Southbound at Willaha. Trailing a dark plume of oil smoke, Grand Canyon Railway #29 charges through Willaha (approx MP 37.7) with a Trains Magazine Photo Charter, headed for Williams, AZ at track speed.
The 29 is one of about 10 extant Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad steamers that are scattered around the country at tourist railroads and museums. The Michigan-based ore hauler ran steam locomotives until the early 1960s, and that was just long enough for preservationists to realize that some of them were worth saving. While several of these LS&I engines have operated in recent years, none of them are operating regularly now. The 29 seen in this image, ran out of service days the day after this photo was taken and the Grand Canyon Railway has no immediate plans to do the boiler inspection that would be required to return her to service. The Rio Grande Scenic in Alamosa, Colorado had both the 18 and 20, but neither has operated in several years and both are for sale. The Western Maryland Scenic has the 34, which was kit-bashed as a Western Maryland #734 and operated for many years, but it came due for a 1,472 SDI a couple of years ago, and is at least temporarily retired. The one with the most promising future is likely the 33, which resides at the Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugar Creek, Ohio. It is apparently being kept in running condition, and is housed in excellent facilities.....but it has no scheduled events.