This past Saturday, a coal-fired steam locomotive named Sadie pulled into Union Station in downtown Wichita.
Officially known as Lehigh Valley Coal Co. #126, Sadie is the featured attraction for the Second Annual Kansas Railfest happening Saturday, Sept. 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the combined locations of the Great Plains Transportation Museum and Union Station at 700 and 701 E. Douglas, respectively.
It is a rare sight to have a coal-fired steam locomotive in Wichita, said Drew Meek, Railfest committee chair and a board member of the Great Plains Transportation Museum, which is hosting the event. Buckley Roofing, Allied Crane, the Big Tool Store, and Bulk Conveyors have helped sponsor Sadie’s visit.
“I have no idea when the last coal-fired steam engine was operated here,” Meek said. Most locomotives that operated in the region were oil-powered engines, he said.
Railfest-goers can purchase separate tickets to take a short train ride with Sadie pulling the museum’s vintage caboose cars up and down the tracks on the Railfest grounds, Meek said. Since Sadie is going to be in town for the next couple of weeks, ride tickets can also be redeemed Sunday, Sept. 17, or the following weekend.
Sadie is owned by Gramling Locomotive Works, run by the father-son team of John and Barney Gramling who restore steam tank engines at their farmstead in Indiana and take them to tourist railroads and museums, according to Trains Magazine.
Sadie is going to have to share the limelight with another train engine at this year’s Railfest event. Union Pacific is bringing its one-of-a-kind diesel-electric locomotive #1982 that is painted to commemorate the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The Mo-Pac Railroad played a significant role in Wichita’s early years.
Other Railfest activities include a miniature G-scale train display by the Wichita Area Garden Railway Society (the free annual garden railway tour is also happening Saturday), a toy train layout by the Wichita Toy Train Club and Museum, an outdoor market on the upper level of Union Station, and tours through the Great Plains Transportation Museum. There will be raffles and giveaways of model train sets and collectible trains, too.
Food merchants at Union Station will have Railfest specials, and food trucks are also expected, Meek said.
Railfest is the museum’s major fundraising event, Meek said.
“It was created because we needed a fundraiser and we needed something that provides outreach to the community in a manner that people of all ages and interests can enjoy,” he said. “It costs a lot of money to keep vintage railroad equipment stable in an outdoor environment.”
2nd Annual Kansas Railfest
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Great Plains Transportation Museum & Union Station, 700 and 701 E. Douglas
Railfest admission: $10 for ages 13 and older, free for kids 12 and younger. Tickets available at area Dillons and at the Union Station gates by the station plaza and inside the Great Plains Transportation Museum.
Ride tickets: Separate tickets to ride Sadie, a steam locomotive, are $10 for ages 13 and up, $5 for ages 3-12 and free for those 2 and under who don't occupy a seat. Tickets to ride Sadie can also be redeemed 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 17 and 24, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, while the locomotive is in Wichita
More information: www.ksrailfest.org