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Western Railroad Discussion > Soo Line #353

Date: 01/01/11 20:43
Soo Line #353
Author: 1-tnut

(1) Western Minnesota Steam Threshers #353 at Rollag has climbed a 2% grade to get to the top of the hill where she will let riders get off and take on new riders to go to the lower part of the grounds.

(2) Soo Line 353

This restored 0-6-0 now operates at Rollag, Minnesota

After thirty-five years of faithful service, the No. 353 was retired by the Soo Line in 1955, but unlike most of the railroad’s 0-6-0s, the No. 353 was not scrapped. It began a new life working at the Koppers Company coke plant in St. Paul. In 1955 this firm purchased both the 353 and sister 346 to switch cars at their coal gasification plant. The one major alteration to the 353’s appearance was the addition of a Koppers herald on the tender, but otherwise, it retained much of its MStP&SSteM looks.
Both locomotives soon became filthy and battered at the hand of Koppers engineers, as switching coke cars is dirty, unglamorous work. Photos of the engines working the plant show them covered with a thick coat of grime, run hard and not properly maintained. The steam locomotives, apparently, were a cheap source of motive power for the company, which fueled them with their primary source of income: coal.

By the mid-1960s the 353 was in poor shape, and was subsequently retired and placed in storage. It was later donated by Koppers in 1965 to the Minnesota Transportation Museum of St. Paul, who stored the 0-6-0 outdoors on a Minnesota Transfer Railway spur in St. Paul’s Midway District.

By this time the 353 was a sad sight. Due to exposure to the elements, rust was everywhere, and boiler insulation was leaking out from beneath the rotting boiler jacket. The wood and steel cab had deteriorated to the point where it was falling apart, and although mechanically complete, the engine was in rough condition from years of abuse at Koppers.

As for the 353, it would sit quietly beside the Transfer roundhouse until 1972, facing an uncertain future. Owner Minnesota Transportation Museum was still in it’s infancy at this time, and its members were concentrating their efforts on the construction of the Como-Harriet Streetcar line in Minneapolis. Only later would a steam locomotive become part of that group’s focus (the restoration of Northern Pacific 4-6-0 No. 328, began in 1976). A plan by the MTM to move the 353 to the Mid-Continent Railway museum in the late 1960s fizzled, so when several members of the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers came calling in December of 1971 with an offer to buy the 353, the museum sold them the locomotive for a mere $800 (perhaps a fair price for a mechanical basket case). The sale to the Threshers satisfied the Minnesota Transportation Museum members who had expressed the twin desires to have the engine remain in the state of Minnesota, and to go to a home where it could be returned to service

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/01/11 22:36 by 1-tnut.

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Date: 01/01/11 22:02
Re: Soo Line #353
Author: up833

That little loco has some nice stack talk. thanks
Roger B

Date: 01/01/11 22:49
Re: Soo Line #353
Author: milw261

The sister engine of the 353, the 346, is on display in Tracy, Minnesota.

Check out this link for more information.

Date: 01/02/11 07:48
Re: Soo Line #353
Author: SandyEgan

Interesting operation and great little engine. Question, did that engine ever have jacketing? I notice that the boiler and cylinders have no jacketing at all.

Date: 01/02/11 08:06
Re: Soo Line #353
Author: 1-tnut

A picture I have of this locomotive when it worked for Koppers Coke in the Midway District of St. Paul, Minnesota in the spring of 1959 shows jacketing on the boiler and cylinders. My guess the Rollag group removed the jacketing when they restored it for their use. I have been going to the Rollag show since 1993 and never remember seeing jacketing on her.

Date: 01/02/11 08:18
Re: Soo Line #353
Author: 1-tnut

Interesting picture of the 346. Was the funnel stack always on that engine?

Date: 01/09/11 17:41
Re: Soo Line #353
Author: PennRailVideos

Awesome sound; love the stack talk! Great clip.

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