The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s No. 1702 was built in 1942 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Originally built for use by the United States Army Corps. of Engineers, the locomotive was stationed for training purposes at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina. 1702 is designated as an S160 class 2-8-0, meaning that the locomotive features super-heated steam and weighs 160,000 pounds. A total of 2,120 S160 class locomotives were constructed between 1942-1945, with 26 surviving today. 1702 posed for a builder’s photo at The Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in September 1942.
After being declared surplus in 1946, 1702 was sold to the Warren & Saline River Railroad in Warren, Arkansas; this is where the locomotive was converted from burning coal to oil. The locomotive worked as the main motive power for the Warren & Saline River Railroad until the railroad dieselized in 1961. 1702 was then purchased in 1964 by the Reader Railroad of Reader, Arkansas.
1702 working for the Warren & Saline River Railroad in Warren, Arkansas.
After being abandoned outside of the Warren & Saline River shop building for three years, the locomotive was in need of a complete restoration. The Reader shop forces set out not only to restore the engine but to also improve the overall appearance of the locomotive. Until this time, 1702 held a utilitarian appearance, designed for functionality, not beauty. It was during this restoration that the locomotive began to evolve into its current appearance. The Reader employees received locomotive parts from the Texas & Pacific, National Railroad of Mexico, and Union Pacific, all in an effort to upgrade the locomotive. Also during this time, Paramount Pictures called upon the Reader Railroad to supply a locomotive to star in a new production, This Property Is Condemned. It was decided to ready 1702 for the filming, which was set to start 1965. Adorned in a fictional Louisville & Nashville paint scheme, 1702 was sent on a roughly 400 mile run to St. Louis Bay, Mississippi. While in St. Louis Bay, the 1702 worked alongside famed actors such as Natalie Wood and the young Robert Redford.
1702 in St. Louis Bay, Mississippi while filming This Property Is Condemned in 1965.
After the filming, 1702 returned to Reader and entered regular service as the largest engine on the roster. The Reader Railroad continued to modify the appearance of the locomotive, eventually giving it a new cab and a used tender from a Rock Island 2-8-2 No. 2662. 1702 operated on the last regularly scheduled mixed train in the United States until December 2, 1972. The locomotive was then sent into storage, where it remained until it was purchased by the Fremont & Elkhorn Valley Railroad in 1985.
1702 at the depot in Reader, Arkansas in 1971 with newly fitted cab and tender.
The Fremont & Elkhorn Valley Railroad was founded in 1985 by the East Nebraska chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society. The same year the newly formed railroad began a search for a steam locomotive to lead excursions over Chicago & North Western trackage during the tourist season in Fremont, Nebraska. Finding that the 1702 had recently been listed for sale, the chapter made an offer of $10,000 to purchase the locomotive. The Union Pacific Railroad agreed to move the locomotive free of charge from Reader to Fremont, some 600 miles. In 1986 the Chicago & North Western approached the Fremont & Elkhorn Valley with the opportunity to purchase the 17-mile section of track. Donald Smeal purchased the 1702 so that the Fremont & Elkhorn Valley could purchase the line. After leasing the locomotive to the Fremont & Elkhorn Valley for several years, Donald Smeal sold 1702 to the Great Smoky Mountains Railway in Dillsboro, North Carolina for nearly $50,000 in September 1991.
1702 in service on the Fremont & Elkhorn Valley Railroad
1702 officially entered service on the Great Smoky Mountains Railway in June 1992, leading several excursions from Dillsboro to Murphy, North Carolina. 1702 received a new paint scheme and taller smoke stack to enhance its appearance before entering revenue service. 1702 operated for the Great Smoky Mountains Railway until the railroad was purchased in 2000 by American Heritage Railroads.
1702 posed east of Whittier, North Carolina in 1992
In 2000, American Heritage Railways purchased the Great Smoky Mountains Railway and its equipment. 1702 was given a simplistic, yet classic paint scheme, and operated until 2004 when firebox issues sidelined the locomotive.
1702 exiting the famed Cowee Tunnel west of Dillsboro, North Carolina.
In 2014, restoration began to return the 1702 to service and on July 26, 2016, the locomotive returned to the railroad’s active roster. 1702 now operates on select dates throughout the regular operating season.
1702 on the inaugural run to the Nantahala Gorge on July 28, 2016.
Films Featuring 1702: