ATSF 3463

Lawsuit Regarding Santa Fe Steam Locomotive Settled, CSR Rightful Owner of ATSF 3463

On July 6, 1948, Santa Fe steam locomotive No. 3463 rests between runs at Dearborn Station. Photographer unknown, from the collection of Warren Scholl, colorized by Jared Enos in 2015.

T O P E K A, K A N S A S | January 23, 2018 –  The ownership dispute over former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway steam locomotive number 3463 (ATSF 3463) has been settled by an agreement of four parties, with ownership finally vested in favor of the Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR). An agreement between CSR, the City of Topeka, the Attorney General of Kansas, and the Great Overland Station ratified last week clarifies that the 1937-built steam engine is the property of CSR. The Minnesota-based not-for-profit also announced this week that it will be shifting its goals with the locomotive from research to preservation.

“We are thankful to the hard work and dedication of the City of Topeka, the Kansas Attorney General, the Great Overland Station and, certainly, the outstanding team at Frieden, Unrein, and Forbes, LLP, that handled this unique and challenging case,” said CSR President Davidson Ward. “We look forward to continuing our work in Topeka, especially as we announced today our shift in plans for the one-of-a-kind locomotive from solid biofuel testbed to preserved artifact.”

When CSR initially announced its biofuel and steam technology project in mid-2012, it had sought to use ATSF 3463 as a centerpiece of the research and as a showpiece of the technology. This plan was put abruptly on hold in 2013 due to an ownership dispute over the steam engine, and CSR leadership pursued other avenues to keep the research progressing despite the delay.

“Instead of hoping and waiting for the lawsuit to be resolved in our favor, we decided to continue our pursuit of solid biofuel, steam locomotive, and advanced steam technologies,” said CSR Senior Mechanical Engineer Wolf Fengler. “Now that those initiatives are well underway, vetting the theories we had hoped to prove with the Santa Fe locomotive, we have opted to table our plans to modify the engine as a testbed. Instead, CSR will work with collaborators in Topeka to ensure the locomotive is moved, preserved, and, if practical, restored to operation.”

CSR will work with collaborators in Topeka to ensure the locomotive is moved, preserved, and, if practical, restored to operation.

CSR is launching a program today to ensure that ATSF 3463 is properly preserved. The goal is to raise funding to move the locomotive from the Kansas Expocentre grounds to a location in Topeka where it can be preserved, develop a covered home base for the locomotive in Topeka, and determine whether there is a viable case for returning the locomotive to steam as a preserved artifact. Depending on the outcome of the "go / no go" decision regarding operational restoration, CSR will either pursue overhauling the locomotive to operation, or perform a cosmetic restoration to return it to its appearance when donated to the City in 1956.

“The ultimate goal is to ensure the locomotive has a future where it is properly preserved, be that as an operational locomotive or as a static display,” explained CSR Board Member and Santa Fe Railway Historian Warren Scholl. “Now that the ownership of the artifact has been clarified, we look forward to working with all partners, local and national, to ensure the safe future of ATSF 3463.”

Steam Train Lawsuit Receives Clarity, CSR Position Regarding ATSF 3463 Validated

T O P E K A,  K A N S A S | April 11, 2017 –  Shawnee County District Court has ruled in favor of Sustainable Rail International d/b/a Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR) in its case concerning quiet title of the former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) steam locomotive No. 3463. District Court Judge, the Honorable Larry D. Hendricks, released a detailed decision concerning the case Wednesday, March 29, 2017, in which he finds that defendant Topeka Children and Santa Fe Railroad, Inc. (TCSFR) has no standing to remain in the lawsuit.  This decision paves the way for CSR to enter negotiations with the City of Topeka concerning the locomotive.

“Now that the court has determined that TCSFR does not have sufficient standing to remain in the lawsuit, we look forward to working with the City of Topeka to resolve the matter,” said CSR President Davidson Ward. “Of specific importance to CSR is outlining a realistic path forward that provides for the preservation of No. 3463 and a secure facility in Topeka for it to call home.”

CSR’s ownership of No. 3463 was first challenged by the TCSFR in April 2013 who, at that time, claimed absolute ownership of the locomotive. Following months of unsuccessful attempts to meet with TCSFR about its claims, CSR filed suit in May 2014 requesting a legal determination as to ownership of No. 3463. Shortly after filing suit, TCSFR reversed its position of outright ownership, claiming instead that they were trustees of a trust to protect the locomotive, and that the City of Topeka was the rightful owner, thus drawing the City into the suit as a Party Defendant.

“Through his decision, Judge Hendricks plainly sets forth why each of TCSFR’s arguments fails as a matter of law. While we were confident in our position, the decision clearly supports CSR and the filing of this litigation,” said outside counsel to CSR Matthew Bergmann, of Topeka-based Frieden, Unrein and Forbes, LLP.  “We are extremely pleased with Judge Hendricks ruling.”

Of specific importance to CSR is outlining a realistic path forward that provides for the preservation of No. 3463 and a secure facility in Topeka for it to call home.
— Davidson Ward | CSR

Though the project with No. 3463 has been on hold since 2013, CSR has worked diligently to refine its focus in both the preservation field and the steam and biofuel arenas in response to changing market conditions. Not only has the organization been retained to assist railroads in Germany and the U.S. with matters concerning steam locomotive preservation, but it has also been working with research collaborators at the University of Minnesota to further advance fuel and boiler technologies. 

Locomotive 3463 Prepped to Roll

Towards the end of June, CSR completed a successful trip to Topeka to prepare locomotive 3463 for its first big trip in 57 years.   In just a few day's time, the crew drained and inspected all of the locomotive's roller bearing axles and refilled the boxes with new oil.  Following that work, the crew removed key side rods, inspected all of the running gear and cleaned / re-lubricated all necessary parts.

A detailed description of that work performed can be found at this link or by clicking the image at right.  

CSR is in discussions with appropriate parties concerning the move of 3463 out of the Kansas Expocentre Grounds.

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Proof is in the Picture

These shots before and after CSR's cosmetic restoration and stabilization of locomotive 3463 communicate the importance of properly maintaining rail equipment, both from the perspective of preserving the rolling stock to improving the value it has in the community. To CSR, the cosmetic restoration will ensure no further degradation occurs to the locomotive prior to its move to Minneapolis for reconstruction.