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Berkshire Scenic Saves Rare Boston & Maine SW-1

Berkshire Scenic Saves Rare Boston & Maine SW-1

One of the last three surviving Boston & Maine EMC SW-1s has been saved by the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum. Built for B&M in 1941, No. 1113 was sold to the Mt. Tom Station power plant in Holyoke, Mass., in 1959 where it served continuously until the coal-fired plant shut down in 2014. Early inquiries about preserving the locomotive were inconclusive. When demolition of the facility began in 2017, it appeared the historic diesel would be scrapped as well. That’s when veteran plant employee Neil Black took action.

Black spent 40 years working there, and maintenance of the SW1 was among his responsibilities. He saw it as a symbol of pride for all who worked there providing power in the Pioneer Valley for decades, and alerted those in a position to help of the imminent threat to the locomotive. Subsequent inspection of the engine by BSRM chief mechanical officer Tom Delasco revealed what he called “a time capusule,” a nearly perfectly preserved piece of machinery which had received substantial mechanical work at the Pan Am shops in East Deerfield just a year before the plant shutdown.

The fate of the engine rested in the hands of the scrapper, Environmental Remediation Services, whose president, Tim Niedzwiecki, understood the historic significance of the engine and worked with BSRM to reach terms for transfer of ownership. The SW1 left the plant in late February, delivered to BSRM’s new tourist train operation in North Adams. Despite the condition of the locomotive, the museum is raising $8,000 that will help pay for new batteries and a new bell to replace the one that was stolen while the engine was in storage. Donations can be made at www.tinyurl.com/yat54llt

—Eric Berger, Railfan & Railroad

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This article was posted on: February 26, 2018