Long Island Rail Road Number 35
The history of steam locomotives on the Long Island Rail Road spans more than 120 years of service; a duration that nearly matches the rest of the world’s widespread use of such technology. Over these decades, technology progressed from the early “Ariel” and “Post Boy” locomotives of the 1830’s to the superheated G-5s Ten-Wheelers built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1920’s. Once the lifeblood of the railroad that is today the busiest commuter carrier in the United States, only two LIRR steam locomotives, both G-5s types, remain in existence.
The G-5s design was the PRR’s answer to the demand for a mid-sized locomotive that could handle the frequent acceleration and deceleration demands of commuter service in many of its suburban operations, including the LIRR. PRR Chief Mechanical Engineer William Kiesel, who had contributed to the earlier and very successful E-6s Atlantic class, designed the G-5s class to essentially the same specifications as the E-6s, but with smaller and an additional pair of drive wheels. The result was a locomotive that had greater adhesion than the E-6s, and although it could not achieve the remarkable top speeds of the Atlantic type, its speed and overall performance was more than adequate for serving stations in relatively close proximity to one another.
In addition to 90 G-5s locomotives of its own, the PRR built an additional 31 specifically for its then-subsidiary LIRR. These locomotives were delivered between 1924 and 1929, and were the last new steam locomotives the LIRR would ever acquire. In the 1950’s, they also became the last steam locomotives to operate on the LIRR. Withdrawal for phased dieselization began in 1950, with seven G-5s types remaining in service until October 1955. On October 8 of that year, the LIRR held a ceremony in Hicksville to signify the end of steam operations on the railroad. Dubbed “Operation: Changeover”, the event featured Locomotives #35 and #39 each pulling a single coach to the station, where they met nose-to-nose. Two Alco RS-3 diesel locomotives then pulled each of the coaches away, and the two steamers deadheaded back to Morris Park, still nose-to-nose. After a couple of additional runs in the next week, including a fantrip on October 16 pulled by Locomotive #35, the process of dieselization was complete, forever changing the nature of the railroad's motive power
Long Island Sunrise Trail NRHS members tending to 35
After retirement, the LIRR donated #35 to Nassau County, who displayed the locomotive prominently in Salisbury (later Eisenhower) Park. After its removal from the park in 1978, several members of the Long Island Sunrise Trail NRHS Chapter continued to care for the partially dismantled locomotive, but plans for the locomotive’s future never came to fruition. In 1990, a group of young volunteers took on the task of caring for the long-neglected locomotive. This group eventually incorporated as the Friends of Locomotive #35, an organization that eventually evolved into the present-day
Oyster Bay Railroad Museum. Today, the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum is working to restore Locomotive #35 as an “active display”. This project will involve a full cosmetic restoration of the locomotive, as well as operational restoration of all components necessary for the locomotive to be towed on a regular basis for display in various locations, whether on museum grounds in Oyster Bay or beyond. The Twin Forks NRHS Chapter is proud to be a partner in the museum’s effort to restore this invaluable treasure of our local history for the local enjoyment of Long Islanders of all ages. For more information on the efforts to restore Locomotive #35, please visit Oyster Bay Railroad Museums website at https://www.obrm.org/history/locomotive-35.php?fbclid=IwAR3cBSyODmGDfDFgDD08endVZHJaXfmzTbhf2gSwkevcHtydKgOkL-R05YE
Or visit the official LIRR 35 facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lirr35/
Today, 35 sits in Oyster Bay Railroad Museums display yard awaiting reassembly.