Bellingham to seek ideas for moss-covered locomotive at city park

The 1918 vintage locomotive at Bloedel Donovan Park has seen better days.

Covered in moss and surrounded by a chain-link fence to keep would-be momentary train engineers from climbing aboard, the engine could soon get a makeover as the city looks for someone who might be able to restore it.

The city’s Parks and Recreation department plans to put out a call for letters of interest this spring, seeking ideas from people or organizations that might be able to take the engine, with the stipulation it be preserved.

“It’s important to note we don’t want it to go for scrap,” Parks and Recreation Director James King told members of Bellingham City Council Monday afternoon, April 20. “We want to enhance that history and do something more creative than let it rust behind a chain-link fence.”

The locomotive engine, originally built for the U.S. Navy, was donated to the city in 1960 by Permanente Cement Company.

In recent years, the city has heard from several individuals and groups – train enthusiasts and groups that restore pieces like the one at the park – interested in giving the engine new life.

“Those ideas vary from simply painting it up, to putting a roof over it, to completely fixing it to get it to run again,” King said.

The three-member committee said it would be fine for staff to start the surplus process for the historic train piece.

If staff members find an idea that sounds favorable, they’ll bring that back to council for approval.