In February, 1995, I got wind of a possible candidate for our museum. This was the beginning of what was to become Project 2921 - An odyssey in rail preservation!
I had received a phone call from a friend in the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society, that operates Ex Santa Fe 4-8-4 #3751, telling me that he had heard, that the city of Modesto was interested in the disposing of ex-Santa Fe 4-8-4 #2921. The 2921 had resided in Modesto's Beard Brook Park since July, 1960. It was widely known that this magnificent locomotive has not weathered the long years very well and was in desperate need of some stabilizing work and asbestos abatement. The rumor had us believing that 2921 might be available for the asking, so I decided to follow up on it to see if it was true.
I began inquiring about 2921 through the city of Modesto and began researching her past. This massive steam engine has been sitting in the Park for 36 years and the ravages of time have taken their toll. The jacketing on 2921 was very badly rusted out in places and much of the asbestos was exposed to the weather and the public. There were many areas where lead based paint was peeling off and the city was very concerned that these liabilities would be a constant source of complaints in this tort minded society of ours. Additionally, the locomotive posed a maintenance nightmare for the city parks department. The city wanted to resolve these problems and then possibly make the locomotive available to an interested organization that would offer the engine the best possible future at the least cost to the city. They do not want to see her go to anything but a bright future, something better than what they are able to do themselves.
It was apparent that we would have to gain permission from the city to asses the engines condition and rolling ability before any decision could be made to mount an effort to acquire the locomotive for any purpose. Consequently, Bill Palmer, SBRHS Mechanical Officer, and I began asking society volunteers if they would be interested in getting involved and put together a team of volunteers to help us with what would turn out to be a monumental task.
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