Alaska Life

Restoring Engine 557: Work continues on last steam locomotive to run with the Alaska Railroad

  • Author: Bill Roth
  • Updated: November 3, 2017
  • Published November 2, 2017
Engine 557 Restoration Company President Pat Durand walks past the old firebox that was replaced as work continued in Wasilla on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)
Engine 557 Restoration Company President Pat Durand points out an original steam turret valve in the restored cab as work continued in Wasilla on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)
Engine 557 Restoration Company President Pat Durand points out work being done on the stay bolts for the new firebox as work continued in Wasilla on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)
Volunteer Ken Elmore walks on the completely restored tender that will hold water and oil for Engine 557 as work continued in Wasilla on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)
The headlamp is ready to be painted as work continued on Engine 557 in Wasilla on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)
Original steam valves in the restored cab for Engine 557 on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)
Alaska Railroad steam Engine 557 at C Street in Anchorage waiting to take an excursion train to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer during the late 1950s. (Photo courtesy Alaska Railroad)
Alaska Railroad steam locomotive Engine 557 passes by Elderberry Park on its journey back to Alaska on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. The locomotive first came to Alaska in December 1944 and was sold to a private museum in Moses Lake, Washington, in 1964. (Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News)
Alaska Railroad locomotive steam Engine 557 arrived in Anchorage on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. (Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News)
Alaska Railroad steam Engine 557 was used on excursions to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer until 1960. This photo of the 1957 fair train was used on a postcard. (Photo courtesy Alaska Railroad)

Engine 557, an S160 class 2-8-0 consolidation steam locomotive, has come a long way since it first arrived in Alaska in December 1944.

The steam locomotive served in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps during World War II and later with the Alaska Railroad. It was then sold in 1964 to a scrap dealer from Moses Lake, Washington.

The steam locomotive was returned to Alaska in 2012 and is about two years and $180,000 away from being completely restored by volunteers to produce steam again.

"We are in the fifth year of a two-year project. The project can only move forward as funding becomes available," Pat Durand, Engine 557 Restoration Co. president, said Thursday.

For more information, visit www.557.alaskarails.org.