Considering the nostalgic romance of steam engines, GCA 2196 is a very unattractive name for White River’s abandoned and neglected Garratt Class GCA Double Prairie type locomotive. See? Footplate fanatics get hot and steamy about the metal monsters but don’t appear to have much time for poetic monikers!
We Are White River set aside Friday 24th July 2015 to pick up a jaw-dropping amount of garbage, while chopping and hacking away a forest of determined invader vegetation, to unveil a once proud and hardworking engine on the Nelspruit / Graskop line. (The story of how our community came together to participate in the effort has been told elsewhere.) The initiative brought people forth with their memories of local rail travel and our anonymous train was identified.
Left: Richard Niven – GCA 2196 White River, left and forgotten on the disused station, 1995
Right: Photographer Unknown – GCA 2196 White River Image via Richard Niven 1987
A little more digging and unravelling from behind a computer brought GCA 2196’s history to light – belonging to the Transnet Foundation for Heritage and Preservation, GCA 2196 appears on many steam engine clubs lists. All decry 2196’s neglected state.
True, it’s sad to see low how the mighty engine has fallen from its heydays but with a wagon full of passions stirred, we are hopeful that his (her?!) future is brighter. Already, an enterprising geocache fan has hidden a cache in the engine. www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC609YJ_forgotten-steam-loco.
SAR Class GCA number 2196 was one of only 39 such engines ordered for use in South Africa by the South African Railways. Friedrich Krupp AG of Essen, Germany, built and delivered the first thirteen engines (numbered from 2190 to 2202) in 1927, which means that the White River engine is not far off turning 90 years old in 2017. The balance of 26 units arrived in 1928.
White River GCA 2196 no 2 late 1980s Photo Sean Stanton
Garratt engine 2196 was used to transport goods between Nelspruit and Graskop until the 1970’s, when it finally ran out of steam, standing immobile at the abandoned White River station since 1978.
We Are White River is sincerely grateful to Mr Piet Conradie for allowing us to use information and images from his blog, http://steam-locomotives-south-africa.blogspot.com/2012/06/white-river-sar-class-gca-no-2196.html. He’s also shared valuable ideas and inspiration with us for the engine’s future.
Further Reading and information from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_African_Class_GCA_2-6-2%2B2-6-2