Locomotives 1290. Courtesy of Elgin County Archives.
The Michigan Central Railway locomotives numbered 1290 and 1291 were manufactured at the St. Thomas Michigan Central shops. The locomotives were completed in July and October 1900. Manufactured as a 4-6-0 configuration and weighing in at a massive 45 tons, the cost of each engine was $18, 537.82 respectively.
The total weight of Engine #1290 was 146,700 pounds, with weight on the wheels being 112,900 pounds. The wheel base was 24 feet 7 inches. The overall length of the locomotive was 61 feet and 6 inches. 1290 had a water capacity of 6,000 gallons and a coal capacity of 12 tons. The two locomotives were built under the supervision of then Divisional Master Mechanic, Mr. Michael Flynn.
The Michigan Central locomotive manufacturing shops were located, in St. Thomas on land just south of the M.C.R. mainline that traversed southwestern Ontario, from Fort Erie to Windsor.
It took an average of two years to build a locomotive from scratch. The building of these two locomotives would have kept the railway workers at the St. Thomas shops steadily employed.
The original number for 1290 was #449 when the engine was first used as a locomotive for passenger service. Both of the locomotives later served as part of “way freight trains” on the local branches of the Michigan Central and New York Central lines, working along the St. Clair branch (St. Clair Subdivision) and the Fort Erie and Niagara Falls branch.
Locomotive 1291 made its last run from St. Thomas on January 15, 1957 while locomotive 1290 made its final run from St. Thomas on April 27, 1957. They had been in service with the Michigan Central and New York Central Railways for almost sixty years. The age of the diesel engine had taken over from the steam locomotives.
Despite efforts to save either of the locomotives from destruction, both the 1290 and 1291 were sold for scrap in 1957. The estimated scrap value at the time was $4,928.57.