North Florida NRHS Chapter Awarded $20,000 to Save Engine No. 1504 in Jacksonville

The North Florida Chapter NRHS has received $20,000 from Trains Magazine and CSX Corp. to fund the cosmetic restoration of Atlantic Coast Line No. 1504, a 1919-built steam locomotive on display in Jacksonville, Florida. The magazine selected the NRHS chapter for its annual $10,000 Preservation Award, which was doubled by a matching grant from CSX. Displayed at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, ACL 1504 has been outdoors for more than 50 years and is rapidly deteriorating due to exposure from the harsh Florida sun and salt air. In April NRHS named the locomotive to its 2013 "Most At-Risk" list of endangered U.S. landmarks.

This marks the first time a major Class I railroad has partnered with Trains. The award was announced during the annual Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums conference, held this year in Riverside, California.

Widely considered one of the Southeast’s most important symbols of railroad history, Engine 1504 is the last remaining original U.S. Railway Administration locomotive in essentially as-built condition. The 4-6-2 Pacific was built by Alco Locomotive Company for USRA during World War I; however, the war ended before 1504’s completion and the engine went into service for the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) railroad, powering premier passenger trains in and out of Florida.

North Florida Chapter NRHS is coordinating efforts to rescue ACL 1504 with its “Project Return to Glory.” The Trains award will fund the project’s first phase, which focuses on the engine’s appearance and stabilization. Also participating are the Atlantic Coast Line-Seaboard Air Line Historical Society, the Southeast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society and the North Florida Railroad Museum.

Additional donations to the project are welcomed and may be sent to North Florida Chapter NRHS, PO Box 16493, Jacksonville, FL 32245-6493. To contact the project, email ACL1504.NFC@gmail.com.

“We are thrilled with CSX’s participation, and we hope this is the beginning of a long-term view of this locomotive as an important keepsake of American history that needs the best care possible,” said Trains Editor Jim Wrinn. “We would love to see more work on top of what Trains and CSX are funding, a roof to shelter it, and an endowment to ensure that this treasure is with us forever.”

“Engine 1504 represents the nationwide plight of park locomotives that are exposed to the elements without adequate maintenance resources. We’re grateful to the coalition of rail history groups that have joined together to save this vital landmark,” said John S. Holmgren, president of the North Florida chapter. “Thanks to Trains Magazine and CSX, we can rescue engine 1504 through urgently needed cosmetic restoration and help ensure a bright and secure future for this historic locomotive.”

To submit an endangered railroad landmark for consideration in the 2014 NRHS Most At-Risk list, email info@nrhs.com. Deadline is April 16, 2014.