Steam Locomotives

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Steam Locomotives in Columbus


                 Baltimore & Ohio Railroad - Steam Locomotives
                 Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad - Steam Locomotives
                 New York Central Railroad - Steam Locomotives
                 Norfolk & Western Railroad - Steam Locomotives
                 Pennsylvania Railroad - Steam Locomotives

                 Columbus Steam Locomotives - Summary


Click to enlarge
                                                            Steam Locomotive

Click to enlarge
                                                             Steam Engine

         The five Class I railroads serving Columbus during the post-WW II period had 35 distinct classes of steam locomotives deployed in and through Columbus. This section of will look at this rich variety of motive power with the help of the late Alvin F. Staufer’s “Power” books for the technical data (see bibliography below).

         Steam locomotives are very different from diesel locomotives. If you need a diesel locomotive to go faster the pinion gear on the motor shaft can be changed out. If you need more power add additional units to the train. If you need to switch cars in the yard a freight or passenger diesel will do that too.

         When the Norfolk & Western Railroad dieselized in the late 1950s they purchased EMD GP7 and GP9 locomotives. They painted a very few of them Tuscan Red and installed steam boilers so they could pull passenger trains. When the morning coal train arrived in Columbus with its three diesel units they were broken apart and used to switch the Joyce Avenue Yard that day. In the evening they were reassembled and took a load of empty hopper cars south to Portsmouth. One class of diesel did it all.

         With a steam locomotive how fast it can go or how much train it can pull has to be determined in its initial design. Those two attributes are determined by many factors including boiler capacity, weight on the drive wheels, the capacity of the cylinders and especially the diameter of the drive wheels. The bigger the drive wheels the faster it will go and the less pulling power will be available. Smaller drive wheels limit the locomotives speed but increases its pulling power.

         Now this is a wildly simplistic description of a complex subject, but it starts to describe why railroads had to have many more and different steam locomotives on their roster compared to the diesels that replaced them. The steam locomotive was not as versatile as the diesel; it had to be designed to fit the job at hand. (For more information on steam and diesel locomotive design see the J. Parker Lamb books listed in the bibliography below.)

         Steam locomotives roughly fall into three categories – switching, freight and passenger locomotives. They were very durable and often had a long life. Some locomotives as they aged and trains became heavier and faster were relegated from road service to helper, local or yard switching duties. As the steam era came to a close in Columbus, the Norfork & Western had the youngest steam locomotive in the S class. (The last built in December 1953). It also had the oldest locomotive in the M class some built as early as 1906.

         Now as you explore the steam locomotives of Columbus - a Question. What is the difference between a steam locomotive and a steam engine? See the two photos above for the answer.



                 Lamb, J. Parker, Evolution of the American Diesel Locomotive, 2007, Indiana University Press
                 Lamb, J. Parker, Perfecting the American Steam locomotive, 2003, Indiana University Press

                 Prince, Richard E, Norfolk & Western Railway - Pocahontas Coal Carrier, 1980,
                      Published by R.E. Prince, Milard Nebr.

                 Staufer, Alvin F. Steam Power of the New York Central System I, 1961, Published by Alvin Staufer
                 Staufer, Alvin F. Pennsy Power, 1962, Published by Alvin Staufer
                 Staufer, Alvin F. & Lawrence W. Sagle B&O Power, 1964, Published by Alvin Staufer
                 Staufer, Alvin F., Shuster, Philip; Huddleston, Eugene L., C&O Power, 1965,
                       Published by Alvin Staufer
                 Staufer, Alvin F. & Pennypacker, Bert. Pennsy Power II, 1968, Published by Alvin Staufer

                 Tipton, Rick, The Pennsylvania Railroad in Columbus, Ohio, 2011, Published by the
                      Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society