historic steam locomotive finds new home at Niles Canyon Railway | News

A historic 150-ton steam locomotive and several artifacts that failed to find a permanent home in Silicon Valley now have a new home at Niles Canyon Railway, the Pacific Locomotive Association (PLA) announced Tuesday, also marking the 60th anniversary of the organization.

The nearly century-old former Southern Pacific Railroad steam locomotive No. 2479 — along with a 122-year-old roundhouse, turntable and water tower — is moving from San Jose to the station de Niles, where it will cross the Niles Canyon.

In a statement, APL President Henry Baum (no relation to author of this story) said: “The roundhouse and locomotive are natural additions to our historic railway collection.”

Locomotive No. 2479 was built in 1923 and had an “active career hauling commuter trains between San Jose and San Francisco for the Southern Pacific Railroad” until it was retired from service in 1956, according to officials. The rail vehicle was donated to Santa Clara County two years later and has been the subject of more than 5,000 volunteer hours of restoration work per year since 1989, with approximately 80% of the effort completed to date .

The roundhouse was built in San Jose at the turn of the century (1899) and used to house and maintain steam locomotives. A large 80-foot water tower and turntable used to turn the locomotives is also included with the roundhouse.

Together, the three structures served as maintenance facilities for South Pacific trains and locomotives until the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, when the roundhouse was declared structurally unstable. In 1994, Southern Pacific donated the rotunda for a museum project

The San Jose-based California Trolley and Railroad Corporation (CTRC), which has maintained the locomotive and structures for several decades, said “moving these important historic artifacts to the Niles Canyon Railway allows our organizations to better preserve the Bay Area’s railroad history and to honor the thousands of hours donated by our volunteers.”

“This partnership is an ideal opportunity to preserve these irreplaceable resources for future generations,” said CTRC President Ken Middlebrook.

According to Baum, PLA’s master plan “has always included a roundhouse facility at Niles.”

“The roundhouse and the locomotive are natural additions to our historic railway collection,” Baum said. “We will immediately begin developing our Niles site with a focus on these incredible assets.”

A topological survey of the Niles site will be conducted before design work begins, and the PLA will “aggressively seek the necessary grants and corporate sponsorships to complete this development project,” Baum added.

The monumental task of dismantling, moving and reassembling the giant locomotive will be handled by Steam Services of America, with moving costs funded by Santa Clara County over a three-year period. Once received, all historical assets will be transferred to the PLA. The transfer also includes a 65-tonne diesel locomotive acquired from Kaiser Permanente Cement, as well as the tools and equipment needed to restore and maintain locomotive No. 2479.

Jose P. Rogers