Winter 2016 - 2017

It’s been said that, “Even the strongest blizzards start with a single snowflake”. That’s the way it is with the T1 Trust, we’re building 5550 one piece at a time. Here’s the latest from the T1 Trust to warm your heart this winter.


Second Driver Ordered


It’s back to Beaver Valley Alloy Foundry in Monaca, Pennsylvania for the second driver. On December 9, 2016 the T1 Trust ordered the next driver to be cast for T1 number 5550. This driver is expected to be cast by March 6, 2017 and represents the second half of the number 4 wheelset. This new driver will be cast in the same custom formulated Nickel Steel by Beaver Valley Alloy and heat treated to match the physical properties of the General Steel Castings 2% Nickel Steel alloy. Interested donors will find information on the T1 Trust’s driver sponsorship program here:


Prow Construction Continues


Raymond Loewy really knew what he was doing when he streamlined the T1, and the shark-nose prow is one of the locomotive’s most iconic features. The T1 Trust scanned original PRR T1 drawings from the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, and converted the archival blueprints into a (Computer Aided Design) CAD model. The CAD model allowed the Trust to cut material precisely using Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology. In this case the Trust used a CNC water jet cutting machine and aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum, the results are breathtaking.



Cab Construction Underway


Again relying on original PRR drawings in combination with modern day technology, the T1 Trust has begun work on the cab for 5550.The images below show pieces of the cab, which like the prow, were cut from aluminum sheets using a CNC machine. If you would like to make a dedicated donation in support of the T1's cab construction please send an email to





Loaded up and ready to go!



ARRIVED at Curry Rail Services (CRS) in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. This image shows all the pieces of the T1's cab on a custom built skid awaiting assembly. Among a growing list of T1 Trust corporate sponsors, CRS is the premier provider of locomotive products to the railroad industry.Pennsy faithful will celebrate the fact that the cab for 5550 is to be built in the former PRR Samuel Rea Car Shops, now occupied by Curry Rail.


Roy West Interview – Part Three


In our previous issue, The T1 Trust was pleased to bring you the second part of a multi-part interview with former Pennsylvania Railroad employee Roy West. Mr. West gave us a fantastic amount of material to work with and that interview will continue to be released in sections over the next few issues of ‘The Trail Blazer’.


The T1 Trust:Let me see here. We talked about the five stripe versus one stripe. How about the wreck of the Congressional? Can you tell us a little bit about that?


Roy West: Yeah. Well, let's see when was that? Was that '43? I think it was around 1943.


The T1 Trust: It says it was... My note here says just five days before Eisenhower's inauguration in 1953.


Roy West: Oh. No. No. That was where the GG1 engine crashed into Union Station in Washington.

The T1 Trust: Yes.

Roy West: But what happened there... That happened, let's see, Eisenhower inaugurated in '52, I joined in '56. Weld Coxe who was the guy right under the Director of Publications and all told me what happened that apparently they would check the air brakes at certain stations. They would shut the petcock between the first car and the engine and test the brakes or whatever. And apparently somebody forgot to open it and the GG1 cranked up there and barreled on down. Then when they started to getting ready to put on brakes, they had brakes on the engine, but not the brakes on 11, 13 or whatever cars behind it. Those cars just pushed that GG1. And they were able... They blew the whistle and all that and 'cause they went by the tower, they were able to alert the tower and it was too late... You see most of the end of station was a stub terminal, but there were certain tracks that went under, tunneled under the Potomac and became the RF&P and the AEL, the HCL and all those going on down, but it was too late to try to get them on another track. That thing was coming square at the... The thing now, the tower, the way I heard it, the tower phoned the station master's shack.

And if you've seen pictures of the station there in Washington, it's a barrel vault, it's not a dome. It's just straight over like half of a big barrel. But the train floor was another extension back toward for the rail stubs and well they right away phoned the station master shack and that was practically like a fire drill. I mean it was poured out and even if it slowed up even as much as it was, when the GG1 came in, for one thing it embedded the bumper block up in the roof of the outer train platform and destroyed. Just made match wood out of the station master shack. And then as it gone down in this wide train floor, before it got to the waiting room part, it started to turn sideways and that's about a 45-degree angle. And at that point, the floor gave away and the engine nosed first down into the basement of course. Now the only person killed was the fireman. I believe it was the fireman on the GG1. Now the problem was, this was four days before Eisenhower's first inauguration. I think it was his first. And one third of the train floor was unusable and just people haven't fixed because back in the days, this is before airlines has been what they were, quarter million people are gonna be coming through that station.


And of course once as soon as Philadelphia got the word, they hooked up another GG1 to the president's car and just barreled one down to DC and they got down there. Now J. Benton Jones was the vice president of operations then and I think he was later vice president. And the thing was it got down there and the engine was fully down. It was all fully down in the basement and the first car behind it was angling over. Well they have actually, apparently they had pulled the other cars back from the stub there and they were getting ready for the wrecker to come in and put the other one. That was not the problem. The problem was they couldn't get a wrecker into the position where they could've gotten to the engine and everybody's down there looking at this big hole in the ground with an inch at the bottom and one thing Will told me about that was "With that engine turning sideways incoming, it's probably doing maybe 40 miles an hour when it hit." Everybody had run into the waiting room so the big room, waiting room and the barrel, in other words, if you think of a barrel, you're cutting a 50 gallon in half and then setting the half down to the side, turned to one side, it's where the tracks came in. Everybody had run into this big waiting room to get out of the way the engine. Well the problem is it was really providential that the floor gave away because had that engine landed sideways or even partially sideways into the supports of the barrel, the barrel vault, it would have put hole in those tons of barrel vault down. In other words, it would've dropped the whole barrel vault down onto the people and it could've killed a couple hundred people.


The T1 Trust: Yeah, that would've been bad.


Roy West: And I remember that Weld Coxe who I said, told me about that. And the thing that was incredible, everybody is down there and then the big thing was how are we gonna get this thing out of there. Well, Benton Jones get sent there. This was the tiniest. The guy was... He was spoken of in hush terms. He got down there and took a look and said "Okay." He said "My problem is not the engine in the basement. My problem is a quarter million people coming through this starting in two days and third of my floor is out." And so he said "Push it the rest of the way down. Get people in here. Put a temporary floor and we'll cut it up and put it and send it up to Altoona and put it back together." which is what they eventually did. But the thing, in other words it was I have to service. In other words, I have to service quarter million people and that I always thought in years. In fact, sometimes when I'm giving talks about executive decision making and leadership. In fact, I used to use this when I would speak at Pennsylvania National Guard, essentially it's leadership school.


When I was a kid we used to go to Florida, after the war we'd drive down and there was a chain, I don't know if it still exists, called Simple Simon Pie Stores and it was decent. It had coffee, breakfast and the pies of course, but they always had donuts, but they always had with the Simple Simon up on the wall, they always have their motto which was a poem and it said "As you ramble on through life brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole." and I used to apply that to Benton Jones and the problem with the GG1. Everybody else that's there, they were all worried about the GG1, "How are we gonna get the GG1? We salvage that GG1 and get it out of the hole, above the hole. How can we do this? Benton Jones didn't give a damn about the hole, he did. In other words, he had the right orientation and of course that's why he was... I think he retired before... Possibly had he become president after Clement things. Had he become president, things might have turned whatever 'cause he is a very, very dynamic man.


The T1 Trust: Seems like he was a pretty sharp thinker.


Roy West: Yeah. Well, and thing is in other words, all everybody could see was there was an engine in the hole and pushing it down was really out of the box thinking. It was the most logical thing, but it's funny how people can be caught up. There was a famous test out at University of Chicago, the school of Applied Psychology. They did a number of experiments, but the one I remember raving about best, it put people in a room with chairs around a table and they had a pipe that was capped at one end and that end was set on a base so that the pipe stood up and they had a ping pong ball that they dropped into the pipe. And there were a number of things, coat hangers, this and that and the things on the table and what it was, these people were then were left to decide or figure out how to get that ball up out of the tube, out of the pipe. And there was also a bucket of water in the room, well eventually given the six, eight, 10 people whatever, somebody get the the idea, "Well yeah, what we do is we pour the water down the pipe to float the ball up" which they did. So they would find that. However, in other words almost always somebody eventually figured it out.


But now when they put the water in with ice, they put ice in the water and a big pitcher with glasses for everybody for drinking water, nobody, nobody got it. Very dramatic because in other words the water in a bucket was something that you could use to pour it down but it would take a real break out thinker to overcome the idea that this was not part of a... This was not for one thing not a tool or thing, this is for everybody to drink and similar things have been proven out, tested in psychology like that but... You have other questions?


You can look forward to reading the next part of Roy West’s comprehensive interview with The T1 Trust in the spring newsletter which will be released later this year.



Call to Action


The T1 Trust needs your financial support to build 5550. A variety of giving opportunities are available in the Fundraising portion of the Trust’s website opportunities include Driver Sponsorship, archival drawing sponsorship, regular monthly giving, one time donations, and membership in the PRR T1 Trust’s Founders Club. If you would like to make a dedicated gift for a specific part of your choosing please send an email to or write us at the address below.


Some donors may be less interested in month to month fundraising drives and more interested in the project's overall success. For these donors a life-income gift to The T1 Trust may be the preferred method of contribution. In order to meet this need, the Trust has established the 5550 Keystone Society. This name was chosen to emphasize the pivotal role these gifts have in making 5550 a reality. The 5550 Keystone Society is a group of PRR T1 Trust supporters who have made an enduring pledge to railroad preservation by offering a charitable life income gift to the PRR T1 Trust or by naming the Trust as a beneficiary in their estate plans. The 5550 Keystone Society is a way for us to appreciate and honor these remarkable individuals for the generous contributions they have made to secure the future of the PRR T1 Trust and PRR T1 #5550.


Members of the 5550 Keystone Society, receive exclusive benefits and confidential details about the efforts of The T1 Trust. 5550 Keystone Society members also receive a personalized certificate of membership suitable for framing, a full size print of the 5550 launch painting, the PRR T1 Trust’s annual report, and invitations to special events. For further details, or to become a member of The 5550 Keystone Society please send an email to the Trust's Legacy Manager or write us at:


The PRR T1 Trust

PO Box 552

Pottstown, PA 19464