The 261's only run in 2003 was the Fall Color Excursion from Minneapolis to La Crescent, MN on October 4th and 5th. The 261 was fired up on October 1st in preparation for the trip.
The 261 was manufactured in July of 1944 by American Locomotive Company's (ALCO) Schenectady, NY facility. The Milwaukee Road used this 4-8-4 engine for various routes over its 10 years of service. In 1954, the 261 was retired to the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, WI. In late 1991, North Star Rail, headed by Steve Sandberg, negotiated a lease arrangement with the museum to restore and run the 261. In September of 1992, the 261 was towed to Minneapolis for the start of its restoration. The 261 was ready to be fired up for the first time in 39 years on July 30, 1993. On September 15th, the 261 headed to Fond du Lac, WI for a September 18-19 excursion between Fond du Lac and Stevens Point. The years since have seen many excursions around the US as more and more people want to enjoy "the days of steam"!
Milwaukee Road 261 - The Friends of the 261