Saturday, October 08, 2005

Train ownership


What does it take to own a C.P. Huntingdon restored engine, such as the one ... at the California State Railroad Museum? ...

—Dave Leresche


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Not sure if you are joking. We don't expect that under normal circumstances, any 19th century CPRR locomotive will ever come on the market. You are likely almost a century too late. A group of railroad enthusiasts in 1937 formed the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society and immediately began gathering historical locomotives and cars for their ultimate goal of a museum celebrating railroading in the West, to which they donated more than 40 rare locomotives and cars. Fewer than 30 full-size steam locomotives built prior to 1880 exist in the United States, and the resulting CSRM collection of 19 steam locomotives dating from 1862 to 1944 includes five of them.

It is certainly still possible to purchase a steam locomotive, or to have a working replica of a 19th century engine built, if you are sufficiently wealthy. It is also possible to buy a short line railroad with rolling stock, including a working steam locomotive. Perhaps we can be more helpful if you could explain the details of what you are trying to accomplish.

10/08/2005 7:10 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

I see what you mean after reading my email below how it could be confusing. I'm wondering what it would cost to have built and own a working replica of a C.P. Huntingdon steam locomotive plus 1 passenger car and 1 caboose, such as the pint-size one located at Cabin John Regional Park in Rockville Maryland, or the full-size one located at the California State Railroad Museum (both trains can be found by searching under those two locations under Google or Yahoo since the pictures don't seem to be readable). I wouldn't begin to assume that an original from the late 1800's to early 1900's would be available on our market today simply due to its potential age or demand. I'm interested in creating my own small railroad on my property, and am doing the initial research for the costs involved. If you could point me in the correct direction for someone to answer my query, I would be most appreciative.
—Dave Leresche

10/11/2005 9:16 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Different people would likely be knowledgeable about antique locomotives, full size replicas, theme park pint-size trains, miniature live steamers, versus back yard model trains, so we don't have enough information yet. Can you decide which size you would want? What will local zoning ordinances permit? How many acres is your existing property and how long would the route be? What price range would be affordable for you – thousand of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds of thousands, or millions? What experience do you have operating steam locomotives? If you want a working full size locomotive and had to choose between a replica of the C.P Huntington versus an antique steam engine, which would you want? If an antique, must it be 19th century, or would a 20th century steam locomotive be satisfactory.

10/11/2005 9:18 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

I see and understand. I would like to investigate the costs for the full-size replica of the CP Huntington model. Ordinances in our county are liberal in regards to private property usage so that isn't a concern for us. Property I have in mind is approximately 100 acres (if this isn't enough, please advise) and level topography. Not sure exactly how long the route should be, but I would like one circular route (maybe around 2 miles) around the property boundries. Top end price can be between $500K to 1M. I have no experience operating locomotives, but I've admired trains since I was a child, and I'm a quick learner. Would like a replica of the CP Huntingdon vs an antique. Hope this information helped.
—Dave Leresche

10/11/2005 9:20 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

The location in Utah (Promontory Summit) where the rails were joined has been recreated as the Golden Spike National Historic Site, now operated by the National Park Service. ("The 119 and Jupiter Locomotive replicas [at the National Historic Site] were designed from archival photographs, by Bob Dowty at [the Chadwell O'Connor Engineering Laboratories of Costa Mesa, California, painted by Walt Disney employees and] ... the reconstruction of the ... locomotives [1975-1980] was funded by an act of Congress [with $1.5 million in federal funds].")

10/11/2005 9:41 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

We'll make some inquiries, although we are doubtful that you have sufficient space, financial resources, or experience for such a project involving such a large and complex piece of equipment that potentially could explode if mishandled.

10/11/2005 9:52 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Regarding replica locomotives, also see the article "Rendezvous at Promontory: The 'Jupiter' and No. 119." By Gerald M. Best in "The Last Spike is Driven" National Golden Spike Centennial Commission Official Publication. Utah Historical Quarterly, Winter 1969, Vol. 37, No. 1, p. 75.

10/11/2005 10:13 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "

Mr. Leresche...

I suggest you call on Mr. Lynn Moedinger, Chief Mechanical Officer of the Strasburg Rail Road in East Strasburg, PA.
Lynn knows more about mid-19th to early 20th century steam locomotive design and construction than anyone I know. If you are truly serious, you should at least request an appointment to discuss the matter further with him. His railroad has the facilities to manufacture a locomotive from the wheels up, and he has the foundry contacts in your state as well. Whether they have the space, time and inclination is an entirely separate matter that you will need to discuss with him. 

—Kevin Bunker, Portland, OR

10/11/2005 11:00 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


If you are serious about having a replica of the CP Huntington built, it would be worthwhile for us to carry on a conversation. Similarly for an appropriate passenger car. There are several people engaged in projects to build replicas of 1860s locomotives (both with tenders - not the CP Huntington). Actual costs would need to be estimated in detail, but I imagine one could be built for around $1 million, maybe less.

Kyle K. Wyatt
Curator of History & Technology
California State Railroad Museum
111 "I" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

My work address is:
My personal address is:

10/12/2005 11:54 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Thanks for the links and the information sent to me. I imagine that you have a number of individuals inquiring about these subjects, so I won't bore you at this point with further inquiries. I would suggest, however, for the inquiries that you do receive from this point foward with similar subject material, just thinking in terms of the possibility of company profitability, that the issues of an individual's financial resources, space available, or experience not be considered if a sale is being made. Not something I'd do anyway, since it really isn't my business. Have a good day!

10/13/2005 9:57 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Not sure that we understand your comment. You're the first person (after 1.2 million visitors) that ever asked us about purchasing a locomotive. We have only ever heard of one individual who privately and independently owns an historic steam locomotive. Most of the surviving historic locomotives are associated with museums, parks, or operating railroads. Since you told us that you don't have any railroading experience, associating with an existing group that knows how to safely operate steam locomotives is highly recommended.

Our family's website relates to transcontinental railroad history and photography (our ancestor built the CPRR across the Sierras) – we don't have anything to do with owning, operating, or selling locomotives – so the issue of profitability of a third party transaction is not our concern – we're just trying to be helpful, if we can, since you contacted us. The questions were asked to help us figure out what type of locomotive you were asking about, so that we would not be wasting the time of people we know who potentially might help but whose interests and expertise might not fit what you actually wanted or could afford. We were also trying to ascertain if your request was serious or just a flight of fancy (frankly, we're still not sure).

Building and safely operating a steam locomotive, associated rolling stock, and a private railroad is quite an undertaking for someone with no prior experience, and we wanted to make sure that both you and anyone contemplating providing assistance as a result of our contact is clearly informed as to the situation. We don't know you and have no idea if you are the sort of extremely rare and extraordinarily talented individual who could successfully tackle a project of this magnitude. (But, it's certainly no more implausible than four Sacramento hardware and dry goods merchants with no railroad experience building a transcontinental railroad!)

We don't bore easily, and would be fascinated to hear what happens, so feel free to contact us again with news of your project, or if we can be of any further help.

10/13/2005 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the cprr is an interesting topic, and my classmates and i have been learning about it. the people who built this thing had courage,and it helped America's economy.

11/10/2005 8:50 AM  
Blogger robloco1 said...

We are a bespoke engineering company in the UK called UK LOCO Ltd, we have built various locomotives for the theme park industry from scale working models to full size steam locomotives. The approximate cost of building a full size locomotive would be $6,000,000

5/03/2007 2:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also see Walt Disney's Love of Trains: Part One and Part Two by Jim Korkis. Disney himself machined a working model Central Pacific Steam Locomotive.

9/11/2017 10:45 AM  

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