While the Maine Central may not have been the biggest railroad in the country, it did have a significant footprint in the Northeast. In fact, in the 1880s the Maine Central had the most miles of track in New England – even though the company didn’t begin operations until the 1860s.
As the railroad grew over the years and on into the next century, its locomotive roster grew. There is no more independent Maine Central, but there is Maine Central #519, preserved for future generations to enjoy.
A Brief History of the Maine Central #519
Maine Central #519 was built by in 1913 by ALCo in Schenectady, New York. This coal-powered steam locomotive was designated “Class W”, which the company used specifically for heavy freight trains. #519 is a 2-8-0 (Consolidation Type) under the Whyte Notation. Needing more power, the MC eventually replaced its 2-8-0 “Class W” locomotives with “Class S” 2-8-2 (Mikado Type) locomotives. #519 remained in service for lighter freight needs for the next three decades until it was replaced by diesels after the Second World War.
In a not-uncommon financial purchase arrangement the Maine Central leased #519 (and #501) from the European & North American Railway (E&NA). The lease agreement helped the locomotives avoid the scrappers torch that many other Class W locomotives met, since technically the MC did not own #519.
By the time MC owned #519 saving steam locomotives instead of scrapping them was a financial possibility. After retirement, #519 was acquired by F. Nelson Blount in 1963 and transported to his Steamtown museum in Vermont, where she was placed on static display. When Steamtown moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania #519 went with the collection.
Maine Central #519 remains on static display at the Steamtown National Historical Site in Pennsylvania, which is operated by the US National Parks Service. A NPS report on the locomotive indicates that, while the locomotive is not operable, the locomotive is not in bad condition overall and suggests that a study be done to see about the viability of returning the locomotive to operational condition for special events. An exciting, but unrealized possibility. Never say never!
You can visit the Steamtown National Historical Site website to learn more about the park and current roster of relics from the steam era.
A longtime railfan, Bob enjoys the research that goes into his articles. He is knowledgeable on many railroad topics and enjoys learning about new topics. You can get a hold of Bob at his email link below.