N.H. is selling the historic Flying Yankee train

The Flying Yankee was a mainstay in Concord before ending passenger service in 1955.

The Flying Yankee was a mainstay in Concord before ending passenger service in 1955. Courtesy

Interested bidders of the Yankee Flyer’s carriages, trucks and other components can visit on Nov. 15.

Interested bidders of the Yankee Flyer’s carriages, trucks and other components can visit on Nov. 15. Courtesy

By DAVID BROOKS

Monitor staff

Published: 11-04-2023 8:00 AM

Does anybody want to buy a historic locomotive?

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation is accepting proposals for the “purchase, relocation and encouraged preservation” of the Flying Yankee, an eye-catching train that called Concord home for two decades before ending passenger service in 1955, which has been languishing up north since the 1990s.

Efforts to raise private funds to bring the Flying Yankee back to Concord as a centerpiece for a transportation museum fell through in 2017 and efforts to do something with state funds have never garnered much support. So the state is selling it off.

The Request for Proposals and other information including location maps, inventory form, and draft historic covenants, are available on the Department’s Cultural Resources webpage at: dot.nh.gov/projects-plans-and-programs/programs/cultural-resources, under the heading “The Flying Yankee Information and Documentation.”

The Flying Yankee was one of a handful of trains built with the eye-catching stainless steel “streamliner” design. From 1935 to 1955 racking up 3.5 million miles carrying passengers and freight throughout the Northeast for the Boston and Maine Railroad, during which time it was maintained at the South Concord Shops, which employed thousands of people between South Main and Water streets.

The Flying Yankee and its few streamliner brethren such as the California Zephyr shared sets of wheels among the locomotive and the first two passenger cars. This made the train lighter but also made it harder to reconfigure for different jobs and hard to fit into some rail yards, which is why the design was eventually abandoned.

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It traveled under various names, depending on the route. As the Flying Yankee it went south-north between Boston and Bangor, Maine; as the Minuteman it went east-west from Boston to Troy, N.Y.; as the Mountaineer it was a ski train between Boston and North Conway; as the Newsboy it went to Fitchburg, Mass., and back; and as the Cheshire it traveled up and down the Connecticut River.

The Flying Yankee was retired in 1957 in favor of diesel trains. Boston and Maine gave it to the Edaville Railroad museum operation in Carver, Mass., where it was displayed until Bob “Stony” Morrell, owner of Story Land in Glen, bought it in the early 1990s. He had it moved and started repairing it, with an eye toward having it travel around as a rolling museum, but Morrell died of cancer at age 50 in 2006 and the work wound down.

The train, which can no longer travel under its own power, ended up at the Plymouth and Lincoln Railroad, better known as the Hobo Railroad, and has been stored in Lincoln since.

At one point the private Flying Yankee Restoration Group wanted to buy the locomotive and two attached cars and bring them to Concord to be displayed on rails near Big Jim’s Home Center, which occupies a former B&M building. Their long-term dream was to create a transportation museum that also featured Concord Coach and spacecraft related to Alan Shepard. But lack of funds squelched that plan.

Interested bidders can inspect the carriages on Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 10 a.m to noon in Lincoln, while its trucks and other components are available for inspection the same day from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in Twin Mountain. Attendees are encouraged to wear closed-toed footwear.