Metro Jacksonville's Kara Holmes investigates the history of a derelict locomotive hidden behind the Prime Osborn Center.
A cautionary whistle echoes from miles away. The ground shakes as over half a million pounds of metal and cargo approach. Two steel ribbons guide the beast as it furiously races to its destination.
I am amazed at how much history Jacksonville hides beneath its growing urban core. There are countless abandoned or renovated buildings which hold secrets that may never be discovered. Some of these treasures hide in plain sight, acquiring a glance here and there from pedestrians, remaining unnoticed by the thousands passing by it every day.
In the case of locomotive 1504, it hides outside of the Prime Osborn Convention Center. Not only is it one of the few remaining USRA locomotives in its original "as-built" condition, but it is one of only 81 "light pacific" locomotives built in the early 1900's. A “Pacific Type” locomotive has four pilot wheels, six driving wheels, and two larger wheels that support its large firebox and cab. They are often referred to as a “4-6-2” by train enthusiasts.