Written by D.F. Karppi Friday, 02 October 2009 00:00
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) officially transferred two retired LIRR locomotives – No. 397 and No. 398 to the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum for display with their historic equipment collection as part of the yearlong celebration of the rail road’s 175th anniversary. The two mini locomotives – now known as Dashing Dan and Dashing Dottie – were used as “switching locomotives” in the LIRR’s Morris Park diesel servicing and repair yard in Richmond Hill, Queens.
“We are very pleased to be able to help the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum preserve yet another piece of LIRR history by adding these retired locomotives to their collection,” said LIRR President Helena Williams, as the locomotives were delivered to the museum. “As we reflect on this, the LIRR’s 175th anniversary year, we pay tribute to the LIRR’s rich history and the important role it played in the development of Long Island. Transferring these locomotives to the museum helps immortalize that history for generations to come.”
Oyster Bay Railroad Museum President John Specce said, “The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum is extremely grateful to the LIRR for the generous transfer of these two historic locomotives which will be an integral part of our equipment display area.” He added, “I wish to thank everyone associated with the transfer; the LIRR management and departments that provided the logistics for the transfer, the men who arranged for the unloading of the dinkies on site, and the volunteers of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum. They all worked together for a seamless move from Jamaica to Oyster Bay. We look forward to displaying both locomotives and the rest of our equipment starting on Oyster Festival weekend, Oct. 17 and 18 and welcome everyone to our Museum.”
The diminutive locomotives (150 horsepower) were used to “switch” or move passenger and freight locomotives throughout the diesel facility – especially when locomotives were unable to operate under their own power while in the shop for repair. The locomotives also pushed or pulled diesel coaches – passenger train cars – into or out of the diesel car repair shop and the wheel truing facility where flat spots were removed from train car wheels.
Earlier this year, the LIRR held a contest for the naming of these two workhorses long-known only as No. 397 & No. 398.
In revealing the winning entry, LIRR Senior Vice President of Operations Raymond Kenny said, “We invited the public to help properly name the dynamic duo, reflecting our history and connection to Long Island. And so, I am excited to announce the winning entry – submitted by Michael Sprintz of East Meadow. Locomotive No. 397 will now also be known as ‘Dashing Dan,’ and No. 398 as ‘Dashing Dottie.’”
His was the seventh entry into the contest. There were 420 entrees overall; two others named the cars Dashing Dan and Dashing Dottie, but he was the first. They too received prizes – tickets to see the Titanic artifact exhibition in NYC.
Kenny collects literature on the history of the LIRR, so he was especially pleased with the winning selections as the names since they were used in advertising the LIRR. “So the names are very appropriate,” he said.
Contest winner Michael Sprintz works as a pharmacy technician at Winthrop Hospital in Mineola and is a rail fan. “I am somewhat used to watching the trains in Mineola going by the station,” he said.
Sprintz’ father, Howard, is also a rail fan. “I am particularly fond of old diesels,” he said. “I’ve been a rail fan most of my life,” said Howard Sprintz, who is a supervisor at the Sleepy’s warehouse.
Rail fan Sam Berliner said the old time LIRR employees knew the cars for many years as Mike and Ike, his favored names for them.
Winning the naming contest, Michael Sprintz received a family four-pack of tickets to the Broadway show Burn the Floor. The prize was donated to the LIRR for the contest.
The “switching locomotives,” each over 50 years old, dutifully performed their functions and were a mainstay of the LIRR’s diesel repair shop landscape from the 1960s through 2006. Both locomotives were built by General Electric in 1958.
Locomotive #398 was purchased new by the LIRR in 1958. Locomotive #397 was acquired by the LIRR in 1987 from the Naporano Iron & Metals Company – a firm located in New Jersey. Each locomotive measures just over 18 feet in length, 10 feet in height and weighs 51,000 pounds.
Celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, the LIRR is the busiest commuter railroad in North America, carrying 87.4 million customers last year, with over 300,000 traveling each weekday on 735 daily trains. Chartered on April 24, 1834, it is also the oldest railroad in the U.S. still operating under its original name. The railroad is comprised of over 700 miles of track on 11 different branches, stretching from Montauk - on the eastern tip of Long Island - to Penn Station in the heart of Manhattan, approximately 120 miles away. Along the way, the LIRR serves 124 stations in Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
New York State Senator Carl Marcellino called the LIRR the backbone of Long Island’s development. “It was the best way to get here for then-President Theodore Roosevelt, who used the Oyster Bay line. He walked here or rode his horse from his home in Sagamore Hill. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to ride the railroad. When we look into all the history, these two cars helped build the railroad. I hope this museum will continue to grow and be an attractive addition to the hamlet.”
Oyster Bay Railroad Museum board president Ben Jankowski said the new equipment brings them closer to the group’s goal of making the Oyster Bay hamlet a destination location. With all the equipment assembled in their train yard, located at the northeast corner of the LIRR yard in Oyster Bay, near the Oyster Bay Marina, it is already becoming an exciting addition to the hamlet.