Sunday, July 31, 2022, was a big day for the Museum of Lake Superior, said the CEO of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.
“For the first time since 2019, our steam locomotive number 332 is full steam ahead and ready to go. It pulls our 1:00 a.m. Duluth Zephyr train this afternoon. This is his first paid service since going through a COVID outage and another rebuild of the locomotive,” says Ken Buehler, who is also; the general manager of the North Shore Scenic Railroad.
Buehler shared that people who come for a ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad are in for a treat not knowing what’s going on in the evening.
“It was a surprise for our passengers; because yesterday was a working day on the engine, and we did some testing yesterday. If it worked well in testing, we were going to implement the revenue service today. But if we had problems yesterday, we didn’t want to promise something that we couldn’t keep. That’s why these people here are going to get special treatment this afternoon. They think they’re squealing behind a diesel locomotive on the Zephyr balloon, and they’ve got steam engine 332 instead.
In a press release from Lake Superior Railroad MuseumSteam Locomotive 332 “was built in 1906 by the ALCO Locomotive Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the Duluth Missabe and Northern Railroad, a predecessor of the DM&IR, which is now Canadian National”.
Engine #332 is quite historic due to where all of its running time was located.
“This one has spent his entire professional career here in North Land, first on the Duluth Missable and Northern, then on the Duluth in Northeastern and Cloquet, and now on the North Shore Scenic Railroad. So his whole life was spent working, pulling trains right here in our area. There are only about 150 working steam locomotives in all of North America. And we have one here in Duluth,” Buehler said.
Before the steam locomotive could hit the railroad, there was a lot of work to fix it, Buehler said.
“The engine was donated to the Lake City Railroad Museum by the Duluth and Northeastern Railway, now the Cloquet Terminal Railway in Cloquet, in 1974. It remained in the collection for many years until Bob Purcell, who ran Cloquet Terminal, decided this thing should work again, so they rebuilt it, it was a $750,000 restoration, and we’ve been using it on the North Shore Scenic Railroad for a few years.
The original restoration, which took four years and nearly $38,000 was invested in repairs, Buehler said, “We have to rebuild a few things on it, like the air pump and the injectors and some things like that. All work on this engine was done by volunteers from the Lake Speer Railroad Museum.
With the wheels rolling, the engine running and the horn blaring, the question arises; what’s next for 322?
“Now people should go to DuluthTrains.com as this week we will be announcing a regular schedule for running this program in the fall and fall. So there will be regular races, and those plans will be nailed down this week.