WINNSBORO — The S.C. Railroad Museum held a V.I.P. ride for members of the community and news media to reacquaint them with — or in some cases introduce them to — the chug of a steam-powered locomotive as it headed toward one of the granite quarries that put Winnsboro on the map.
For that Nov. 3 weekend, around 480 people attended the steam engine rides courtesy of “Hank the Tank” steam engine that also pulled patrons on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10. Hank, The Flagg Coal #75 engine, took participants to Greenbrier, nearly a six-mile round trip.
The locomotive is a 1930 Flagg Coal Vulcan 0-4-0T No. 75. For the journey, Hank had a little help, though. The whistle used on the No. 75 comes from the No. 44 locomotive, a Hampton and Branchville model built in 1927 by Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia.
The goal of the S.C. Railroad Museum is to restore the No. 44 to working order as the museum’s operating railroad. Since 2009 museum volunteers have done fund raising to that end.
One tool to generate enthusiasm and show the public what possibilities the No. 44 could bring to Winnsboro are these trips and interactions on the No. 75.
Rufus Tims with the museum said train enthusiasts come from all around to ride cars pulled by the steam locomotive along the Rockton Rion Western Railroad.
For serious train buffs, the steam locomotive activities continue this weekend with the museum’s Engineer Experience. Participants receive one-on-one instruction and then have a turn to drive the No. 75 locomotive under the supervision of Railroad Museum staff.
Sessions last around 25 minutes and they are limited to around 18 people per day. The event is first come, first serve, so contact the museum at www.scrm.org or call 803-445-6751 for more information to book a turn at driving the locomotive approximately two miles along the tracks.
Participants must be 21 or older and be in good health. Museum workers also caution about coal burning steam locomotives regularly emitting smoke, soot and cinders. People are asked to dress for those conditions. Other upcoming train events include Santa trains that start Nov. 30.