Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad officials have received an unexpected present as the railroad nears its 30th anniversary in June.
According to the organization, after filing the required Federal Railroad Administration papers, it was discovered that the railroad’s iconic 104 year old steam engine, Santa Fe 3415, has one remaining year of operation before it must be taken out of service and undergo its FRA mandated 15 year comprehensive inspection. This news comes after the railroad had prepared to begin the roughly two-year inspection process this season.
“We’re elated at the news,” said A&SV President and General Manager Ross Boelling. “We are the only operating steam railroad in Kansas and are happy to schedule more trains this coming season with Santa Fe locomotive 3415 providing the power.”
The steam engine rebuild is a process that begins with a thorough inspection of the boiler and making any needed repairs. Other components of running gear and tender are also examined, repaired and or replaced before the engine is allowed to operate again.
The Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad will begin its summer operations utilizing its diesel locomotive in May with Santa Fe locomotive 3415 making its first 2023 appearance Memorial Day weekend.
Even though 3415 will see service in 2023, A&SV has not slowed down its fundraising and grant submissions requests for work on the locomotive. A&SV will continue with major fundraising efforts this year before the engine will indeed be taken out of service in mid-October.
“We have established a ‘3415 Fund’ that seeks donations for the rebuild,” said Boelling, who added that donations can be made through the A&SV website or by sending a check to the railroad’s office at 200 SE 5th Street, Abilene, KS 67410.
Boelling added that the engine is scheduled to make 28 runs this coming season before it is retired. He added that the full 2023 schedule will be posted on the Abilene and Smoky Valley website and social media platforms, as well as in area media outlets, shortly.