Dec 1, 1995

Information about the rebuilding of Milwaukee Road “Northern” steam locomotive #261 from the”Friends of the 261″ Inc.


261 is currently enjoying a well deserved rest after flawlessly traveling well over 3,000 miles on behalf of the Steamtown National Historic Site this past summer. It was decided by our operating and mechanical staff to remain at Steamtown over the winter to fully take advantage of the excellent facilities available there. With the demise of the Norfolk Southerns steam program and the closing of the Norris Steam shop in Birmingham, the National Park Service back shop has become the best equipped and most expertly staffed mainline steam maintenance facility in the country. Over the coming winter our crews will utilize the warm, indoor facility to perform a variety of preventative maintenance, and elective replacement projects on 261 as well as to complete a full two-year boiler inspection program.

After a series of trips with 261 on behalf of the United Way on September 9 & 10, 1995, 261 was utilized to deliver homeward bound coaches to the C.P. Rail interchange in Scranton. During this operation 261 visited the scale track in the Delaware Lackawanna Railroad shops in south Scranton to evaluate the loading on each locomotive axle. This was done to determine any differences between the “design” weight versus the “as restored” weight on each axle. The results indicated that although the actual weight differential on the pilot truck and drivers was minimal, and in the range of +/-5% the weight on the trailing truck was marginally excessive and in the range of + 15%. As a result we have decided to replace several driver and trailing truck springs, and replace all four pilot truck wheels utilizing the in floor drop table at Scranton. We also are planning to “turn” and renew the profile on all eight of the driving wheels during the winter. Who knows when we will ever again be in a position to spend a warm winter in a fully equipped steam shop? The financial success of our 1995 operations has made it possible to purchase these new locomotive parts in a continuing effort to keep 261 in top mechanical condition.

 Several of the other trips which were run with 261 in addition to the July Grand Opening, and Binghamton trips included a 281 mile round trip over the ex-DL & W RR main to Syracuse, NY on August 19 & 20, via Binghamton and Cortland, NY. This trip included 74 miles of double headed running with the New York, Susquehanna and Western 1989 Chinese built 2-8-2, #142. This
was the first time that 261 had double headed with another steam locomotive since her restoration was completed. Other trips included; August 12th to Cresco, PA with 261 leading a fourteen car consist up o-rade to Pocono Summit where Steamtown locomotive #2317 & Blue Mountain and Reading #425 double headed the same consist on the return trip over the summit from Cresco. Some additional trips in August included the “Great! Freight” with 261 performing a total of (24) runbys with a full train of period freight cars, and the memorable fall foliage trips on October 14 & 15th. One of the more “memorable” aspects of the fall foliage trips included the incredibly bad weather on Saturday October 14th which teamed up with wet sand, and wet leaves
over the rail to create a spectacular struggle between 261 and the elements. One of the members of the “Friends” who was on the train lost count at 135 wheel slips during the arduous climb from Scranton to Moscow. While 261 was nearly “down” on several occasions it was never “out” and continued it’s unrelenting climb to Pocono Summit in an awesome display which could only be seen first hand to be believed. The weather on Sunday Oct. 15th was much better and allowed for some spirited runing east of Moscow. Multiple photo run-bys were performed at track speed on both Saturday and Sunday.

Mark your calendars for the Presidents Day weekend February 16-19, 1996 when 261 will take on the Poconos once more in a “Steamtown Snow Spectacular” during a series of special trips between Scranton and Tobyhanna, PA.



Help support mainline steam! FEBRUARY 16-19, 1996

On Presidents Day weekend, February 16-19, 1996 Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 will power a variety of special trains over the Ex-Lackawanna mainline between Scranton and Tobyhanna, PA. These trips will provide a rare opportunity to witness the awesome spectacle that was wintertime mainline steam railroading in the U.S. Other Steamtown National Historic Site and visiting locomotives will be on hand for this spectacular event, as well.

On Friday February 16, enjoy the thrill of a spectacular ride behind a snowplow train. 261 and a “Russell” wedge plow will open the line from Scranton to Tobyhanna station, “snow or no snow”. Seating on the plow train will be limited to two or three steam heated coaches positioned directly behind 261. Serious photographers are encouraged to ride, all photo run-bys will be held spontaneously at the most spectacular snow filled cuts on the line. Ticket price $49.95.

On Saturday and Sunday February 17 and 18, 261 will operate steam passenger excursions from Scranton to Tobyhanna with an eight to ten car steam heated consist. Ticket price, coach seating only, $39.95.

On Saturday February 17 a night photo session with 261 and other vintage locomotives is planned at the Steamtown Depot. Ticket price $30.00.

On Monday February 19 a photographer’s freight train will be operated over the former Lackawanna main. The train will consist of approximately twenty freight cars, a caboose, and two rider coaches. Space on the photo freight will be extremely limited and tickets will be issued on a first come, first served basis. Due to extreme winter road conditions in the Pocono Mountains we encourage all photographers to purchase tickets and ride behind 261. Many places in the Pocono Mtns. are not accessible in the winter. This train is subject to cancellation if adequate tickets are not sold. These coaches will not be steam heated, please dress for winter weather in the Poconos.
Ticket price $100.00.

All “Steamtown Snow Spectacular” trains will depart from Steamtowns Scranton, PA station at 9:00 AM each day with return scheduled at approximately 4:00PM. All trips will feature multiple track speed photo run-bys. Light snacks and hot beverage service will be available for purchase on all trains. Ample free parking is available. Winter in the Poconos can be very cold and snowy, appropriate winter clothing is strongly suggested. Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended. If you are a member of the Friends you will receive a $5.00 discount on tickets purchased for either the Saturday or Sunday trips.

Send your order with a check or money order and SASE to:






Continue your membership and help support the operations of 261 !




© Friends of the 261. Archived Northern Lines Newsletters are copied from original wordings of letters sent out on the date in header. format maybe different from original letter but the articles remain the same. All addresses, contact info, promotions, discounts, and pricing in archived letters are no longer valid.

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