Barry Scrapyard - Could it happen here?
One of the more memorable images of Barry Scrapyard
was 8F 2-8-0 no. 48305,
with a sad face and slogan "Please don't let me die"
adorning her smokebox door. Shown here in 1981, this engine was rescued
in 1985, and in 1995 she was restored to steam.
(R. Jenkins photo)
The story of the "Barry Miracle" is known the world over: 213 steam locomotives consigned to a South Wales scrapyard at the end of the British steam era, but spared the torch until, one by one, all but two of them were rescued by preservationists. By the time the last engine left Barry in the late 1980's, several locomotive classes had doubled or even tripled their numbers in preservation, while others were saved from total extinction. Almost half of the preserved steam locomotives in Britain survive today thanks to Barry Scrapyard. Despite all those years of neglect, vandalism, and stripping of parts, the majority of them will run again. A good many of them already do.
It has been suggested that to put Barry Scrapyard in American terms, it would be like a scrapyard near Chicago (Gary, perhaps?) with over 200 engines, including a handful of New York Central Hudsons and Niagaras, some Pennsy duplexes, and perhaps the unique 6-8-6 turbine, all still intact and just waiting for some enterprising preservationists to rescue them. Of course, no such scrapyard exists, at least not on such a grand scale. Our nearest equivalent would be the hundreds of engines rusting away in city parks around the country. We often seem to take for granted the generosity many of our railroads showed at the end of the steam era.
On a much smaller scale, the Virginia Scrap Iron and Metal Co. yard in Roanoke is a genuine American Barry Scrapyard. Some of the Norfolk & Western's mighty Y6 Mallets even survived there right up into the 1970's, though, sadly, they are now long gone. (Fortunately, another engine of this class was preserved.) The four steam engines that remain in the scrapyard today may not be as impressive as a Y6, or as glamorous as a NYC Hudson, but they are the last of their kind. In fact, the three 4-8-0's in the scrapyard represent half of the engines of that wheel arrangement left in this country, in addition to being the only surviving M2 and M2a class engines, the heaviest 4-8-0's ever built in North America. The 2-8-0 no. 917 is also the sole remaining Norfolk & Western W2 class 2-8-0. Like the engines from Barry Scrapyard, the fact that they have survived at all is remarkable. However, the real miracle of Barry wasn't the procrastinating scrapman who kept the engines in the yard for so long; it was the preservation effort that got them out. With your help, it actually could happen here.