A Locomotive in a Strange Location
By BP Lemmon
Story and photo by B.P. Lemmon
Driving north out of Redding on Interstate 5, just before the Fawndale exit and on the eastern side of the freeway, travelers and commuters alike encounter a massive hulk of equipment, immediately recognizable as a vintage railroad steam locomotive. With an RV park in the background and no visible railroad tracks apparent, nor any potential train activity anywhere near this location, questions begin to form. Why is it there? Is this someone’s idea of an ultimate example of “yard art”?
Owned by Redding’s Shasta Cascade Rail Preservation Society, a local group of volunteer railroad enthusiasts dedicated to the restoration, preservation, maintenance, display and operation of historical railroad equipment, the locomotive is named the Sacramento Valley and Eastern Engine Number Two (SV&E #2).
Built during 1907 and delivered to the Bully Hill Mine and smelter for the Sacramento Valley and Eastern Railway in January 1908 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, this Baldwin 2-6-2T locomotive has a 26-foot, six-inch body, which sits atop a 10-foot drive-wheel base and weighs in at 136,000 pounds. It hauled copper ore 13 miles from mines around the Iron Mountain area to the Bully Hill smelter at the Pit River Arm of Lake Shasta until the early 1920s, when mining activities were curtailed by federal government regulations due to pollution, which devastated the local agricultural industry. By the early 1930s, smelter activities and ore mining had all but disappeared from the area as a result of the economic disaster of The Great Depression.
By 1937, the SV&E #2 was placed into storage in an engine house. There it languished until 1942, when it was sent to the dealership of Hyman-Michaels Company, which transported it to General Engineering Corp. in Nevada. In 1947, it was sent to M. Davidson Company in Stockton as scrap. With several scrapped engines in stock, some restoration began.
During the early 1970s, the locomotive was acquired by the Wasatch Mountain Railway in Heber, Utah, and placed on display at the Heber Valley Railroad Museum. In 1994, it was placed on display at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, where it remained until its current owner, Redding’s Shasta Cascade Rail Preservation Society, purchased it in 2002 for $23,200. It remained in the Nevada desert until sufficient funds were raised through grants, fundraising events and donations to transport it to its current location.
In the spring of 2006, the locomotive was loaded on a 60-tire big rig truck and trailer and towed at 40 mph, often wandering along back roads from Nevada to Northern California. Rails and wooden ties, laid in place to accept the locomotive, were readied and the engine was crane-lifted onto its current platform. The owners of the Fawndale Oaks RV Park offered to house this locomotive until the Society can prepare a five-and-a-half-acre parcel off of Highway 273 in South Redding to exhibit it and other pieces of railroad history that they have in their inventory of rolling stock. With an estimated $63,000 cost for full restoration, the Society is working to obtain funding. However, work has been recently completed, removing old paint, rust and years of grime and other preparations for giving this beauty a new paint job. Yes, there is yet one more move planned for this locomotive in the future. •