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The Walter C. Dove Homecoming Special, March 1971

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Uploaded on Apr 27, 2009

On March 27-28, 1971, the Southern Railway operated the "Walter C. Dove Homecoming Special" from Birmingham, AL, to New Orleans.

Walter Dove was born in Cuba, AL, and went to work for the Southern Railway in Meridian, MS, at the age of 13 in 1918, and by age 21 he was promoted to locomotive engineer. Dove was eventually promoted to Road Foreman, and played a key role during the early days of Southern's steam excursion program. Walter had already retired at the time of this trip, but returned to the cab once more for a few days.

The Special was actually two trains: as shown, locomotives 722 and 750 doubleheaded to Mound State Monument in Moundville, AL, where passengers could detrain. The train then continued to Akron, where 750 and her train was turned back to Birmingham while 722 continued south through Cuba to Meridian for the night.

Southern Railway President Graham Claytor was aboard his private car for the two days, and honored Dove with a plaque during a stop at Crescent Division headquarters in Hattiesburg.

TRAINS magazine published an extensive article by James Neubauer in its September 1971 issue. Jim recounts his experience firing the locomotive for Dove from Akron to York. (I was actually on board the train leaving Akron.)

This footage was shot by Louis Saillard, who gave it to me in 1994.

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