The last surviving diesel locomotive from the defunct Lehigh & New England Railroad has a new owner. Alco S–2 No. 611 has been purchased by the Lehigh & New England Historical Society from Harvest Land Co-op of Emporia, Indiana, which has owned the unit since the early 1980s. The group is working in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Chapter NRHS, and hopes to move the S2 this summer to the Allentown & Auburn shop in Topton, Pennsylvania, for mechanical work and repainting. No. 611 is fully operational, but needs minor repairs to correct a ground relay issue.
The Lehigh & New England was a Class I railroad with a 217-mile main line that served Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. One of the primary products it moved was anthracite, and for many years it was controlled by Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. It was known for being an Alco stronghold, operating a fleet of FAs and RS-2s in addition to six Alco S–2s, Nos. 611–616, which it purchased in 1948.
When L&NE abandoned its line in 1960, No. 611 was painted white and used during scrapping operations. It later served the Ford Motor Company before being sold to Harvest Land, which used it to switch their grain elevator in Emporia until being semi-retired in 2008. However, it was periodically started and moved to keep it in good running condition.
Because the unit is equipped with friction bearing trucks, it must be shipped east on a heavy-duty flatcar, which increases the cost of transport. A fundraiser was initiated in May to raise the estimated $60,000 needed to ship No. 611 from Indiana to Pennsylvania. To find out how to donate, visit the “Bring Lehigh & New England 611 Home” Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lne611.