Reading 2100 in steam: ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reading No. 2100 begins the journey back East. But is it enough to satisfy the fans, who always seem to want more? Jason Sobczynski photo.

Reading T-1 No. 2100 is on the move this week. Last seen on a flatcar in a BNSF Railway train in a yard in Minnesota, it left long-term storage in Washington State, and is bound for Cleveland, Ohio, and work to convert it back to coal fuel and operate it.

I hope that works out. I’ve never seen a Reading T-1 run, and because of that I feel deficient in my education, appreciation, and admiration of steam locomotives. I’d like to see it run. I bet you’d like to see it run, too.

The outfit leasing the engine and doing the work, the American Steam Railroad Preservation Association Inc., is looking for $700,000 in donations. That’s cheap when it comes to big 4-8-4s. If, say half of Trains’ 93,000 readers each kicked in $20, there would be $100,000 leftover after the restoration to buy a few gons full of anthracite coal to light her off. The association says the work will go fast – maybe we’ll see No. 2100 in steam as early as 2017, maybe earlier if money flows as fast as a stand pipe filling a 19,000-gallon tank. Isn’t a live Reading T-1 enough to get excited about? Apparently not.

Even though the engine hasn’t even reached its restoration site, I’ve already read enthusiastic musings on the Internet about its future: Folks calling for the engine to be added to Norfolk Southern’s steam fleet next year, for sister No. 2101 to be rebuilt, for the other two Reading 2100s to be rebuilt, doubleheaders, tripleheaders, and operations just short of a Hot Wheels race track where the cars go loop-D-loop, shoot over the jump ramp, and cross each other in mid-air.

Steam brings out passion in its admirers. It inspires and delights. It stirs the soul. But get out your wallet first before you start advocating for a second locomotive. Get satisfaction from what is before you. Let’s not get the tender in front of the engine.

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