We are pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Riley as LASTA’s next Chief Operations Officer/Chief Mechanical Officer. Mr. Riley will oversee day-to-day operations, implementing the organization’s strategic plans. In addition, working closely with our Read more…
Southern Pacific #745 (SP 745) was built at the Algiers, Louisiana shops in 1921 and is the sole surviving Louisiana-built steam locomotive. SP 745 served as a workhorse for the Southern Pacific, hauling freight and pulling troop trains during World War II.
The post-war downturn and the demand for diesel engines cut short the life of most steam locomotives, including # 745. In 1954, with only thirty-plus years of service, she was retired to a display track in Aubudon Park.
After 28 years on static display in the park, in 1984, Audubon’s plan to expand its zoo necessitated the removal of the engine. A group called the Old Kenner Railroad Association (OKRA) managed to get the engine donated to its care and removed it from the park.
Breathing new life into a neglected 70-year-old steam engine is a challenging task. By 1997 some dedicated volunteers formed the Louisiana Steam Train Association to restore 745 and period passenger rail cars. Along with some professional help, private and public grants, they finally got the wheels turning. In December 2004, 745 conducted its first main-line operations in 48 years, running to Reserve, LA and back over the Kansas City Southern Railway. Since then, SP 745 has toured Louisiana, southwest Mississippi, and even one long trip to Kansas City
For the next 15 years, 745 operated in and around New Orleans and was featured in several motion pictures. In 2019, the locomotive was removed from service for a boiler rebuild ( requested every 15 years or 1472 operating days). We have been recently awarded grant funds that will cover most of the costs and expect the rebuild to start in early 2024.
Meanwhile, LASTA’s volunteers are working toward a new permanent home for its operations, where 745 can be publicly displayed and operated with dignity and pride.