Steam Engine Big Highlight of Railroad Days

6-29-14 Steam EngineWhat was described as a labor of love by the man who built it could definitely be seen and heard during Galesburg’s 37th Annual Railroad Days.  A Leviathan 63 steam engine moved from one part of a track near the Galesburg Amtrak Depot to another Saturday. The Steam Engine was built by Dave Kloke of Elgin along with a crew. It’s based off a steam engine locomotive from the 1860’s.

Kloke tells WGIL it’s no replica in the typical definition of the word, either. It’s the real thing.

“It was built off the O’Connor prints for the [National] Park Service.  The Park Service ordered two of these engines in 1977,” Kloke said.  “I found out the prints were available, and decided to build one.”

Kloke tells WGIL he was inspired by one of Illinois’ favorite sons.

“I’m kind of a big [Abraham] Lincoln fan,” Kloke said.  “I was watching a documentary on Lincon, and I liked the look of the engine…and decided I wanted one.  I checked around to see if I could find a used one, and there’s none available.”

Kloke takes the locomotive built over ten years to train festivals around the country. Private donations brought it to Railroad Days.

“We just started building parts, and a couple of years later, we started assembling it,” said Kloke.  “It’s a great accomplishment.  We got it done, and we took it out on tour.  It ran wonderfully, and everyone was impressed with the way it ran.”

Kloke tells WGIL his love of Lincoln won’t stop with the Leviathan 63.

“We’re building the Lincoln funeral car,” Kloke said.  “A replica of it, but we’re going to make it exactly the way it was in 1864 when it come [sic] out of the shops in Virginia.”

The work will be done by next year, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. Kloke tells WGIL they’re trying to make the funeral car as authentic as possible.

“We had to get plans.  I have an engineer on staff that did most of the drawings — they started from his drawings.  There were some patent drawings available for the trucks, so we got those.  We have a guy on board…he’s kind of the foremost expert on [the] Lincoln [funeral] car.  He’s our technical advisor.”

Donations are being sought to help pay for the work on the Funeral train, CLICK HERE to find out more. Kloke says he hopes the train will make the trip between Washington D.C. and Springfield, much like it did 150 years ago.

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