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Rowland's most famous accomplishment was The American Freedom Train, a steam-powered exhibit train which toured much of the continental US over 1975 and 1976 in conjunction with the celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial.
Rowland has been connected with and operated some of the most famous U.S. excursion steam locomotives such as the Nickel Plate 759 2-8-4, currently at Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, Pennsylvania; the Reading 2101 4-8-4, currently at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland and the Chesapeake & Ohio 614 4-8-4.
During the 1980s, during a spike in oil prices, Rowland was instrumental in forming American Coal Enterprises, an organization dedicated to the design and production of modern, coal-fired, reciprocating, direct-drive steam locomotives designed to reduce or eliminate operational concerns associated with steam locomotives such as dynamic augment and to operate with enough efficiency to be economically viable to railroads. Rowland managed to obtain permission from CSX Transportation to operate a renumbered 614T in freight service in 1985 to obtain data in order to finalize the ACE 3000 design.
A preliminary design for the ACE 3000 was developed, but active development stopped prior to any effort to build a demonstrator or prototype when oil prices fell in the mid 1980s and it appeared that the disparity between coal and oil would not be sustained at a level significant enough to expect that a coal-fired locomotive would be economically feasible.
In the 1990s, Rowland operated public excursions on New Jersey Transit between Hoboken and Port Jervis. He announced preliminary plans to operate another steam-powered exhibit train, and was a critic of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Steamtown National Historic Site.
Pacific Wilderness tourist train
In the summers of 2000 and 2001, Rowland managed the Pacific Wilderness Railway (PAW) on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This short lived tourist train consisted of a few older coach cars pulled by 2 GP20 diesels, traveling from Victoria to the peak of Malahat before returning to Victoria. The operation failed and ended operations abruptly in July 2001.
In early 2011 Ross announced the planned restoration and operation of the Greenbrier Presidential Express, a luxury train set to operate from Washington, D.C. to the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. The train was being rebuilt in Pottstown, PA until financial circumstances forestalled its completion.
- http://bodwyn.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/ross-e-rowland-steam-railroading-titan/ Freedom Train
- "The Ultimate Steam Page". Trainweb.org. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- "U. S. Patent 4425763". Retrieved 2012-07-25.
- "Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization". National Parks Traveler. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- "Pacific Wilderness". Retrieved 2012-07-10.
- "Hotel Watch: The Greenbrier Express". Washington Life Magazine.
- The Ultimate Steam Page - Information on Ross Rowland's ACE 3000 and other modern steam projects
- The Story of America's Freedom Trains - Information on the 1975 - 1976 American Freedom Train
- ThemeTrains.com - Information on the High Iron Company's Golden Spike Centennial Limited of 1969
- The Yellow Ribbon Express
- Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society