Steam Into History’s York No. 17 locomotive makes some smoke after a trial run on May 16, 2013.
Steam Into History's York No. 17 locomotive makes some smoke after a trial run on May 16, 2013. (Bill Kalina)

If it's true bad things happen in clusters of three, then New Freedom's Steam Into History train should be able to chug along quietly for some time to come.

Overnight Tuesday, someone vandalized a train car and a locomotive, according to Southern Regional Police.

Sgt. Darryl Smuck said someone discharged a fire extinguisher inside an open wooden rail car. The person or people also broke into a nearby building -- a boarded-up former bar -- and stole a chair to climb into a locomotive.

The diesel locomotive's engine-room doors had been opened, its windshield wipers were bent, and a piece of Plexiglas had been broken, according to Bob Gotwols, chief operating officer of Steam Into History.

In the open wooden car, wires that are part of a public-address system had been pulled loose, he said.

Gotwols is unsure why someone would have stolen a chair to get inside the locomotive.

"There are ladders and steps one can climb onto the locomotive with," he said.

The Steam Into History train is pulled by a steam engine, and the diesel locomotive is kept as a backup, Gotwols said.

Quick cleanup: The damage will simply require cleanup and a few quick fixes, he said, and the nonprofit organization is insured.

"This looks like kids just being mischievous, that's what I suspect," Gotwols said. "In their opinion they're having a good time at someone else's expense."

While the damage may well have been caused by youths, it's also possible those responsible were after brass and other scrap metal, Smuck said. A large wrench was found at the scene, he said.

The sergeant confirmed police must rule out a third scenario as well: A possible grudge.

"There's some controversy in town about the train, because of the smoke it produces, the whistle blowing and parking issues that occur, especially on the weekend when there's a lot of people coming to ride the train," Smuck said.

The locomotive is leased from Stewartstown Railroad and the open wooden car is leased from Reader Industries, Gotwols said.

Bumps on the tracks: In June, the train's Civil War-era replica locomotive was stopped on hits tracks after making unusual noises, leaving about 160 people by the tracks.

A valve was too tight and needed to be repaired, a Steam Into History spokeswoman said.

And on June 25, the train collided with an SUV in Glen Rock as it was on its way to Hanover from New Freedom with about 40 passengers, Gotwols has said.

The SUV driver was taken to the hospital with a knee injury as a precaution and no one else was hurt, police said.

The Steam Into History train, at 2 W. Main St., makes two, sometimes three, runs a day, Gotwols said. The schedule can be found at

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at