Preservation progress around the world

Posted by Justin Franz
on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Leopoldina Railway 4-6-2 No. 327. Photo courtesy of Bruno Crivelari Sanches.
One of the best parts of being a correspondent for Trains Magazine — or just a writer in general — is that I’m always getting to meet new and interesting people.

Bruno Crivelari Sanches from Brazil is one of those people. Sanches is a volunteer with the Regional Sul de Minas Chapter of the Brazilian Association of Railroad Preservation, and I had the opportunity to exchange emails with him last year when images of an Alco locomotive pulled up to a gas station began to circulate on social media. It turns out Sanches’ group had just saved the RSD-8 and was trucking it their museum. On the way home, volunteers decided to stop and put a few gallons of fuel in the locomotive so that they could “play with it” when they unloaded it.

Since then, Sanches has occasionally emailed me updates about what’s going on at his museum and just last week sent some images of Leopoldina Railway 4-6-2 No. 327. I’m no South American railroad expert, but I can confirm that No. 327 is a beautiful piece of machinery. Look at the photo and I think you’ll agree.

Sanches shared with me some more information about the meter gauge locomotive. No. 327 was built in 1928 by Beyer, Peacock & Co., an English locomotive builder known for shipping locomotives around the world, including some of the first Garratt locomotives (here’s an awesome website if you’d like to learn a little more about it). The Leopoldina Railway, which at one time operated on more than 1,000 miles of track north of Rio de Janeiro, purchased No. 327 to lead some of its premier passenger trains.

Today, No. 327 has been lovingly restored (you can check out some footage of it running here) and will soon be again leading passenger trains on an excursion route in the Mantiqueira Mountains.

So, why am I writing about the restoration of a 4-6-2 more than 6,000 miles from where I live? Well, for one, it’s a great reminder that there is some amazing preservation work happening beyond our borders. Last month, more than 60,000 people attended a steam locomotive festival in Australia. In Poland, you can tour a working roundhouse and ride behind steam. And don’t even get me started on what they’re doing over there in England.

Perhaps the best part about all of these preservation efforts is that it also a reminder that there are people around the world with similar passions. Even though locomotive No. 327 looks a little different from the steam locomotives you can find here in North America, if you turn up your speakers you’ll find that it speaks the same language.

In a time of increasing global instability, finding common ground and common interests between cultures certainly isn’t a bad thing. 

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