Edward L. Striegel, 82, ran railroad parts firm, enriched B&O museum

April 20, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Edward L. Striegel, former owner of a Curtis Bay railroad equipment supply company who donated historic locomotives to the B&O Railroad Museum, died Tuesday of heart failure at Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville. He was 82 and formerly of Annapolis.

Born in South Baltimore, the son of a B&O trainman, he attended Southern High School.

He began his railroad career working in the Western Maryland Railway's Port Covington yards in the late 1930s. Later, he was a fireman and engineer for the B&O.

During World War II, he served with the Army in Europe and as a locomotive engineer during the Korean War. He was discharged with the rank of sergeant.

In 1954, Mr. Striegel gave up his railroad career and established Striegel Supply & Equipment Corp., a business on Chemical Road in Curtis Bay. He bought surplus steam and diesel locomotives and used them for parts that he sold overseas or to other carriers.

It was nothing for Mr. Striegel to purchase 60 locomotives at a clip. At one time, he had the corpses of some 700 of them at his business.

"We usually end up doubling our money," he told The Sun in 1975. "I bought a locomotive for $20,000 and sold its engine for $26,000."

Mr. Striegel outwardly denied that he was a railroad buff but wore ties decorated with locomotives and French cuffs anchored with gold steam engine cufflinks.

His office was crammed with railroad memorabilia and models of trains, and he was tolerant of people who wanted to photograph the vintage engines he bought.

In the 1950s, while visiting a storage lot for decommissioned B&O steam engines, Mr. Striegel discovered two historically significant locomotives - the President Washington, No. 5300, the high-wheeling Pacific Class that had pulled such classic trains as the Capitol Limited; and a 2-8-2 Mikado Class locomotive that had been built in 1918.

He salvaged them and donated them to the B&O Railroad Museum. "They are the linchpins of our collection," said Courtney B. Wilson, executive director of the museum.

"Ed saved two significant pieces for the museum and, without his help, they would have been lost forever," he said.

"In my opinion, he was a phenomenal Baltimorean. He was a quiet, unassuming and a very generous guy. The museum was his favorite place to come and he was always looking for ways to improve and enhance its collections," Mr. Wilson said.

Mr. Striegel also saved the historic former Reading Railroad steam engine 2101. It was towed from his business to the B&O's Riverside Roundhouse in Baltimore, where it was restored. The locomotive pulled the American Freedom Train, which toured the nation, celebrating America's bicentennial in 1976.

Mr. Striegel bought the former Revere Copper & Brass Co. aluminum pipe plant in South Baltimore in 1973. He later sold both his businesses.

His marriage to Lillian Elliot ended in divorce. In 1973, he married Audrey B. Helms, who survives him.

He was a member of Calvary United Methodist Church, Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis, where services will be held at 11 a.m. today.

Mr. Striegel is also survived by a son, Edward G. Striegel of Glen Burnie; six grandchildren; and a stepson, John W. Helms of Annapolis. His daughter, Lillian E. Striegel, died in 1990.

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