2101 is the engine that died and then was resurrected. We see her as she begins her new life. After a life in Reading freight service and a stint hauling rail fans on the famous Reading Rambles in the early 1960s 2101 was left to rust in a Baltimore scrap yard. 2101 was then rebuilt in just a few months to pull The American Freedom Train. She took over for Southern Pacific engine 4449 which was used for most of the nationwide bi-centennial celebration tour. 4449 was just too large for some eastern routes. We see the maiden run of 2101 following reconstruction.
In Birmingham, as 4449 draws alongside, the flags are passed to 2101. On 2101’s first day with the Freedom Train we see her rolling north along the west bank of the Hudson River though the dramatic Storm King Narrows and the famous Hoosac Tunnel and then along the Connecticut and White Rivers of Vermont. We pace her through the New England snow.
The year after the nation’s bicentennial, The Chessie System leased 2101, repainted her with bright yellow, and sent the engine on a publicity campaign to promote highway crossing safety. From Baltimore 2101 runs west along the Potomac. She then faces two of the most challenging main line railroad grades in the east: the 1.7% to Sand Patch and the 2.18% 17 mile grade to Terra Alta. Sunday River captures 2101 on each of them with a train of 19 heavyweight cars – without helpers of any kind