Portrait of a Survivor
The 29 has had a long life story of coming back. Originally built in 1906 for the Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad in Michigan. When that railroad dieselized, she was left for dead, though picked up by a short lived tourist railroad, she never ran until the Grand Canyon returned her to operation.
From 1990 until 1995 she pulled trains with her old running mate, LS&I 18, when the boiler certificate ran out. During this time the railroad brought out a thoroughly rebuilt 4960, and with a reduction of the steam season on the GCR from year round to a Memorial to Labor Day schedule, there was seemingly no need for the extra locomotive. When the 18’s boiler time ran out, the 29 was brought back with a thorough rebuild, including a new pilot and other changes. Subsequent modifications which included a Lempor exhaust (and a new stack) along with a new feedwater heater changed her looks even further, but brought her to the same pulling power as the bigger 4960.
When the railroad was sold in 2008 to the Xantera Corporation, the successor to the Fred Harvey Company, the upper management of the new ownership “dropped the fire” on the steam program, dropping the fires on both 4960 and 29, and dispersing decades of collected knowledge of steam locomotives to the far winds,
Over time, the railroad brought the 4960 back to life, albeit on a limited schedule, until 2016, when the company brought the 29 back into service in celebration for the National Park Service’s Centennial in August of 2016. Here we see the 29 on ready to pull her first revenue train in 8 years, flying both the American Flag, and the flag of the NPS.