NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Nashville steam locomotive inoperative for more than 60 years could once again cruise the rails.
Locomotive No. 576 was donated to Metro Parks in 1952 after hauling troops and oil during World War II. For decades, it has been an attraction in the city’s Centennial Park.
But on Tuesday, the city approved a 23-year lease with the Nashville Steam Preservation Society. The group hopes to raise $3 million to restore the engine to operation, a process that will take three or four years. Then the group plans to make the 74-year-old locomotive part of an excursion train on the Nashville & Eastern Railroad, carrying passengers to and from downtown.
Steam Preservation Society President Shane Meador said in a statement, “Operating steam locomotives are rare, thus the ones that are restored to operate in exhibition service attract incredible crowds wherever they go.”
The rebuilding process involves disassembling the locomotive to its frame, boiler and driving wheels so it can be thoroughly inspected and re-machined as necessary, according to the group.
The organization is also hoping to raise an additional $2 million to build a permanent home for the locomotive that will also serve as an education center for the public.
No. 576 was one of 20 J3 Class steam locomotives built for the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, according to the group. These engines are recognizable by their streamlining and yellow striping and are capable of speeds over 100 miles per hour.
“The ‘Stripe,’ as we call it, is not only an incredible machine, but a potentially powerful teaching tool,” said Project Foreman Jason Sobczynski.
He said the group is planning an open house in the fall for people to learn more about the project. The group hopes to relocate the train for restoration by early next year.