The Linden Depot Museum is now open for its regular season. Seasonal hours will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. through the end of October.
This year the museum is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. The Board of Directors has announced that work has begun on a special project for this year: the building of an historic replica of the 1837 4-2-0 Norris Steam Locomotive, known as the “Lafayette.”
This will be a truly exciting addition to the museum and a wonderful attraction for Montgomery County and the Midwest. Visitors to the museum and especially rail fans and historians will be excited to experience the nostalgia of this classic steam engine.
The Norris Locomotive Company was at one time the largest manufacturer of locomotives in the world. The design of this particular steam locomotive was considered the best in this period of railroad development. The company was based in Philadelphia and produced nearly 1000 locomotives between 1832 and 1861. It was the first major exporter of American Locomotives, selling its popular 4-2-0 engines to railways in Europe.
Norris built the original “LaFayette” in 1837 for the B&O Railroad. It was named after the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de LaFayette, as was Lafayette, Indiana. This new 4-2-0 engine was the B&O’s first locomotive to feature a leading truck and may have been the first standardized production model locomotive in the entire world. Other distinct features of this model include the use of a horizontal boiler, a circular domed firebox, positioning of cylinders outside of the wheels and bar frame and ahead of the smokebox and the use of a bogie, or four-wheel swiveling pilot trucks. The “Lafayette” established the configuration that steam locomotives followed until the end of the steam era.
Everyone visiting the museum will be able to watch the construction of this engine as it progresses throughout the summer. To date, the display track on which it will reside has been set in place. The vertical firebox has been placed nearby where it awaits the arrival of the horizontal boiler to which it will be attached. The wheels have been fabricated and are waiting for dry weather to be delivered and set onto the track. The horizontal boiler will also be delivered when the ground is dry. So sometime in the next several weeks, the project will actually start to look like a steam engine!
The Locomotive and tender will be built and displayed on the museum’s display track nearest to US Highway 231. When completed, it will be easily viewed from the highway and will be lighted at night.
This project requires the talents and material contributions from many sources. The list of contributors has already begun to grow. The museum is inviting all of its visitors and especially people of the community to become a part of this historic event and make a generous donation to the museum to help fund this project. The museum is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation known as Linden-Madison Township Historical Society. The museum is operated by an all-volunteer staff; 100% of all donations to this project will go directly towards the steam engine. Donations may be brought to the museum during regular operating hours, or mailed to Linden Depot Museum PO Box 154 Linden, IN 47955, or call 765-404-8560 for credit card donations.
For further information, visit LindenDepotMuseum.org or email the museum at LindenDepotMuseum@gmail.com, or call 765-427-3630 or 765-404-8560.