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Railcars to depart from Sewickley park

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
The H.K. Porter Locomotive and Caboose, which has been plagued by vandalism over the years, will be removed from Riverfront Park by the end of the year, officials said, because they cannot get it insured. This photo was taken on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013.

It's the end of the line for two historic railroad cars in one Sewickley park.

By the end of the year, an 1897-built H.K. Porter 0-4-0T Locomotive and Pennsylvania & Lake Erie Bobber Caboose dating to the late 1800s no longer will be part of the borough's Riverfront Park along Chadwick Street, borough Manager Kevin Flannery said.

“While it was a nice donation to put them in, it has created a safety hazard,” he said.

Flannery said he hopes to find a buyer for the locomotive and caboose.

“We'd like to find someone who wants to take them with the idea of keeping them as is — to preserve them,” he said. “We realize some might simply want to cut them up.”

Both the locomotive and caboose were placed in the park in 2000. The items were donated to the borough through the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

The pieces were part of a display at Pittsburgh's Station Square before being relocated for an expansion project. But concern over the safety of children outweighs historical significance, Flannery said.

“It's just that the liability issue is of concern,” he said. “They're very nice.” The problem is, they pose a risk, he said.

The rail car and locomotive are made of metal and have sharp edges. Flannery said children could fall and hurt themselves on the two pieces.

“It's solid metal,” he said. “(If) a kid climbs and falls on it, he's getting stitches.”

The locomotive was given to the regional landmarks foundation in 1978 by Sewickley resident Fred Okie, who was a former railroad employee, according historical data on the Riverfront Park website.

The locomotive and caboose sat in the front yard of Okie's Backbone Road home until he moved.

Okie was president of the Union Railroad and the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad.

The locomotive was made at the H.K. Porter Locomotive Works in Pittsburgh and used at the U.S. Steel's Duquesne Works.

Built in the late 1800s, the caboose became part of the Pittsburgh & Ohio Valley company, before becoming part of the Shenango Furnace Company on Neville Island.

It was retired in 1964.

Flannery said he hopes someone with railroad interests would take the two pieces.

“It has historic value, but it's not a play structure,” he said. “It would be great to see it stay where other locomotives are or with a historic buff.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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