Climax over Leatherbark Creek. Darkening the sky like an approaching storm, the former Moore-Keppel & Co. Climax #6 charges toward the short trestle over Leatherbark Creek, just outside the logging town of Cass, West Virginia.
Of the three major types of geared logging locomotives, the Climax is the rarest. There are just three of these beasts in active service as I write this. One in New Hampshire, one in Australia, and the one seen in this image, freshly restored to operation after nearly a decade's worth of effort. Built originally for the Moore-Keppel & Company in 1919, this 70-ton, 3-Truck, Class B Climax served the lumbering operation as their #6 for about 20 years, before the owners closed up shop. She was then sold to the Middlefork Railroad in Ellamore, WV, where she hauled coal for another 20 years, also as #6, finally retiring in 1960. She was sold to the State of West Virginia in 1970 for use at the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, but alas, she was severely damaged in an engine shop fire before she could be restored, and she then spent several decades as a basket case. In the early 2000s, the Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Society began a serious restoration effort with volunteer labor. The process proceeded slowly but steadily over the next decade, and was ultimately taken over by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, which is the current operator of the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. The restoration was finally completed in the late summer of 2019....well sort of. She's currently borrowing the turret from M&K Climax #3, so her boiler pressure will be limited to 150 lbs, until new parts can be made. She's also lettered for Moore-Keppel, but instead of her original #6, she carries her Cass Scenic Railroad number, which is #9. It is expected that this engine will be used primarily for special events, as she is a bit too light for the regular tourist trains at Cass.
Photographer's note: Although I've attended at least a dozen steam events this year, quite frankly, it's been a while since I shot anything that really got me excited. Big Boy was pretty neat, but it reminded me too much of a diesel. THIS is what an exciting steam scene looks like. LOUD stack talk, a dark, sunlit plume and an idyllic, natural setting devoid of automobiles and foamers. After this train passed and the roar had subsided, another photographer turned to me and said: "I think I need a cigarette..." LOL! The manufacturer of this locomotive picked a very appropriate name for it! :)