By Railfan & Railroad Staff
CLEWISTON, Fla. — U.S. Sugar 4-6-2 148 will lead the first public excursion of its new career in Florida on December 12, the railroad announced this week.
The former Florida East Coast locomotive, also known as “The Sugar Express,” was restored to service last year and U.S. Sugar has been using it for public events ever since. This will be the first time anyone will have a chance to ride behind the locomotive since its restoration.
“We’re very excited to give people the opportunity to ride aboard a steam-powered passenger train in the South Central Florida region, and this trip is just a preview of the wide variety of events we’re exploring with the Sugar Express as we build up our passenger train fleet. Future events like this will no doubt drive tourism and interest in the rich culture of the Glades communities and we’re proud to be a part of that effort,” said Scott Ogle, operations manager for Sugar Express.
The day-long roundtrip includes accommodations in either deluxe coach and open-air passenger cars with a scheduled departure from Clewiston at 10 a.m. and returns at approximately 4 p.m. Passengers will enjoy a trip through the Florida countryside, a layover in downtown Lake Placid for lunch on their own, with a return to Clewiston later that same day.
Ticket sales will begin at sugarexpress.com on Tuesday, November 23rd at 6 p.m. A limited number of tickets will be available and start at $148.
The day before, on Saturday, December 11, locomotive 148 will lead the “Santa Express” to deliver gifts to Toys for Tots organizations and local families in need. Special stops with Sugar Express No. 148 and Santa Claus are planned in Glades, Highlands, Hendry, Palm Beach, and Martin Counties. A full schedule will be posted online soon.
The oil-fired locomotive was built at Alco’s Richmond Works in April 1920 and worked in passenger service for Florida East Coast before being sold to U.S. Sugar in 1952. At U.S. Sugar, the locomotive moved sugar cane from the fields to a mill at Clewiston, Fla. After it was retired by US Sugar, 148 briefly returned to passenger service in the 1970s at New Jersey’s Black River & Western and Morristown & Erie. The locomotive saw a number of owners after that and spent time in Colorado, Michigan and Connecticut. In each instance, hopes to restore the locomotive to operation always faltered. In late 2016, U.S. Sugar repurchased the locomotive and brought it back to Clewiston for restoration. The restoration was completed in partnership with FMW Solutions, LLC.