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Lehigh Valley Coal Company No. 117

Vulcan Iron Works, based in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, sold 0-4-0T s/n 3512 to Lehigh Valley Coal Company of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in February of 1925, as their No. 117. Lehigh Valley was later acquired by the Jeddo-Highland Coal Company, and she then worked at Jeddo, Pennsylvania. No. 117 was unusual in that she was a relatively rare four-foot gauge locomotive; likely her original appearance was similar to that of the standard-gauge 0-4-0T Vulcan shown above right (which is currently running on the New Hope Valley Railway in Bonsal, North Carolina).

In February 1958, Carroll Stahl—a state trooper turned toy manufacturer—purchased No. 117, and rebuilt her as an 0-4-0 with tender. Bearing the name Durango (left), she operated on his Carroll Park & Western Railroad, a tourist line in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. During her tenure there, No. 117 appeared in the 1970 film The Molly Maguires, playing the part of Carbon and Schuylkill Railroad No. 88 (below). The two CP&W coaches, which Stahl had built on old extended caboose frames, were painted up for the film as well. Filming of the railroad scenes took place on the CP&W property, which doubled as Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. It's said to be the last time No. 117 ever ran.

The Carroll Park & Western closed in 1972 following Mr. Stahl's death. A year later, Way Stations, Inc. of Eagle, Pennsylvania, bought the property for $350,000, although their ambitious plans for year-round railroad operations never materialized. Instead, the property was used for a flea market until it was purchased in 1997 as the site for a retail computer business. Today, nothing remains of the CP&W or Pioneer Village, a block of town structures built as a set for The Molly Maguires.

Meanwhile, No. 117 had passed through the hands of several private owners. Her travels during this time make for tales as colorful as her CP&W paint scheme, so some of the following information may be faulty. For a while she was on display—along with the two CP&W coaches—at a restaurant (possibly The Depot Restaurant, established in 1975 and now defunct) in Warrenton, Virginia. In the late 1980s she was moved to a parking lot in Berkeley, Virginia, where plans for a roadside train ride fell through. She was reportedly found there sitting under a tarp with coal still in the tender from the last time she ran, during filming, some two decades earlier; the coal was turning to sulfuric acid and eating through the tender floor (above right, as seen today). Evidently some potentially dangerous repairs had been made to her as well: the mud ring had been cut off the boiler and replaced with flat steel.

She was then shipped off to the parking lot of a leveled strip mall alongside Route 9 in Bayville, New Jersey (next to Blackbeard's Cave, a tourist attraction), but plans to run her never materialized, possibly due to her inoperable condition, or possibly due to the owner having too many irons in the fire. So, together with the CP&W coaches and a pile of light-duty rail, she sat there for over a decade, neglected and decaying (she's seen above left in 1999). Evidently area residents complained about having what they thought was an abandoned wreck sitting around, and pressured the owner to get rid of it. One tale tells of her bell having been stolen while she was there, which subsequently showed up on eBay; the buyer arrived at the seller's house accompanied by the State Police.

Finally, along with the two CP&W coaches, she was donated to the New Jersey Museum of Transportation around 2000. She has since undergone a modicum of cosmetic restoration (to her "as found" as opposed to her "as built" configuration), and is currently on display at Allaire State Park. She's seen at right in 2009 being moved from her prior location in front of the shop to her new permanent home at the Pine Creek Railroad entrance (below).

Weight: 49,000 pounds
Gauge: 48 inches
Drivers: 34 inches
Cylinders: 12 x 16 inches
Tractive Effort: 9,750 pounds

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