The original 1944 Milwaukee Road No. 261 Steam Engine Train came through Litchfield October 12th while on a 186 mile round trip excursion from Minneapolis to Willmar, Minnesota.
I picked a location to watch the train go by that is dear to my heart, close to where my parents watched this same steam engine go by daily in the late 1940′s and early 1950′s. As I viewed this once retired and now restored steam engine roll over the tracks, I tried to imagine how it would have been during that era. As I listened to the calming sound of the steam whistle, I envisioned my mother hanging clothes outside on the clothesline and my father mowing the lawn with them both glancing toward this same majestic steam engine that I was now viewing. It was a feeling of déjà vu as I had heard about this steam engine many times while growing up and now I was viewing it!
Here is the photo I captured … look at how polished and restored 261 is!
Alco built the 4-8-4 in 1944, part of an order for 10 locomotives that were the last steam power purchased by the Milwaukee Road. The railroad would have preferred to order diesels, but World War II production restrictions prohibited that. Retired in 1954, it was donated to the National Railroad Museum of Green Bay, Wis. in 1956 as its first exhibit locomotive.
In cooperation with Amtrak & BNSF Railway, friends of the 261, will operate steam-powered fall color excursion trains to help rise funds for the Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261. The steam engine, restored in 1993 has logged more than 25,000 miles under its own power since that time.
Here is a photo of the passenger car
Until next time with more Sweet Conclusions … choo-choo … Rosie
CLICK - to watch …. a video and highlight photos of 261