Lima Locomotive Works Shay #2147 is the centerpiece of our outside displays. Built for equipment dealer Davis Supply Company of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on April 14, 1909, #2147 is a 70 ton, 3 truck, Class “C” locomotive. First owned by Tellico River Lumber Company, a subsidiary of Babcock Lumber Company, in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, it was transferred to Babcock Land and Lumber Company in Alcoa, Tennessee following a catastrophic wreck. When Babcock began shutting down their operation in the early to mid-1930’s, #s 2147, 2149, 2762, 2890, and 2891, were sold to Little River Lumber Company.
#2147 didn’t stay long with Little River, perhaps three years and then it was sold to John Craig Company, a marble quarrying operation in Friendsville, Tennessee. In 1960 it was sold to Conasauga Lumber Company in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee and apparently was never used due to boiler issues. In 1965 it was sold to the tourist attraction, Bear Creek Scenic Railroad in Robbinsville, North Carolina. Stripped of all appliances and usable parts, it was placed beside the road at the entrance to draw attention. By 1982, Bear Creek was bankrupt, and its assets were being sold off to satisfy its debts. #2147 seemed destined for the scrapper’s torch. A group of interested Blount Countians convinced the Townsend Chamber of Commerce to purchase the engine to place on display in a yet-not-built city park. On Thanksgiving weekend 1982, #2147 returned to Townsend.
The public support and interest soon led to the formation of the Little River Railroad and Lumber Museum Incorporated. Miss Dorothy Fisher was one of the earliest, staunchest, and most generous supporters. #2147 was christened “Dorothy” in her honor. Miss Fisher’s father A. J. “Jack” Fisher had been the superintendent of the Schlosser Leather Company plant in Walland, Tennessee until it closed in 1937. The tannery needed a steady and copious supply of tanbark for its operation, and enticed Colonel W. B. Townsend and others to come to the Smokies in 1900 to look at lumbering prospects.
#2147 carried 5 tons of coal and 3,000 gallons of water. Empty weight was 121,200 lbs. (60.6 tons). Total weight fueled was 77 tons. The maximum safe speed was 19 mph. The boiler pressure was 200psi. It is set to standard gauge. Shay locomotives were designed with a unique geared drive line with the cylinders mounted vertically instead of the traditional horizontal. This provided exceptional tractive effort as every wheel was used to pull the train. Additionally, it allowed the Shays to negotiate much sharper curves than traditional locomotives making 180 degree turns in as little as a 100-foot radius. They could also climb grades up to 7% and run on light weight rail that was temporarily placed and lacked a solid roadbed. Because the cylinders were mounted vertically on the engineer’s side, the boiler was shifted towards the fireman’s side to balance the weight giving the Shay a distinctive offset appearance when viewed from the front.