A Visit with the Number Six

The Quincy No.6 has been a regular staple on the pages of CCE, dating back to her first appearance in 2015. Yet the No.6 has an even longer history with the Copper Country, as she first arrived to the region over a century ago in the winter of 1912. She was the last steam engine to be purchased by the Quincy, and she was also its largest and most impressive. Her maker was the Baldwin Locomotive Works, her weight was over 56 tons and her skills included the ability to pull up to 40 fully loaded rock cars. Upon the mine’s closure the massive engine was loaded back into the locomotive house and sealed away. There she slumbered for thirty years before her old bones were bought up by a railroad museum who packed her up and shipped her out to the east coast. She would remain absent for the rest of the 20th century until fate would once again return her to the Copper Country. Unfortunately her time away had been hard, and the rusted and rotted remains that returned were hardly the grand old engine she had once been before she left. Though home, there was a great deal of work to be done to get the old gal back in shape. Work that was gladly took up by a group of dedicated volunteers at the Quincy Mine Hoist Association – volunteers that include long-time reader and contributor Paul Meier.

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Over the years since the No.6’s first arrival to the region, Paul has kept us all updated on the slow but steady work in returning the old locomotive to her former glory. His first update arrived back in 2015 shortly after the old gal had received here bright orange primer paint job. Later he sent us a second update after she received her final coat of paint – a glossy black coat that I myself captured on my last visit to the area (seen above). Today Mr. Meier provides us yet another update on the No.6’s progress, progress just completed a few weeks back.

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Paul provides us with a glimpse of the sight upon his own arrival, with a large item now missing from the scene. That would be the No.6 herself, which for some time had been stored atop those now empty rails seen in the middle of the picture. Since my last visit the engine had been pushed back from her outdoor seating area into the protected confines of the old locomotive house itself – finally returning to the home she vacated nearly half century ago.

six-outside

With the locomotive doors open we catch a glimpse of the No.6 in her new/old home, peeking out from the third engine stall. In addition to work on the engine, the crew also worked to improve the track extending out from her front door – the results of which you can see above. The track was raised six inches and set atop a bed of gravel. This was done to make it easier in the future to roll the No.6 out of her stall for display in good weather. Unfortunately while the engine has been cosmetically returned to the days of her youth, her boiler and mechanics have been far too damaged over a half century of neglect for her to ever move under her own power. Thus when she does peak her head out into the sunshine it will be thanks to an attached tractor.

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Inside we find work being done on the construction of the locomotive’s wood cab – a component of the old engine that had been lost to rot and neglect. The men seen doing the work here are dedicated volunteers Chuck Trabert and John Leow.

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Here’s another angle of the work, giving a better view of how the cab fits around the engine’s boiler. To the left can be seen the front edge of the No.6’s original tender – a piece of rolling equipment that had also been recovered from out east and returned to her former glory. CCE also covered the story of that amazing recovery, which you can check out for yourself HERE.

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With the cab in place one can finally get the view that Paul captures for us above – the view that the locomotive’s engineer would have seen while driving the engine down the tracks. Its a view that hasn’t been possible in over half a century.

six-under

Paul provides some more additional views of the old engine outside of its new cab, including a look under her skirt from the vantage point of the inspection pit from between the rails in the floor of the locomotive house.

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Paul also gives us a look at one of the engine’s main drive cylinders. Within here the steam produced in the engine’s boiler would have been used to push the locomotive’s drive pistons forward – moving the No.6 and her 40 rock cars forward down the tracks.

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Paul takes note of the casting date for the cylinder – a date that was just two months prior to the engine’s delivery to the mine.

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Before returning home Paul snaps a shot of the finished cab – freshly painted and ready to go. I’m not sure what else is in store for the old loco, but I know that she has come a long way from the rotted and rusted state she was in just over a decade ago. She’s almost ready for her close up, as the center of a future Copper Country railroad museum to be located within the century old walls of the Quincy’s locomotive house. When that happens CCE will sure to be there…

Discuss…

  1. Over the past winter i fabricated all the cab components in my workshop at home in Dixon, IL. Chuck Trabert came down a couple times to help out. After they were all dry-fitted and match-marked, I primed them and loaded them into our van. Once we got up to the Enginehouse, it was a matter of putting it all together. I love modeling in 1:1 Scale. I don’t need my opti-visor magnifier!

  2. Chuck Pomazal’s role in the #6 project cannot be overemphasized. He has been the prime mover since day one, from bringing 6 back to manufacturing cab kits and other parts in his Dixon shop. His work can also be seen at #5, the model railroad at the 1894 hoisthouse, and several other displays at QMHA. BTW almost all wood in and on #6 is Keweenaw cut and milled.
    Often times there are comments about the need to do something to preserve a piece of Copper Country history. There is no magic or Nanny State to step up and do it; much of what has been saved in the Copper Country has happened because someone like Chuck has said “Let’s do that” and a volunteer effort starts.

    • Chuck and Paul,
      I’m forever thankful that there are folks like you who care about the history and are willing to stand up and do it! If you need an extra pair if hands, Mike knows how to get in touch with me. My time is my own, Dodgeville to there is easy.
      Thanks!
      Craig

  3. Thank you to everyone for all the hard work saving this piece of history.

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