Reading 2102 Makes Debut on Sold Out ‘Iron Horse Ramble’

Reading & Northern T-1 2102 returned to the “Iron Horse Rambles” following a 30-year absence. On May 28, 2022, it charged uphill at East Mahanoy Junction, Pa., with a 19-car train bound for Jim Thorpe, Pa. Photo by M.T.Burkhart.

Reading 2102 Makes Debut on Sold Out ‘Iron Horse Ramble’

By M.T. Burkhart

PORT CLINTON, Pa. – Reading & Northern’s T-1 2102 made its much-anticipated return to excursion service on Saturday, pulling a sold-out “Iron Horse Ramble” on a round trip from North Reading to Jim Thorpe, Pa.

Despite the morning rain, hundreds of photographers, fans and curious onlookers were out in full force, lining the tracks in many locations. Photographers stood several deep at popular spots like West Leesport, New Ringgold and Tamaqua. With a 19-car train in tow (including two full-length dome cars and open window coaches) and no diesel helpers, the 4-8-4 put on a show for the masses.

At East Mahanoy Junction, the locomotive slipped several times on the wet rails and steep grade, but quickly regained its footing. Riders had a layover of several hours in Jim Thorpe, where the T-1 was serviced and then performed a runby past the former Jersey Central station before returning to North Reading.

This spring, the big “Northern” type locomotive’s six-year restoration was complete and put through its paces pulling several hopper trains. But Memorial Day weekend marked its first trip in excursion duty. Additional “Iron Horse Rambles” are set for July 2, Aug. 13 and Sept. 3. It will also pull “Autumn Leaf Excursions” on Oct. 1, 8 and 29, the railroad announced. (There are also trips this fall with the railroad’s F-units as well as 4-6-2 “Pacific” 425.)

The Reading’s 30 T-1 types were built in the company steam shops between 1945 and 1947 from various components harvested from existing 2-8-0 locomotives, including boilers and fireboxes. After toiling in heavy freight service and being replaced by diesels, some of the locomotives were given a reprieve in 1959 with the Reading’s popular Iron Horse Rambles that barnstormed the system.

The rambles ended in 1964, but 2102 continued in various fan trip duties before landing at the Blue Mountain & Reading in the mid-1980s. Flue time expired in 1991. In January 2016, the railroad announced that 2102 would be rebuilt and returned to service.

This article was posted on: May 31, 2022