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May 15, 2012

Gathering Steam

Scenic Railway hosts K&T Rail Fans on Saturday

STEARNS — Those attending the 4th annual K&T Railfan Day on Saturday got a special treat as Steve Lee, project manager for Wasatch Railroad Contractors, led a shop tour featuring the “Old #77.”

    Now known as K&T #14, the famed steam engine is currently under restoration for the Big South Fork Scenic Railway. Railway Operations Manager Becki Egnew said the goal is to have the project, which was begun in 2002, completed in July 2013 while Lee is more cautious.

    “You get in trouble whenever you say a project will be done by such and such date,” he told the group as they viewed the disassembled engine. “It may not look like much now but a lot of work has been done on the inside. We still have more to do.”

Lee’s company, headquartered in Cheyenne, WY, was awarded the project following a bidding process in April.

    A native of Vine Grove, KY, Lee has plenty of experience with classic trains. Since retiring as head of Union Pacific’s steam program two years ago, Lee has joined WRC’s contract labor services. Though he has worked on about a dozen projects, he told the group that he doesn’t have a favorite.

    Kentucky & Tennessee Railroad enthusiasts, however, are excited about this #14  restoration, which could double ridership for the Scenic Railway — now in its 30th year.

    The steam engine was built in 1944 by the American Locomotive Company and was dubbed #77 by the Union Railroad. The engine eventually carried tourists through Tombstone Junction from the late 1960s until 1990 and was donated to the McCreary County Heritage Foundation and the Scenic Railway a few years later. Once operational, #14 will carry passengers from Stearns to Worley and Blue Heron.

    For more information about the steam locomotive project, visit www.bsfsry.com or call (606) 376-5330.

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