Steam train renovation project on slow track

ELKINS – Plans to restore a steam locomotive to be used as a tourism train are still chugging along, but not as quickly as officials would like.

Randolph County Development Authority Executive Director Robbie Morris told The Inter-Mountain that the steam locomotive renovation project is currently in its third phase.

“We are working with the West Virginia Railroad Museum to help get money from the West Virginia Department of Transportation Enhancement Program to get the steam engine restored and working,” Morris said.

Some aspects of the project have turned out to be more expensive than expected, however.

During this month’s Randolph County Development Authority meeting, members voted unanimously to act on a recommendation made by Morris and reject a bid received from Sistersville Tank Works for $416,295.

Morris said the bid was for repairs on the boiler.

“You may remember we put the steam locomotive out to bid,” Morris told chamber members on Dec. 9. “Bids were due Nov. 15 and we had a pre-bid meeting on Nov. 1. There were two potential bidders at the meeting; however, only one put in a bid.”

Morris told members the monies currently available for the project were just shy of $175,000. He recommended board members reject the bid due to lack of funding.

Morris told The Inter-Mountain he is working with the Department of Highways, West Virginia Railroad Museum and Sistersville Tank Works to come up with a plan to re-bid the project out so the bids will come in closer to the funding available.

“Unfortunately, this bid exceeded the amount of funding we have available for the repairs at this point,” he said.

The next course of action could include two steps – tailoring the scope of work on this phase to include only what can be afforded with the funds available, or work to secure more funds, Morris said.

Once the steam locomotive is restored, it will be used to enhance tourism, but a decision about exactly where the train will travel has not yet been decided, Morris said.