WATERVILLE — The Old 470 steam locomotive may be sitting and deteriorating off College Avenue, but if Richard Glueck has his way, it won’t be for long.

Glueck, of Winterport, is president of New England Steam Corp., a nonprofit group of railroad enthusiasts, including some who are skilled in working on trains. The group is raising money to buy the historic engine, move it to Ellsworth and restore it to working condition.

“The response has been absolute, enormous, dramatic and positive, and there are people all over this country that are pumped and enthused about getting 470 back in steam,” Glueck said Monday.

Old 470 was the last steam engine used for passenger service on the Maine Central Railroad and made its final trip through Waterville, from Portland to Bangor, on June 13, 1954 — 60 years ago. It was built in 1924 by American Locomotive Co. and given to the city Oct. 28, 1962, as a gift by Maine Central Railroad to mark the 100th anniversary of its founding.

Over the years, the engine has fallen victim to vandals and harsh weather. Efforts to preserve and maintain the engine have been sporadic. The city last year built a chain-link fence around it.

Last December, the City Council voted to sell Old 470 to New England Steam for $25,000 with the stipulation that the corporation raise the $25,000 and show the city it has the money to pay for moving it, according to the contract between New England and the city.

If the funds are not raised, the corporation would forfeit title to the engine, and it would become the city’s property once more, according to the purchase-and-sale agreement.

Glueck said Monday that the cost to buy, move and restore the engine is estimated at $1.3 million, and the corporation has raised more than $25,000. The estimated cost of moving it by use of trucks and cranes is $40,000 to $50,000, he said.

“Now, we’re working on the moving,” he said.

Old 470 sits on a small piece of state-owned land off College Avenue. City councilors on Tuesday will consider approving a lease with the state Department of Transportation to continue using that parcel for the train at an annual payment of $1 a year until it is moved. The meeting is at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center downtown and will be preceded by an executive session at 6:45 p.m. to discuss real estate negotiations for an unrelated matter.

City Manager Michael Roy said Monday that the city has had a longtime lease with the state to keep the engine on College Avenue, but city officials along the way forgot about it and the lease expired a year or two ago. Roy recognized the lapse and decided the city should address the situation.

“We need to have a lease with the state to have it there,” he said.

City officials estimated last year it would cost about $1 million to restore the engine — an amount officials said the city can not afford. A committee was formed which solicited requests for proposals. Six entities, including New England Steam, submitted proposals. New England Steam was the only one that proposed keeping the engine in Maine.

Glueck said his group plans to get the engine back in working order to run excursions on The Downeast Scenic Railroad, based in Ellsworth, and the Maine Eastern, which runs between Rockland and Brunswick. Both lines formerly were owned by Maine Central, he said.

“Pan Am has agreed to move it over their tracks for us — not to operate it, but they would move it between the two railroads that have agreed to use it,” he said.

Glueck said once New England Steam owns the engine, he is confident the corporation will raise more than $1 million through grants and foundations.

Meanwhile, fundraising efforts are going better than anticipated, according to Glueck.

“There is a huge drive — very positive drive amongst individuals and businesses in the state of Maine to get the 470 in operation again,” he said. “Quite a few businesses have given us support, which is ongoing. There have been donations — we’ve had donations from every continent except Antarctica. People have donated from California, from Europe — some soldiers in Afghanistan have donated. People want to see this locomotive preserved and operated. As a static exhibit, it hadn’t done anything.”

Glueck said 470 is the last and largest steam locomotive that made its career in New England. He said he sees three benefits to moving and restoring it: It would be preserved; it would serve as an educational tool; and it would help improve the economy of the state because it would draw people to Maine from other places and draw Mainers as well.

As an educational tool, it would be used not only to teach public school students, but also those studying mechanical engineering, those honing their technical skills and those who would learn about restoration in a “huge living classroom,” he said.

New England Steam Corp. members, he noted, are not being paid for their efforts.

“This is a purely voluntary effort,” he said.

A fundraising event held in April in Rockland garnered more than $2,000 for the 470 cause. Another fundraiser to be held Saturday in Ellsworth called “Touch a Train” also will benefit 470, he said. The event will be held at the Washington Junction yards of the Downeast Scenic Railroad, where children and their parents will be able to sit in and explore diesel locomotives and a variety of old railroad cars, Glueck said. A train ride as well as displays of antique automobiles and community service vehicles will be featured.

Glueck said New England Steam members are looking for replacement locomotive parts for 470. He said they are available for sale online, but when steam engines stopped being used, parts were cut off from engines and kept, likely in the Waterville area.

“It’s not unreasonable to believe that gauges, whistles are sitting in people’s attics or garages that they never look at,” he said. “Here, they would be part of a functional restoration.”

Members also are looking for memorabilia such as family photographs, slides and documents related to Old 470, so that everything can be collected and kept in one place, he said.

Glueck said those interested in more information about 470, how to contribute items or help with the restoration may go to New England’s website www.newenglandsteam.org or email [email protected]. The corporation’s address is P.O. Box 302, Winterport, ME 04496.

In other matters at Tuesday’s council meeting, councilors will consider awarding a $347,602 contract with B&B Paving Inc. of Hermon for the city’s 2014 pavement maintenance program. Streets targeted for reclamation include Central Avenue and Cleveland Place as well as Coolidge, Highwood and Jefferson streets. Lupine and Meadow drives, as well as North Second Rangeway, would receive shim and overlay as part of the project.

The council also will consider approving a lease for a terminal hangar at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport for Aviation Appearance Plus, as well as a food license for Reed Enterprises, doing business as Sweet Frog, a frozen yogurt business, at Waterville Commons.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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