ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY - The K-4 Locomotive # 1361 has attracted a lot of attention in Altoona over the years. Despite a long an expensive effort to fully restore the steam locomotive, it will be coming back as a non-working museum exhibit.
Built in Juniata shops back in 1918, this particular K-4 Locomotive long served as a symbol of Altoona and the Altoona Railroader's Memorial Museum. The Locomotive was on display for decades at the Horseshoe Curve before a comprehensive effort to refurbish and restore it was mounted. But after years of work, and a couple of million dollars devoted to the project, the K-4 remains and pieces and that restoration effort has come to an end. It was back around 1996 that the historic locomotive was shipped off to the Steamtown repair shop outside of Scranton.
Despite a lot of work done on the K-4 at that location, its clear now the K-4 Locomotive will never be back in full working condition. The board of the Railroader's Museum decided at their last meeting that the K-4 restoration effort was being put on hold. While the change will be disappointment to steam train fans who wanted to see it return to the rails, museum officials say the K-4 will still be a great exhibit. Museum officials are confident the k-4 will add to their collection and attract a lot of attention. Still because the locomotive will never be able to meet current Federal Rail safety standards and return to service of any sort, there is disappointment for those who have long been involved in the restoration effort.
The schedule for returning the K-4 to Altoona will depend on the progress of a quarter round house building that slated for construction on the grounds of the Altoona Railroader's Museum later this year. That building will be needed to assemble and protect the the new K-4 exhibit.