EXPLORE THE PROJECT
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHY REBUILD PRR K4 1361?
Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotive No. 1361 embodies a very rare combination of historical, cultural, scientific, and emotional appeal. It is as much a tourist attraction as it is a living, breathing teaching tool for our community and state.
The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) was a titan of American industry in the 20th Century. Its famed passenger trains, such as the Broadway Limited, were the ultimate in travel comfort, and from 1914 until 1956, the many passenger trains of the PRR were hauled by an iconic steam locomotive: the K4s Class engine.
But that’s not all. Simply put, the K4 Class was the rocket ship of its day. These engines were the first scientifically designed locomotives, born of extensive testing and development by the railroad in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The people of Altoona, with their German and British background, amassed design elements commonplace from the world over, and the resulting product was an excellent locomotive whose composition reflected the diversity of the immigrants that settled in Central Pennsylvania.
The design was so reliable that its influence can be found in nearly every passenger locomotive built in the U.S. thereafter. These historic locomotives helped win two world wars, powered our economy out of the Great Depression, and connected millions of Americans in the post-war era.
Our goal is to return PRR K4s steam locomotive No. 1361 to its rightful place as the Spirit of Altoona. This historic locomotive was briefly operated in the late 1980s, but it has remained in various states of repair since that time.
Lastly, the operation of a steam locomotive in the 21st Century creates a powerful tool for education and tourism. As a part of the heritage tourism movement, our planned programs, operations, excursions, and events featuring 1361 will have an indelible mass appeal and inspire and educate future generations.
WHAT MAKES THESE EFFORTS DIFFERENT?
There’s no dancing around the issue - the restoration of historic Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotive No. 1361 has taken 30 years too long and cost far too much. In fact, since running last in 1989, the locomotive has been disassembled, partially restored, transported across the commonwealth, and finally returned to its home in Altoona in pieces. We will be the first to admit, it's time for a fresh start.
As a part of the effort, the board and leadership team at the Railroaders Memorial Museum has been completely overhauled with several rail and industry professionals now serving as directors. In addition, this effort is being guided by respected leaders in the railroad industry, including former Amtrak and Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman and passenger rail advocate Bennett Levin. In addition, the Museum has retained FMW Solutions, a professional steam locomotive, and rail industry contractor, with proven experience to help bring 1361 back to life.
As a part of launching this reinvigorated campaign, we’ve worked with FMW Solutions to unravel the years of previous management and restoration attempts. They performed a detailed engineering and inspection effort to determine, in particular, the existing state of the boiler, which is at the heart of the locomotive. This is the most extensive accounting of work performed on the engine since the K4 was first designed in Altoona!