The Preservation of Santa Fe 3463

The Plan in Brief

  • CSR to preserve No. 3463, developing a home base for the locomotive in Topeka

  • Plans to operate the locomotive contingent upon a technical and operational feasibility study
  • CSR to work with local and national groups to move locomotive to live rail

  • CSR tabling plans to “modernize” No. 3463

When the Coalition for Sustainable Rail announced in 2012 our plan to acquire Santa Fe No. 3463, we believed it was the ideal locomotive to determine the viability of advanced, high speed steam locomotives. We envisioned using No. 3463 as a proving ground to see if torrefied biomass fuel and other innovations could pave a new path forward for advanced steam in the 21st Century.

We still believe in those objectives, but sometimes plans change.

A dispute over the ownership of the locomotive delayed our original plans with No. 3463 nearly five years. While pursuing resolution of the ownership dispute, however, we continued to pursue its mission through other opportunities, making strides towards torrefied biomass, advanced steam, and preservation research. As of January 2018, those legal matters have been resolved, allowing us to move forward with work on No. 3463.

In accordance with our mission to preserve as well as innovate, we are initiating a plan to preserve No. 3463 as an artifact instead of a "research testbed."


What’s the plan?

In short, CSR seeks to develop a home base for No. 3463 in Topeka, move it from the park to that facility, and perform a detailed mechanical and boiler survey to scope out the work required to return the locomotive to operation. If there is a viable approach to restore and, more importantly, a realistic plan to operate the locomotive, CSR will begin the heavy work required to return No. 3463 to steam. But, we need your help to make this happen!

The locomotive was donated to the City of Topeka and moved into the Kansas Expocentre Grounds (then the Kansas Free Fair Grounds) in 1956 by the Santa Fe Railway [SHOWN ABOVE]. It has sat in the park since that time, exposed to the elements. Now with the impending renovation of the Kansas Expocentre grounds, we have a window of opportunity to move the locomotive back to the rails and ensure its preservation.

This is our step-by-step plan:

1. Planning and Logistics | ONGOING: CSR is working with local and national organizations to fund the development of a facility in Topeka, move the locomotive to that site and then start the restoration of No. 3463. 

2. Fundraising | ONGOING: CSR is fundraising towards the development of the facility and the move. The first funding priority will be to move the locomotive back to live rails, even if storage at a temporary location is required while a final home for the locomotive is developed.

3. Move 3463 from Expocentre to Live Rails: CSR will work with a national rail equipment moving company to return No. 3463 to the general railroad system. A preliminary move plan has already been developed based on proven techniques involving panel track and heavy-duty tractors.

4. Develop Home in Topeka for 3463: CSR will work with local partners, including the Great Overland Station, to develop a facility in Topeka that will serve as a home base for No. 3463. It will protect the engine from the elements and enable the general public to visit and interact with the locomotive. 

5. Detailed Mechanical and Boiler Survey & Next Steps: During this move process, CSR will continue its investigative work into the mechanical condition of No. 3463. Initial inspections have yielded promising results as to the condition of the locomotive, and CSR will undertake a detailed boiler analysis and mechanical survey of the locomotive to determine a more accurate scope to returning the locomotive to steam. After that survey is completed, CSR can make a "go / no go" decision to restore the locomotive to operation, depending on the results of that study and the feasibility of a plan to operate the engine for the public to enjoy!

Please consider helping CSR save No. 3463. We are a 501c(3) not-for-profit organization, and contributions are federally tax deductible. Please consider donating today, or reach out to us with any questions you might have.


Why the shift from modernization to preservation?

The delay in CSR's initial pursuit of rebuilding No. 3463 caused by the ownership dispute over the locomotive necessitated that CSR pursue other venues to advance its research. This led to exciting opportunities to develop collaborative relationships with other steam operators, pursue grant opportunities to fund advanced steam and biofuel research, and collaborate with groups in the U.S. and abroad concerning innovations in steam preservation. Now that the ownership dispute over the locomotive has been decided in CSR's favor, much of the research it had intended to perform with the locomotive is underway elsewhere. 

This leads to three primary reasons CSR opted to shift its focus with No. 3463: 1) availability of other locomotives to test the fuel; 2) opportunities to advance the state-of-the-art in steam engine design; and 3) practicality.

Biofuel testing on the Milwaukee County Zoo Train has provided data to support testing at the Everett Railroad.

Biofuel testing on the Milwaukee County Zoo Train has provided data to support testing at the Everett Railroad.

Regarding other locomotives: When CSR first announced its project to use No. 3463 as a testbed for torrefied biomass fuel technologies, there was minimal interest in the preservation industry at large for alternative solid fuels. Since that time, general public perception towards coal emissions has changed, and an increasing number of steam locomotive operators are investigating alternatives. CSR has developed collaborative relationships with organizations, such as the Milwaukee County Zoo and the Everett Railroad, to pursue solid fuel testing, without the need to convert a functional 3463 from oil to “biocoal” combustion, which will save significant cost. 

Regarding other opportunities: CSR was awarded a research grant with the Natural Resources Research Institute to design and construct a 100 kilowatt steam electric generator. This will use a locomotive style boiler and multi-cylinder steam engine to make the electricity, all while burning torrefied biomass. The research and development that is going into this boiler/generator is able to push the state of the art significantly, and even though it is not on the “rails,” the research with this small unit will enable us to verify the research goals we sought to investigate with No. 3463.

Regarding practicality: Our subsequent research has also pointed to a new technical approach for advanced steam which No. 3463 is not suitable for testing. Even with our initial plans, preservation of No. 3463, the only surviving member of its class, has always been a priority and the revised plan provides a logical approach to preserving the locomotive for generations to come. 


We need your help!

We want you to get involved in our project. Be it through making a financial contribution, volunteering your time, serving as an advocate, or any number of other means, your support will make the preservation and restoration of No. 3463 a reality. 



You may make a donation online by using our online donation system (powered by PayPal). You may also opt to mail a check with a printout of our donation form or simply: your full name; mailing address; telephone number; and email address (as applicable). Our mailing address is: 

Coalition for Sustainable Rail
P.O. Box 3214
Duluth, Minnesota  55803



Do you have a question or suggestion? Would you like more information on donating? Want to become a volunteer with No. 3463? If so, please do not hesitate to contact us. You may send us an email using our contact page or you can send us snail mail at the address listed above.

Other Information: