Newly arrived

'Flying Duchess'
steam locomotive lands in La Grange

The engine is on display
as part of new train museum

Staff Report

(September 2011) – La Grange, Ky., residents may notice something new parked in the downtown area next time they pass by east Main Street. The “Flying Duchess” steam locomotive was delivered and perched on a set of track just outside the La Grange Train Depot, which serves as home to the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce at 412 E. Main St.
The chamber has moved upstairs to accommodate a new train museum on the first floor, which will now showcase the train car and a caboose that will soon arrive to accompany it.

'Flying Duchess' Steam Locomotive

Photo by DeAnna Mavrick

Workers place the locomotive onto a
set of tracks where it will be on
display and dedicated at the Sept. 16-17
La Grange Railroad & Antique Festival.

The Louisville Harrods Creek & Westport Railway Foundation, owner of the Flying Duchess, recently agreed to loan the steam locomotive to the Ohio Valley Railroad Historical Foundation Inc. for 20 years with an option to transfer ownership to foundation at any time.
Dozens of people turned out Aug. 23 to watch workers unload the huge steam locomotive. On Aug. 24, workers used lifts to set the engine onto a set of tracks ouside the depot. Foundation members plan to dedicate the locomotive during the second annual La Grange Railroad & Antique Festival, set for Sept. 16-17, according to member Bob Widman. Inside members have set up several model train displays and historical items about the county's train history. The festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at La Grange City Hall, 301 W. Jefferson St. Vendors will set up and sell memorabilia.
The steam locomotive 7745 (MEA No. 2) named “Flying Duchess” was built in England by the Robert Stephenson & Hawthorne Co. in 1952. Upon close inspection it may seem clear that the Flying Duchess was built upon the same design as the famous children’s TV character, Thomas the Tank Engine.
The Duchess is an outside-cylindered side tank locomotive that weighs about 50 tons. The design became a standard for the British Electricity Authority for use at its large power stations throughout the United Kingdom. The BEA had a requirement for locomotives capable of taking over a 1,000 ton train from a British Railways locomotive for the final stage of its journey to the coal tipplers.
The Flying Duchess was delivered to the Meaford Power Station and was operational until it was sold in the early 1970s. The Flying Duchess left the United Kingdom and was shipped and delivered to the Boyne City Railroad in Grand Falls, Mich. It is reported that when Boyne City failed, the Flying Duchess was sold and moved to Tennessee in the early 1980s.
In 2000 the locomotive again was sold and moved first to Indiana and later to a scrap yard in Louisville, Ky. Now the Flying Duchess has found a new home in La Grange.
Foundation members say they are confident that the locomotive will serve as another tourist attraction that will complement the already famous active CSX rail line that runs through the middle of downtown La Grange on Main Street.
With the move to La Grange, a fundraising campaign is already under way to restore the Flying Duchess to its glory days. Anyone interested in contributing to this effort may contact Widman at (502) 930-9430 or Jim Zimmerman at (502) 599-5101.

Back to September 2011 Articles.



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