Restoration of the D. B. Harrington is chugging along

Posted on July 16, 2018

A generous gift from Christine Bottomley Gaffney kicks off the local funding for the restoration phase of the D.B. Harrington train. Mrs. Gaffney’s gift has significant personal meaning as it’s being made in memory of the original Port Huron Museum D.B. Harrington acquisition committee (circa 1990).

A long time enthusiast to help preserve our area’s history, the preservation, restoration, and proper public display of the locomotive is a “no-brainer” for Gaffney. Finishing the restoration of the D.B. Harrington will culminate years of effort and interest by her dear friends and family, many of whom are no longer with us. To that end, she knows that the D.B. holds deep meaning for not just her, but also for several others who have toiled endlessly to preserve the heritage of the Blue Water Area. She also hopes that, because it is a miracle the train has survived to the present, that it should be our duty to make sure that it survives for future generations to enjoy.

Mrs. Gaffney’s generosity, in addition to two recent Community Foundation donor advised fund grants, have brought the project to within $15,000 of its goal.

Work on the Daniel B. Harrington, named after the railway enthusiast who named Port Huron, initially began with grant funds received from Canadian National Railway’s community impact program. This grant allowed the rare 1878 locomotive to move to the campus of SC4 for cosmetic restoration. It will be cosmetically restored to look the way it did toward the end of its run through the Blue Water region.

A timeline and permanent home for the finished piece of history is not set yet, but this Michigan treasure will no longer be hidden away from the public.

Interested in supporting the restoration work? Restoration highlights include replicating the smokestack, recreating the cowcatcher, restoring the tender and the cab, and finding a whistle.
The smokestack it has now is a later version, a giant funnel used as a stationary boiler.

This gift is in memory of the Port Huron Museum D.B. Harrington acquisition committee:
• Thomas John Gaffney, her beloved husband, local historian and former Port Huron Museum Board Member
• John W. Knecht III, a local railroad historian, long-time friend and Co-worker
• Orville J. Swick, a long-time member of the Bluewater Council of the BSA and former Pere Marquette/ C&O Railway employee and family friend
• James McDonald, a long-time Port Huron Museum Board Member and friend
• Frank Koob, a local rail historian and friend


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