Ian Wilson's blog

Welcome to the blog of Ian Wilson, author of the award-winning Canadian Branchline series, the King's Highways & Steam Trains series, and the Angus Wolfe adventures series.

Help save a Ten Wheeler from IMMINENT scrapping

February 19, 2018

Dear Branchliners,
I’d like to offer you something on your behalf in exchange for helping to save a steam locomotive from imminent demise.
It has come to my attention that Louisiana & Arkansas Ten Wheeler 503 at Bryan Park in Port Arthur, Texas is in IMMEDIATE DANGER.
An emergency funding page has been set up to receive donations to help save the engine from scrap.
My offer
I’ll provide more details below, but here’s my pledge up front. I will help the cause to save L&A 4-6-0 503 by—
Donating $20 from the sale of every in-stock steam railway hardcover book between now and 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 AND $10 from the sale of every softcover (or hardcover fiction) over the same time period.
That’s right—any book of mine you purchase over the next 48 hours will trigger a sizeable donation to help save the engine. You—or anyone you choose to honour with a gift—will receive a signed copy of one or more books AND have the satisfaction of knowing you helped save a steam locomotive from scrap.
How to order
You can order the books through this website (look for traditional steam railway titles under the Canadian Branchline tab and the historically-based Angus Wolfe railway-related titles under the Angus Wolfe tab).
Background on the doomed locomotive
Oil-burning Louisiana & Arkansas Railway 4-6-0 503 has been on display at the park since the Kansas City Southern (its parent road) donated it on December 13, 1957. Baldwin built the 503 for the L&A in 1920.
A number of vocal locals starting clamouring in the 1980s to be rid of the locomotive. They’ve finally forced the issue, under the spectre of a potential hurricane spreading asbestos (from the boiler lagging) and fuel oil (from the tender) and thereby endangering the environment.
The situation as it now stands
From what I’ve read, the forces-that-be mean business and sentimentality does not enter into their position. They’ve hired a “demolition” contractor to DEAL WITH the Ten Wheeler. His first task was to deal with asbestos, which he did by “cocooning” the locomotive.
His next job? DEMOLISH THE ENGINE. A wrecking ball is already on site. The locomotive is the property of the contractor now. It’s his job to GET RID OF IT in the most expedient manner possible. From what I’ve read, he SEEMS to be a reasonable man who doesn’t want to see Louisiana & Arkansas 503 reduced to $7,000 of scrap metal.
HOWEVER, the contractor is bound by his contract with the city to “demolish” the locomotive—on a strict timeline. He’s already BEHIND schedule—and the demolition equipment is already on site to cut up the engine (I’d post a picture of the big crane poised beside the locomotive but it’s too frightening to look at... oh, never mind, HERE IT IS).
It’s key to realize the contractor has been hired to REMOVE the engine. And that, for obvious reasons, he’s paid for the required equipment to scrap the engine and brought it to the site. You can see the wrecking ball lying in that tire.
The local city council can direct the contractor to scrap the locomotive without public consultation because dismantling would cost less than $25,000 (accepting the contractor’s bid to remove the asbestos was handled by a simple nodding in agreement by council members and the same councillors have also nodded to REMOVE the locomotive from the premises).
A dream future for L&A 4-6-0 503
For the short term, the Texas State Railroad is offering to store the engine—to ensure its survival. Long term, the Orlando & Northwestern Railway in Florida is offering to give the locomotive a permanent home—and possibly restore it to service.
How close are we to saving the engine?
As of now (Monday, February 19, 2018), the total raised to save the 503 has passed the $28,000 mark. But they require $50,000 to move this locomotive to safety at the Texas State Railroad. A long way to go and only days—if not HOURS—until something drastic may happen.
Buy that book—or those books—NOW and we’ll help save this Ten Wheeler.
PS—Remember, I’ll donate (to the fund to save L&A 503) $20 from EVERY in-stock hardcover and $10 from EVERY softcover/novel sold until end of day Tuesday. Order your books now!
PPS—Please link to this blog post—make it go VIRAL—for every steam locomotive fan you know. Let’s make sure we help save L&A 4-6-0 503 from scrapping.

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