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Photo of the Month - March 2007
How many railfans have thought they were born just 10 years too late to have seen the really good stuff? Here is #5528, a Pennsylvania Railroad T1, 4-4-4-4 passenger engine - the good stuff - sitting at the Spruce Street Shops which were located about 1 mile west of Columbus Union Station. Until the early 1950s the PRR had two roundhouse-shop complexes in Columbus. The big one was on the east side of Columbus, the smaller, Spruce Street, on the west side. Passenger steam engines were serviced at the Spruce Street facility.
This is the only picture I have of a T1 in Columbus, and it is in storage with no fire in the fire box. There were 52 T1s, two built in 1942 and the reminder in 1945 and 1946. They were designed to be the replacement for the K4, 4-6-2 mainline passenger engines. Many PRR major passenger trains had grown so heavy that two K4s were often required even on the flat Ohio - Indiana route of the Broadway Limited. One T1 could do the work of two K4's pulling a 1200 ton train, 100 plus MPH on level track.
When the T1 was working well it was a superb engine. Unfortunately it was difficult and expensive to maintain and had other problems such as a rear engine that could lose its grip on the rails and start slipping, even at high speed. The engineer had to be especially attentive at all times when running a T1. The T1's short comings when compared to the economics of the diesel doomed it to a short life. According to the Trains Magazine of July 1951 T1's were no longer used on major passenger trains.
Which gets us back to this lone T1 sitting cold in Columbus on a November day in 1952. One can speculate that by late 1952 the PRR had acquired enough diesel power to eliminate the need for the T1's. #5528 just happened to be in Columbus when the order came and since the PRR maintained a "bone yard" where steam engines were scrapped in Columbus this engine never left Columbus in one piece.
That funny looking structure above the engine just behind the headlight is a raised clam shell shovel on the track behind #5528, not part of the engine.