Sunday, February 21, 2010
Right at three years ago, Engine 101, formerly of the Fordyce Lumber Company and the Little Rock Zoo, did not look nearly as spiffy as it does now. In fact, if pictures don’t lie,* it was a poster child for ferrous oxide, widely known to non-chemists as “rust.”
Clean and Powerful: No longer a rust-encrusted relic, Engine 101 stands tall and appears to be bristling with power.
The old engine was built in 1922 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Eddystone, Pennsylvania. Fordyce Lumber Company bought it in 1922 to haul logs. In its latter years of service to the company, the 72-ton locomotive was used as a switch engine. There’s something about trains that inspire music, poetry, and wanderlust. The late Johnny Cash, an Arkansas boy, said all of that quite well with his Folsom Prison Blues. Click here to see his performance of the classic tune at San Quentin.
The engine was given to the City of Little Rock and put on display at the Little Rock Zoo for 20 years before it was put out to pasture again.
Doug Loftin of Alexander, Arkansas, bought the land upon which 101 was stored. Upon learning of the history of the engine, Loftin offered it to Dallas County (Fordyce is the county seat) with the provision that the recipients would be required to shoulder the responsibility of moving it. Leaders of the Fordyce Chamber of Commerce took it upon themselves to start a campaign to bring 101 home. A committee was formed and went to work.
The idea was met with enthusiasm and on August 7, 2007, a low-boy bearing the bedraggled Engine 101 arrived in Fordyce. Now, thanks to a phalanx of local volunteers, Engine 101 again has the appearance of a mighty iron horse. Although it is non-operational, it has the appearance of being ready for the boilers to fire up. Engine 101 is a good example of what can happen when people decide to do something worthwhile.
Way Cool: If you are not expecting to see 101, you will do a double-take. You simply do not expect to see a steam locomotive. Fortunately, it’s not going anywhere. Even if it was fired up, the engine appears to be missing the connecting rods from the cylinder to the wheels here on the right side. Not that it matters that much. It still looks way cool.
*We did an electronic clip from the September 2007 edition of the Arkansas Railroader, a publication of the Arkansas Railroad Club.
N O T E S:
Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog. — J. D.