WEST CHESTER, Pa. – The all-volunteer West Chester Railroad celebrated its 25th anniversary over the weekend with train rides and yard tours as well as showcasing two newly painted locomotives.
Over the past few weeks, crews returned Alco S2 3 to its Baltimore & Ohio colors and number. At the same time, GP9 6499 (built for the B&O) received a new scheme of black and maroon with a yellow separation stripe and lettering. Both were on display during the Sunday, September 25 anniversary event.
Built in 1949, the 1,000-h.p. Alco served as B&O 9115. It migrated to industrial service and was used briefly by Wilmington & Western and Delaware Valley railroads before coming to West Chester. It was one of the first locomotives to operate there, pulling work trains during the rebuilding of the line and passenger trains during the first few seasons before being sidelined in 2005 with mechanical issues.
Last year, there was a plan to donate the Alco to the Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority in Martinsburg, W.Va. But that fell through and now the switcher will stay in West Chester. There’s also talk that the locomotive may be restored to service.
The GP9 was built for the B&O in 1957 and came to West Chester from the Ohio Central for the railroad’s start-up in 1997. It masqueraded for a time as “Pennsylvania Railroad 99” with help from the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society before receiving a basic black and yellow West Chester scheme.
The anniversary also saw two sold-out trains over the 8 miles of SEPTA-owned track to Glen Mills pulled by MLW RS18u 1803. Yard shuttles ran with GP38 7706, and McHugh Locomotive & Equipment brought an 1881-built handcar. The railroad’s two former Canadian Pacific MLW C424’s were also on display, along with numerous pieces of maintenance equipment.
West Chester has a full slate of upcoming fall and holiday trains to round out the 2022 season. For more, check out www.wcrailroad.com.