Just as an automobile requires inspections at certain mileage intervals, so do steam locomotives, except their inspections are based on service days, not mileage. For steam locomotives, those service intervals are daily, 31-day, 92-day, annual, 5th annual, and the "big one" - the 1,472-day inspection. These inspection intervals are federally mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). We could not legally operate our steam locomotive if these inspections were not performed.
The most comprehensive inspection of all is the one performed after 1,472 service days or 15 years, whichever comes first (commonly referred to as "the 1472"). This inspection requires an almost complete disassembly of the locomotive so that every nut and bolt (literally) can be checked.
The 1472 is a huge undertaking, especially for a small scenic railroad like ours. While the inspection takes place, we must also tend to the needs of our other locomotives, cabooses and coaches. Fortunately, we will not be without a steam engine while 734 is out of service.
In May 2014, we acquired Chesapeake & Ohio 1309 from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum. C&O 1309 was the last steam locomotive built by Baldwin Locomotive Works for a domestic railroad. Once restored, it will be the largest articulated steam locomotive in regular operation in the U.S.
See the Projects or Contribute tab for more information on C&O 1309.
After 2015, Mountain Thunder will be out of service indefinitely. We hope you’ll join us to give 734 a great season and send-off!