This letter is a brief synopsis about the story of steam locomotive 952 for understanding support effort on its return from St. Louis, Mo., back to its site of service at Steamtown in Scranton.
The locomotive was manufactured for the Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad in 1905 and served as a passenger locomotives on the railroads system in the states of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. 952 is a "Camelback" locomotive with a unique cab design of wide fireboxes fueled by anthracite coal found in the mines of Eastern Pennsylvania. The railroad decided to retire 952 from active service in 1939.
Ownership was transferred to the Railroad Locomotive and Historical Society and 952 would be used only for exhibition purposes or as a museum piece. The purpose of this transaction was "preservation of the locomotive as an object or both historical and scientific interest." 952 served this transition with dignity and honor from 1939 52.
Railroads history documents the fears of steam with its glory rise in the 1920s and its eventual fall in the twilight years of the 1960s 70s with the transition to Diesel power.
Depression, World War I and II, railroad mergers, railway changes, cutoffs, bad business decisions and etc., all produced enormous costs causing financial difficulty which persist to present day times.
In 1952 Lackawanna railroad authorities agreed locomotive 952 would be transported to the St. Louis Museum of Transport, St. Louis, Mo., owned by John Roberts, for display loan to his museum. Ownership of steam locomotive 952 was retained by the Railroad Locomotive and Historical Society.
By 1979 Roberts was having financial difficulty. He leased his entire museum stock to St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation but 952 was not listed on this inventory and Lackawanna owners of 952 were not notified of transaction. St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation acquired the museum as a gift in 1984.
952 was relocated to an unused railroad track and inclement weather conditions, where it began to rust and deteriorate.
RL&HS Officials went to St. Louis in 1993-1994 to address concerns about the locomotives conditions to St. Louis County officials, but little if nothing was accomplished. 1999, the National Society transferred ownership, via a gift deed, of 952 to Lackawanna Chapter RL&HS, The Pennsylvania Legislature and the New Jersey Legislature each passed a resolution seeking release of 952 to right full owners for return to its site of service in Pennsylvania. St. Louis did not comply. The pursuit went in limbo until 2006 when the federal court of Appeals reversed the decision by the Middle Court for the District of Missouri, confirming ownership to Lackawanna, but sent the matter back to District Court to address matters initially overlooked. 2009 the District is again in limbo.
In summary, since ownership is confirmed by law in a federal court as Lackawanna, St. Louis District Court needs to recognize the fact, ownership is not a matter of possession by a display loan arrangement. The locomotive needs to be returned to its rightful owner and to Steamtown. Government intervention may be the resolution.