Santa Fe Class 5011's
in Columbus, Ohio
For me 1956 was the high point of railfanning around Columbus, Ohio.
There were passenger trains (about 42) some still with steam
locomotives. The PRR, N&W and B&O still used steam on many of their
freight trains. The Ohio Railway Museum was thriving with track
being added to the main line and new cars joining the collection.
The 'O' Gauge Club, located in one of the Union Station arcade shops, was a
busy place on Wednesday evenings. There was a lot to do, see and
And then it only got better. In early May while working around the
museum we heard a whistle that was new to us. Here came a coal
drag acting like a merchandise train heading north on the PRR
Branch with of all
things a Santa Fe oil burning, class 5011, 2-10-4 in the lead. We expected to see
a PRR J1 slogging up the hill at its normal 15-25 mph. Instead a
Santa Fe class 5011 locomotive, which always seemed to be going 10 mph faster then
a J1 powered train, was in the lead.
On paper a J1 and a Santa Fe Class 5011 were similar with the J1 having a
little more traction effort, 100,100 lbs vs. 93,000 lbs, although a J1 had a
booster that could add an additional 15,000 lbs of traction effort at slow
The class 5011 had larger drivers, 74 inches vs. 69 inches. The J1
could start a heaver train while the class 5011 could run faster once it
got the train started. It was reported to the railfans that the
the Santa Fe's were slippery, meaning they would spin their drivers easier than the
J1. It was also reported they steamed well and once the crew got the hang
of firing with oil, easier to keep a good fire going. Some would
even say they were better
looking then those old grungy old J1's.
200dpi jpg (132K)
Santa Fe #5014 on
a northbound coal drag heading to Sandusky with a PRR J1 as a helper.
(The photo was taken near the Ohio Railway Museum in 1956 by Alex
200dpi jpg (105K)
The same train
with #5014 making even more smoke. Over time oil burning locomotives will collect
oil soot on their flues. This insulates the
flues making it a less efficient steamer. The solution
is for the fireman to add a few shovelfuls of sand to the fire while
underway. The draft will pull the sand through the flues scouring
them clean. The sand will then be blown out the stack. Really
nasty black smoke that you do not want to stand under can result.
That may be what is happening here. The fireman on theJ1 on the
other hand, has a clean near
perfect fire. (Photo by Alex Campbell)
The next six
photos were taken by Don Kaiser, November 4, 1956 at the St. Clair Avenue
roundhouse on the eastside of Columbus where Sandusky Branch locomotives
200dpi jpg (141K) -
Santa Fe #5022
backing onto the turntable at the St. Clair Avenue roundhouse after
a maintenance session. The St. Clair Avenue roundhouse at one time was almost a
full circle with only two breaks for access tracks. The tracks
crossing the photo in the foreground sit on that part of the roundhouse
that was torn down. The leads you see radiating from the turntable
toward the camera were once longer and entered the torn down building.
200dpi jpg (156K) -
The Santa Fe
locomotives were too long for St. Clair's turntable by about 5 feet. The
resourceful shop crew built extensions that were attached to the end of
the turntable track. This extension allowed the last wheel of the
rear tender truck to hang over the end or the turntable. Seen in
this picture, just to the rear of the tender is the crane used to install
and remove the extensions. This had to be done several times a day.
The Santa Fe
locomotives could not be turned using this arrangement. Instead they
were turned using what amounted to a wye located at the east end of
Yard where it met the CA&C main line. The locomotive could enter the
CA&C track from Grogan yard by either being turned toward the north
or the south. Once on the CA&C the locomotive traveled south about 1
mile to the roundhouse.
200dpi jpg (116K) 4-5022
Another view of
the track extension in action. The tender needed to be nearly empty of water
and oil when using the track extension in order to be as light as possible. The
hostler had to have a
good eye and hand to stop the locomotive at just the right spot.
There is a movie showing the rear wheel backing over the end of the
extension a few inches without causing a problem.
200dpi jpg (140K) - 5-5022
The tenders for
two J1's can be seen in the roundhouse. The shop man is doing the
unthinkable of standing on the rail. This doesn't mean the reader
has license to do such an unsafe act. The light hitting the tender
has some how eliminated the oil stains from the picture, but on carefully
scrutiny of the photo you can see the stains are still there.
200dpi jpg (172K) - 7 -5022
Another Santa Fe,
#5035 has just left the turntable and is slowly moving along side the
roundhouse to get in line for sand, water and oil. The coal
dock, water facilities, sand tower and temporary oil storage for the Santa
Fe locomotives were located between St. Clair Ave and the roundhouse.
Once this servicing was complete the locomotives were spotted just to the
west of St .Clair Avenue on one of the ready tracks to wait their
assignment. When walking across the St. Clair Avenue bridge over the PRR tracks you looked east to see the servicing facilities and west to see
the ready track.
200dpi jpg (135K) - 6 -5022
#5022 and behind
it #5035 are waiting for oil, water, and sand. One of the tank cars
holding the oil can be seen in the background between the two engines. The
Shops are in the background to the right. That is a J1 to the left
of the picture.
200dpi jpg (85K)
Santa Fe #5028 has
been serviced and is sitting on the ready track waiting to be claimed for
a Sandusky Branch coal train. The camera is pointed east toward the
Twentieth Street Shops. The bridge behind #5028 is for St. Clair
Avenue. To the left of the coal dock is a diesel getting its
servicing. (Photo taken summer 1956 by Alex Campbell.)
According to Eric Hirsimaki, in his excellent article on the Santa Fe
5011's in Columbus, published in the
Autumn 1999, Keystone magazine, the Santa Fe's made the
Columbus - Sandusky trip on average 2 1/2 hours faster then a train headed
with a J1. A typical train would contain 110 cars weighing
The PRR had surplus steam locomotives in 1956, the problem for the PRR was
that too many of
them needed expensive class repairs. It was cheaper to lease twelve
surplus locomotives from the Santa Fe that were ready to go. Those
sent to Columbus were #5012, 5013, 5014, 5016, 5018, 5020, 5022, 5026,
5028, 5032, 5034, and 5035.
By early December 1956 all twelve 5011's had been sent back to the Santa
Fe at Chicago. They were never used again. Almost all Santa
Fe's class 5011's went to the scrappers over the next three years.
Santa Fe 2-10-4, #5011, was saved and can be seen at the St. Louis
Museum of Transportation.
Three other 5011's were also saved, non of them Columbus Santa Fe's. By the time the 1957 lake season started the PRR had shipped six
surplus J1's to Columbus, from the east, and the Santa Fe show was over.