Excitement and anticipation were in the air on September 14, 1993 when engineer Steve Sandberg eased Milwaukee Road steam locomotive #261 back to life in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Northern type engine, painted high-gloss black, was running under her own power for the first time since her restoration. Milwaukee Road’s big Alco had been pulled from the National Railway Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin in March 1992, under the direction of North Star Rail. In record time the 261 had been torn down, refurbished, and rebuilt. Now she was ready for her inaugural excursions in Fond du Lac on the following weekend.
On the way, the big 4-8-4 pulled a short train across Wisconsin Central tracks. She started the journey at a slow break-in pace but by day three she was operating at full track speed, while crowds gathered to cheer her on. Once at Fond du Lac, #261 put on a great show, thundering up and down the tracks to Stevens Point and back. Pentrex brings you the historic inaugural excursion with plenty of smoke, steam, and the haunting sounds of a massive steam locomotive. Join us in our salute to one of America’s steam giants: Milwaukee Road #261 – Rebuilt to Run!