The Steam Railroading Institute is excited to officially announce the launch of Project 76, a campaign for the complete restoration and operation of 2-8-0 steam locomotive No. 76. Crafted throughout the early months of 2017 with behind the scenes work and strategic planning, Project 76 is spearheaded by a team of SRI's youngest volunteers who’s helping to pave the way for the next generation in railway preservation.
“As young volunteers working on restoring a steam locomotive, we are at a crucial point,” said Logan Schupp, Project Manager of Project 76. “Most of the first generation of steam preservationists are passing on and with them their knowledge.”
“Being a part of such a great group like this is that we can share new, innovative ideas with the world of railway preservation,” said Nate Hatton, committee member.
On June 11th, the Steam Railroading Institute hosted an open house as part of the first annual Open Streets in Owosso. The highlighted feature of this event was an exclusive announcement of Project 76 for those who attended with both the locomotive and restored cab on full display. The young team of Project 76 was also in attendance; handing out brochures, answering questions, and enthusiastically raising an overall excitement for the next steps planned.
Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in December of 1920, the 76 was originally numbered 40 for the Jonesboro, Lake City & Eastern Railroad before being leased to the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway-AKA, the FRISCO-carrying the number it has today. In 1947, the locomotive was sold to the Mississippian
Railway and remained on the roster until the late 1960’s when the continuous cycle of ownerships plagued the 76 for nearly 40 years. In the spring of 2005, the locomotive was purchased by the Steam Railroading Institute and moved to its new home in Owosso. Stablemate to the famous Pere Marquette 1225-a large 2-8-4 steam locomotive-the smaller size of the 76 can not only open a larger market in passenger excursions for SRI, but also a whole new generation of preservationists in steam railroading.
“I'd like to see 76 getting people excited about steam railroading and the way things used to be done!” Hatton stated.
“As a young group of talented individuals working on restoring 76, it is crucial that we not only absorb as many skills and as much information as possible,” Logan explained. “But that we pass on what we learn so that steam preservation can survive long after we're gone.”
Current price range for the restoration is at an estimate of $500,000 followed by a five-plus-year completion. However, Project 76 is always open to both generous and continuous support from the public and railfans alike. Visit www.michigansteamtrain.com for more information on steam locomotive No. 76 and how to assist in both the campaign and restoration for Project 76.