This version is different as this goees by the time line where steam died out in the 50s rather than far latter.
My idea for an alternative history of the Norfolk Southern steam program. Which is designed to exist with the ideas based on those of I made, like where steam locomotives were used last far longer than they truly did in the US. (Though of course, diesels did appear eventually.)
Mind you in this AU, Norfolk Southern is simply the company running the railroads in it rather than one individual railroad. Also, my idea for this AU excursion fleet.
In 1966, the Southern Railway hosted an excursion with engine 4501. A Mikado built for the railroad and used by the railroad until being sold to the Kentucky and Tennesee for work from 1948-1963. This excursion proved to be a success, and several more were planned with the engine. But by the early 1960s, the popularity of the excursions grew, as did the demand for more of them. The Southern's solution was to overhaul 4-6-2 S&A 750, and 2-8-0s 630 and 722, complete with the latter receiving a green repaint like 4501, and operate them on other excursions. But once again, the demand grew more and more until the Southern had to lease more engines until the roster was as follows...
2-8-2 4501, 4-6-2 1401, 2-8-0 722, 2-8-0 630, and S&A Pacific 4-6-2
4501 visited several other railroads in the 1970s, including other railroads owned by Norfolk Southern like the Nickel Plate Road (NKP), Central of Georgia (CofG), the Pennsylvania (PRR), the Norfolk and Western (N&W), and even the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&W). Railroads that NS didn't own included the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O), Illinois Central (IC), the Rock Island Line (RI), the Milwaukee Road (MILW), and the Chicago and North Western (CNW).
Soon, other railroads owned by the Norfolk Southern corporation decided to run their own excursions in an effort to mimic the success of the Southern's program. Reading 2100, 2101, 2102, and 2124 were run by their railroad on several excursions. These were liked by the public as well.
In 1982, Robert Claytor chose to extend the NS steam program beyond the Southern. This led to the restoration and operation of several steam locomotives. The first new member was Norfolk and Western 611. Which was first used on excursions in 1983. In addition to of course, the revenue passenger trains for NS railroads.
Meanwhile, a group at the PRR’s steam shops in Altoona, PA had K4s 1361 join the excursion program; G5 39 soon followed, and the two often double headed. Meanwhile, back on the Norfolk and Western, class A 1218 was sent to Roanoke to be restored in 1985. It was soon ready the following year. With her and 611 often running alongside each other. 1987 saw the arrival of two railroad’s engines to join the program, those being Nickel Plate 2-8-4 765. Mikado 2-8-2 587, another NKP engine, joined the NS steam program in 1989.
Locomotives from other railroads were also present in the excursions. among them being Texas and Pacific 2-10-4 610, Canadian Pacific 4-6-4 2860, and Chesapeake and Ohio 2-8-4 2716, all of which joined in the 1970s. Atlanta and West Point 4-6-2 290 made a few appearances in the south (of ten being dressed as a Central of Georgia engine). Frisco 1522 made several appearances through the Deep South and Midwest. Former grand Trunk Pacific 5629 was bought from scrap in 1987, and L&N Pacific 152 worked several excursions in Kentucky.
1991 led to the celebration of the program’s 25th anniversary, with all sorts of engines taking part in all sorts of celebrations. But the biggest was in November when 630, 4501, 611, and 1218 all got together, with the latter three tripleheading several times.
But in 1994, David goode announced that the NS steam program would be severely reduced in scale. When asked, Goode explained that several issues had come up, namely the increase of revenue traffic and rising insurance costs. Goode had tried to save the program’s size. But a series of factors like costs, decreased route availability, and lacks of volunteers to run the engines for the NS were all factors. Leaving Goode with his last choice. By 1996, all the engines that had once roamed the NS systems were put on display or return to their original owners. Only 4501, 611, and 1218 pulled excursions on a frequent basis. And they were confined to Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Georgia.
However, in 2005, Wick Moorman, Goode’s replacement, decided to return to the idea of steam excursion, he met with volunteers from the TVRM in Chattanooga. Where they talk of letting 630 reunite with 4501, 611, and 1218 to form a new series of steam programs. From there it went on. The 630 was ready to hit the mainline again by 2011. Where upon 4501, 611, and 1218 were operated beyond the corridor they were confined to since 1996. Meanwhile, in the Midwest, NKP engines 765 and 587 were confined to excursions on various short lines in Indiana. When Moorman asked, the NKP was delight to set to work. Soon, the excursion program was back to full 80s splendor. With both most of the veterans of the old program and entirely new engines, such as PRR 7002 and 1223, Boston and Maine 3713, and Cnadian National 3254 working as well along the past engines.
If only this was a reality sadly.