Trains were important for many transportation needs. In addition to the shipping of produce and freight, many children wanting a high school education used the “milk trains” to get from their homes in outlying areas to the cities where high schools were located. These trains featured many different kinds of cars including box cars and flat cars for hauling freight, cattle cars, and passenger cars. A caboose always signaled the end of the train and was pulled by an engine with tender.
The cab of the locomotive is the place where the engineer and the fireman sit when the trains were running. The engineer has a seat on the right side and the fireman is on the left. It is the responsibility of the engineer to start and stop the train and to always be alert, making sure that the track ahead is clear of other trains, animals, and people.
At intersections where the train tracks crossed a road, the engineer would blow the whistle to alert people that the train was coming and that they should wait until it had passed before crossing the tracks. The engineer assumed the responsibility for the safety of every passenger aboard the train and for all of the freight being transported.
The fireman saw to it that the locomotive had enough steam to pull the load it was hauling. To do this, it was his responsibility to keep the boiler filled with water which, when heated, would convert into steam to power the engine. The fireman saw to it that wood, and later coal, was supplied to the fires in the boiler to keep it hot enough to convert water into steam. The tender was located behind the locomotive as a source for the water, wood or coal. A fireman on a run from
Manitowoc to Milwaukee (approximately 80 miles) would be required to shovel about 20 tons of coal.
On passenger trains, a conductor or brakeman was also a member of the train crew. The conductor was responsible for taking the tickets of passengers as they came on board the train. It was also his job to go up and down the aisles announcing the name of the next stop to alert passengers who had tickets for that town that they were approaching their destination.
The #321 steam locomotive was purchased by the Wisconsin Central Railway from the Rhode Island Locomotive Works in 1887. The 44-ton locomotive was one of four of the first 6-wheel switch engines they owned. #321 was used to assemble trains in the Shoreham Rail Yards in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In 1932 the tender was removed, water tanks installed alongside the boiler and a coal bunker was installed in the left side of the cab. The locomotive worked in the roundhouse area moving dead engines into the repair shops and roundhouse until 1955.
In 1957 Robert Miller of Miller Compressing Company, Milwaukee purchased the engine. Mr. Miller donated the engine and coal tender to the Manitowoc County Historical Society in 1967.
The engine was moved by the C & O Railroad aboard the car ferry “S.S. Badger” from Milwaukee to Ludington, Michigan, then to Manitowoc aboard the carferry “S.S. Midland” free of charge. The Central & Northwestern Railroad made a stall available in the Manitowoc Roundhouse where the Clipper City Model Railroad Club of Manitowoc began to restore the locomotive to its original configuration.
According to Larry Bohn, a member of the Clipper City Model Railroad Club instrumental in bringing #321 to the Village, it was noticed during the restoration process that the rear frame cross tie, a heavy steel casting, had been badly broke during some previous mishap. Although it had been bolted back together with heavy straps and bolts, the socket for the front end of the draw bar was almost completely gone, making it impossible to pull a tender and string of cars.
This may have been the reason that #321 was converted into a “shop goat” with a coupler in back. Further checking showed that portions of the left side of the engine were not original, with many of the parts being numbered for the #323 and #324 engines.
Many other parts were obviously from other engines as well and it was evident that the wheel center at the main rod crank pin had been cracked and repaired with a heavy steel strap forged around the wheel center and crank boss. These repairs indicated that at some point the engine had been involved in a serious accident, probably a sideswipe.
One story was that the engine had fallen into a turntable pit at some undetermined times, but there is no verification of this story to date. If that story is true, it would account for the broken rear frame cross tie, but not the left side damage unless it also rolled over while falling into the pit.
A flat car, which was used for hauling freight, was donated by the Allis Chalmers Company of Milwaukee. The locomotive, tender and flat cars were moved to Pinecrest Historical Village in 1975 where they were placed on Manitowoc & Northern Traction Company street car rails originally located in the City of Manitowoc.