CORRY, Penn. — A steam locomotive made in Corry more than a century ago is on its way home from Alaska.
A Climax A engine that chugged supplies to prospectors during a turn-of-the-20th-century Alaskan gold rush reached Seattle by barge Thursday night and is waiting for tractor-trailer transportation for the next leg of its 4,000-mile journey.
The Corry Railroad and Industrial Leads Society, or Corry R.A.I.L.S., raised more than $80,000 to buy the wood-framed engine and bring it back to Corry, where it was built by the Climax Manufacturing Company in 1902.
Getting it home has been a long haul, said Carl Wassink, of Corry R.A.I.L.S.
"It hasn't been easy. It took a lot of persistence," Wassink said.
Corry R.A.I.L.S. began efforts to obtain the engine from the descendants of its previous owner three years ago.
The locomotive worked the gold fields on the Wild Goose Railroad in the Nome area after it was shipped to Alaska in 1902. Gold had been discovered in Nome in 1899, and prospectors streamed in from around the world for the next decade.
The Climax A engine served the gold fields until 1910 and then sat idle in the ghost town of Council, Alaska, about 70 miles from Nome, until the late 1950s, when an entrepreneur salvaged it. It remained idle again until a railroad enthusiast spotted it, bought it and disassembled it. He planned to restore and reassemble the engine but died before he could accomplish it, Wassink said.
Corry R.A.I.L.S. members ultimately arranged to buy the locomotive from the man's son and in several trips to Alaska undertook the laborious task of securing, inventorying and packing the parts for transport.
Volunteers completed the work in August with help from Alaska volunteers, including some native western Pennsylvanians. Corry native Rusty Pochatko, a supervisor with Alaska Railroad, provided tools and other necessities for the work.
Lynden Transport, the world's largest oil field transportation company, trucked the engine container to the port city of Whittier, Alaska, and provided free barge transport to Seattle. From there, Barnhart Transportation of North East will bring the container to Corry.
"They make runs to the Seattle area and will get the container when they have an empty truck coming back," Wassink said.
Corry R.A.I.L.S. volunteers will restore and reassemble the steam engine in a facility within site of the onetime Climax Manufacturing facility. They plan to one day display the engine and to make it available for demonstration runs on track that can be carried along with it.
The locomotive is one of only two Climax A engines still known to exist. The other is privately owned in Washington state.
"An A is the first model that Climax made. It's kind of like the Model A Ford," Wassink said last year. "It was the earliest version of the Climax."
The Climax Manufacturing Co. built locomotives in Corry from the 1880s until 1930, according to the Corry Area Historical Society. A full-sized Climax engine bought from a railroad in New York in 1960 is the star attraction at the society's museum in Mead Park.
The smaller Climax A was manufactured for 40 years, until 1928.
Corry R.A.I.L.S. accepted donations and sold hats, T-shirts and memberships to raise money for Climax A 313's return. Grants from the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, the Corry Community Foundation and other organizations also funded the effort.
"There were additional costs beyond what we anticipated, but overall we're in budget," Wassink said.