"Like the Phoenix of Greek mythology, the John E. Manley (No. 3051) is a reborn thing. Beginning its first life in the shops of the Electromotive Division of General Motors at LaGrange, Illinois, and designated a general purpose (GP) diesel-electric locomotive thirty-five, it came to reside and run on the tracks of The Alaska Railroad (ARR) in 1965 as No. 2503. However, fate was waiting in the form of a river called Susitna into which No. 2503 and sister units plunged on a fatal day in 1977. The derailment and subsequent wreck were caused by an undetected mudslide which had buried the tracks. The engines were pulled from the "Big Su" and hauled to the ARR heavy repair shops at Anchorage. The most heavily damaged unit, No. 2503, was destined to be transformed by the magic of fire and ARR craftsmen into a new, more powerful diesel-electric locomotive. The change was started in 1978 and completed in 1980 with the emergence of the freshly painted unit. (The paint scheme was designed by Chester Mack of Yorba Linda, California, who was also the designer of the ARR bicentennial engines and caboose paint schemes.) It was designated ARR No. 3051 and named the John E. Manley after one of the more illustrious general managers of the railroad who still resides in Anchorage. The unit had become a 3000 H.P., GP-40 dash 2, and ready to take the point of a train.
Fate again intervened, for shortly afterward a collision with a truck put the John E. Manley back into the shops and out of service. Eventually repaired, it is alive and well; as can be attested to by the cachet artist who used a very recent photograph of ARR No. 3051 as a basis for his artwork. As does the John E. Manley live, so does The Alaska Railroad-The McKinley Park Route." -- Robert E. Hiller, Jr., ARRFAN, 1983
In 1977 number 3051 was rebuilt and renumbered 3021. It was retired in 1995 and sold to Susan Wilson for $3,021 as a Christmas present for her husband Mike. She planned to add number 3021 to their exisiting railroad accommodations (two Pullman cars, a caboose and water tanker) at the Forget-Me-Not Lodge and Aurora Express. Mike in turn had it delivered to Susan as a Valentine's Day present.
Getting the locomotive to their lodge would be no small task. The engine and trucks were removed. Fifth wheel adapter plates were welded in place where the trucks normally go and two semis backed under it. It was then moved approximately eight miles to Mike's back yard.
Mike Wilson's status report of 3021 (as of 1/11/00): "Since we have purchased locomotive 3021 we have moved it to our property on chena ridge, Fairbanks Ak. We plan to renovate the car in the near future. It will be a suite at the Forget Me Not Lodge Aurora Express. We don't think it will be finished this summer, but it may be finished the next."