Friends of Steam Railroading is incorporated as a general, not-for-profit corporation in the state of Missouri, to protect the memory and the equipment of steam railroading and to educate and enlighten the public with regard to the glory of the steam railroad era. The incorporators form this not-for-profit corporation in order to organize and promote programs and activities which will aid in preserving the memory and appreciation of steam railroading, to aid and assist groups and organizations dedicated to this purpose, and to own and operate facilities for the display, renovation, and preservation of historical railroad equipment, literature, and memorabilia, and to accept and maintain appropriate items for the purpose hereof.
A group of investors with dreams of owning their own steam-powered train was organized. The following 15 people were the original stock holders. President John Lorberg, Vice-president John Lichtenegger, Sec-Treas. Walter Drusch. Other members were Shebly Brown, Ralph Edwards, Gene Penzel, B. W. Birk, Bruce Miller, Jim Drury, Robert Landgraf, Robert Adams, Leo Kohlfeld, F. E. Rhodes, Ora Masters and E. Desmond Lee.
They found at Crab Orchard & Egyptian Railroad in Marion Ill. and engine being used as a switch engine along with several commuter cars. The engine known as Number 5 is a 2-4-2, 1946 H. K. Porter, 1100 horsepower, built in Pittsburgh, Pa. The coal tender is a 1910 model and carries 5 tons of coal and 7000 gallons of water. The coaches are 1920 vintage, and were used as commuter cars in Chicago. The 1929 copula caboose ran on the Missouri Pacific Line and was donated by The MoPac, fully refurbished.
A home for the tourist attraction was found at the intersection of Hwy. 25 and 61, some four acres which formerly was known as the Loos Saw Mill. Bringing the equipment from Marion, to Jackson was a major task and very involved. It was a 100 mile trip by rail and a two day trip. After the equipment was moved to Jackson, the renovation work then began. There were many hours of volunteer work sand blasting the coaches inside and out. The engine and tender were completely overhauled. After one year's extensive work, Number Five was ready to roll. The inaugural run was April 18, 1986. The two coaches were named for John Hall and Scott McDowell who donated their talent and many hours of labor.
The tourist train operates from April thru October with regular scheduled runs on weekends. Many week day charters are also run each year. The two coaches carry 160 passengers with some of the original flip seats and also one coach has the original light fixtures. Additional riders can enjoy the caboose or on nice days the open air flatbed car.
Regular dinners trains run on some Saturday nights providing a relaxing dinning with live entertainment. Special events as the Craft Shows, Rail Fan Weekend, Civil War Reenactment, Hobo Parties, and Western Days have attracted many out state visitors to Jackson. A mock Jesse James train robbery occurs quite frequently. Other events for which the train has been chartered have been, receptions, private birthday parties, weddings, bachelor parties, school groups, senior citizen groups and side trips for conventions coming into the area.
The train travels to Gordonville. Having no turntable, the train backs up the entire trip home. The train operates under regulations of the Federal Railroad Administration.
The operation is supported by a non-for -profit organization "Friends of Steam Railroading" which provides volunteer workers as well as monetary contributions. The purpose of the group is to keep rail service to Jackson, Missouri as well as a tourist attraction for Cape Girardeau County and all of Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky and Northeast Arkansas.
by Harriet Drusch