Not Adieu, but Au Revoir. Without much fanfare, a long-time mainstay of Valley Railroad power bowed out of the active roster on December 29th of 2010. With just 5 service days remaining on her FRA boiler certification, the Valley Railroad elected to run Consolidation #97 on the last 6 North Pole Express trains, before dropping her fire for the last time. While she technically still has 2 days left, her Form 4 will expire in just a couple of months and with the railroad shutting down for the winter, it is unlikely she will move again under her own power anytime soon. As my opening line suggests, Old 97 is not destined to be stuffed and mounted, but she needs far more than just another set of boiler flues. This locomotive has been in service at the Valley Railroad since the 1970s and has run well over 100,000 miles since her last major overhaul. Not only will her boiler need to be surveyed and repaired as necessary, her running gear and frame will also likely need a lot of attention. No one is willing to put a timeframe on this work, but all agree it will be several years at best. For now, with the Chinese SY likely to come on line in 2011, there's no pressure to work on 97. That situation will change in a few short years however, as the Valley's other locomotive, Mikado #40, will also be coming due for a new Form 4.