2-8-4 "Berkshire" Locomotives in the USA

The development of the 2-8-4 wheel arrangement for steam locomotives was a result of an effort by the Lima Locomotive Works to improve on the speed and horse power of the USRA Mikado (2-8-2) locomotive, which was designed by the United States Railroad Administration during World War I. The USRA design had difficulty keeping up steam over long periods and often experienced wheel slippage.

Lima Locomotive Works' engineer William E. Woodward started with a New York Central Class H-7 "Mikado" type locomotive and added a larger firebox, creating an experimental Class H-10 "Mikado". He then went one step further and designed a locomotive with a 100 square foot firebox. This larger firebox required a four-wheel trailing truck to support it. The resulting locomotive was designated Class A-1, and it was the first 2-8-4.

This new 2-8-4 locomotive was sent to the Boston & Albany Railroad by Lima in the early spring of 1925 for tests on that railroad. In several test runs over a division of the railroad that crossed the Berkshire Hills, the demonstration locomotive, which carried road number "1" hauled up to 2500 tons. The most dramatic test occurred on April 14, 1925. A Class H-10, 2-8-2 "Mikado" type steamed eastbound from the Selkirk Yard pulling a 46 car, 1691 ton, train. About 47 minutes later the Class A-1 demonstrator led a 54 car, 2296 ton, in the same direction. The demonstrator Class A-1 arrived at North Adams Junction ten minutes ahead of the Class H-10. Soon after these impressive tests, the Boston & Albany ordered forty-five of these new locomotives. Being the first railroad to use this new wheel arrangement the B&A chose to call them "Berkshire" type.

Lima put its Class A-1 demonstrator on the road and sent it across the country to sell this new class of locomotive. Wherever it went the Class A-1 established new records. This locomotive was later shipped to the Illinois Central Railroad as part of its order for fifty "Berkshires" and became Illinois Central road number 7049.

After its debut in 1925, the "Berkshire" type locomotive continued to be improved by locomotive builders and the various railroads that used them. These heavy-duty main line locomotives were used by many railroads. Notably among them were the Boston & Albany Railroad, the Chesapeake & Ohio, the Erie Railroad, the Illinois Central Railroad, the Nickel Plate Road and the Pere Marquette Railroad.

Twenty of the "Berkshire" type locomotives exist today: 2 from the Pere Marquette, 6 from the Nickel Plate Road and 12 of the C & O's 2-8-4 locomotives, which they called "Kanawhas".

There are also a number of tenders that were used on "Berkshire" type locomotives that have survived. Two are from the L&N. One was the tender from L&N number 1966 and it is now at the Southern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA and the other is the tender from L&N number 1985 and it is now at the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, KY. There is also one that was used behind the NKP 765 and then N&W 611. There is another in New Haven, IN, one in Noblesville, IN and one used with MILW 261.

Information for this introduction to Berkshires provided by Richard Duley.

Builders of 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Type Locomotives (by Richard Duley)

Number of Locomotives by Builder
Railroad ALCO Baldwin Lima Other From Other Railroads
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe 15 7 B&M
Boston & Albany 55
Boston & Maine 25
Chesapeake & Ohio 70 20
Chicago & North Western 12
Detroit, Toledo & Ironton 6
Erie 25 35 45
Illinois Central 51
International - Great Northern 5
Louisville & Nashville 20 22
Missouri Pacific 25
New York, Chicago & St. Louis 15 65
Norfolk Southern 5
Pere Marquette 39
Pittsburgh & Lake Erie 7
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac 10
Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo 2
Virginian 5
Wheeling & Lake Erie 32
Totals: 168 75 368

Number of 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Type Locomotives Built by Year (by Richard Duley)

Year
Railroad 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 Total
AT&SF 15 15
B&A 31 14 10 55
B&M 20 5 25
C&O 14 26 10 40 90
CNW 12 12
DT&I 4 2 6
Erie 50 35 20 105
IC 51 51
InternationalGN 5 5
L&N 14 6 22 42
MoPac 25 25
NYC&St.L 15 15 10 30 10 80
NS 5 5
PereMarquette 15 12 12 39
P&LE 7 7
RF&P 10 10
TH&B 2 2
Virginian 5 5
W&LE 10 2 3 7 10 32
Total 82 91 62 25 35 15 4 25 2 5 5 19 39 34 74 10 5 40 7 32 611

A Comparison of Famous Berkshires and Kanawhas

  NKP (S-2)
(Lima)
PM (N)
(Lima)
C&O (K-4)
(ALCO)
Wheel Arrangement 2-8-4 2-8-4 2-8-4
Length 101' 100'-8" 105'-2"
Drivers 69" dia. 69" dia. 69" dia.
Weight on Drivers 264,300 lbs 278,000 lbs 292,000 lbs
Total Locomotive Weight 440,800 lbs 436,500 lbs 460,000 lbs
Locomotive & Tender Weight 802,500 lbs 794,500 lbs 850,000 lbs
Grate Area 90.3 sq ft 90.3 sq ft 90.3 sq ft
Cylinders (dia x stroke) (2) 25" x 34" (2) 26" x 34" (2) 26" x 34"
Cylinder HP 2754 HP 2979 HP 2979 HP
Boiler Pressure 245 psi 245 psi 245 psi
Tractive Effort 64,100 lbs 69,350 lbs 69,350 lbs
Tender Capacity:      
water: 22,000 gals. 22,000 gals. gals.21,000
coal: 22 tons 22 tons 30 tons

Railroads that used 2-8-4 "Berkshire" locomotives in USA (data provided by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media)

Surviving Examples of 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Locomotives in the USA

No. Class F.M. Whyte Gauge Railroad Line Location Status Builder Info Notes
1966 M-1 2-8-4 4'-8½" L&N Southeastern Railway Museum, Duluth, GA display tender only
2707 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O Illinois Railway Museum, Union, IL display ALCO (Schenectady) #70856, 1943
765A (1985) M-1 2-8-4 4'-8½" L&N FWRHS, Edgerton Rd, New Haven, IN auxiliary water tender tender only, from Kentucky Railway Museum, donated by CSX
765 S2 2-8-4 4'-8½" NYC&StL FWRHS, Edgerton Rd, New Haven, IN operational Lima #8673, 1944
2789 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, North Judson, IN restoration ALCO (Schenectady) #75202, 1947
2716 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O Kentucky Railway Museum, New Haven, KY display ALCO (Schenectady) #70865, 1943 Once operated in the Norfolk Southern steam program.
2705 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore, MD display
1223 N-1 2-8-4 4'-8½" PM North Harbor Drive, Grand Haven, MI display Lima #7837, 1941
1225 N-1 2-8-4 4'-8½" PM Steam Railroading Institute, A A Shops, Owosso, MI operational Lima #7839, 1941 Appeared in Polar Express movie
2727 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O Museum of Transportation, St. Louis, MO display ALCO (Schenectady) #70876, 1944
755 S2 2-8-4 4'-8½" NYC&StL Conneaut Station, Conneaut, OH display Lima #8663, 1944
2700 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, Dennison, OH display ALCO (Schenectady) #70849, 1943 many rumors of being restored
779 S3 2-8-4 4'-8½" NYC&StL Lincoln Park, Lima, OH display Lima #9380, 1949
763 S2 2-8-4 4'-8½" NYC&StL Age of Steam Roundhouse, Sugarcreek, OH restoration Lima #8671, 1944 From the Virginia Museum of Transportation
2776 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O Jesse Eyman Park, Washington Court House, OH display ALCO (Schenectady) #75189, 1947
759 S2 2-8-4 4'-8½" NYC&StL Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, PA display Lima #8667, 1944
757 S2 2-8-4 4'-8½" NYC&StL Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg, PA display Lima #8665, 1944
2760 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O Treasure Island Road, Lynchburg, VA display ALCO (Schenectady) #75173, 1947
2756 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O Huntington Park, Newport News, VA display Lima #9263, 1947
2732 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond, VA display ALCO (Schenectady) #70881, 1944
2736 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O National Railroad Museum, Green Bay, WI display Lima #70885, 1925
2755 K-4 2-8-4 4'-8½" C&O Chief Logan State Park, Logan, WV display Lima #9262, 1947 Placed on the National Register of Historical Places on Sep 28, 2006

Web Pages

Reference

  • Superpower by David Weitzman
  • Guide to North American Steam Locomotives by George H. Drury (Kalmbach Publishing Co.)
  • North American Steam Locomotives: The Berkshires and Texas Type by Jack W. Farrell (Pacific Fast Mail)
  • The Search for Steam by Joe G. Collias (Heimburger House Publishing Co.)
  • Super Power Steam Locomotives by Richard J. Cook (Golden West Books)

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