The ICC Locomotive #802

The Isthmian Canal Commision #802
now on display at Alaska RailRoad's office in Anchorage, Alaska.

Engine #802: 4 of them were built by Davenport Locomotive Works as a narrow gauge 0-4-0 ST in October 1907 at the cost of $3,163 each. They were numbered 801 to 804.

This locomotive (802) and other narrow gauge equipment were transferred from the Panama Canal to the Alaska Railroad Commission in 1917. The 802 became Alaska Engineering Commission No. 6 and was converted to standard guage in 1930 and renumbered to No. 1. Engine 802 was one of 4 ordered to be used in the construction of the Miraflores Locks. There were at least a dozen or more other narrow gauge locomotives to be used at Gatun and Pedro Miguel. Incidentally there were also a few electric narrow gauge locomotives used only at Gatun cement plant. The French had about 12 half-meter gauge (aka Decauville) steam locomotives that they used in the actual excavation of parts of the canal.

All of the n.g.locomotives ordered by the ICC were confined to use in the construction of the three locks. They hauled cement from batching plants, in skips on flat cars to points where they could then be picked up and the cement used in the gigantic wall monoliths. They also hauled other material steel,for the gates, lumber for forms, etc. Most all of them were disposed of in about 1914.

None of the U.S. n g locomotives were used in the excavation of the channel in the lake section or in the cut. The Decauville locomotives were acquired by the U.S. from the French and were used at many different locations on small excavating jobs and small construction jobs, mostly to haul building materials. A few of them escaped destruction and were purchased by private people to be used in banana business, sugar business, and possibly mining ventures in Panama.

In 1994, Bob Yost volunteered to restore the locomotive because it was in very bad condition. It was removed from the pedestal and taken to the railroad shop in Anchorage. He then dismanteled the locomotive completely down to the top of the rails! He spent many hours working on all parts of the locomotive. Some parts were built brand-new like the cab, a new water tank was built. He also installed new brasses and new bushings in all connecting and driving rods. This work was all done on his own time with very little or no assistance from anyone else. Some tasks were given to various local machine shops and contractors who cooperated by donating their time, machines and materials.

Article by A.M. Bouche