The "Russian Decapod" comes out to play.
The Illinois Railway Museum's big Frisco Decapod waits on the west leg of the wye for the regular, hourly, diesel-powered excursion train to arrive at the depot, before pulling out onto the main line with a caboose in tow, for some afternoon test runs. One of just 2 operable steamers in the US with the 2-10-0 wheel arrangement, this big Baldwin was originally built for export to Russia, and was set up to run on 5 ft. gauge track. When the Russia deal fell through, she was re-gauged to the US standard and she ended up spending most of her working life on the St. Louis & San Francisco ("Frisco") Railway. The folks at IRM have her restored as closely as possible to her Frisco appearance, including the big brakeman's "doghouse" on the back deck of the tender. That's a feature seldom seen on active steamers today, other than the former D&RGW Narrow Gauge. The big coal-burner is currently the IRM's only active steamer, but that's about to change. The steam crew has a 60-Ton Shay under restoration in the shop, and that work is nearly complete. They expect it to be out and in operation sometime this summer.