Steamtown U.S.A. Bellows Falls, Vermont

B&M Rail Yard, North Walpole, NH
Before there was Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA, there was Steamtown U.S.A. in Bellows Falls, VT. Steamtown U.S.A. was owned and operated by Nelson Blount and the Bellows Falls location was not the first.

Mr. Blount bought the narrow gauge Edaville Railroad in South Carver, MA in 1955. His first standard gauge locomotive was the Boston & Maine 1455. As he began to collect other standard gauge steam locomotives, it became apparent that he would need a location serviced by standard gauge tracks. So, in 1960 Mr. Blount purchased a Boston & Maine rail yard in North Walpole, NH and moved all of his equipment there. [photo] [Google Maps view Steamtown U.S.A. location in Walpole, NH]

In 1964 Nelson Blount obtained Rutland trackage rights between North Walpole, NH and Westmoreland, NH. Once again, Mr. Blount moved his steam collection from the Boston and Maine rail yard in North Walpole, NH to a new site roughly two miles north in Bellows Falls, VT. This latest location was at the former site of a proposed Rutland yard in Riverside, just north of North Walpole and Bellows Falls, VT. Tracks fanning out from a turntable provided an excellent place to display his collection of steam locomotives. Over the years, excursion trains were run out of four different locations: Sunapee, NH, Keene, NH, North Walpole, NH, and Bellows Valls, VT. For a more complete description of Steamtown U.S.A.'s early history, see this page. [Google Maps view of Steamtown U.S.A. location at Riverside, Bellows Falls, VT]

Tragedy struck in 1967 when Nelson Blount was killed when his private plane crashed into a tree in Marlborough, NH. Nelson was only 49. This event took a lot of steam out of Steamtown U.S.A. Most of the operational steam locomotives were either sold or fell into disrepair. Then, in 1970, Vermont passed air quality regulations which prohibited steam operations. Diesel locomotives were then used on Steamtown U.S.A. excursions and ridership fell dramatically. Despite the air quality regulations, the Steamtown Foundation again began operating with a steam locomotive. By 1983, Steamtown U.S.A. again had many (six) operating steam locomotives.

Despite the resurrection of steam locomotives, Steamtown U.S.A. was in financial trouble. It was determined that the main problem was its location -- isolated from any major population center. In 1984, Steamtown U.S.A. was moved to Scranton, PA. Still losing money, the Steamtown Foundation went bankrupt in 1986. Congress created the Steamtown National Historic Site and the National Park Service acquired the collection. [Google Maps view of Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA]

If it were not for Mr. Nelson Blount amassing the incredible collection of steam locomotives he did, we would not have many of the operating locomotives and museums we do have today.

The following photographs show the collection when it was displayed at Riverside, just north of Bellows Falls, VT.

Russ White Photo
From left to right (last four locomotives)

Russ White Photo
From left to right (first three locomotives)

Carl H Sturner Photo
Canadian Pacific Railways "Fast Passenger Service" locomotives at Steamtown (from left to right)

1983 Photos (Courtesy Warren Small)

More Photos From Bellows Falls and Earlier

Former Steamtown Locomotives: Where They Are Today

Over the years many locomotives have come and gone from Steamtown. The photos above contain a few of these locomotives. The list below shows many former Steamtown locomotives and where they are today.

Locomotives from Bellows Falls that are located in Scranton today

Locomotives that were not moved to Scranton

Locomotives that were sold or traded before the NPS takeover

Locomotives sold at final Steamtown USA auction in 1988

Other Former Steamtown USA Locomotives