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Chessie Safety Express
#614
Steam Locomotive

The Chessie Safety Express was pulled by former Chesapeake & Ohio J-3a 4-8-4 'Greenbrier' steam locomotive 614, the last and perhaps the most advanced main-line steam locomotive ever built by a major American manufacturer.

The CSE locomotive was a 1948 product of the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, OH. After retirement in 1956 the locomotive sat in storage in Russell, KY until it was cosmetically restored and placed in the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore in 1975. After a roundhouse fire damaged Chessie Steam Special locomotive 2101, the opportunity came for restoration of 614. Rather than repair Ross Rowland's burned locomotive (which was cosmetically restored to American Freedom Train paint), Rowland, Chessie, and the B&O Museum got together and swapped 614 for AFT 2101. Now, with 614 being restored to operational condition, it just needed something to pull. As Chessie was looking for a forum to promote Operation Lifesaver and grade-crossing safety, public-awareness excursions behind 614 seemed a natural fit. For two years in 1980-1981, 614 pulled the Chessie Safety Express train on excursions from St. Louis to Miami. Today, the locomotive remains privately owned and awaiting its next calling.

Image: Mary Jayne & John Z. Rowe at Harpers Ferry in 1980.


 
 

The locomotive had been stored for years at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, numbered 611.

Restoration took place at WM's Hagerstown shops. During the restoration, the locomotive's main tender had its coal capacity increased from 25 tons to 48, with a corresponding reduction in water capacity. Hence, the permanent addition of a water tender behind the main tender.

For the first season in 1980, the locomotive ran with its main tender lettered for "Chessie System Railroads" and a water tender lettered for "Chessie's Safety Express".

Image: William F. Howes, Jr 1979

 
 

For the first season in 1980, the locomotive ran with its main tender lettered for "Chessie System Railroads" and a water tender lettered for "Chessie's Safety Express".

Image: Mary Jayne & John Z. Rowe at Harpers Ferry in 1980.

 
 

Locomotive 614 seen heading the first trip of the second full season of the CSE, April 25, 1981.

Image: John Lewis.

 
 

Ross Rowland, Jr. at the throttle of 614.

Image: John Lewis. April 25, 1981.

 
 

Locomotive 614 builder's plate #9306 by Lima-Hamilton Corporation in Lima, Ohio USA, June 1948 (Lima order #1201, along with 610, 611, 612 & 613). Class J-3-a.

Image: John Lewis. April 25, 1981.

 
 

Lettering on the main tender was consistent while on the Chessie System both seasons. In the off-season excursions in Florida in early 1981, it was lettered Family Lines Rail System, along with a small ACL/SCL logo.

Image: John Lewis. April 25, 1981.

 
 

For the second season in 1981, the auxiliary water tender was simply lettered "Safety Express".

Image: Mary Jayne & John Z. Rowe 1981

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