All Aboard to Restore Locomotive 1504

February 11, 2014 21 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville's Kara Holmes investigates the history of a derelict locomotive hidden behind the Prime Osborn Center.

The 1504 has been displayed outside of the Prime Osborn Convention Center for 28 years. The years spent sitting, unprotected from the elements, are beginning to show. Rust bleeds from its frame and corrosion plagues the old locomotive. Many of its metal components look as though they have been painted recently, but no care was put into the paint job.

Some of the damage is covered by what looks to be low quality spray paint, and other wounds are left untouched. A plaque, once describing the rich history of locomotive 1504 is faded and nearly illegible. Unless something is done soon, this piece of history is going to fade away into a skeleton of what it once was. No one would leave an antique Bugatti uncovered and parked in their driveway for 50 years.

Late last year, Trains Magazine nominated locomotive 1504 for a Preservation Award. It was one among many in a list of over 50 of the nation's "most endangered railroad landmarks." Not only did our 1504 win the $10,000 award, but CSX is going to match the amount, raising the total award to $20,000. North Florida NRHS Chapter has been trying to restore the locomotive, and the award from Trains is going to help fund the first steps in a very long restoration process.

John S. Holmgren, the president of the North Florida Chapter says that they "...are thrilled at the coalition of public and private organizations that have joined together to save this vital piece of railroad history," and that because of Trains Magazine and CSX, there is finally a chance to rescue engine 1504. This restoration will "help ensure a bright and secure future for this historic locomotive."

“For more information or to donate, contact the North Florida NRHS Chapter at or mail the chapter care of President John S. Holmgren at P.O. Box 16493, Jacksonville, FL, 32245-6493.”

Editorial and photography by Kara Holmes

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