VALE #3025, Birmingham & Southeastern #97, Minarets & Western #4, VALE GE 80 Ton #0900 & #0901, Essex Steam Train at the Valley Railroad Company, Essex, CT

Essex Steam Train, Essex, CT

The Valley Railroad Company, which operates the “Essex Steam Train”, has been in existence in one form or another since 1868. It began as a forty-five mile line in the Connecticut River Valley completed in 1871. In 1892, it became part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and survived into the 1960s, with the last train run in March 1968. The following year, the New Haven was incorporated into the Penn Central, who turned the line over to the State of Connecticut.

The State granted a lease to the current Valley Railroad Company in 1970. On 29th July 1971, the first train of the new Valley Railroad ran from Essex to Deep River.


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VALE #3025
VALE #3025, EssexVALE #3025, EssexVALE #3025, EssexVALE #3025, Essex
VALE #3025, Essex

#3025 is one of the last major class of steam locomotives built anywhere in the world with the last SY Class engine outshopped in 1999 from the Tangshan Locomotive Works in Tangshan, Hebei province, People's Republic of China.

The SY is based on the earlier Japanese-built JF6 Class 2-8-2, which was based, in turn, on a type built by Alco in the 1920s for use in Korea. The SY is one of the few steam locomotives still found in active service in the 21st Century, mostly working in coal and steel industries but also heading commuter trains from time to time.

VALE #3025, EssexVALE #3025, Essex
VALE #3025, Essex

The SY class were also among the few Chinese steam locomotives to be exported. In 1989 and 1991, three were built for tourist railroads in the US, #1647m for the Valley Railroad, #1658m for the Knox & Kane and a third for the New York, Susquehanna & Western, which was lost when the ship it was on sunk in the Indian Ocean.

The Susquehanna later bought #1647m from the Valley Railroad and renumbered it #142. It ran until 2003 when it was transferred to the New York, Susquehanna & Western Technical & Historical Society.

VALE #3025, EssexVALE #3025, Essex
VALE #3025, Essex

A coal burner with 54” drivers and 23” x 28” cylinders, #3025 operates at a boiler pressure of 200 psi delivering 46,680 lbs tractive effort.

It hauls the Steam Train and Riverboat Connection  three times daily during the Summer months.

VALE #3025, EssexVALE #3025, Essex

The NYS&W occasionally runs tourist excursions with #142 on the Belvidere & Delaware River Railway between Phillipsburg and Carpentersville, NJ. #1658m was renumbered #58 in the mid to late 1990s but was withdrawn from service and moved with other K&K equipment to an enginehouse in Kane, PA.

In 2008, #58 was bought by the Valley Railroad at auction. It was renumbered #3025 and given a complete rebuild including cosmetic alterations to make it resemble a New Haven J-1 2-8-2. It went into service in November 2011.

VALE #3025, Essex
VALE #3025, EssexVALE #3025, EssexVALE #3025, Essex
Birmingham & Southeastern #97
Birmingham & Southeastern #97, EssexBirmingham & Southeastern #97, Essex

This Consolidation type (2-8-0) engine was one of three built for stock in 1923 at Alco’s Cooke Works in Paterson, NJ, to a standard Cooke design for Cuban sugar plantations.

When the Cooke plant was closed in 1926, it was finally sold to the Birmingham & Southeastern Railroad in northern Alabama where it was numbered #200. It hauled freight and passenger trains until about 1958 when it was retired and went into storage. It was bought by Stephen D. Bogen in 1963 and moved to the Vermont Railway at Burlington, VT, the following year.

Birmingham & Southeastern #97, Essex
Birmingham & Southeastern #97, Essex

Renumbered #97 to avoid conflict with VTR diesel #200, it went on to haul excursions on the New Haven Railroad until 1968. It moved to the Valley Railroad in 1970, going into service in 1973.

#97 weighs 141,000 lb, 122,000 lbs on its 48” drivers. A coal burner with a 30.8 sq ft grate and 19” x 26” cylinders it operates at a boiler pressure of 180 psi, delivering 29,900 lbs tractive effort. The tender it is now mated with is an ex-Central Vermont tender, acquired in 1977. #97 has not had any heavy maintenance in a long time, and needs a thorough overhaul before returning to steam.

Birmingham & Southeastern #97, EssexBirmingham & Southeastern #97, EssexBirmingham & Southeastern #97, EssexBirmingham & Southeastern #97, EssexBirmingham & Southeastern #97, EssexBirmingham & Southeastern #97, EssexBirmingham & Southeastern #97, EssexBirmingham & Southeastern #97, Essex
Birmingham & Southeastern #97, Essex

Right, #97 featured in the 2008 Indiana Jones movie The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull although all we saw was the rear of the tender and a shot of the running gear.

The engine last ran in
December 2010 and it is currently awaiting mechanical repairs to comply with its 1,472 service day Federal inspection requirement.

Birmingham & Southeastern #97, Essex
Minarets & Western #40
Minarets & Western #40, EssexMinarets & Western #40, Essex

When I visited the museum, Minarets & Western Railway #40 was in the shop undergoing an overhaul.

This Mikado type (2-8-2) locomotive was one of three oil burners built in 1921 at Alco’s Brooks Locomotive Works in Dunkirk, NY, for the
Portland, Astoria & Pacific Railroad. The PA&P
was never completed so the locomotives sat idle until they were sold to other railroads. #101 went to the Minarets & Western in 1922 but, when that railroad could not pay it’s debts, the locomotive was given to the Southern Pacific Railroad, which sold it to the used locomotive dealer Birmingham Rail & Locomotive, which in turn sold it to the Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad in North Carolina in 1935, where it was converted to a coal burner and renumbered #40. It was retired in 1952 and went into storage until sold to the Valley Railroad in 1977.

With Walschaert valve gear and driver wheelbase
of 14’ 3”, the engine has a 42.3 sq ft grate and
20” x 28” cylinders. Weighing 176,000 lbs, 136,000
lbs on its 48” drivers, it operated at a boiler pressure of 180 psi delivering 35,700 lbs tractive effort.

VALE GE 80 Ton #0900 & #0901
VALE GE 80 Ton #0900, EssexVALE GE 80 Ton #0900, EssexVALE GE 80 Ton #0900, Essex
VALE GE 80 Ton #0900, EssexVALE GE 80 Ton #0900, Essex

Left #0900 was built by General Electric in
1947 for use at its
plant in Schenectady, NY.

Right, #0901 was built in 1937 for the U.S. Navy Base in Groton, CT. It is believed to be the oldest diesel electric locomotive still in regular service.

vale_0901_01, Essexvale_0901_01, Essexvale_0901_01, Essex