As part of the museum’s many hands-on exhibits, we have a ¼-scale, fully operational steam locomotive number 901. This locomotive is meant to give our visitors a close-up, sensory experience including an actual ride, watching the fire in the boiler, the steam exiting the tubes, and the feeling of returning to a historically vital era in our country’s past.
The 901 locomotive was built by the Israelite House of David in Benton Harbor, Michigan prior to World War II and was used to provide train rides at their colony park until the park closed in 1971. Engine #901 is one of the last railroad engines built and operated at House of David. The train was purchased and moved to Findlay in 2000. It was fully restored and placed into service at the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation Museum, debuting in 2001.
Today, Steam Locomotive 901 is need of repairs in order to keep it operational. Our fear is, without repairs, it will just become another traditionally significant locomotive setting stagnate. Steam locomotive 901 needs a new firebox and smoke box repairs, which are the major components of the engine’s steam boiler. The boiler’s steam tubes also need to be completely replaced.
A substantial amount of the work has already been done by our volunteers to prepare the engine’s boiler for transport to the repair shop. Next, State Certified technicians will complete the necessary repairs to ensure a safe, reliable working locomotive. The total cost for this project is estimated to be $15,000. NWORRP has raised over $9,000 toward this endeavor thus far and we continue to solicit donations to complete this restoration effort.
It is the continued mission of the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation to ensure young learners have access to our railroad heritage, and this locomotive is a vital learning tool. Locomotive 901 brings a full sensory, hands-on learning experience especially to our younger visitors. So many families have never seen a steam engine, let alone experienced a fully functional steam locomotive. Today steam locomotive 901 provides our visitors with the opportunity to see one in action. This is a vital part of our mission to both promote and preserve our Railroad Heritage and spark lifelong learning in young children.