The locomotive was acquired by White Pass and Yukon Route in 1898 and became the first locomotive for the railway. It was used in the construction of the White Pass Railway, between Whitehorse and Skagway, Alaska. It also intermittently hauled passengers and freight but lacked power for the mountainous route.
The locomotive was rebuilt in 1900 with a larger Baldwin boiler and larger steam cylinders, which changed the locomotive dramatically. The frame and wheels stayed the same but the entire upper part of the locomotive was new. The cab was rebuilt in order to accommodate the larger boiler. This change gave the engine more horsepower and it was renumbered No. 51 by the White Pass and Yukon Route. The locomotive was used by the White Pass and Yukon Route on their main line between Whitehorse and Skagway from 1900 to 1919.
Later the locomotive was moved to the Taku Tramway, a 1.5 mile rail line between Lake Tagish and Lake Atlin. There No.51 replaced the locomotive 'Duchess' and was used until 1931. After 1931, the locomotive was returned for sporadic use on the main White Pass and Yukon Route line, though it had been replaced by much more powerful locomotives. It eventually was retired to the south end of Whitehorse until 1958, when it was moved to the MacBride Museum of Yukon History yard. A plywood cab was built while it was in the yard and coated with a rustproof gray paint. It is currently being preserved.
The coal and water tender for Locomotive 51 was manufactured by Brooks Locomotive Works in Dunkirk, New York in 1881. The dimensions are 5.5 meters long x 2.1meters wide x 2.45meters high, the weight is 38,100 pounds, the tank capacity for water is 1738 gallons, capacity for coal is 3 tons, and the wheel diameter is 24 inches.
The purpose of the tender, the train cart behind the locomotive, was to provide water for the locomotive to convert to steam. It also provided a container for wood or coal for the firebox of the locomotive. There was a water line attached to the water tank of the tender that brought water to the locomotive via a steam operated pump. The tender tank was usually filled from overhead water tanks. The coal or wood was loaded from a chute, or by hand.
Locomotive and tender were usually manufactured for use together. Therefore up until 1958, the tender has the same history as the Locomotive 51. When the locomotive and tender were sided in the south end of Whitehorse, the locomotive was retrieved in 1958, but the tender remained because it was partially buried in a mudslide from the clay cliffs. In 1965, Laurent Cyr and a group of volunteers from the MacBride Museum of Yukon History, excavated the tender and it's decking. They left the original wheels because they were either buried or in poor shape. White Pass & Yukon Route donated two sets of wheels called "truck assemblies" from a later vintage. The tender deck and tank were simply placed on top of the wheels in the museum yard for display purposes. The tender was coated with a gray rust proof paint and re-lettered while in the Museum yard, and in 2006 was in the process of being preserved.
MacBride Museum of Yukon History, Whitehorse