Pittsburg steam engine finding new home

Associated Press Published: September 8, 2012

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — For more than 55 years, old No. 1023 has been a familiar sight at a Pittsburg park, a reminder of the city's railroad heritage and bygone era.

On Sunday, crews will begin the process of moving the retired steam engine from Schlanger Park to its new home in Cherokee County, where it will be refurbished and placed on display as part of a railroad museum.

The Pittsburg Morning Sun reported (http://bit.ly/RTBWap ) that the engine had fallen in disrepair in recent years. The city commission voted in December to let Heart of the Heartlands Railroad Museum in Carona take it over.

The engine was built as locomotive No. 488 at the Pittsburgh Locomotive Works in July 1906. It was operated by Kansas City Southern Railroad and underwent an overhaul in 1925 to be able to burn oil. It was renumbered No. 1023 and used as a switch engine until the 1950s, when it was phased out and replaced by diesel engines.

Frank Battega, a retired city employee, said the engine was used on long hauls out of Kansas City, then was relocated to Pittsburg where it moved freight cars out of the rail yard to area factories.

"It would get the cars ready for transport," Battega said. "It would take them from different factories and line them up to go where they needed to go."

The city bought the engine for $1 and Kansas City Southern railroad built track to the park where the engine was to be part of a railroad museum. The plans never materialized and engine stood alone just east of the tracks.

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