Steam history, anyone...?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by steamhead, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    As I was viewing the thread "Last Summer at Steamtown", a couple of questions came to mind....

    What was the last steam engine meant for regular road service to roll off an assembly line..?? Who built it and when..?? What became of it..??

    What was the last regular service run pulled by a steamer (not as a helper..) What type of engine was it, and what became of it..??

    How come most of the steam manufacturers didn't jump on the diesel-electric bandwagon..?

    BTW, this isn't a quiz...I'd really like to know. Of course, these questions apply only to US operations...
  2. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I'm assuming that you're thinking American builders and railroads. If I'm not mistaken, the last steam locos built for service in the U.S. were a bunch of 0-8-0s built by and for the Norfolk & Western.

    Best that I can do is hazard a guess: GTW, in Michigan, for a Class One road, but there were probably lots of shortlines running steam well into the '60s.
    In Canada, the last steamer in regular service was CNR's 4-8-2 Mountain 6060, but she had to come out of retirement to accomplish this. In the summer of 1976, she replaced the midday RDC run from Toronto to Niagara Falls on Wednesdays.

    Actually, they did. Or at least they tried to. Alco, Baldwin, and Lima all produced diesels, with varying degrees of success.

    I'm sure that other more knowledgeable Gaugers will be able to chime in with corrections and updates, but this should at least get the ball rolling. :rolleyes::-D:-D

  3. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    US, Canada and Mexico:

    Last steam built by Alco: 2-8-4s for NYC subsidiary P&LE, 1948.
    Last domestic steam built by Baldwin: 2-6-6-2s for C&O, 1949. (Export steam building continued to 1953).
    Last domestic steam built by Lima, and last commercial steam for a US Class 1: 2-8-4s for NKP, 1949.
    Last domestic steam built by MLW: 2-10-4s for CP, 1949.
    Lsat commercial steam for US: Porter industrial 0-4-0STs, 1950.
    After this, only N&W continued building steam in its own shops.
    Last new US passenger steam: N&W 4-8-4s, 1950.
    Last new US freight steam: N&W 2-8-8-2s, 1952.
    Last new US steam: N&W 0-8-0s, 1953.

    The steam era is popularly considered to have ended in April 1960 on the Norfolk & Western, with the last train hauled by a 2-8-8-2. This was the N&W's own claim, but it wasn't true. N&W's own 0-8-0s worked into May. So, here are (most of) the steam operators I know of after April 1960:
    Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range: to June 1960. They kept much of their steam fleet stored until 1963.
    Colorado & Southern (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy subsidiary): One 2-10-2 to 1961, two 2-8-0s in branchline use to Oct '62.
    Lake Superior & Ishpeming: 2-8-0s to 1962.
    These two mark the real end of standard gauge steam on major railroads.
    Great Western Railway: Colorado shortline with 2-10-0 and 2-8-0s. Steam at least to 1965.
    Moscow, Camden & San Augustine: Texas shortline. Steam to 1965.
    Rayonier Lumber: Official "last steam run" 1962 - not true. Last 2-6-6-2 operated May 1, 1968. The last US steam logger.
    DRGW narrow gauge: Increasingly dominated by tourist-oriented passenger service in its later years. The last freight ran Aug '68. Real end of steam on major railroads.
    Magma Arizona: Shortline interchanging with SP; used an ex-SP 2-8-0 until Sep '68, replacing it with a used AS-616. Sometimes identified as the last US railroad to dieselize, and I can't prove that wrong.
    Reader Railroad: Steam at least to 1968.
    Mobile & Gulf: Alabama shortline. Steam to 1970. Last "true" common-carrier steam shortline.
    Edgemoor & Manetta: South Carolina shortline, connecting to SAL (later SCL) at Edgemoor. Used one 0-4-0ST to 1976 (?). Had been a common carrier, but no longer hauled for anyone but its owner, Manetta Mills. Since it closed down instead of dieselized, it doesn't break Magma Arizona's record... but it could be said this was the end of steam operation. Was, not is. It got a reprieve...
    Crab Orchard & Egyptian. This strangely named Illinois shortline was founded as a tourist steam operation around 1971. It began operations in 1973 on an ICG branch connecting with MP. It used a 1940-built ex-Roberval & Saguenay 2-8-0 and a 2-4-2 rebuilt from a 1946-built industrial 2-4-2T that had been retired around 1962. In 1977, *it bought the track it ran on*. Suddenly, providing freight service was their business. They quickly adapted, not seeing a need to dieselize. The oil crisis was recent, and oil was still expensive. They even operated a regular piggyback service until 1981 - also the year regular passenger service ended. General freight traffic continued, and with no regular tourist runs, this was definitely real. In *Oct '86*, with oil prices starting to drop, they finally bought used SW1500s, becoming a very ordinary shortline. They were recognized by the AAR as the last railroad with steam in regular service.

    Some notable industrials:
    Great Western Sugar Company (Loveland, Colo.). 0-4-0STs into 1970s.
    Northwestern Steel & Wire (Sterling, Ill.). 0-8-0s to 1980.
    There may have been steam in other places until the late 80s.

    In Canada:
    CP may have had steam to late 1960. After that:
    Sydney & Louisburg. I believe this small Nova Scotia coal hauler was considered a Class 1; it had a few dozen engines. No diesels until about 1960, ran steam to 1965.
    Several BC loggers operated steam to the late 60s or even early 70s. The last Shay in service in North America was withdrawn in 1973.
    The Vancouver docks also had a Shay until 1970.

    In Mexico:
    Naturally, steam lasted longer here.
    The NdeM standard gauge had 4-8-4s until 1968. 2-8-0s operated on the 3' gauge until 1973. Shortlines and industrials kept steam even longer. The Mexican Pacific, despite its grand name, was a shortline serving a sugar mill at Los Mochis in the state of Sinaloa. It had a 2-8-2 and 2-6-2, and last ran steam in 1994. This is, as far as I know, the last non-preserved steam operation on the continent.
  4. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Thanks, Triplex, I knew that you'd come through. :thumb::thumb:;):-D

  5. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    The first one depends on your criterion. Dr. Wayne is correct on the last locomotive produced for domestic use...the N&W shop built locomotives after the commercial builders had stopped.

    The last commercially produced domestic locomotive was the NKP 779. There's a good story behind it too! It was after the railroad tried diesels, and then ordered 10 more 2-8-4s. She was built in 1949 by Lima-Hamilton. Ultimately, it was the rising price of spare parts (due to less efficient engines being retired) that undermined the mainline use of the Nickel Plate's Berks. While she was in service, a Lima historian (whom was a flagman for the NKP), John Keller, began plotting to bring the 779 home. John's leverage was that when the LE&W built there Sandusky to Peoria railroad, the promised the city of Lima to always maintain shop facilities in town. The NKP had hence inherited this promise, but didn't want to keep it since they didn't need the shops anymore. So John marched into the president of the railroads office, and arm twisted the 779 out of the president. (the 770-779 were parked before the S-2s like the 765 due to their maintenance interval coming up first) He then stashed her, along with his personal caboose (as a flagman) 1091 & business car #5 (obtained in paperless transactions with yard crews) in the Lima tank plant until the proper enclosure along the DT&I was completed in the early 1960s. She serves as an emergence organ donor to the 765 and previously the 759. On a least one occasion, a small accident occurred with the 765 right before an excursion, and an 11th hour parts swap with the 779 saved the day.

    The transition to diesels was actually a rather slow deal, prior to the post-ww2 buying sprees. Outstanding designs like the NKP 2-8-4s were able to defeat diesels in head to head trials, but the real Achilles heal for steam came from the simple, poor designs that made up many railroad's rosters...rosters built around 2-8-2s, 4-6-2s, 2-10-0s, and other 1910's designed locomotives.

    Once the writing was on the wall, it was kind of late for Baldwin, Alco, and Lima (the big three) to catch up. I'm probably going to mess this up, but I'll try it anyways...Alco's diesels were a partnership with GE. Baldwin's were a partnership with Westinghouse (iirc). Building steam locomotives is primarily work for a mechanical engineer, with the only electrical components being the generators...commonly on the left hand side of the boiler near the cab or behind the headlight...and only powered the cab lights, radio (if equipped), headlight, and mars light (if equipped). Diesels are a mix. They are essentially electric units with a diesel generator on board. The primary concern for an engineer isn't the RPMs, it is the current heading to the traction motors. Extensive electrical engineering required. Therefore, GE, Westinghouse, and EMD’s expertise was, in many respects, more applicable than Lima, Baldwin, and Alco’s. Lima merged with the Hamilton Machine Co to try to diversify by bringing in Hamilton’s industrial machinery business, and then they merged with Baldwin to try to survive…an odd paring…as Lima was the Cadillac of steam locomotives and Baldwin was the Chevrolet…different philosophies (ALCO was in between). Baldwin was done in by Westinghouse jumping ship, and Alco was done in by GE deciding to produce their own diesels.

    The last steam in service is a tricky question. It depends on what you consider regular service. Many railroads kept an engine or two around into the 1960s. Some of the more famous were the CB&Q's 4960, UP's 844, the aforementioned 6000 (which most Ohio steam fans loved to go up and watch her fly at 70mph+), the CB&Q's 2-8-0 at Leadville, DM&IR 2-8-8-4s, and a few others. I regard the last as having been the D&RGW's narrow gauge circle. It was shut down in the late 1960's and was still entirely powered by 2-8-2s (and the well known 4-wheel diesel #50). This, depending on how you do the accounting, lasted longer than steam of BR. Again though, this isn't clean cut because the Rio Grande never stopped running steam on the Silverton branch, which morphed from a branchline into a tourist line, and was sold to investors whom still run it today...there locomotives are all 80+yrs old, and some passenger cars are 120+yrs old :eek:.

    Also, a lot of mainline steam went into backup service at the end. The railroads typically didn't purchase a whole lot of extra diesels, so the steam engines were kept around prevent shortages.

    Typically, steam in the twilight was used on backwater lines (or in back up service) pulling freight or on special excursions. Railroads typically eliminated the steam engines from the passenger service first.

    EDIT: I just remembered the Louisiana Eastern. The Louisiana Eastern is the stuff of legend. A railfan decided to purchase a bunch of steam at the twilight. I believe he owned a gravel pit or something. He amassed over 40 steam locomotives...and they weren't all porters. He purchased 3 Nickel Plate hudsons (2 Limas & 1 Alco) well as some 2-8-2s. Unfortunately, he died unexpectedly in the 1960s...and much of his collection went to the torch (including all three of his NKP 4-6-4s :cry: ). I can't recall were the survivors went, other than a 4-4-0 at Stone Mountain, GA.

    Attached Files:

  6. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Wow guys...Talk about encyclopedic knowledge..!! Great info...I kinda thought that at sometime someone just shut the door to the shops, and that was that...Guess not:eek:. Thanks a lot..!!:thumb:

    Where would somebody find this kind of info..?? :wave:
  7. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Thanks. Sometimes it was as simple as just locking up (see: East Broad Top).

    Most of my knowledge comes from books, and acquaintances through my dad. Most of the older rail preservationists knew each other, so making friends with the right people is incredibly powerful...although most of the 1st generation preservationists are now gone (they've been dying out over the past decade especially). When the first generation of the all-volunteer organizations got started in the 1970s, many of the preservationists took a keen interest and got to know the groups. I've been very fortunate to have met a number of those people...and I hang on every word they say. Even today, the circle of mainline preservationists is small enough that the various serious groups typically know each other.
  8. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    The original Yreka shortline railroad, built in Yreka, CA when the Big Boys elected to bypass the town by some six miles, is still in commercial operation to this day, operating a couple of diesels, a couple of steam, and some 43 or so cars.

    I have a book i9n the car, which I will dig out, that has a photo of what is supposed to be the last steam loco built - IIRC. (Always that caveat as I get older...:cool:...-probably should have a hot key for that acronym.)
  9. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

  10. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Word on the street is that there are around 50 of the 2-10-2s left...they've been cutting them up fast. There's still a large number of 2-8-2s...on branchlines and at industries. They bumped the steam off the mainline to appear modern for the Olympics.

    RJ Cormin just bought a Chinese engine...built in 1986! While not the newest in China, that's younger than the 765 (or the 759) when her overhaul began to start her excursion career...30+ years ago! I believe there's also a 2-10-2 on the bottom of the Pacific which at one time was being shipped here.

    Interestingly, their locomotives are American designs.

    Cuba is still a good show (according to someone I know whom was there recently), but it's fading fast.
  11. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Essex Railroad here in Connecticut had a China "Consolodation" 2-8-2, (built in 1989), until about 1998, or so, until they sold it to another tourist line(Be kinda nice to have someone make a model of it). Story goes(Like the one at the bottom of the Pacific), the first one they ordered was being delivered in New York, when the chains snapped and it fell into the harbor. So myth has one sitting in the mud in New York harbor also.
  12. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...88fan....There is a model of the 2-8-2 Chinese Mike (not a Connie...) made by Bachmann. A few made their way to the States and I picked mine up on eBay - new, in the box....It's a gorgeous model, although a little on the "light" side...:wave:

    Attached Files:

  13. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Gus, what's the diameter of the drivers on your Chinese Mikado? I've been hunting for an eight-coupled chassis with 55" drivers for a project that I have in mind. The Bachmann Consolidation has 63", and their Decapod and the Proto 0-8-0 both have 51".

  14. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    That Chinese mike was made by Spectrum. It's got 55-ish drivers... here's the specs on the prototype.
  15. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Thanks, Marc. 54" is probably as close as I'm going to get, ;) so I'll have to see what's available.

  16. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Well, that was short-lived euphoria: the $335.00 "sticker shock" :eek: was mitigated somewhat by the fact that the loco has Boxpok drivers, among my personal favourites, but definitely not suitable for the 1910 prototype. :sad: Converting spoked drivers to Boxpok is do-able, but the reverse is beyond my capabilities. The search continues. :-D

  17. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    The right drivers are a pain! I've been searching for On3 drivers for a while (or even on30 drivers to widen). It's tough. Neither PSC or San Juan will sell their C-16 drivers separately...even though the rest of their locomotives are worthless to me since they're essentially different engines from the original versions. I'm flirting with the idea of ordering 80" HO drivers and attempting to bash them into accurate On3 4-4-0 drivers.

    Good luck on the search!
  18. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Wayne...I presume driver size is the wheel without the flanges. If so, they scale to 51.65". Took the measurement with calipers....
    BTW...Spectrum is Bachmann's line of "fine" models.
  19. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    What project do you have in mind?
  20. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Isn't that why Mexico eliminated standard gauge steam when it did?

    A 2-8-2 that was being delivered to the Susquehanna.

    More directly based on Russian designs, actually.

    Most steam in the sugar mills of Cuba was retired with the sugar market collapse in 2002-03. In the 2007 Zafra, there was only one steamer working other than on tourist trains. With the decline in Cuba, Java became the #2 location for working steam.

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