Morehead & North Fork 0-6-0 No. 12

Builder: American Locomotive Co. – Pittsburg Works; Pittsburgh, Penn.
Built: September 1905 as Southern Railway #1643
Serial Number: #37672
Wheel Arrangement: 0-6-0
Driver Diameter: 50″
Cylinder Bore x Stroke: 20″ x 26″
Boiler Pressure: 185 psi
Pulling Power: 32,710 lbs. tractive effort
Engine Weight: 73 tons
Tender Weight: 89,740 pounds
Length: 54 feet
Fuel: Coal
Capacity: Coal – 7 tons; Water – 7,000 gallons
Class: A-7 (as built for Southern Railway)
Status: Operational

 

In September 1905, the American Locomotive Company’s Pittsburg (no “h”, thank you) Works constructed A-7 class 0-6-0 No.1643 for the Southern Railway. After over four decades of working in relative obscurity shuffling cars for the Southern, the engine was retired and parked in the scrap line. Unlike its numerous sister engines, however, No.1643 got a reprieve from the scrapper’s torch when it was purchased by the Morehead and North Fork Railway, a small 4-mile long short line in Kentucky. Renumbered to 12, the engine was put to work hauling trains of local clay products, coal and lumber to the Chesapeake & Ohio interchange in Morehead.

The M&NF didn’t retire its steam locomotives until 1963, so railfans came from across the country to photograph this obscure steam holdout. Among the visitors was a young Jerry Jacobson, then a paratrooper in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. In 1962 while stationed at Fort Bragg, Jerry would take advantage of the occasional weekend pass and endure a 450-mile Greyhound bus trip to witness M&NF steam in service. Number 12 made quite an impression on the young soldier, foreshadowing the third act of the little engine’s career.

After the M&NF was abandoned, No.12 was shoved into the M&NF’s ramshackle shed in Clearfield and largely forgotten. Jerry Jacobson never forgot about No.12, however, and sought to acquire it for years. In late 2011 the locomotive owner’s widow and son agreed to a sale, and plans were made to haul the isolated 0-6-0 to Ohio by truck. What seemed like a straightforward process turned into a three-month ordeal of permit challenges and truck breakdowns, but No.12 was finally hauled to Sugarcreek and arrived at the Age of Steam Roundhouse on February 7th, 2012.

Number 12 went into the Age of Steam backshop for inspection and the roundhouse crew developed a repair plan. The boiler was repaired and put back into compliance with Federal Railroad Administration requirements. A brand new welded tender tank was constructed (complete with imitation rivets) and placed on the existing tender frame. Countless parts were repaired or replaced. Finished with a coat of black paint and fresh M&NF lettering, No.12 proudly chuffed out of the backshop during the summer of 2018. During July 2018, No.12 was the first derelict steam locomotive totally rebuilt for service at AoSRH. Sadly, Jerry passed away in 2017 and was unable to join the celebration, but we’re confident that he would have been glad to see No.12’s story come to a happy ending.