of his 90th birthday party. It’s roughly a $125,000 and we try to work off of the interest only. Sometimes with major painting that needs to be done and things of that nature, we’ll cut into the endowment fund if we have to,” said York.
There’s a sister locomotive, number 765, based in New Haven, Indiana, and it continues to operate even today.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.