Re: SP 1215 - background on CTRC's interest
Author: Ken Middlebrook
Date: 05-21-2020 - 20:31
For many years, CTRC sought a second steam locomotive to join SP2479 in a museum with the former San Jose Roundhouse as centerpiece. At one point, we were in discussions with the city of Gilroy who wanted something immediately on display. Discussions ensued with Portola who had just designated 1215 as surplus with their recent acquisition of WP 0-6-0 #165.
Ideally, the SP 0-6-0 for a San Jose railroad museum would be #1221 currently on display in Demming, NM. For most of its active career with the SP, 1221 was assigned as the San Jose depot switcher. However, a 1221 return to San Jose is unlikely.
1215 is the only surviving member from the same Baldwin production order as 1221. Acquiring the 1215 would be as close as possible to 1221. Initial CTRC thoughts were toward restoring 1215 to operation following SP2479.
The Gilroy museum proposal fell through so the 1215 was moved to CTRC's partner, History San Jose for display.
Soon after 1215 arrived in San Jose, I was contacted by CSRM gauging potential interest in Sante Fe 0-4-0 Little Buttercup. LBC started her career as a 0-4-0 tank engine on the San Francisco Terminal Railroad, Santa Fe's entrance to that city's waterfront. CSRM was very interested in seeing the LBC returned to the Bay Area but had one caveat..the engine needed immediate indoor storage. With storage space available inside CTRC's trolley barn at History Park, arrangements were made to transfer LBC ownership to CTRC.
LBC's arrival stopped any ideas toward restoring 1215 to operation.
This is a short essay on 1215 and is not intended to address the various challenges in establishing a railroad museum in San Jose over now multiple decades. Between drastic local changes in the main line steam locomotive operating environment and hurdles in seeking support from local public entitied, sharing that tale in itself, would be a multi volume production. Sadly, I am one of a handful of living individuals who have endured the ongoing process from the beginning...in 1982!
Just prior to our current health crisis, there was strong agency interest toward establishing a railroad museum at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds as a component of that facility's revitalization. Within that space, a landlocked 2 mile loop of track could be laid allowing for the operation of LBC, our 65 ton diesel,and potentially SP2479. Not an ideal situation but doable in today's operating steam locomotive environment.
Getting back to SP1215 at History Park...she is cosmetically maintained, admired by her History San Jose landlord (who happens to also be my employer) and most importantly, readily seen by the public.
And now you know...the REST of the story.