Greenidge gives locomotive to rail museum

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express

After trip over highways, Locomotive #8666 to be restored to former glory in Lehigh Valley Railroad colors 

Leaving its home of many years, the Greenidge electric plant's old yard switcher locomotive No. 8666 is headed to a new home at the historic Williamsville Depot near Buffalo.

DRESDEN – With no more use for coal handling equipment at the Greenidge Electric plant, Greenidge Generation was convinced by a dedicated group of rail enthusiasts to “rehome” the old switcher engine that sat disabled and disused outside in the now disconnected remnants of the Greenidge railyard.

The Western New York Railway Historical Society is happy to receive Greenidge’s donation of their old yard switcher diesel locomotive for a static display at the restored Lehigh Valley Depot located at 86 South Long St. in the village of Williamsville near Buffalo. 

“We are proud to have the opportunity to donate Locomotive 8666 to the museum,” said Paul Lucas, Greenidge’s Gas & Safety Manager, “and see it go to a fine home where it will become a point of interest & enjoyment for people of all ages.”

The 115-Ton locomotive was originally built in December 1950 for the Lehigh Valley Railroad, numbered as #252. This diesel locomotive will be restored to its original Lehigh Valley paint scheme once it is moved and placed on display at the depot.

As there are no longer any active railroad line near the depot, the locomotive was loaded on a massive heavy-haul trailer Monday, April 26 at the Greenidge power plant in Dresden and transported by Southern Tier Express with special DOT permits for the 120-mile road journey to Williamsville on Tuesday morning, April 27. The locomotive arrived at the depot later that afternoon.

A crew from Winters Rigging of North Collins brought a large crane and two smaller  “sidewinder” cranes to lift the locomotive’s body (the cab and the diesel powered generator) from its two electric motorized trucks. Each truck was placed on a separate flatbed trailer and hauled to the depot Monday. Then the three cranes together lifted the body of the locomotive high enough for the articulated camel-back trailer underneath it. The arched bed of the trailer immediately flattened out under the 100 ton body. The rest of Monday was spent securing the immense load to the satisfaction of NYS DOT inspectors.

Tuesday morning saw a cadre of escort vehicles and N.Y. State Troopers to safeguard the old loco’s trip south through Watkins Glen to I-86, then westward to Salamanca, and then north to its final destination. The Winter Rigging crew again moved No. 8666, this time from the trailer to the display track next to the historic Williamsville Depot where it joins the Arcade & Attica RR Boxcar and Lehigh Valley Caboose on the siding. The public were invited to the depot to be part of this event Wednesday morning.

The historic Williamsville Depot was constructed in November 1896 by the Lehigh Valley Railroad and served the community for many years. The last passenger departed from the depot in the early 1940s, but continued to service the freight needs of local businesses until the line was abandoned by the railroad in 1977. The Society acquired the depot from the International Chimney Corporation who had saved the depot from demolition in 1990 and has restored the depot to its original appearance.

“The Society wishes to thank Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa and Erie County Legislator Jeanne Vinal for their monetary support for the project, along with many individual donors that made this project become a reality after nearly three years of hard work by our Williamsville Depot crew. We still need to raise funds to restore the locomotive paint and tax-deductible donations can be made to: WNYRHS, Inc. 100 Lee Street Buffalo, NY 14210.”