The Coonskin Park Engine

This is the Steam Engine known as the Kanawha Class “K-4” Alco 2700 that stood in Coonskin Park for many years.  Several people have asked what ever happened to it.  Well, the story is long and sad.  It left Coonskin due to lack of interest in the engine and the deterioration that was starting to show. The engine was moved to St Albans for a while, but that's where the story gets interesting.  Instead of publishing the entire sordid affair , here's the bottom line:  The Engine was brought to Ohio by S.T.E.A.M.  from West Virginia, and was displayed on the Esber Beverage Spur in Canton, Ohio near Timken.  It was relocated to Dennison, Ohio where it was stored for years, until finally moved to the head of a track that houses a wing of cars to the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum.  Transportation Enhancement Funds were secured to restore the Engine, but the restoration was delayed due to a lawsuit over the Engine ownership.  Two court cases have since confirmed the Dennison Depot as owner, and plans are currently underway to cosmetically restore the Engine.

Coonskin Engine

Coonskin Park Train # 2700

Showing the unveiling of the Engine in 1955

Coonskin Park Train # 2700

Coonskin Park Train # 2700

Coonskin Park Train # 2700

The C&O 2700 being removed for renovation in 1972 from Coonskin Park. It was displayed in St. Albans for many years, and then sold. UPDATE:  Someone stated that the 2700 cosmetic restoration starts soon, and will be returned to her former glory from the days in St. Albans by end of October.   Let's hope that happens.

Coonskin Park Train # 2700

Coonskin Park Train # 2700

Coonskin Park Train # 2700

Coonskin Park Train # 2700

Photos courtesy of Chuck Frostick

The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum is undertaking a special project to restore an old steam engine.

DENNISON It’s been long enough.

After waiting 20 years, Chesapeake & Ohio (C & O) Steam Engine Number 2700 will undergo restoration.

The engine is currently situated at the east end of the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum after being transported from Canton in August 1997.

The cosmetic restoration will be done on site within Dennison’s Historic District, part of the Downtown Dreamsville USA Corridor linking the village of Dennison and the city of Uhrichsville.

The engine restoration is an Ohio Department of Transportation local Enhancement project, largely funded by ODOT with matching contributions from Dennison, the Reeves Foundation, the Harold C. and Marjorie Q. Rosenberry Foundation, the Leggitt Foundation, the Doris and Floyd Kimble Foundation, the Tom E. Dailey Foundation, the Brach Foundation, the Tuscarawas County Community Foundation and Wendy’s. After a public bidding process, the job was awarded to Gemini Industrial Machines of Dover, owned by Jason Johnson.

In a press release issued by the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, Johnson stated that the cosmetic restoration will include sandblasting and painting to the originally built paint scheme. Johnson has 20 years of experience restoring engines and explained, “many of the missing parts will have to be recreated and placed on the locomotive.”

The work is expected to be done by late fall. The project is estimated to cost around $150,000.

Museum Director Wendy Zucal explained that “the engine is known to be one of the most stripped engines in the country: missing gauges, valves, name plates, driving rods, windows, bell and whistle. Most of these are lost forever and will have to be recreated.”

And restoring it won’t be easy, she added.

“There were many obstacles in the road challenging the completion of this project,” Zucal said. “The Depot restoration had to be completed first, funding had to be raised twice and ownership had to be proven twice. Although it has taken far longer than ever anticipated, the community and museum have shown tremendous tenacity to keep the engine restoration on track.”

Engine’s story

The engine’s story began in World War II when the C & O turned to the 2-4-8 wheel arrangement to handle the fast freight schedule war demanded. The 2700 was the first engine of a group of 90 class K-4, 2-8- 4 “Kanawha” locomotives, the name coming from the Kanawha River which paralleled the C & O Main line. These engines were built by the C & O between 1943 and 1947 — 20 from the Lima Locomotive Works and 70 from the American Locomotive Company. The locomotives were numbered 2700 through 2789.

The very first steam locomotive in the Kanawha series was Dennison’s 2700. Specifically, the 2700 was built by the American Locomotive Company at Schenectady, N.Y. in 1943 – making it a wartime engine and perfect for the Dennison Depot Museum’s period of interpretation. Fourteen K-4 engines were built by the C & O in 1942, and they were numbered 2700 – 2713. All these locomotives had 69-inch diameter drivers, 26-inch-by-34-inch cylinders, a 245 psi boiler pressure exerting 69,350 pounds of tractive effort. Together, the engine and tender weigh 850,000 pounds, or 425 tons.

By 1952, the C & O had enough diesel engines that it began to retire the Kanawhas, though they still had service tine. By 1957, all were retired. All but 13 that were donated to various cities were scrapped.

The 2700 was retired in 1956 and placed on display in Coonskin Park in Charleston, W. Va. for many years where it was vandalized. The 2700 next moved to St. Albans, W. Va. in the 1970s where it was restored by the St. Albans Fire Department. In 1986, the engine was brought to Ohio by a group known as S.T.E.A.M. (the Silver Throttle Engine Association Museum) in Canton, where a full restoration was planned. The engine was located on the Esber Beverage spur near Timken. Parts were removed for repair and storage, but the restoration never came to fruition.

Left abandoned on a spur that the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad wanted to remove, the engine was saved at its very last hour from the scrapyards by local steam engine enthusiast and collector Jerry Jacobson, owner of the Ohio Central Railroad, who moved the engine to Dennison where it is now part of the Museum’s historical collection.

Funding for restoration was raised by the Dennison Depot in an earlier ODOT Transportation project, but those funds had to be diverted to the Depot restoration as engine ownership was questioned in two court cases in 2009. The Depot won the case and the following appeal.

Understanding the engine

As a railroad museum, Zucal explained that a steam engine on display is critical.

“Kids need to stand next to a steam engine to understand the power and strength of the railroad that built our country and changed the tide in many wars,” she explained.

The museum strategically planned a static freight train headed by a yard Thermos Bottle Engine on the Depot’s west side and a museum wing of passenger cars headed by the 2700 on the Depot’s east side to provide interpretative comparisons between freight and passenger trains for visitors.

Anyone interested in continued support of the Engine 2700′s upkeep is encouraged to join the Museum as a member of the 2700 Club. The annual cost is $27, and includes all member benefits. For information on membership and the Depot’s full calendar of events, please go to, email, follow the museum on Facebook, or call 740-922-6776.

The Dennison Depot which is a National Historic Landmark, designated for its role as a WWI and WWII servicemen’s Canteen that served 1.5 million soldiers. Dennison is known as “Dreamsville USA”, a nickname it received during the forties for its Servicemen’s Canteen that served 1.5 million soldiers, 13 percent of all armed personnel.

From the Ohio Times Reporter

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