1385 Update: December 2020

In the second half of December, Steve Pahl, Sr., Mid-Continent’s General Foreman of Steam Power took photos of 1385 at SPEC Machine and reported the following recent progress and items coming up in the immediate future.

Work Areas (correspond to numbers in the below list).

  1. The saddle bolt holes have been drilled and are in the process of being reamed. The saddle bolts still need to be produced.
  2. Pistons and rods have been returned with the piston rod and re-trued (cut on a lathe). The pistons themselves are ready to be reassembled.
  3. The valve slides should be ready for heat-treating in January 2021.
  4. The crosshead slide drawings are complete and are awaiting machine time.
  5. The furnace bearers along with all components are fitted and ready for final securement after the smokebox is secured to the saddle.
  6. The two 9-1/2″ air compressors shown being test in the previous 1385 will soon be mounted in their rightful location on the fireman side of the locomotive.
  7. The firedoors will be painted by early January in preparation for installation on the backhead.
  8. Superheaters have been installed and preliminary testing is completed. They still need to pass final hydro testing.
  9. SPEC Machine hopes to have the smokebox completed by the end of January 2021, in as far as it will be:
    1. Secured to the saddle with bolts.
    2. Grouted (to fill the voids between the cylinder saddle and smokebox and help make the two pieces become one)
    3. Have the smokestack installed
    4. And have the draft appliances installed, including the petticoat pipe, spark arrester, and associated components. 

2021 COVID-19 Impacts

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is presently closed as part of its normal seasonal closure. After having remained closed for the entirety of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mid-Continent is currently planning to reopen its doors to the public starting on May 8, 2021. Here are some important notices about the planned 2021 season.

Schedule Changes

In response to anticipated decreases in the number of visitors and greater operating challenges during a pandemic, Mid-Continent has reduced its museum and train ride schedule to Saturdays and Sundays only in 2021. Typically Mid-Continent would be open 7-days-a-week during the summer. Please see the Train Ride Info page for full schedule information.

Groups of 20 or people may still be able to be charter a train ride on weekdays between May and October. Please contact our office with any group inquiries.

Increased Likelihood of Cancellations

Due to the evolving pandemic situation, Mid-Continent Railway Museum reserves the right to cancel or alter schedules from those advertised. Please refer to www.midcontinent.org for the most up-to-date schedule information. 

In the event train departures are canceled, reservation-holders will be notified as soon as possible and will be offered a full cash-back refund or the ability to transfer the ticket value to a future departure or a gift card.

Book with Confidence

During the pandemic, we understand that last-minute changes of plans may become necessary due to the need to follow self-isolation protocols, quarantines, or if experiencing the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. For this reason, we have adjusted our cancellation policy. If you need to cancel your booking due to COVID-19 related concerns, please contact us as soon as possible to be offered the greatest flexibility on refunds or rebooking.

Health Safety Precautions

Mid-Continent is in the process of establishing its health and sanitation guidelines for our trains and museum property. More information on this is expected to be made available closer to the museum reopening date as these plans are finalized.

Volunteers and Member Activities

As part of pandemic safety and cost-reduction measures, the Mid-Continent Railway Museum property remains closed to all non-essential personnel through April 3, 2021. No on-site volunteering sessions will occur before that date. Additionally, the member meeting and banquet originally scheduled for April 3, 2021 has been canceled. Upon the return of volunteering sessions, previously adopted social distancing and safety protocols will remain applicable.

Contacting Mid-Continent

To assist with minimizing risk to office staff, our administrative office hours during the winter and early spring are expected to remain very limited. Phone messages, emails, and postal mail are typically read and responded to within two business days.

Installing the Throttle Rod

The throttle operating rod and stuffing box is what allows the engineer to control how much power is applied to 1385’s driving wheels. The throttle rod reaches through the stuffing box mounted on the backhead to the bottom pin hole of the bellcrank mounted on the throttle body. When the engineer pulls out on the throttle rod the bellcrank turns that motion 90 degrees, pushes up on the spool in the throttle body and opens the steam passage to allow the superheaters to fill and supply the cylinders.


In order to keep the steam in the boiler from leaking into the cab the stuffing box and packing gland are made up of three pieces – the stuffing box, the bronze donut and the packing gland. The stuffing box and donut must seal against the flange in the backhead of the boiler. The cone shape cut into the end of the packing gland must squeeze a relatively soft packing material tightly enough around the throttle rod and into the stuffing box base to keep steam from leaking past.

Here is a picture of the old and new operating rods. The old rod had been roughened by rust which would make it impossible to keep the packing around the rod sealed. Lastly, here is a look at how the throttle rod extends through the packing gland and stuffing box reaching for the throttle bellcrank.

D&R #9 Cosmetic Restoration Announced

Dardanelle & Russellville #9 is in need of a refresh. MCRM photo. 2018.

So, here we just added another steam locomotive project to the list. Now that’s exciting! The Dardanelle & Russellville #9 is probably the most worthy restoration project the Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s Steam Department will undertake. Even though it will only be a cosmetic restoration (at this time), the Steam Department is going to make her look like she’s ready for service.

Jason R., his 9-year old son Fletcher, along with Fletcher’s grandfather Jerry, are taking a lead role in the D&R #9’s cosmetic restoration.

This project isn’t just exciting because it’s the D&R #9, it’s also going to be lead by one of our newest members along with his nine-year-old son. I am setting this project up for our younger members, along with our older members, to experience the feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie when everyone is working for the one goal. Plus get to “play” with REAL trains and perform a service that will not just benefit the museum, but also the volunteer. These are my memories of when my father started bringing me to Mid-Continent back in 1966 and the D&R #9 was the daily steamer. This just didn’t happen to me, but many a young boy and girl. Ask MCRM members Bill Burhmaster, Ken Ristow, Wally Tisler, the list goes on. Generational participation is what makes the Mid-Continent Railway Museum one of a kind!

D&R #9 smokestack repair.

Currently, the 9’s smokestack has been repaired, the cab windows and doors have been removed for restoration, and fundraising has commenced. After the first of the year [2021] I will update you on a timeline for starting and completing the 9’s cosmetic restoration. So, please come back and check up on the happenings with our beloved 9.

Steve Pahl, Sr.
General Foreman of Steam Power
Mid-Continent Railway Museum

A Personal Photo Album

History of Dardanelle & Russellville #9

Dardanelle & Russellville #9 is the oldest steam locomotive in Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s collection. It was built in 1884 by the Burnham, Parry, Williams & Co. (commonly called Baldwin) at Philadelphia, PA. It was originally built for the 196-mile New Orleans & North Eastern Railroad as their locomotive #232.

The locomotive later found a home on an Arkansas shortline, Dardanelle & Russellville Railroad. There it was renumbered to #9. It served there until 1963, when it was moved on its own wheels to Mid-Continent Railway Museum. It took over for #1385 as the main duty engine at Mid-Continent in 1964 and remained in frequent use until the 1970s. It briefly returned to service for one summer in 1991 before again being pulled from service in need of boiler and tender work.

More history and photos available on the D&R #9 Roster Page

Donate to the D&R #9 Fund

Funds will be needed to cover the cost of materials used as part of #9’s cosmetic restoration. You can donate toward this project with a credit/debit card by using the Donate button or by sending a printable donation form along with a check (be sure to write in “D&R #9” in the Special Projects portion of the form). All donations to Mid-Continent are tax-deductible.

Become a Project Volunteer

This project is just getting underway. We’ll share more information about how you join the MCRM Steam Team in future updates. Stay tuned!

More Photos of D&R #9

WC&C #1 Update – December 2020

The WCC#1 rebuild project came to a screeching halt after the flood of 2008. The last update was Feb 21, 2008. Twelve years has been long enough. My name is Steve Pahl. I am a long time member and recently been appointed as Mid-Continent Railway Museums General Foreman of Steam. And I’m RETIRED! I am not taking this position lightly. I grew up at Mid-Continent during the glory years of steam. I am dedicated to bringing these glory days back to a certain degree. Let’s face it, Mid- Continent was fortunate to be an up and comer back in the 60s thru the 90s when we were under less stringent guidelines when it came to steam, specifically boilers and we were firing up pretty much every boiler that would pass a hydro test. Thank goodness, those days are over, but unfortunately the casualties have been museums with steam locomotives like the CNW #1385, WCC#1, and D&R #9 because of the increased price tag for operational restoration. Thus sits the poor old “Montreal” aka WCC#1 and the D&R #9.

I am excited to be restarting the WCC#1 restoration project for operation! Let me assure you, this will not be an easy task. Money being the biggest hurdle, but I am confident with renewed enthusiasm and interest in the project, we can accomplish this worthy task. Through my continued research on the repairs that have already occurred through the years, these repairs have been good. But there are still many parts and pieces that still need to be refurbished, restored, remade, etc. I am still in the process of sifting through the past files and records to assemble some sort of timeline. I am in conference with three leaders in the steam locomotive rebuild business along with MCRM’s remaining “old” steam team members.

I will be spending the winter months planning with our steam department members and outside professionals on the most effective way to restart the project so we can complete it in a timely fashion. And YES, I said COMPLETED and in a 5-year timeline. We will find out if this is too ambitious, but I don’t believe it is. The hold-up, of course, will be funds, but hopefully we get the support that I’m counting on.

I will report monthly on the progress of the WCC#1. No matter how small it may be. I believe in communication. I intend to keep our members, contributors, and followers abreast of all happening in the Mid-Continent Railway Museums Steam Shop. I thank you in advance for your support in this endeavor. I also believe, ACTIONS  speak louder than WORDS, so, when the museum opens next year, come on down to the Engine House and see first-hand what’s happening with Mid-Continent’s steam program.

P.S. I just want to make it clear. The WCC#1 will be brought back to operation in our engine house by our members along with the experts. This is going to be a great learning opportunity for anyone interested in learning how to make and keep running a full-size standard gauge steam locomotive.

Donate to the WC&C #1 Restoration Project

Funds will be needed to resume the WC&C #1 restoration project. You can donate toward this project with a credit/debit card by using the Donate button or by sending a printable donation form along with a check (be sure to write in “WC&C #1” in the Special Projects portion of the form). All donations to Mid-Continent are tax-deductible.

WC&C #1 boiler. September 9, 2020. Steve Pahl photo.

Related links:
WC&C #1 Roster page