If the first thing that came to mind after checking out the intro photo was that this old train could be put to work for entertainment purposes, the news isn’t good. Not only did somebody beat you to it, but they failed to keep the wheels spinning, with the late 1940s Alco locomotive and its railroad cars now being left to rot in the woods.
The abandoned train that makes up the topic of our current day-dreaming session awaits one—no, really, it’s not going anywhere—at the Windrock Offroad Park in Oliver Springs, Tennessee.
As you can tell by the sheer name of the location, this isn’t short on picturesque scenery and it appears that the derelict train used to give people a tour of the place.
Nowadays, things go the other way around, as you have to move through the scenery to get to the train. And YouTuber Bruce Wilson, who could never turn down such an opportunity, recently decided to give us a close look at the contraption.
Why is this big boy rotting away in a forest?
While the vlogger and the friends who accompanied him while touring the train are somewhat unsure of its exact story, they talk of a conflict between the entrepreneur who was running the train and the railroad operator. However, an aficionado of the genre took his two cents to the comments section of the video, stating that the late 1960s bankruptcy of the American Locomotive Company (Alco) that built these things means finding parts to keep them running can be a nightmare.
Even so, we’re probably dealing with a road switcher locomotive. This kind of machine was used to pull railcars in mainline service (road) and shunt them in railroad yards (switch).
Unfortunately, it’s not just the elements this piece of American railroad history has to face. For some years now, people have been stealing parts off the train—building a barn around it seems unfeasible, but an enthusiasts can dream…
And, given the highly collectible nature of the identification plaque, this is obviously missing. As such, you can view that 1946 label delivered by the YouTuber as tentative.
How this iron monster works
Regardless, we’re looking at a monster whose four-stroke diesel engine made at least 1,500 horsepower—as with all diesel locomotives, the engine, which is called the prime mover, powers a generator delivering the electricity to the unit’s traction motors.
Now, nobody would enjoy bringing this big diesel back to life than Bruce. I’m ready to bet my Hot Wheels collection on it! (for the record, Alco also briefly built cars, famously employing Chrysler founder Walter Percy before WWI). And if you still need convincing, here’s how ecstatic the man got when delivering the first start of a 1981 Kenworth W900 that had been sitting for two decades.
However, even with a YouTube user providing jumpstart knowledge in the comments, the state of the vehicle means that’s not going to happen anytime soon—apparently, the hardware involved a 64V low voltage system, with the generator serving as a starter motor for the diesel.
And, to deliver one final insight from the video’s comments, it seems that the track to the mainline is a maze filled with fallen trees and other obstacles, so taking the train out of there isn’t an easy option either.
As such, it seems that all we can do is enjoy this slab of America in the 26-minute video below and hope that somebody will manage to give this train a new lease on life one day.