Number 110 was the flagship stem locomotive of the Little River Railroad. It was special ordered by Colonel W. B. Townsend, so as to combine the power of a logging (Shay) locomotive with the speed of a traditional passenger train locomotive. It was further distinguished by the fact that it was the smallest Pacific type engine ever built in the United States to run on standard gauge track.
The Colonel’s wife Margaret especially loved Number 110. It took her, in her personal passenger car, everywhere she wanted to go, to New York or Chicago, or just to nearby Knoxville for a day of shopping. A portrait of the Colonel’s wife dawned the cab window and probably led to 110 being informally nicknamed “Margaret,” since it was the custom of the day to dub locomotives with a female moniker.
Constructed in 1911, Number 110 ran on the Little River Railroad until it brought the last log to the Townsend sawmill in 1939. During its many years of operation, Number 110 was in daily service. For instance, when Elkmont, a logging camp, became a tourist mecca, Number 110 made two round trips a day transporting tourists and vacationers between Walland and Elkmont. Each trip was twenty-six miles each way and the two daily trips from Walland to Elkmont were climbs of more than a thousand feet in elevation. The amazing durability and longevity of Number 110 is made even more astonishing by the fact that this “little engine that could” is still running today on a tourist railroad in Coldwater, Michigan. Fittingly, this heritage railroad, dedicated to the restoration and operation of historic railroad equipment, is named, “The Little River Railroad.”
Recently, two Michiganders, Joe and Pam Moore paid our museum a visit. They learned about us in Coldwater, where they rode the train pulled by Number 110. They stopped by to see the place from which this amazing steam locomotive derived, as well as to hear the story of its days on Colonel Townsend’s Little River Railroad. I’d like to thank the Moores for the picture above, a photo of Joe in front of Number 110, and the picture to the right, a photo of Joe riding in the passenger car.