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Steam: Trackside & Inside

Steam: Trackside & Inside is the title of one of our DVDs. It features intimate looks at three unique steam locomotives. We created this program in 2010, and if you are newly aware of Yard Goat Images, you might not know much about this DVD.

Steam: Trackside & Inside – Soo Line 2719

The first chapter on Steam: Trackside & Inside is a close look at Soo Line 2719, a 4-6-2 Pacific. The 1929 ALCO is owned by the Locomotive & Tower Preservation Fund and leased to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth, MN.

The locomotive spent its career on the Soo Line Railroad pulling both freight and passenger trains. In 1959 it was retired and put on display at a city park in Eau Claire, WI. In 1996, the Locomotive and Tower Preservation Fund raised money to return the locomotive to operating condition and achieved its goal in less than 3 years.


Soo Line 2719 – Yard Goat Images Photo

Soo Line 2719 pulled excursions over many different railroads until 2003, but the old roundhouse where the engine had been stored during winters was torn down in 2004, forcing outdoor storage. To ensure long term protection for the engine and the prospect of more operating time, the Locomotive and Tower Preservation Fund leased the engine to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. Today the Museum operates the engine for only a few weekends or charters each year. (The operating certificate for Soo Line 2719 expired in late 2013, and the two organizations are actively seeking funds for restoring it once again).

We arranged with the Lake Superior Railroad Museum to have access to the locomotive the day before the first revenue trips of the season. This rare opportunity shows how 2719 is brought back to life after nearly a year. Some of the opening scenes in this chapter show 2719 and other equipment being shunted around the yard with some very old diesel “critters”. There is also an historic Little Giant crane used to fill the tender with coal.

Our cameras were inside the locomotive during the first steam-up and again during a cab ride through the sprawling Canadian National yard at Two Harbors, MN. From trackside, the program has highlights from two all-day trips from Duluth to Two Harbors.

The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is one of the finest in North America. It has a large collection of steam, diesel and electric locomotives, plus a wide variety of rolling stock. The museum operates out of the former Duluth Union Depot, and houses a large part of its collection indoors. Our DVD shows some of the diesels, critters, and historic rolling stock in operation.

The museum also operates the North Shore Scenic Railroad over tracks from Duluth to Two Harbors, offering a variety of trips over all or a portion of the line. Whether pulled by steam or diesel, the scenery is spectacular with great views of Lake Superior and the north woods.

Lake Superior Railroad Museum operates with a small paid staff and a much larger group of great volunteers. We salute the Locomotive and Tower Preservation Fund and the Lake Superior Railroad Museum for their dedication and hard work so we can all enjoy the sights, the sounds, and the smells of our railroad heritage. We hope our chapter about Soo Line 2719 will inspire you to visit!

Read more about 2719 here.

 Steam: Trackside & Inside – QJ Class 7081

Steam: Trackside & Inside continues with a chapter taking place on the Iowa Interstate Railroad as we follow locomotive 7081. The 2-10-2 is a member of the QJ locomotive class, which was the final Chinese steam design to go into production, ending in 1988 with over 4700 built. Number 7081, one of two QJs operated on the railroad, was built by Datong Locomotive Works in 1986.


QJ 7081 – Yard Goat Images Photo

 We followed 7081 as it performed fundraising trips for the Earlham, Anita, and Atlantic fire departments. All three western Iowa communities are served by Iowa Interstate. Our coverage includes a ferry move from the railroads’ steam shop at Newton, IA to Earlham on Friday. The Saturday trips from Earlham to Stuart, the ferry move to Atlantic, and the Sunday trips between Atlantic and Anita are all beautifully presented in our program.

 Iowa Interstate Railroad crosses Iowa in an east-west direction over the former Rock Island. Many Rock Island depots and infrastructure are still quite visible on the Iowa Interstate. With the western point of Omaha, the railroad reaches Chicago with trackage rights east of Utica Illinois. Their colorful diesels, reminiscent of the Rock Island, have been a hit among rail fans. Read more about some of the former Rock Island here and here.

Railroad Development Corporation, parent company of Iowa Interstate, purchased the QJ pair in 2006. The two locomotives were overhauled in China to meet US Federal Railroad Administration standards before being shipped to Iowa.

In the years since, 7081 has kept its Chinese appearance, but stablemate 6988 has been “Americanized” with new paint, headlight, lettering, and whistle.

Some seem to have strong opinions about the QJs and their appearance. I like both the original and 7081 as well as the new look of 6988, but let me know what you think.

You might be interested in another trip I took with 7081, and what other steam locomotive we met along the way.

 Steam: Trackside & Inside – Milwaukee Road 261

The final chapter on Steam: Trackside & Inside stars Milwaukee Road 261!


Milwaukee Road 261 crosses the Mississippi River at Nicollet Island, Minneapolis as it returns from Montevideo, MN – Yard Goat Images Photo

Milwaukee Road 261 is a 4-8-4 steam locomotive built by ALCO in 1944. It operated for only 10 years before it was retired and donated to the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 1991 a nonprofit group called the Friends of the 261 leased the locomotive from the museum and restored it to operating condition. Number 261 ran its first excursions in September 1993, and the last in September 2008, when its 15 year boiler certification expired.

The Friends of the 261 group has since purchased the locomotive from the National Railroad Museum. As of this writing, 261 is expected to begin its next 15 year operations in 2013. (Milwaukee Road 261 DID return on May 11 and 12, 2013 with a spectacular trip to Duluth and return. See a preview of our DVD – The Return of Milwaukee Road 261.)

Our story takes place in 2001 as The Milwaukee Road Historical Association (MRHS) held it’s annual convention in Montevideo, Minnesota. Montevideo was a division point on the Milwaukee Road and is the home today of the Milwaukee Road Heritage Center. Today this former Milwaukee Road line through Montevideo is operated by the Twin Cities & Western Railroad.

The MRHS scheduled a number of excursions pulled by 261 originating in Montevideo, plus the opportunity to ride one or both ways between Minneapolis and the convention. Some of the Montevideo trips operated with a rare all-Milwaukee Road consist! In addition to trackside coverage of the trips including stunning runbys, we have some onboard scenes as the train passed through western Minnesota towns and countryside.

Read about another Milwaukee Road 261 trip here.

Steam: Trackside & Inside – get your copy now

I enjoyed producing all three stories found on Steam: Trackside & Inside, and I’m certain you will enjoy watching it.

Thanks for reading.

Steve Mitchell, Yard Goat Images

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