UP steam engine gets money for restoration

Posted at 12:20 PM, Oct 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-15 12:23:54-04

NEGAUNEE, Mich. — A Civil War-era locomotive in the Upper Peninsula will be getting a much needed face lift.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services sent $120,000 to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum this month. The funds will cover the expense of restoring a vertical boiler locomotive named “Yankee.”

Miners pose with the Yankee locomotive at the Jackson Mine, Negaunee, circa 1880. Credit: Archives of Michigan.

The steam-powered device was built in Ireland back in the 1860s, and was one of the first two engines to ever reach the Upper Peninsula in 1868. Now the Yankee is believed to be one of just three surviving models in the world.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, steam engines like the Yankee helped the U.P. lead the nation in Iron Ore mining from 1850 to 1890.

But ever since being decommissioned, the Yankee has been sitting outside. The elements, wearing down on its 150-year-old parts. About 70% of the engine is still intact, with 60% of it made up of original parts.

The state of Michigan took ownership of the Yankee in 1986, moving it to the Museum for display. Now the plan is to hire an outside firm to restore the Yankee, and move it inside. Work is expected to start next year, and last up to 12 months.