Soo Line #2719

Carson Park, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Soo Line Pacific Locomotive Relocated to Duluth, Minnesota


2719 in Carson Park

Note the silver and black paint scheme. You can't really see the tender, but when the locomotive was painted, the "Soo Line" diamond logo was masked off and not repainted. Here, it is original to the tender.

Photo taken by Unknown Photographer, October 1991





"Soo Line Locomotive 2719 is a 4-6-2 Pacific built in 1923 by the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, New York. It was constructed for the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (Soo Line), which classified it as H-23. 2719 has a 4-6-2 wheel alignment. The numbers represent the sequence of pilot, driving, and trailing wheel arrangement.

"The diameter of the drive wheels (drivers) is 75 inches. The total weight of the engine and tender light (empty) is 319,900 pounds. The engine alone weighs 281,080 pounds. Total engine and tender weight (full) is 497,080 pounds, with a tractive effort (hauling power) of 36,833 pounds. Its coal-fired boiler generates a pressure of 200 pounds per square inch. The boiler is equipped with 203 2" diameter boiler tubes through which the hot gasses pass. The boiler also has 32 flues with 5 3/8" diameter tubes. Locomotive 2719 has two steel and cast iron 25 x 26 cylinders (diameter x stroke in inches). Pistons 14" in diameter are actuated by Walschaert valve gears which allows steam to enter and exit the cylinders. The tender has a capacity of 12,000 gallons of water and a coal capacity of 17 1/2 tons. The locomotive was re-equipped with a larger tender (at an unknown date) At the same time, the cab was equipped with an automatic stoker.

"The cab retains almost all of its original instruments and controls. These include valves, gauges, brakes, throttle, and whistle and bell cords. 3 It also retains the firebox, windows on each side of the front wall of the cab for the engineer and fireman, and seats of wood and leather construction. There are two sets of sliding windows in the cab which is open at the back with no doors. Alterations include a replaced cab board above a window and a more modern cast disk driver which replaced the original spoke center driver. The tender is not original to this locomotive

"The locomotive is painted in a black and silver color scheme. The body of the engine was repainted in September, 1990 by the Chippewa Valley Railroad Association. The white 'SOO' logo/motif was masked, not repainted, and is original to the engine.

"The engine and tender were moved to Carson Park between February 8 and February 13, 1960 following their donation to the City of Eau Claire by the Soo Line Railroad. Overlooking the city of Eau Claire and the Chippewa River, Carson Park is a forested pleasure park on a peninsula surrounded by Half Moon Lake. The engine and tender rest on a length of track adjacent to the main road through the park. The location is historically important to the Eau Claire lumber industry, which caused the development of the region and both necessitated and was fueled by the development of the Soo Line Railroad. The Soo Line and engine 2719 are intimately associated with the northwoods region. The wooded hilltop setting is not dissimilar in feeling to the terrain historically traveled by 2719. Consequently, the placement of 2719 at Carson Park does not adversely affect its integrity of location, feeling, association or setting. The engineering integrity and that of materials, workmanship and design have not been altered.

"Statement of Significance

"Soo Line Steam Locomotive is significant for its engineering which provided fast comfortable passenger service as rail travel increased and passenger cars became heavier after 1900. The 4-6-2 wheel arrangement increased effeciency[sic] in making curves by removing stress on the drivers and placing it on the lead truck and increased speed by adding tractive power with the addition of two drivers. The large 75" diameter drive wheels covered more track per revolution than the earlier smaller diameter drivers. And finally, the superheated boiler system reduced fuel and water requirements while increasing horsepower because of greater steam temperature. The 4-6-2 was the most advanced passenger engine of its period, quickly becoming the industry standard. Its popularity is evidenced by the large number constructed by a wide variety of locomotive works and the ubiquitous nationwide use of the 4-6-2. These engineering advancements contributed to expeditious movement of passengers between Chicago and Minneapolis, and throughout the Soo system. Soo Line Steam Locomotive 2719 embodies the distinctive characteristics of this advanced engineering in its 4-6-2 wheel arrangement, its 75" diameter drive wheels, and its superheated boiler system. The period of significance is 1923, the year of construction."

Adapted from the National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet dated May 1, 1992. Form prepared by Rebecca Sample Bernstein for the City of Eau Claire, May 1, 1992.

(The locomotive was added to the NRHP on January 10, 1994 as Reference Number 93001453.)

The Continuing Saga of Soo Line #2719 

Written by J.R. Manning

The period of significance was listed as 1923, the year the locomotive was built. It was one of six such locomotives, Class H-23 Pacific 4-6-2 locomotives built by American Locomotive Company (ALCO) for the Soo, numbered 2718 through 2723. #2718 is on static display at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin. 2718 and 2719 are the only two extant of the original six. 2720 through 2723 were all scrapped between 1950 and 1954.

Soo Line 2718
Soo Line #2718 at National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Although the reason for the "Pacific" nomenclature is lost to history, Pacific locomotives were widely used in passenger service on many railroads. With their large driving wheels (75" diameter on the Soo Pacifics) faster speeds could be attained as the wheel covered more distance per turn than the smaller diameter drivers needed for power in freight service.

#2719 was a workhorse for the Soo Line, logging over three million miles in its 35-year career, most of it pulling passenger trains. As the Soo Line dieselized, steam was slowly phased out and many of the Soo's steam locomotives were scrapped. Several were donated to cities on the Soo network including #2719 that was donated to the City of Eau Claire in 1960. It went on static display in Carson Park, where it attained National Landmark status in 1994. #2719 also had the distinction of being the last steam locomotive to operate on Soo Line tracks.

As you can see on the text of the interpretive sign, #2719 was relocated to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum that began running it again in 2007. The federal boiler license for #2719 has since expired and there is some controversy over who is going to own and maintain the locomotive. #2719 was listed on the NRHP here in Carson Park in 1994 and is still listed here, even though it is currently located in Duluth, Minnesota.

As of this writing, #2719 is owned by the >Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth, Minnesota. Ownership is a convoluted history.

The locomotive was donated to the City of Eau Claire in 1960 by the Soo Line after it had been retired and restored to operational condition. It went on static display in Carson Park until 1996.

The city sold #2719 to a group called the Locomotive and Tower Preservation Fund with an option of first refusal to repurchase it. L&TPF undertook an aggressive restoration program. The locomotive was restored to operational condition and ran its first excursion on September 19, 1998, on trackage owned by different railroads.

In 2000, it was used for excursions out of Spooner, Wisconsin on Wisconsin Central trackage until the Candian National purchased the railroad in 2001. Excursions came to an end in 2003. It was stored in the old Soo Line roundhouse in nearby Altoona until the roundhouse was razed in 2004.

With nowhere to operate and nowhere to store #2719, it was leased to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, which operated it in excursion service until September 2013 when its boiler license expired. It was still owned by L&TPF and it was sold back to the City of Eau Claire. It was then sold to the LSRM in Duluth.

The city is considering moving the locomotive back to Eau Claire for static display, at considerable expense. Some city leaders would like to see #2719 in the hands of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum where it could be refurbished and made operational again.

The saga continues and doesn't appear it will be solved anytime soon.

Update Log 

  • July 17, 2018: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • July 17, 2018: Added by J.R. Manning

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  • J.R. Manning - Lugnuts969 [at] gmail [dot] com