The decision to retire the 1522 back to the Museum of Transportation collection at the end of 2002 certainly took the steam enthusiast world by surprise. We thank everyone who took the time to send us emails - the outpouring of concern and encouragement was appreciated by the crew - many of whom were just as stunned as you.
The press release issued by the SLSTA is repeated below for reference. After that, the webmaster has tried to answer some of the frequently asked questions regarding this announcement in hopes that he can clarify the future of the Association and the engine. Any opinions which are inferred should be considered those of the webmaster and not necessarily of the SLSTA.
SLSTA PRESS RELEASE
On Wednesday, June 12, 2002, the St. Louis Steam Train Association Board of Directors met in a special Board meeting to assess the current situation and future prospects for continued operations of locomotive SLSF 1522. The Board decided that this would be the last season of operations for the 1522 by the SLSTA.
The SLSTA is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization established in 1986 to restore, maintain, and operate the engine. Over the past 14 years, the engine has traveled extensively across the heartland of the US, including representing Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the successor to the St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco) Railroad, which ordered the locomotive from the Baldwin Locomotive Company in 1926. The 1522 is one of the oldest main line operating steam locomotives in the country, and the only current example of a "Mountain" type 4-8-2 wheel arrangement in operation.
The action of the Board was in response to the spiraling costs of insurance, the limited accessibility to major railroad mainlines for excursions, required work on the engine to comply with newly enacted Federal boiler regulations, and the volunteer nature of the SLSTA's membership. "No matter how hard we try, how much our group wants to continue operating the engine, or how businesslike we attempt to run our organization, the simple fact is we can no longer sustain the economic requirements for operating and maintaining this remarkable piece of equipment in today's world," said Robert C. Meier, President of the SLSTA.
The 1522 is owned by St. Louis County and is a part of the collection of railroad artifacts of the Museum of Transportation. The engine and other rolling stock are leased by SLSTA from the County. SLSTA commenced rehabilitation of the engine in 1985, and has operated it on major railroads throughout the Midwest since 1988. Last year the 1522 was the motive power on BNSF's Employee Appreciation Special, running over 4000 miles from St. Louis through Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. The engine also ran an excursion for the National Railway Historical Society national convention. After fifteen years of service, the Museum of Transportation's operating steam locomotive and ambassador artifact, Frisco 1522 will be featured as a major exhibit at the Museum in 2003.
"Insurance since 9-11 has gone thru the roof and into orbit. In 1990, BN required $10 million in liability insurance, but by 2000, this requirement had gone to $50 Million. Given our court system and jury awards, the increase was not out of line, given what our society has caused to happen. After 9-11, the annual cost of an excursion policy for $50 million has risen to at least $150,000 per year. A volunteer organization running a few times a year simply cannot build a big enough train nor charge enough bucks per excursion seat to cover those kinds of mainline running costs."Let's do the math - if you get out one weekend a year, with a train of 500 seats, running a Saturday and Sunday excursion, you run a total of 1000 seats on which to recoup your costs. Dividing $150,000 by 1000 seats equals $150 per seat JUST FOR INSURANCE COSTS! Then you have to add in the cost of operating the engine, obtaining the cars, railroad operational costs, etc., and your costs are now way over $200 per seat. All this presumes your train will sell out which is a presumption you can almost never make. Sales of coach seats are difficult enough when the cost per seat is $100!
If you have an additional question not answered above, please drop us an email at
and we'll try to answer it for you.