What a long strange trip it has been for Pennsylvania Railroad K-4s No. 1361.
Built in 1918 in the roads own Altoona Shops, it ran off 2.5 million miles of faithful service before being plinthed at Horseshoe Curve in 1957. After 28 years of stoically suffering static display, the miracle of railfan miracles occurred in 1985 when No.1361 was pulled from the Curve and restored for operation in 1987! Unfortunately, the jubilation was very short lived for catastrophic failure occurred and the engine was sidelined again. The decision was then made to do a ground up world class restoration. No. 1361 was brought to the well equipped restoration shop at the National Park Service's Steamtown National Historic Site where the work was to be performed.
Horribly, the only thing world class was the boondoggle that occurred. In spite of years of start and stop work and the expenditure of $1.7 million dollars it was determined that the boiler could not be made to comply with FRA regulations. So all parts of No. 1361 have been returned to it's birthplace to be reassembled and become a center piece of the Altoona Railroaders Museum.
All parts that is except the boiler. That essential piece was brought instead to the narrow gauge East Broad Top. I believe the thought was the steam mavins of the EBT could do the work of preparing the boiler for low pressure operation. Unfortunately, such a thing has not come to pass. So in the Car Shop the boiler of standard gauge No. 1361 heavily sits on a narrow gauge flatcar that is now slowly sinking into the ground. What will ever happen to No. 1361? Stay tuned kids.
For a previous view of 1361 at Steamtown click HERE