Mac Widmeyer

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The Hancock News

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Locomotive 2400 after restoration by Bob Diehl in 2012. Photo by John Walker.

Some Hancock residents may remember hearing the shrill of a steam locomotive whistle, but it was not emanating from the Western Maryland Railroad that once ran through town.

This whistle came from the Widmeyer brothers backyard and their 1-1/2 inch scale, live steam engine number 2400 as it chugged around their home just off Maryland Route 144.

Completed in 1950, the 1,100 pound scale miniature of a real life 4-6-2 Pacific type locomotive measuring just over seven feet in length was constructed in the Widmeyer brothers' garage/shop using castings and components from Irene Lewis of Lomita, California.

The locomotive was painted black with a silver graphite smoke box and lettered Potomac Valley Lines in deluxe gold.

According to Hancock historians, the Widmeyer brothers, Home and Mac, operated their backyard railroad until the locomotive was sold to Jack Walley, who then moved it to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1960.

It was later sold to an individual in Idaho, then to Edmund Diehl who acquired Locomotive 2400 in 1989.

Left to right: T. Guy Reynolds, Sr., a machinist on the B&O Railroad; T. Guy Reynolds, Jr., and electrical and mechanical engineer; J. Homer Widmeyer, John H. "Johnny" Widmeyer, seated on the train; and Mac (Malvin) Widmeyer stands and looks over Locomotive 2400 the Widmeyer brothers constructed.

Diehl had Irene Lewis overhaul the boiler while he and two friends completely disassembled the locomotive to repair over 30 years of wear and tear. It was then repainted during the winder of 1995. Once the locomotive was overhauled, 2400 was frequently operated at the Chesapeake & Allegheny Live Steamers Club located in Baltimore.

Diehl gave 2400 to his son Robert who moved it to his home in Arizona where he reboilered the engine again and did a complete cosmetic makeover turning Locomotive 2400 into a Santa Fe or AT&SF locomotive.