EXPLORE THE PROJECT
Dear Railroad Enthusiasts,
It is a new day at the Railroaders Memorial Museum. We have completely restructured our board of directors, brought on a new and enthusiastic staff of historians, and built partnerships with key leaders of the railroad industry. We all share a vision for the future.
Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotive K4 1361 has a checkered thirty-year restoration history. Since running last in 1989, it has been disassembled, partially restored, moved across the Commonwealth, and then transported home to Altoona in pieces. Our new team is dedicated to concluding this restoration project that began long ago.
In late 2019, the Railroaders Memorial Museum recruited FMW Solutions to perform a detailed inspection of K4 1361, including a review of all previous restoration efforts. The primary goal of this study was to determine the integrity and reparability of the boiler. This six-month series of engineering calculations, non-destructive tests, and visual inspections resulted in the development of a detailed report outlining proposed repair methodologies. This thorough study has been accepted by the Federal Railroad Administration, which permits this long-awaited restoration project to proceed.
The Railroaders Memorial Museum intends to return K4 1361 to its early 1950s appearance—when it was in operation during its final years of commuter service. This artifact, the official steam locomotive of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, shall return to operation as a roving, immersive experience. It will serve as a useful educational tool and a valuable economic stimulant, not only for Blair County, but for other Commonwealth communities.
We invite you to join our non-profit organization. Your membership not only supports our historic sites, but sustains our restoration efforts as well. These contributions will allow The Spirit of Altoona to steam across the tracks of Pennsylvania with pride once again.
C. Wick Moorman
Chairman of the Board
Railroaders Memorial Museum & World Famous Horseshoe Curve
SAVING THE BOILER
The restoration of K4 1361 is a thirty-year undertaking that has seen multiple project managers, with considerable work completed. However, there is still much to be done. The latest boiler studies revealed some the following: (1) Some of the rivets used in the boiler were of the incorrect steel. (2) The repair and subsequent re-repair of the main dome course needed further inspection. (3) Some firebox repairs were completed with improperly-sized materials. FMW Solutions has undertaken ultrasonic testing to further assess the boiler’s integrity. It was determined that the firebox area will require some of the projects most substantial repairs.
1920s & 2020s MERGE
The square, Belpaire-style firebox with which K4 1361 was built was a key feature of PRR steam locomotives. The Pennsy designed the K4s with the ability to swap components between 400 different locomotive designs. FMW undertook both traditional and computational engineering analysis of the boiler in addition to building a 3D CAD model. Through modifying material thickness and staybolt size, FMW has engineered a solution that will preserve the original Belpaire boiler and return the locomotive to operation. Much of the firebox will be replaced with new steel—resulting in a safer and sturdier locomotive to last.
THE TRACKS AHEAD
With our new team and experienced strategic partners, we embrace the opportunity to transform K4 1361 to its former glory. The undertaking will cost an estimated $2.5 million. This goal can only be achieved with your assistance and contributions. Through the restoration of the locomotive, the team endeavors to re-energize the mission and scope of the Railroaders Memorial Museum. Included in these comprehensive efforts will be the development of educational initiatives, robust volunteer programs, and community outreach to foster local stewardship.
Through scientific and technological processes, we have developed a viable path to return K4 1361 to operational condition in accordance with the highest applicable industrial standards. We are determined to complete this restoration project—but we require your support to do it.
THE TIME IS NOW
Our team recognizes the generosity of past donors and the dedication of experienced volunteers. Their work, along with FMW’s, in reviving K4 1361 is a means of honoring those who built and maintained the PRR. This iconic train—emblematic of an innovative railroading community—was the first scientifically engineered locomotive in the nation. Tested on Altoona’s mighty “indoor treadmill” and having serviced millions of passengers, The Spirit of Altoona is a tangible reminder of the citizens who built the world’s largest railroading complex.
K4 1361 will bring the exciting sights, sounds, and smells of the Steam Age back to Railroad City. These large hunks of steel represent far more than technological developments; they are testaments to the enduring legacy of Altoona’s hardworking laborers of bygone times. This restoration project will link our local history to the broader industrial heritage of America. We urge you to support the Railroaders Memorial Museum by buying a membership so we can restore K4 1361. The time is now.