Following up on my previous post regarding Ross Rowland’s High Iron Company and the multitude of HICO steam excursions run throughout the east during the 60s and 70s, a very interesting operation took place on two weekends in February of ’68. HICO had advertised a series of doubleheaded trains to be run over the CNJ from Jersey City to Wilkes-Barre. The scheduled motive power was to be Mr. George Hart’s former CP G5 Pacifics, the 1238 and 1286. The region was in the grips of a positively brutal cold spell and Mr. Hart provided the 1238 and 1286 to a local hospital to help keep it warm. Reacting to this development, HICO promptly secured the use of trusty G5 sister Monadnock, Steamtown & Northern 127 (the ex-CP 1278). The 127 was perfectly capable of handling the train along the CNJ main (now NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley Line) across New Jersey; however, it was going to require assistance on the grades west of Jim Thorpe. HICO contacted the Strasburg Rail Road and CEO Mr. Huber Leath agreed to provide the 90 to assist the 127 over this part of the railroad. The 90 had been Strasburg property for only a short time at that point. Mr. Leath was justifiably concerned about operating his new locomotive on the main line but the 90 acquitted itself quite well. The cold weather presented formidable challenges to the smooth operation of these trips with an entire trainload of passengers having to be bussed back to New Jersey on the first weekend. Mr. Rowland recounts the events very well in his post.
As you look at the pictures, note the 90 still had its extended smokebox which was later modified at Strasburg.