People want to save historic steam engine 503

Published 6:26 pm Monday, February 19, 2018

An organization is trying to save the historic Louisiana & Arkansas steam locomotive No. 503 from imminent dismantling at Bryan Park in Port Arthur, according to their GoFundMe page.

As of 9:53 a.m. on Tuesday, $37,844 of the $50,000 goal was raised.

They’re raising $50,000 to purchase the locomotive from the city’s contractor and move it to the Texas State Railroad for interim storage. The locomotive is currently slated for demolition and scrapping in the next few days.

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Their plan:

  • Purchase the locomotive from the contractor hired to perform the demolition and fund the move of the locomotive out of Port Arthur
  • Place the locomotive under the care of a non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to its ongoing rehabilitation.
    • Finalize arrangements for the use of a restoration facility and restore the locomotive operation via funding provided through donations and from The Royal Palm Railway Experience which is operated by the Orlando and Northwestern Railroad in Florida.
    • Move the locomotive to Florida for long-term operation with the Orlando and Northwestern Railway.
    “This is a campaign to save a locomotive that does have a future,” it read. “These funds will accomplish the purchase from the scrapper and the initial move from the park to the Texas State Railroad.”

Jason Sobczynski, of Next Generation Rail Services, will handle the disbursement of the funds raised to the owner of the locomotive for the purchase of the artifact, to the trucking company for the transportation of the artifact to the Texas state Railroad, and to the crane companies which will be utilized to load and unload the locomotive and tender.

Following the creation of the trust which will care for this locomotive, ownership of the locomotive will be transferred to the trust for $1.

Any left over monies from this campaign will be given to the trust along with the locomotive.

If they are unable to fund the immediate purchase and movement of 503, all donations will be refunded or forwarded to a railroad preservation organization of the donor’s choice.

“The locomotive is currently the property of the environmental remediation company contracted to conduct the demolition. The owner of the company does not desire to see the locomotive cut up anymore than those preservationists among us, but he is bound by the terms of the city contract and the associated timeline.

Asbestos abatement has been completed, and this is a now or never opportunity to be a part of saving the locomotive for future display or a return to operation,” it stated.

Some of the comments on the GoFundMe page were enthusiastic and supportive of the effort:

  • “The thought that a locomotive is in danger of being scrapped in the 21st century is almost hard to believe. I believe that this movement to save the 503 has shown that the preservation/railfan society can come together and accomplish great things in a time of crisis. This donation is the least I can do as a member of the steam and preservation community. I urge you to donate to this amazing cause and help preserve a unique steam locomotive for future generations. Roll on 503, best of luck!” Josh Scott
  • “Come on we need every piece of America!” William Nimmo
  • “This is the 21st century. We shouldn’t be scrapping any more steam locomotives!” Tom Jankowski
  • “C’mon guys. We can do it. Just keep convincing people to donate and #503 will be saved. Failure is not an option! We can do it!” Vincent Berkan