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Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad Acquires Numerous New Steam Engines, Train Parts

Published 01/03/22 at 12:22 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad Acquires Numerous New Steam Engines, Train Parts

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(Garibaldi, Oregon) – The north coast's famed and favorite ride, Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad (OCSR), is about to get bigger. The Garibaldi-area antique train attraction just purchased 14 steam locomotives from a tiny town in southern Oregon that have been part of a collection of historic trains. (Photos of the Kepner collection courtesy Martin E. Hansen)

Not that all 14 will be available to riders at some point: OCSR has decided to keep five steam engines out of the 14, including two Oregon-American Lumber locomotives, 2-6-2T No. 104 and 2-6-2 No. 105; as well as the Pickering Shay No. 8, Sierra 2-6-6-2 No. 38 and the Oregon Pacific & Eastern No. 1. Some may wind up on the tracks carrying passengers, while others may simply be turned into museum pieces.

The remaining nine engines will be sold off, according to Rachael Aldridge, with the OCSR. Yet there is more to the massive collection in Merrill, which was put together by Fred M. Kepner since the ‘70s.

“We purchased 14 locomotives, as well as other pieces of machinery, machining tools, historical documents, photos, and more,” Aldridge said. “We are looking to sell the other pieces OCSR does not intend to keep, and each offer is assessed for preservation potential.”

There will be a handful of Harriman coaches coming under the wing of the Oregon coast attraction as well.

Whatever happens with this sizable chunk of new acquisitions may take some time.

“The cost to transport a locomotive can be tens of thousands of dollars,” Adlridge said. “Some of the engines will be restored, while others will be brought to museum display quality but not to running order. This will be an ongoing process as we assess the needs of each individual engine.”

Kepner had what is considered the largest private collection of steam locomotives and antique trains around. He started what was called the Great Western Railroad Museum decades ago with the hopes of turning it into a working railroad museum. Yet various issues caused him to change locations over time, getting in the way of actually starting the operation. By the 2000s, he moved his collection to Merrill.

He passed away late last year. Now that famed bit of living trivia is in the hands of the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad.

What does it take to restore one of these engines? There's no one answer, Aldridge said.

“Each engine is different, so it's hard to say what it would take,” she said. “If an engine only needs minor repairs, it could be a matter of months with some mild machining. If the engine is in pieces it could be years with a complete rebuild. A good example of this is the restoration of Skookum from 2019.”

Buyers of the new acquisitions have not been named, if any are decided yet, but the OSCR said they will likely go to other preservation organizations around the country. MORE COLLECTION PHOTOS BELOW

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