Push Gathers Steam to Restore a Historic Loco
J515 Updates from the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre
Rare Arnott's biscuit van restored
It’s happened yet again. This time, the door was stolen off an ex-Erie Lackawanna E8 stored on the Batten Kill Railroad. Hal T. Raven shared yesterday that the 250 lb door was stolen, probably over the weekend as the last theft had. Hal (owner of Raven Rail LLC) and the Batten Kill have been the victim of three thefts so far, the most valuable and important being the Leslie horn taken from RS-3 4116.
This is where the facts end and my speculation begins. After the horn theft, I began to wonder- what type of person or persons is responsible for this? I’ve narrowed it down to three choices: A very screwed railfan, an antique seller/finder, or a sign collector.
Another thing to note is a number of other railroad thefts that have occurred in the northeast. Besides the three on the Batten Kill, Webb Rail LLC has experienced at least one theft (which I can’t recall the details of at the moment), and quite recently the Oakville Railroad Museum in Oakville, ME was broken into.
I can’t help but wonder if these thefts could all be connected. Perhaps it isn’t one person responsible, but a small group of “railfans” who find stealing railroad artifacts to be “cool” or “fun”. Maybe these “railfans” are daring each other to steal these items, or they hope to sell the items to “their” museum or shortline railroad. No matter what the thinking is, it’s illegal and a serious crime. But beyond that, these horns, door, and number plates are priceless. Some of them are the only ones in existence. And the worse thing of all? These thieves somehow have the gut, courage, and lack of conscience needed to not only steal something priceless, but to stab their fellow hobbyists in the back while at the same time harming local railroads.
Now I didn’t talk about the other two possibilities, mostly because I find them less likely. Besides, when you’re dealing with one-of-a-kind items that only avid fans would buy, the odds of being found out and tracked down are almost certain.
There is one more possibility for the horn- truckers. Many truckers want their horn to sound the “coolest”, and what’s cooler than a train horn? I thought this was a strong possibility, but after the E8 door was taken, I realized the odds are pretty good that these thefts are connected.
Looking on the bright side, finding a horn and a 250-pound door should be easier than finding just a horn. Hopefully, Hal and his crew will start asking townsfolk if they’ve seen anything suspicious. This new trend can only continue for so long before the responsible persons are found out, and let’s hope railroads and railfans alike can remember that only bad apples are rotten.
Hal understands this perfectly, as he quoted in his recent Facebook post: “I love working on the equipment and have welcomed folks to stop and chat with open arms, but now I find myself copying license plate numbers. If you want shortlines to be friendly, stop stealing… It is a crime and it takes time away from trackwork, maintenance… If you see something or know something, SAY SOMETHING!”
How will the true railfans, the respectful, decent, friendly railfans, be treated because of this? I fear that if the thefts spread to class I railroads, who have the manpower to track down and prosecute thieves, we may lose any friendliness and decency from them. And who can blame them? If railfans and thefts are associated with each other, we had better watch out. -Harrison
This article first appeared on northcountrytrains.wordpress.com
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