B&O Railroad Museum TV Network: American Freedom Train (July 2014)


Hello, I’m Michael Gross, host of the B&O Railroad Museum
Television Network. This locomotive pulled the American Freedom Train. It was rebuilt in the early 1970s
and became the star of a steam powered excursion train
complete with exhibition cars that toured the nation to celebrate the
bicentennial of the United States. One of the country’s most
photographed steam locomotives, American Freedom Train No. 1, has had no less than five separate careers
and one complete metamorphosis. In its early life this locomotive was
originally built for the Reading Railroad. In 1923, the Baldwin Locomotive Works built a class I-10a locomotive
for the Reading Railroad. The locomotive had an oversized Wootten
firebox for the burning of anthracite coal, a 96-inch diameter boiler, and
a 2-8-0wheel arrangement. The 2-8-0’s, built in 1923-1925 period
to haul heavy coal drags, were among the largest and most powerful
“Consolidations” in the country with massive eight foot diameter boilers. During World War II, Reading
began to rebuild its 2-8-0s. The company took a frugal approach. In order to create 30 new 4-8-4 freight locomotives, it hauled in extremely heavy 2-8-0 “Consolidations” and completely rebuilt them. The Reading locomotive shop took the 2-8-0 boilers
and some other components, and together with new components
from the Baldwin Locomotive Works, created a 4-8-4 with 70-inch drivers,
roller bearings, 27 x 32-inch cylinders, Walschaerts valve gear, and a Franklin high-speed
booster engine in the trailing truck. They were designated as T-1 class locomotives and the new and improved 4-8-4s emerged
from the Reading, Pennsylvania, shops in September of 1945. For ten years, the No. 2101 served
the Reading Railroad until it was removed from service in 1955. The Reading Railroad decided to keep
keep the No. 2101 in storage as a spare locomotive for the
Reading Railroad’s excursion program, “Iron Horse Rambles,” from 1959-1964. It never saw active service and was
officially retired from the Reading in 1967 and was sold to a scrap dealer who held the
engine hoping to find a buyer for it rather than scrap it. And now a word from our sponsors. On July 9, 1864, the American Civil War roared in nearby Frederick, Maryland,
when Union General Lew Wallace set up a defense along the B&O Railroad
at Monocacy Junction. Wallace intended to stop Confederate
General Jubal Early’s raid into Maryland which was ultimately aimed at the
nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. The central portion on the battlefield is preserved
at Monocacy National Battlefield Park. St. John Properties’ Westview Business
Park is situated nearby on the edge of this critical moment
of American history. St. John Properties’ environmentally-sensitive
development consists of nine buildings with more than 423,000 square feet providing businesses an economical and high
utility location in this historically significant region. Union forces failed to stop the Confederates at the B&O’s railroad junction in Monocacy but history would tell the rest of the story. Based in Baltimore, St. John Properties is one of the mid-atlantic’s largest and most successful privately held commercial real estate firms. The company owns and has developed over 16 million square feet of property in seven states. After a decade of deterioration in
a Baltimore scrap yard, New York broker, Ross Rowland,
purchased the No. 2101 for the eastern leg of his American Freedom Train. The American Freedom Train toured
over the rails to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the
Declaration of Independence. It consisted of twelve display cars holding
significant objects from America’s past, including iconic items such as
George Washington’s copy of the Constitution, Judy Garland’s dress from the Wizard of Oz, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s pulpit. The rebuild of the Freedom Train
was nothing short of amazing. Mr. Rowland and his team of volunteers used the Riverside Roundhouse
in Baltimore, Maryland, to restore the No. 2101 to get ready
for the event in an astonishing five weeks! The No. 2101 was renamed the AFT No. 1 and ran its leg of the Freedom Train from
April 1, 1975, to September 1976. Once again in 1977, the AFT No. 1 was called to duty for the sesquicentennial of the chartering of the B&O. The AFT No. 1, now called the
Chessie Steam Special, was outfitted with an auxillary water tender and matching set of 19 passenger cars. The celebration began on May 7, 1977, and set off for a two-year system-wide tour of the Chessie System Railroad. Disaster struck on March 7, 1979, when fire engulfed the Roundhouse
in Silver Grove, Kentucky where the AFT No. 1 was stored. After the fire, the AFT No. 1 was
sent to Hagerstown, Maryland for cosmetic repairs and a replacement tender and was donated to the Baltimore and
Ohio Railroad Museum. I’m Michael Gross. Thanks for watching the B&O Railroad
Museum Television Network. Interested in learning more about the
B&O Railroad Museum and Ellicott City Station? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter! with daily updates on upcoming events, coupons, photographs, history, and things to do in Baltimore, you’ll never be off track.

32 thoughts on “B&O Railroad Museum TV Network: American Freedom Train (July 2014)

  • I saw this several times as the AFT-1, and rode on her twice as The Chessie Steam Special. I wrote a tearful letter to Hayes Watkins asking if it could be restored to operation after the Roundhouse fire. I got a letter back, saying that unfortunately the damage was just too great, but that it was going to be cosmetically restored. Sad. Luckily now NS and UP have renewed their steam programs. I wish CSX would do that, too, and partner with the Train Museum.

  • but the truth is that no locomotive is unrestorable. Many parts would need to be heat treated, but it could be done.
    The new overhaul of N&W 611 should prove that never is a VERY long time.

  • Awful goddamn shame. She deserves better than to languish in a museum. She deserves to run again. She deserves the love. O'Connor Labs could build her a new boiler and running gear. It would cost, though, and therein lies the problem. Maybe if everyone who saw her pull the Freedom Train in 75-76 would donate at least ten bucks. Shit, I'd donate at least a couple hundred, myself. If I ever hit the powerball, I'd foot the whole bill, just to see her run again.

  • Michael gross, hey, I know this guy from watching the reruns of family ties on television. So nice to know he's a rail fan too.

  • You ought to be ashamed the way you have allowed this locomotive and other items in your collection to deteriorate. For shame….

  • For all the bitching here about "restore it!! Meh I want it running!!1!1" how about you start volunteering and help do that! Or better yet you want it running? Start writing checks! Enough whining about others not doing what you want and help do it yourself. Be thankful this engine even still exists in the first place.

  • Everyone gives a shit about the Daylight locomotive the 2nd American Freedom train locomotive but no one seems to give a shit about this one what a dam shame!!!!!!!!!

  • Im from Canada, I went for a Virginia beach trip, when we went back i went to the b&o museum and saw this beauty, but the sides are rusted out.

  • Thanks for the visit last week. Many of the members want to cosmetically paint and restore the 2101. Any chance this can start to happen in 2017? While she is sitting outside, do you at least service the serviceable ports?

  • Here is an Idea for the B&O Railroad Museum that they can do. Why not so the engine can be displayed out doors with no harm. Built a Pavilion over the Reading T1 to protect it from the elements and slow down deterioration. If you do built it you can name it The Ross Rowland Jr. and the name of the scarp yard owner who saved the T1. If it can be done for 611 and 1218 then it can be done for 2101.

    And this is something they can do. (this was a friend's idea not mine) Why not take 2101 and clean and fix her up. But when you repaint the engine, Instead of repainting it in its AFT colors why not dress 2101 into her Chessie System outfit. The B&O Railroad Museum has that gp38-2 that painted Chessie System so it wound fit and make cents.

  • I accept that there restoring 2100 and 2102. They should get 2101 restored since 4449 and 844 they should bring 2101 in that family! Not sitting there to rot.

  • You should have heard from what happened to her in 1979. In Russell, Kentucky, there was a fire in a roundhouse, and she was badly damaged.

  • I photoed no. 1 on the AFT.
    then took the tour, inside.
    later, i photoed the silver grove roundhouse after the fire, which if i remember correctly was arson.
    one of those rebuilt chessie "SD20" was also burned in the fire. it was a huge mess.

  • The 2101/ATF N°1 should be given to RCT&HS. She would receive much better care and a whole lot of love. Sadly she rots in Baltimore from criminal neglect…….

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