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 photograph. 

       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 Sandusky 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 speeds.  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) PRR-122

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 Campbell.)


200dpi jpg (105K) PRR-120

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 were serviced. 


200dpi jpg (141K) - 2-5022

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) - 3-5022

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 Grogan 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 Twentieth Street Shops are in the background to the right.  That is a J1 to the left of the picture.


200dpi jpg (85K) PRR-115

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 9,430 tons. 

        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.