"Z Gauge and Altenbeken" – These two now belong inseparably with each other! Using this synergy, road number 044 389-5 was selected as a museum locomotive for 2024.
Road number 44 389 was built in 1941 by Henschel & Son in Kassel under builder number 25998 and it was delivered on March 6, 1941.
This locomotive was based in Paderborn between 1947 and 1973, in January and February of 1973 for a week in Gelsenkirchen-Bismarck, then from February 4, 1973, until June 2, 1973, in Paderborn again. Then it came to Ottbergen, where it did its decommissioning from the roster from June 3, 1973, to June 26, 1976.
Contrary to the signage for the current memorial locomotive, this unit was never stationed in Altenbeken during its service years. According to planning documents, class 44 locomotives were merely stationed in the Forties/Fifties in Altenbeken.
This changed in October of 1977, when road number 44 389 was lettered as road number 044 389-5 according to its last operational condition (Era IV with a computer-generated control number), and it was set up with its type T 2´2´34 tender after visual overhauling as a memorial in front of the Egge Museum in Altenbeken. Right up to the present it reminds people as a representative of the class BR 44, of the important use of the "Jumbos" pulling heavy freight trains in the Egge Mountains from and to Ottbergen and Kassel.
After being retired in 1976 by the GDL (German Locomotive Engineers' Union – Local Office Altenbecken) this locomotive was saved from the scrapping torch and is still owned by this group.
The fabulous scenery of the Weser Mountain Area has difficult topography and presents long grades and constantly changing curves forcing steam locomotives to their knees down to a reverent walking speed. Only one class was responsible for train loads over 500 metric tons, the 44!
Over four decades later its appearance was the most incredible thing that could be experienced in the stillness of the wide scenery. The murmur of the beech woods was then largely drowned out by the dramatic sound of the freight trains going upgrade whose loud voiced music escaped powerfully from the smoke stack of the strongly quaking unit. While in cold weather an immense column of steam formed in which steam shot up constantly from the smokestack like a hurricane, then this thundering steel monster captivated the last observer like a drama in motion.
Probably the most legendary train hauled by a "Jumbo" through the Egge Mountains was the Dg 53842. A stately through freight train with a length of 500 meters / 1,625 feet.
It had the following train route: Herzberg-Northeim-Kreiensen-Ottbergen-Bad Driburg-Altenbeken-Ruhr Area.
In the ramp areas around Altenbeken, these heavy freight steam locomotives labored at a walking speed with the long line of seemingly endless cars. The summit did not come until the tunnel that followed.
For a number of railroad fans, a welcome possibility for a so-called cylinder pursuit. That meant you went with a tape recorder next to the cylinder of the steam locomotive crawling at a walking pace to capture the sounds of the pounding flue and to preserve it for all times (and following generations of railroad fans, who could not experience this time actively).
When the locomotive disappeared in the aforementioned summit tunnel, the cylinder pursuit had to end. The pursuers waited for the end of the train and removed the end of train sign from the last car as it disappeared in the tunnel, with the reason "so that the class 44 is not so overburdened anymore…"
So, to speak a "Win-Win Situation". This class 44 unit was relieved of parts and the fans became richer by one memorial.
The following statement becomes clear with this fascinating experience…
The middle, third cylinder on a coal-fired class 44 has four characteristics.
It makes the locomotive powerful, the fireman tired, the fan addicted, and the operator almost bankrupt.
You too will be impressed by the Jumbo saga and will want to reserve road number 044 389-5 for your collection.