Of the 1,577 steam locomotives in all of North America, 34 are  of the 440 type. 29 of the 34 are pre -1900 4-4-0's. Of the thousands  of 4-4-0's built by the Amoscog Locomotive works in Manchester,  NH, only 14 remain. Seven of these are at the Mt. Washington Cog  Railway and have been modified for that unique application. Built  in July of 1892, the 494 we have in White River Junction is 105  years old this month. It is the oldest surviving Manchester 4-4-0  in its original configuration. With the closing of Steam Town,  the "494" became one of three steam locomotives left in Vermont.

Charles Ryerson, the originator of the current initiative to preserve  the B&M locomotive "494" located in White River Junction, Vermont.,  is an avid railroad enthusiast. His travels have afforded him  the opportunity to document the design of surviving steam locomotives  in the US and Europe. Ryerson first visited the "494" in 1993  and was appalled by the obvious damage being visited upon it as  a result of benign neglect. Weathering from 30 years of exposure  as a static display in Hartford had already taken its toll on  wooden fixtures and sheet metal parts. Original Manchester castings  were left lying on the tracks beneath the locomotive.

Upset by what he saw, Chuck went to the town hall and found the  person in charge of the artifact. Unaware of its historic value  or the fact that the locomotive had problems, the trustee agreed  to meet with Chuck during lunchtime to listen to his concerns.  Together they surveyed the damage to the locomotive.

The town was sympathetic to the plight of the "494" and in 1994  Parks & Recreation Director, Tad Nunez called Chuck with the idea  of forming a committee to preserve the locomotive. Following a  series of meetings which included other "494" enthusiasts, an  ad hoc "Friends of the 494" committee was formed to "set up goals"  (Mission Statement) for the group and to prioritize preservation  efforts on behalf of the engine, its tender, and caboose. Occasional  work days were scheduled to begin the stabilization and restoration  process. Tad and Chuck led the group in these efforts.

During the following year work proceeded along several fronts.  The group deemed it important to get the "494" listed on the National  Register of Historic Landmarks. To do so would insure its credibility  as an important historic artifact and, indeed, be truly considered  a national treasure. This prevents anyone in the future from arbitrarily  deciding to cut up the "494" for scrap.

With this in mind and with a $5000.00 anonymous grant, the town  hired preservationist Hugh Henry from Chester, Vermont, to research  and write the history of the locomotive. In conjunction with this  effort, the group conducted a national search to hire the expertise  necessary to evaluate the condition of the locomotive. They found  David Conrad of Connecticut, a nationally recognized steam locomotive  expert.

Conrad spent about 3 days evaluating the engine, its tender and  caboose. Every aspect of this evaluation was photographed and  videotaped. In his written report to the group, the locomotive  was considered to be well intact and was deemed highly restorable.  The tender, although of the same vintage and not original equipment,  is considered to be in poor condition. Significant portions need  to be replaced for it to be made operational again. (Being unfamiliar  with wooden structures, Mr. Conrad offered no opinion about the  caboose.)

Over the Christmas Holidays of 1994, Chuck wrote a draft proposal  for the "494". This document outlined the problems associated  with the 494, defined the goals of the group, detailed the remarkable  history of the "494", encompassed equipment specifications, and  developed a plan, as well as a detailed course of action for the  preservation of the equipment.

Chuck's draft in combination with Henry's history and Conrad's  evaluation provided the group with ample resource material to  proceed with several applications on the 494's behalf. The first  was to the National Register. Already accepted by the State of  Vermont, the application was readily accepted by the federal government.

A year ago application was made to the Vermont Department of Transportation  for an ISTEA grant to fund the restoration as well as provide  shelter to protect the equipment from future weathering. Concurrently  the group made application to the National Railway Historical  Society for membership to further validate the restoration project's  national importance through the organization's endorsement and  the support of its 20,000 members throughout North America and  Europe.

You might recall reading about the "494" project in the Valley  News twice this Spring: first, on the occasion of "The Friends  of the 494" being recognized as The White River Junction Chapter  of the National Railway Historical Society, and secondly, as the  recipient of an $82,000 restoration grant awarded by the Federal  Government through the Vermont Department of Transportation.

The final resting place for the 494 will be at the former crossroads  for the Central Vermont and the B&M Railroads in White River Junction  in Vermont. There the 494 will serve as a museum and a monument  to the rich railroading heritage of the entire Upper Valley.

This might all seem like a happy ending to the "494 story, but  its not. The State award was for half of what was requested to  secure, with certainty, the future of the "494". With no indications  to date of what provisions of the restoration plan were funded,  we are proceeding with the understanding that all State funding  is to be applied directly to the preservation effort, and that  the customary overhead expenses in support of that effort are  to be borne or raised by the group.

The amount of money necessary for the completion of the project  in relation to the size of the group requires some creative fund  raising approaches. As it is with railroads and railroad people  themselves, geographical boundaries prove arbitrary and artificial.  We are redoubling our fund raising effort by taking it across  state, regional, and national lines.

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