Nashville Steam Restoration Gets Major Financial Boost

NC&StL 576 is currently being restored in Nashville. Photo Courtesy of NSPS. 

Nashville Steam Restoration Gets Major Financial Boost

By Justin Franz

The group behind the restoration of a Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway 4-8-4 recently crossed the $1 million fundraising mark. Earlier this month, officials with the Nashville Steam Preservation Society announced they had received a $100,000 grant from the Walter J. Ferguson Foundation, pushing the non-profit past the halfway mark of its $2 million fundraising goal. 

NC&StL 576 is currently being restored at Tennessee Central Railway Museum, just east of downtown Nashville. For years, the locomotive was on display at Centennial Park before being moved to the restoration facility in January 2019. While work at the facility was halted in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, NSPS President Shane Meador said that a lot of progress was made disassembling the locomotive in the last year and that some small projects — like the restoration of the air pump, stoker and more — are continuing off-site.

Prior to the pandemic, Meador and his crew were primarily focused on the locomotive’s boiler and firebox. While the team has been overall impressed with the integrity of the boiler, there are areas that will need work as a result of wear and tear on the locomotive at the end of its operating career in the 1950s. Meador said they hope to have an engine ready for reliable service within a few years.

“If we do this right the first time we won’t have to have the engine down for heavy maintenance once it’s complete,” he said. 

Once the locomotive is back in service, the group plans to operate it on the Nashville & Eastern Railroad. Meador said the route, currently owned by R. J. Corman Railroad Group, is the perfect place to let the American Locomotive Company product stretch its legs at speed.

The recent donation from the Walter J. Ferguson Foundation takes advantage of a matching grant program that was formed by Richard Tower and Wick Moorman. Any donation over a $1,000 made before Dec. 31, will be matched up to $300,000. Walter J. Ferguson’s daughter, Linda Krater, said the foundation made the donation because of her late father’s love of steam and the fact that the project would help educate future generations. 

“My father loved steam locomotives and appreciated their significance to America’s history, and we are proud to support Nashville Steam’s campaign to bring No. 576 back to operation,” Krater said. “Beyond the history, we teach our children now about the elements of STEAM education – science, technology, education, arts and math – and this project offers all of those opportunities, both today and for generations to come.”

This article was posted on: April 30, 2020