Montpelier & Barre #1237 in red & blue

When Bombardier closed their Barre facility in 2002 the Montpelier & Barre Railroad parked class J #62 at the end of the track at Websterville quarry, turned off the overhead wire south of Berlin, and basically abandoned that end of the branchline, only driving up there every two or three weeks to make sure it was still there. This was not nearly enough security, so over the next year vandals & wire thieves had the run of the branch, taking down most of the overhead, graffiti'ing the engine into oblivion, and generally making a mess of everything.

In 2004, someone took the vandalism to the next level when they broke into the cab and managed to release the engine brakes. #62 was parked on /almost/ flat ground, so it didn’t immediately take off for the valley floor, but later that same(?) day(?) it started coasting slowly downhill, speeding up considerably when it hit the steeper parts of the ramp up to the quarries, and – miraculously not hitting anyone – sped down the ramp to the switchback at Sterling Hill Road, where it unceremoniously derailed and slid on its side right into the side of the cutting, where – after shredding the cab – it came to a rest.

Two weeks later, the MOW department drove up to the quarry to check on the offending motor, only to discover it was gone. A check with the hirailer soon discovered the wrecked motor wedged into the cut, with the trucks tangled up in broken & twisted rails a hundred feet closer to the end of the switchback’s tail track.

It would cost real money to bring in a wrecker to pull it out, so instead of doing the sensible thing and scrapping it onsite the M&B just left it there to rot.

9 years later the now-dormant M&B filed for bankruptcy and was purchased by the PV&T and the CV, which did have the money for a wrecker. Alas, 9 years of New England springs & tweakers looking for copper to resell were not kind to this machine, and most of the drivetrain had been stripped of copper and the rest was horrifically corroded and filthy, so upon arrival at the Portland shops, the original plan of servicing and putting it back to work had to be shelved.

Instead the remains were built into the first class JX motor, with a multisystem drivetrain and radially steered trucks, to see if those enhancements would pay off as dramatically as they did on the big motors (classes L & M) that were the first to be fitted with radial trucks.

This was a success, and two other J’s have been similarly rebuilt since then.

  • Copyright © 2024 by Jessica L. Parsons ( unless otherwise noted
    Tue Jan 31 20:29:15 PST 2023