Northern Pacific Class C-1 #684 is an American type (4-4-0) locomotive built by the New York Locomotive Works in Rome, NY, in 1883. Given the shop number #39, on 10th September 1883, two days after the Northern Pacific
Railroad was completed, the engine arrived at St Paul and was renumbered NP #684. It was one of twenty-four of this type bought by the railroad that year (#338-#349 &
The engine wheelbase is 23’ 4” and driver wheelbase 8’ 6”. The engine weighs 90,500 lbs, 59,250 lbs on its 62” drivers. With 17 sq ft grate, Stephenson valve gear, 17” x 24” cylinders and operating at a boiler pressure of 140 psi, it delivered 13,313 lbs tractive effort.
The engine worked mostly on the Northern Pacific’s main line in Montana and Idaho. It remained in main line passenger service for nearly twenty-five years and was then assigned to the Billings-Bridger passenger run. It was then sent further east to less mountainous terrain where it occasionally served tourist areas as a glamorous “old timer” of the early steam era. By the late 1920s, the Northern Pacific had no need for the out of date steam engine and retired it from duty.
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#684 is on display at Bonanzaville and the Cass County Historical Museum in West Fargo, ND.
When we visited, it was quite a windy day, so #684 was kept behind the rolling doors, which made it rather difficult to get good photos of the engine.
Apparently slated to be scrapped in 1925, #684 was towed to Livingston but was then overhauled and sold to the Nez Perce & Idaho Railroad in 1928, where it was renumbered #4.
The NP&I had only one locomotive and thirteen miles of track between Craigmont and Nez Perce, ID, and apparently, the engine could often only handle two cars at a time because of the steep grade. By 1945, the NP&I needed an engine that could haul heavier loads and #4 was pushed off a spur of the NP&I tracks and abandoned in a field near Nez Perce.
Original blueprints were used during the one year restoration. Although
the engine was never returned to steam, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Northern Pacific towed it for display at various exhibitions on its system. It then went into storage in a Northern Pacific roundhouse for many years.
Below, the tender weighs 64,618 lbs light and has a capacity of 2,820 gallons of water and 6 tons of coal.
Above, a view of the backhead.
In 1948, an appeal was launched by the Northern Pacific to collect historic relics of its past, and #684 was located in the field where the NP&I had left it. The NP bought the engine back from the NP&I in 1951.
The track leading to the engine had been removed so the NP had to install temporary tracks to recover the engine. A crew worked over sixteen hours to get the engine back to the tracks
and it was then hauled
“cold” to the NP repair shop in Spokane, WA, for refurbishing. Despite
missing parts, layers of rust and peeling paint, only moderate restoration was required.
#684 was donated to the Cass County Historical Society in 1974.
The Cass County Historical Society was organised in 1954. The present museum building was constructed in 1972 on land donated by the Red River Valley Fair, and the name "Bonanzaville" refers to the large Bonanza farms that once existed in the Red River Valley. Over the years, the museum has accumulated forty-three historic buildings.