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Hope Natural Gas Company No. 3

Built in 1924 by the H.K. Porter Company of Pittsburgh, this 0-4-0T (s/n 6932) originally belonged to the Hope Natural Gas Company in Clarksburg, West Virginia, as their No. 3, and was sold soon thereafter to the Raritan River Sand Company. Wright & Wulfson bought her in 1956, and added a homemade tender (which only held coal), and a fancy smokestack and cowcatcher; with her functional saddle tank intact, she was rather goofy-looking.

Under the auspices of the Cranberry Creek Railroad Company, she was leased to the Copper Creek Railroad, an attraction at Cowboy City in Howell, New Jersey (left and below) to replace Pine Creek No. 1, which had failed her boiler exam. Functional sand pit locomotives could be had for a few hundred dollars—cheaper than repairing a boiler!

When Cowboy City was closed down in 1959, the Copper Creek Railroad assets were at risk of being seized, until it was proven that Cowboy City didn't own them—the locomotives, rolling stock and even the track belonged to Cranberry Creek Railroad, Inc.

Ultimately, everything was returned to the Pine Creek Railroad Museum. In October of that same year, No. 3 and the two homemade Copper Creek coaches were sold to the Busch Woodland Museum in Cooperstown, New York, which opened in 1962, to run on their Leatherstocking Line (below).

The Woodland Museum folded in 1974, by which time the Porter had become the property of Storytown USA in Lake George, New York (renamed the Great Escape Fun Park in 1983). Although information about her tenure at Storytown is scarce, it would seem that she was only a static display—still accompanied by the two Copper Creek coaches (seen above in 1982). Given that her boiler was replaced, it's likely that she was supposed to run, but either the owners changed their plans, or had technical difficulties.

By 1991 No. 3 had become part of an attraction at the Orlando International Toy Train Museum (above and right), which was installed by Trainland Railroad Services Corporation in Florida. Understandably, after possibly sitting idle for nearly two decades, she was first overhauled at the shops of the Tweetsie Railroad in Boone, North Carolina.

When the Toy Train Museum property was bought for a designer shopping mall in 1995, No. 3 was sold to Agrirama, an agricultural museum in Tifton, Georgia, where she may be seen today (above and left), although she's since been removed from service.

The second image is from the collection of Thurlow C. Haunton, Jr., courtesy of Benjamin L. Bernhart. The fifth image ("Storytown") was captured by John F. Twardowski. The seventh is courtesy of Trainland Railroad Services Corp. The last two images were provided by Donald Nute. Photographer and date of the remaining images are unknown.

Gauge: 36 inches
Drivers: 18 inches
Cylinders: 9 x 14 inches
Wheelbase: 3 feet 10 inches
Frame: 17 feet 9 inches


Below is an interactive map tracing the travels of No. 3. Hover over each point on the map for details on the dates and location.

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