Old Mollie Steam Engine - Norfolk & Western Steam Engine 433
Mollie came about in January 1907 when the American Locomotive Company of Richmond, Virginia completed its construction for the Norfolk and Western Railway, assigning it the number 433.
Mollie is a Class M locomotive, hence the favored nickname.
In its heyday, 433 was one of more than 100 Class M engines owned and operated by Norfolk and Western during a 50-year period.
Today, Abingdon's Mollie is only one of two still in existence. The other, Number 475, is located in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. Previously, Mollie was assigned duty as a main line freight engine, but toted human cargo as a passenger train as well. However, by the 1920s Class M engines were being quickly replaced by heavier, faster locomotives and the Mollie was left for smaller workloads on branch rail lines like the "Virginia Creeper" or Abingdon Branch where mountainous terrain played havoc on newer engines with their steep grades, sharp curves and wooden trestles that couldn't support the engine's weight. By 1957 all the Mollies that had been put on "Creeper duty" in and around Abingdon were cut up for scrap materials when all steam locomotive operations were put out of commission.
Although Mollie is the same type engine that chugged along the old Virginia rail lines, it came from Bristol in 1953 where it performed yard work and served as a backup engine for the Abingdon Branch, after having been assigned to duty in Roanoke, Salem and Radford, Virginia. It also survived a wreck in 1951. Number 433 was finally retired in 1958 and the railroad donated Mollie to the Town of Abingdon where it was moved from Radford.
It wasn't until 2002 that volunteers from the Virginia Creeper Trail Club and the Washington County, Virginia Preservation Foundation started a project that would eventually restore the beauty of 433 as it would have looked 50 years ago.