The strange saga of Kansas City Southern No. 503 took a rather strange turn Tuesday, with the Port Arthur City Council voting to keep the steam locomotive and seek funding for remediation and cosmetic restoration. According to reports published in the Port Arthur News, several citizens voiced their concerns about the historic engine being removed from their community. Preservationists Jason Sobcynski and Nick Hovey raised more than $67,000 through an aggressive GoFundMe campaign to purchase and move the Texas Ten-Wheeler to temporary safe haven in Rusk. The Orlando & Northwestern tourist line in Florida had expressed long-term interest in restoring and operating the steam locomotive as well.
Sobcynski told the city council the best option was either to get the locomotive under cover or to return it to operation. “Keeping it here is condemning it to the elements,” he said, suggesting the 503 might “deteriorate to the point where it will be beyond being made useful again.” The City Council voted to complete the remediation to satisfy Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requirements and give local citizens time to come up with a long-term plan for cosmetic restoration.
This is a developing story.
—Railfan & Railroad