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Earle Baldwin

"C&O 614: Return of a Thoroughbred" (Video)

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“C&O 614: Return of a Thoroughbred” is a 2 ½ hour program documenting a series of passenger train excursions dubbed the “Erie Limited” which were operated in conjunction with NJ Transit between Hoboken, NJ and Port Jervis, NY in October, 1996. The power for these trains was former Chesapeake and Ohio J3a 4-8-4 Number 614.

 

Construction of the 614 was completed by Lima Locomotive Works in 1948. It holds the distinction of being the last commercially built 4-8-4. Please note the caveat “commercially built” because Norfolk and Western was still erecting Class J 4-8-4’s in its own Roanoke, VA shops. Upon retirement from active service, the 614 was subsequently donated to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD. It resided in the museum’s collection until it was traded to steam excursion operator Ross Rowland in exchange for his former Reading 4-8-4 2101 which had been damaged in a Chessie System roundhouse fire. Restored to its American Freedom Train appearance, the 2101 took its place in the museum’s collection while the 614 was taken to Hagerstown, MD where it was rebuilt. The 614 subsequently operated in “Chessie Safety Express” excursion train service during the early 80’s and coal train testing in 1985. In 1996, the locomotive was again overhauled, this time at the shop of the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad in New Hope, PA in preparation for a scheduled series of Autumn excursion trains routed via NJ Transit’s Hoboken Division to Port Jervis, NY.

 

The program provides an historical overview of the life of the 614 leading up to its arrival in Hoboken. It then treats the viewer to a thorough treatment of the initial publicity run and all six “Erie Limited” excursions. The locomotive is viewed in many locations in a variety of weather conditions as one trip was operated during a fierce Nor’easter. Coverage includes an extended aerial sequence taped from a rented helicopter and several raucous cab rides. The 614 puts on an awesome display as it thunders along at track speed with its twenty-six car consist including many NJ Transit Comet coaches. In addition to the excursion train, we are treated with numerous views of NJ Transit and Metro-North motive power. One day, the 614 ran low on coal and the two NJT GP40-2’s which shadowed the special as protection power assisted it for the final leg into Hoboken Terminal. Given the great variety of locations visited, the program serves as an excellent video review of the Hoboken Division’s physical plant.

 

Enthusiasts with an interest in modern steam power at its finest and fans of NJ Transit will want a copy of “C&O 614: Return of a Thoroughbred” in their collections. It is priced at $39.95 for DVD and $41.95 for VHS.

 

Best regards,

 

Earle

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