Michigan Iron Industry Museum sends off one of oldest steam locomotives to be restored

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NEGAUNEE, Mich. (WJMN) – The Yankee was built in the 1860s and once hauled iron ore at the Jackson Mine in Negaunee. Today the 150-year old locomotive is around 60 percent intact, but soon it will be fully restored to its original condition.

The locomotive is made from cast and wrought iron, steel, and a mix of soft and hardwoods. It is just over 12 feet long, about 9 feet high, weighing an estimated 8,000 pounds, according to the Michigan Department of Resources.

“The Yankee was the first vertical boiler locomotive used on Michigan’s iron ranges,” said Barry James, historian for Michigan History Center and Michigan Iron Industry Museum. “It really represents a time period where the Upper Peninsula was adapting to the most modern mining techniques of the world at the time.”

“What it really represents is the coming of steam and the industrial revolution in Michigan’s iron ranges. [It’s] a rare artifact that will really allow us to interpret technology of the time period, and how the engine was used in the Jackson mine,” said James.

The Michigan Iron Industry Museum received $120,000 in funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. However, the project will cost about $200,000 to fully restore the locomotive. It is being sent off to the B.R. Howard Conservation and Associates workshop located in Carlisle, Pa.

“The ‘Yankee’ steam locomotive is in poor and unstable condition having actively corroding iron, fungal decay of all wooden components, and actively flaking paint in areas which still retain paint,” according to a B.R. Howard Conservation report.

The restoration of the locomotive is estimated to take one year. The Yankee will then be permanently displayed inside the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.

For more information on the Yankee, you can click here.

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