North East, PA. — A 1943 ex-military forty-five(45) ton “centercab” switcher locomotive becomes #10 in the “locomotives that our parents and grandparents built collection” of General Electric locomotives at Lake Shore Railway Museum.
Built in 1943 as serial number 17851 and assigned to McChord Army Air Field (now McChord Air Force Base) south of Tacoma, Washington, this 45 ton General Electric -built in Erie- locomotive is iconic of its era. One of many GE built locomotives swept up into the service during World War II, it was enlisted into the Army and then transferred to the Air Force when that division became independent. After its military duty was complete, it worked alongside other longshoremen on the docks of Seattle and Vancouver, Washington. Like many other dockworkers of the time, it lost its job due to the advent of container shipping. It then found employment back east in the steel reclamation industry outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Retired now from industry, it returns home to near its birthplace just miles from the Erie, PA, General Electric -now Wabtec- locomotive assembly plant.
Working from a tip from volunteers from the French Creek Valley Railroad Historical Society of Meadville, PA, Lake Shore Railway Historical Society officials reached out to ELG Metals southeast of Pittsburgh about their retired GE locomotive. After some discussion, ELG agreed to donate the locomotive. With technical assistance from Erie Wabtec, the firm of Daily Express, Inc. of Carlisle, PA, was engaged to move the 45 ton locomotive to North East. Alex Hummel, president of Lake Shore Railway Historical Society expressed his thanks to both ELG Metals and French Creek Valley Railroad Historical Society. “We are very happy to have our good friends in Meadville at French Creek Valley and our new friends at ELG. This new locomotive fits an unfilled niche and is a great addition to the collection. It certainly has its own interesting story to tell!”
Mechanically very similar to Lake Shore’s little 25 ton GE switcher locomotive built in 1950, volunteers hope to restore this 1943 veteran to operational status soon.