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Vintage locomotives moved down the tracks at Railroad Museum

Photos courtesy of Brody George, layout operator for the Medina Railroad Museum: These two E-8 locomotives have been blocking the north windows of Lee-Whedon Memorial Library for more than a decade. Recently, the Medina Railroad Museum contacted the town of Shelby, who brought their heavy duty front end loader and moved them. Watching as the pay loader approaches is a Railroad Museum volunteer.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 August 2020 at 8:26 am

Group would like E-8 coaches to be restored for excursion rides

MEDINA – Two historic E-8 locomotives owned by the Medina Railroad Museum have been parked on the tracks north of Lee-Whedon Memorial Library since they were purchased 13 years ago.

The engines blocked the library’s view from all their north windows, but the Railroad Museum thought they couldn’t move them because the tracks are owned by Genesee Valley Transportation, which operates the Falls Road Railway through Medina.

Town of Shelby employees hook a chain from their front end loader to the Medina Railroad Museum’s E-8 locomotives as they get ready to move them away from the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library’s windows.

Recently, however, the museum contacted the railroad, who sent down their vice president of operations, Chris Henriei, to inspect the tracks. The tracks were approved and Henriei suggested the museum contact someone with heavy equipment.

Grace Stewart, who is volunteer and staff coordinator at the museum, said the town of Shelby came with their heavy equipment every year to unload Thomas when the attraction arrives by truck for Day Out with Thomas.

The museum contacted Shelby’s highway superintendent Dale Root, who said they could help.

Before they could attempt the move, the museum had several weeks of work to do, said Brody George, who is a conductor on train excursions and layout operator in the museum. He said they had to kick the brake shoes off all the wheels so they would turn. A door on the train was left open during the move so when the train was towed to its new location, someone could jump in the door and set the brakes, as the new site is on a slight incline.

“The move couldn’t have gone smoother,” said Rick Henn, president of the Medina Railroad Museum board.

“The actual time to move the locomotives 90 feet took two minutes,” Brody said.

The E-8 locomotives, which each weigh 350,000 pounds, were purchased by museum founder Marty Phelps in 2007. Phelps envisioned them restored and operating for museum excursions.

These E-8s are painted in a unique lightning strike pattern and were used by the New York Central as far back as the 1940s, Henn said. They would have hauled the Empire State Express from New York to Buffalo and beyond.

“They were the cream of the crop for passenger trains for decades,” Henn said. “There are only eight of these locomotives left in existence.”

A Shelby highway employee watches as the front end loader begins to tighten the chain hooked to two 350,000 pound E-8 locomotives.

The museum still hopes to restore them and put them into service. The next step, according to Henn, is to bring in a professional to inspect them mechanically and electrically.

With the museum in negotiations to purchase the coaches from Western New York Railway Historical Society, having the E-8s running would mean the museum would not have to lease any equipment for its excursions.

Henn said he realizes there would be an extraordinary cost to restoring the E-8s, but they definitely would be an attraction.

The Medina Railroad Museum reopened for visitors on Aug. 1, and they have been busy, said Caitlyn Klotzbach, group sales coordinator.

She said every precaution has been taken to maintain Health Department regulations during the Covid pandemic. All visitors must wear a mask, and if a large group arrived at once, they would be separated and let in in increments.

The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

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