Museum secures locomotive
The Arizona State Railroad Museum Foundation is now the proud owner of a 1923 Lima Shay locomotive. Currently it is located in Belt, Mont. near Great Falls.
"For its age it is in remarkably good condition and this is due to having only two owners," said Al Richmond, president of the Arizona State Railroad Museum Foundation.
Originally built for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company's Lumber Department, it was purchased by Jack Hoover in 1960 and moved to the Mehmke Steam Museum at Fife, Mont. in 1961. Hoover took the unusual step of purchasing the locomotive just because he "did not want to see a part of our history disappear." When the museum closed the Shay moved again to the Mehmke farm at Belt.
The newly-acquired locomotive is Engine No. 5 and looks virtually identical to the No. 5 that ran for the Saginaw & Manistee Lumber Company and Arizona Lumber & Timber here in northern Arizona. At 141,000 pounds this 70-3 class locomotive will be the centerpiece of the Museum's logging railroad exhibits.
"Sadly we cannot acquire a Shay with Arizona provenance. All six that operated here have been scrapped a long time ago," Richmond said.
Museum staff is now working to get No. 5 to Williams. The move will require loading it onto a truck for a two mile trip to a siding at Fife, lifting it onto a flat car, and then BNSF will move it 1,500 miles to Williams. Once here cranes will lift it onto the Grand Canyon Railway tracks.
"Under contract, the Grand Canyon Railway shop will do the initial restoration work for us. Weather, and the TEA-21 process will determine when we can make this move," said Richmond.
The city of Williams is working with the foundation as sponsor of the TEA-21 grant that is providing funds for the purchase, move, restoration, and preparation of exhibits. The city issued the purchase check of $40,000 and will be reimbursed by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The funds for moving the locomotive, restoration, exhibit design and construction will also be handled in this manner.
Acquiring No. 5 for the Museum is one of those great deals that surface from time to time and require immediate action. An employee in the GCR shop, Bill Wahlers, advised Richmond of No. 5's availability and the first contact with Hoover proved successful.
"We are indeed fortunate that Mr. Hoover is more interested in finding a good home for his pride and joy than making a fortune. Also, if not for the constant cooperation and support of the Mayor, City Council and staff for the ASRM project we would not have been able to act on this opportunity," concluded Richmond. "Hopefully we will see No. 5 arrive in Williams in the very near future."