Steam Locomotive – Great Western Railways 75
Built For: Northern Construction Company (turned over to Great Western Railway c. 1908)
Work History: Sold to Intermountain Chapter NRHS, 1966
Sold to Singing Rails, Inc. (Everett Rohrer) c. 1966 (later GW 75 Corp.)
To Heber Valley Railroad, 1999
Restored to service 2000-2003
Under rebuild c. 2008
Wheel Arrangement: 2-8-0
Builder: Burnham, Parry, Williams & Company (Baldwin Locomotive Works)
Date Constructed: September, 1907
Construction Number: 31778
Class: 10-34E-1852 (built from drawing #142)
Boiler Pressure (Working): 200 PSI
Drive Wheel Diameter: 52-inch
Weight: 306,130 lbs.
Weight on Drivers: 150,000 lbs.
Tractive Effort: 31,500 lbs.
Cylinders: 20″ X 26″
Valves: Type D Slide Valves
Valve Gear: Stevenson Link Motion
Tender: Square with extensions; 700 gallons water, 18 tons coal
Current Status: Undergoing rebuilding c. 2008
The second steam locomotive to be restored by the Heber Valley Railroad, former Great Western 2-8-0 No. 75, led a life in and out of the public spotlight before coming to Utah in 1999. Its antiquated design is in sharp contrast to the relatively modern UP No. 618, although both were built the same year and within three months of each other at the Baldwin Locomotive Works. After working nearly 60 years on an obscure Colorado short line, the No. 75 embarked on a new career in 1965 as a movie star under the ownership of Everett Rohrer – a career that saw her starring alongside Hollywood’s most popular actors.
No. 75 first worked for the Great Western Railway of Loveland, Colorado, a 42-mile sugar beet-hauling short line that was originally a subsidiary of the Great Western Sugar Company. Records show that the engine was actually ordered and built for the Northern Construction Company, the contractor hired to build the GW’s Windsor line in 1907. It was agreed that after the construction project was completed, the No. 75 would be turned over to the Great Western for use by them.
No. 75 was built to Baldwin plan No. 142 and classified “10-34E-1852,” a Colorado & Southern design. It was assembled at Baldwin during the month of September, 1907 and carries construction number 31778. Interestingly, at a time when most new locomotives were being constructed with piston valves and outside valve gear, the No. 75 was built with 20″ X 26″ slide valves, Stevenson valve gear, and an unsuperheated wagon-top boiler. Being a freight engine, the No. 75 came from the factory with small, 52-inch drivers. Its tender was designed to carry 7000 gallons of water and a little over 16 tons of coal which the fireman shoveled by hand.
The Northern Construction Company took delivery of the No. 75 in late 1907 and it was quickly put to work by the track crews. At the time of its delivery the 2-8-0 was the largest and heaviest locomotive on the GW. After the new railroad line was completed in 1908, the No. 75 was put to work moving freight and hauled its first load of sugar beets for the GW during the 1908 campaign.
Working for the Great Western was hard, dirty work for the nine steam locomotives employed there. Their primary use was to haul raw sugar beets from the fields to the GW sugar factories (refineries). Every fall when the beets were harvested came a fall rush – or “campaign” – to ship them to the mills where they were further processed into table sugar.
As the years went on the No. 75 reflected the influence of the Colorado & Southern (CB&O) practices on the Great Western. Her basic appearance became that of a C&S locomotive after numerous rebuildings and modernizations which took place until 1924 at the C&S shops in Denver, and after that at the joining Chicago, Burlington & Quincy/C&S shops north of Denver. The first major work to the engine performed at the joint shops was the installation of a new firebox in April, 1927. This was followed in 1940 by a new steel cab built to a Burlington Route design, which replaced the original cab. In 1947 the engine was given an extended smoke box housing a Cyclone Front End (self cleaning) device. The CB&Q also rebuilt the tender in the 1930’s with extensions that allowed No. 75 to carry two additional tons of coal.
By the 1960s the Great Western was one of the last places in the United States where steam locomotives were still pulling freight trains. Railroad enthusiasts flocked from near and far to photograph and record the sounds of the Great Western steam engines at work. No. 75 was even used, from time to time, to pull tourist excursion trains. However, when the railroad purchased diesels, the steam locomotives were retired and sold off.
When No. 75 was retired in 1965, it was sold to the Intermountain Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, then to Colorado native Everett Rohrer who founded the GW 75 Company to preserve vintage railroad equipment for movie-making purposes. After Rohrer’s death in 1998, the company was taken over by his daughter and son-in-law, Melanie and John Pickar. The Pickar’s, knowing that the Heber Valley would make a good home of Rohrer’s collection, agreed to sell No. 75 and the Movie Train to the State of Utah in April 1999.
No. 75 and its tender made the long journey from Colorado to Utah by highway truck in the summer of 1999, and after that spent six months being reconditioned inside the Heber Valley Railroad’s shop. The work was completed by Memorial Day, and on May 29, 2000 the No. 75 made its first public trip of Heber Valley rails.
The engine has pulled regular excursion trains at the Heber Valley, and participated in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games trips between Heber City and Soldier Hollow. It has also been a part of the annual winter Photo Freight.
At the end of the 2002 season the No. 75 was taken out of service for a major mechanical overhaul, the first it has had since the 1940s. The work includes new boiler tubes, smoke box, tube sheets, and a renewal of many of its running gear components. The extended smoke box was returned to its original length (the Cyclone was removed decades ago by Everett Rohrer). Additionally, a new tender is being constructed to replace the rusted-out original. The No. 75 restoration and overhaul is about 70% completed and is expected to be finished around the end of 2016.