For over 60 years, former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe steam locomotive No. 1015 has been on display in Emporia, Kansas’s Fremont Park. No. 1015 is displayed parallel to and just a hundred or so feet away from the still-busy Santa Fe (now BNSF) transcontinental Chicago-to-Los Angeles mainline.
No. 1015 was built by Baldwin in 1901 as part of a group of 40 2-6-2 locomotives that the AT&SF acquired for service on the main line between La Junta, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Eventually displaced to local, switcher and work train service, the 1000 class 2-6-6’s had a long service life, with several lasting until the end of Santa Fe steam operations in the mid 1950’s. No. 1015 was donated to Emporia in 1955 and has been on display in the park ever since. Along with No. 1015, two other 1000 class 2-6-2’s survive: No. 1010 at the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento and No. 1024, fittingly, in La Junta, Colorado.
Like many of the Santa Fe steam locomotives on display, No. 1015 is paired with a tender that originally belonged to another locomotive. This appears to have been a common practice during the last decade or so of Santa Fe steam operations; as locomotives were retired, the railroad tended to equip the locomotives that remained on the roster with the larger tenders from the retirees. In 1015’s case, its present tender was originally behind AT&SF 3121, a 2-8-2 built in 1913.
A few decades after the locomotive was placed on display, it was joined in the park by Santa Fe caboose 999262. Built in 1931 as AT&SF 1983, the caboose was rebuilt for mainline pool service at the Santa Fe’s Wichita, Kansas shops in 1968. The track upon which the caboose rests was clearly a later addition to the display as it is not quite level.
Emporia’s display train is fenced and remains in reasonably good condition, having last been repainted in 2010, following a 2009 removal of the asbestos insulation from the locomotive’s boiler.