STEAM RAILROADING INSTITUTE ACQUIRES SECOND MICHIGAN LOCOMOTIVE
CNW 175 Added to SRI Collection, New Stablemate of Pere Marquette 1225
The Steam Railroading Institute (SRI) has purchased its second historic Michigan steam locomotive. Chicago and Northwestern Railway (CNW) 175, a 1908 R1 class 4-6-0, is now officially the latest piece in the SRI collection, and soon to be a future operating-stablemate to the famous Pere Marquette 1225, the REAL Polar Express.
Built by the American Locomotive Company’s Schenectady Works, the 175 hauled both freight and passenger trains in the iron-mining territory of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin until the mid-1950’s when diesel technology became a more economical and efficient alternative. It is the only CNW locomotive in Michigan, and one of only three R1’s in existence.
Currently in storage at Ripley on the Keweenaw Peninsula, the 175 was made available to SRI by its owner, Mineral Range Inc, operator of the Mineral Range Railroad in Ishpeming. “One of our volunteers was aware of the existence of the 175 and put us in touch with the Mineral Range,” said Preston Claytor, SRI Board Member. In the summer of 2017, Claytor, Kevin Mayer; SRI Chief Mechanical Officer, and Dan Pluta; Contractor at Pro Services arranged a meeting and inspection of the 175. The locomotive will be moved to Owosso by road in late spring. With negotiations followed by an agreement now in place and once delivered to Owosso, the Steam Railroading Institute will begin the restoration of the 175 to operating condition. SRI is already pursuing grants and gifts to finance what will be the second largest locomotive restoration project for the organization since the Pere Marquette 1225’s return to service in 2013.
Much of the work at the Institute is done by volunteers with expertise in operating and repairing steam locomotives. “The 175 project will give us a chance to instruct a whole new generation of our volunteers in the arts of steam-locomotive repair,” Executive Director Kimberly Springsdorf points out. “This engine needs work, but it’s definitely restorable. It will be a manageable project that will teach our people a great deal.”
Though 358 tons lighter than the massive 1225, SRI strongly believes the CNW 175 can easily expand their market in a short amount of time based on its overall condition and performance. “With the reduced cost of running this engine compared to the 1225, we will be able to get out more and showcase steam while giving the public rides at a more affordable cost,” explained Mayer. “It will also allow us the opportunity to travel to new locations along the old Ann Arbor Railroad route which the 1225 could not access due to bridge weight restrictions.”
Aarne Frobom, President of the Steam Railroading Institute, is hopeful the acquisition of the 175 will reverse a trend in historic preservation in Michigan. “Some of our most significant transportation artifacts have been demolished or exported from the state due to lack of institutions to preserve them in Michigan.
We’ve seen the last two large Grand Trunk Western steam locomotives sold to out-of-state collections, the last 1920’s Detroit streetcars are in distant museums, and the Bob Lo steamer Columbia is in New York. We are pleased that we can provide a home for this valuable part of the state’s railroad history.”
There will be more information forthcoming on the Chicago and Northwestern Railway 175’s restoration, and how to contribute to the project.
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