Non-Profit Buys Last Lehigh & New England Diesel

Lehigh & New England Alco S2 611 was brought back to Pennsylvania in 2016 and will now be restored to service. Builders Photo Courtesy of the Railroad & Industrial Preservation Society.

Non-Profit Buys Last Lehigh & New England Diesel

By Railfan & Railroad Staff

KUTZTOWN, Pa. — A newly-established non-profit has acquired the only surviving Lehigh & New England diesel locomotive. On October 31, the Railroad & Industrial Preservation Society, Inc, announced it had completed the purchase of L&NE S2 611 on the same day as the 60th anniversary of the railroad’s abandonment. The group plans on restoring the locomotive to operating condition. 

The L&NE served coal, slate and cement producing regions of eastern Pennsylvania, northwest New Jersey and southern New York. Along with the New York, Ontario & Western, the L&NE has the distinction of being among the first railroads in the United States to be abandoned in their entirety. 

L&NE 611 was built in 1948. After abandonment, it was sold to the Ford Motor Company and later ended its working career at a grain elevator in Indiana. In 2016, the Lehigh New England Preservation Society and Lehigh Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society moved the locomotive back east to Pennsylvania. It’s currently located on the Allentown & Auburn Railroad.

“LNE 611 represents the high point of American railroading right after World War II,” said President David A. Organek. “The locomotive was built to haul the coal and minerals needed for the post-war boom. Later, it served at Ford Motor Company’s River Rouge steel mill moving materials required for automobile manufacturing. Locomotive 611 ended its working days loading grain at an Indiana elevator. Coal, grain, and autos… it doesn’t get more quintessentially American than that. We are proud to be able to help future generations see, hear and ride behind such a historic artifact.”

The group said it will need about $150,000 to get the locomotive up and running and repainted into its historic black and white paint scheme. If they can raise the money, the group said they will be able to get it restored within the next three years. Donations can be sent via check to: LNE #611 FUND PO Box 636 Souderton, PA 18964. For more information, visit riptrack.org

This article was posted on: November 1, 2021