Colored Steam Locomotives

I thought it would be fun to categorize steam locomotives using a method that I have not seen done before -- by their color.

Before the 1890s, most if not all locomotives, freight and passenger, were painted in colors. Some like Jupiter, were very bright while others were more practical greens and browns. Black locomotives became common after coal burning engines made grime commonplace, beginning in 1880. This was done so that they didn't show all the dirt and grime that got collected during normal use. After 1900, when a railroad line wanted to show off their locomotive(s), perhaps when used exclusively for passenger service, they would use special paint schemes to make them look more "attractive". This, of course, necessitated more frequent maintenance and cleaning and therefore, was not a common practice.

This page (as well as this entire site) is mainly focused on North American steam locomotives. However, because the British (and a number of other countries) put more effort into coloring (or in this case maybe I should say colouring) their steam locomotives, a number of "foreign" steam locomotives are mentioned here. The LNER Mallard and the LNER Flying Scotsman are two good examples of coloured British steam. Elegant Steam is a web site devoted to British steam with many coloured examples.

This page shows a number of present day examples of colored steam locomotives. I'm sure that there are more examples than what I show here. If you would like to offer other examples, I would be more than happy to add your information to this page.

Red Steam Locomotives

Union Pacific's 119 The Central Pacific Jupiter and the Union Pacific 119 of the Golden Spike National Historic Site certainly have enough red in their paint schemes to qualify as red steam locomotives. These are the original paint schemes for these locomotives. These replicas were built back in 1980 by Chadwell O'Connor Engineering Laboratories of Costa Mesa, CA. The Jupiter is also one of the more attractive steam locomotives you will ever see.

Other North American Red Steam Locomotives

Other Red Steam Locomotives

Green Steam Locomotives

I have seen two green steam locomotives. One is the beautiful Southern Railway class Ps-4 Pacific number 1401 which is on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. The other is the Southern Railway class Ms Mikado number 4501 at the Tennessee Valley Railway Museum in Chattanooga, TN. However, green is not the original color of 4501. 4501 is a freight locomotive and therefore was originally painted black. It was painted green to match that of Southern's passenger locomotives when it was put into excursion service a number of years ago.

Other North American Green Steam Locomotives

  • Southern Railway 1401
  • Southern Railway 4501
  • The P&LE Berkshires were delivered in Pacemaker Green Paint (a very dark green).
  • There are a few other green steam locomotives at the Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, FL. A few photos are here.
  • Texas State Railroad #500
  • Tweetsie RR #12 (photo courtesy Ken Riddle)
  • Tweetsie RR #190 (photo courtesy Tim Smith)
  • Canadian National Railways Hudson #5700
  • NARC 1 (formerly painted blue (see below), now in 2000 it is green, photo courtesy Edward Reutling)
  • GN 2584 (Photo courtesy Allen Dale)
  • Prior to virtually all B&O passenger engines being painted blue many of their pacifics were done in a light green similar in shade to GN's Glacier Park -- these were the "President" pacifics.
  • Some Southern Railway affiliates did, in fact, paint their freight locomotives in the beautiful green and gold of Southern's passenger power. Point in case, the Little River Railroad in Tennessee had at least 2 2-4-4-2 Baldwin articulateds painted in Southern green. Source of information: Ghost Railroads of Tennessee by Elmer G. Sulzer -- available through University of Indiana Press.
  • It was hard to tell, but Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotives (since the K4 class) were painted Brunswick Green. Brunswick Green is so close to black that many did not notice. The cab roofs and tender decks of these locomotives were often painted mineral red.
  • The Rutland Railway's Mountains as delivered from Alco in 1946 were painted green.
  • Cincinatti Southern 29 at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Holiday Inn, TN.
  • Austrian 0-6-2 #395-104 at the Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE
  • 6060 Mountain (4-8-2), Rocky Mountain Railway Society, Stettler, AB.
  • 6400 Streamlined Northern (4-8-4), Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa.

Other Green Steam Locomotives

  • The Renfe Serie 242f was the epitome of steam in Spain.
  • LNER Flying Scotsman
  • The British Railways used green for their passenger steam locomotives. Their Western Region painted most of their engines green following the tradition of their predecessor -- the old Great Western Railway.
  • The C38 class Pacifics of New South Wales, Australia were painted green. Some were also streamlined. Photo courtesy Nick van Domburg.
  • Number 1210 of New South Wales, Australia was painted green. Photo courtesy Nick van Domburg.
  • There is a green semi-streamlined class 500 4-8-4 in the Port Dock Museum, Adelaide, South Australia.
  • Hr-1 alias Ukko-Pekka, an engine used by Finnish State Railways mainly on long distance passenger trains to end of 60's. photo
  • Tasmanian (Australian) H & M class locomotives were painted an apple green on delivery from the U.K. and later painted dark green and bright red.
  • 18 201 German semi-streamliner built in the former German Democratic Republic. It was 'patchwork loco' with the main frame, taken from the 61 002 Streamliner, the trailing wheel, cylinders and cab from the H45 high pressure experimental loco, the tender from a 44 Class freight loco and a new boiler. It is still operational. Today, it is often used with two tenders, as there are very few places in Germany to take on either fuel oil or water. This is one fine looking steam locomotive. (Photo courtesy Dampflokomotiven - Gunters Eisenbahn Seiten)
  • In Belgium, for most of the last century (but certainly from the end of WWI), and up to the end of steam (1967), locomotives were painted green with red & black accents. See the photo of engine 29.013 (MLW 1945), photographed in Antwerp Central Station on an excursion trip a few years ago.
  • SNCF 241P16: boiler, cab and tender: green, wheels: black (Currently located at the Mulhouse French National Railroad Museum)
  • 141R: depending of their "home base", some were painted green, with either red or yellow accents.

Blue Steam Locomotives

The most famous blue steam locomotive in the USA is perhaps the Gulf, Mobile & Northern class P-1 Pacific number 425 that used to operate in excursion service on the Blue Mountain & Reading out of Hamburg, PA. Here is a shot of it under steam back in 1993.

Another very famous blue steam locomotive is the British Railways No 60022 'Mallard' (holder of the world steam speed record). This engine, with most of its class, was painted Garter Blue. During the war it was painted black and for a few years during British Railways days was in BR passenger livery of Brunswick Green. It is now preserved in its original Garter Blue by the National Railway Museum, York, England.

Other North American Blue Steam Locomotives

  • GM&N 4-6-2 #425
  • North American Rayon 1 (Another not so well known blue steam locomotives is in Elizabethton, TN. It is a fireless steam locomotive from the North American Rayon plant located in Elizabethton. Apparently the plant had a large capacity steam generating system and they would fill this thing up every morning and it would go all day doing duty shuffling cars about. It is now located at the Visitor Center on US 19E two blocks from the town's famous Covered Bridge. I have heard in 2009 that this locomotive is now painted green.)
  • Several of the Texas and Pacific 700 class Pacifics were painted in MoPac blue with wide light gray stripe to match the Eagle passenger cars.
  • Texas State Railroad #200
  • The Central of New Jersey pacifics that pulled the Blue Comet were painted two-tone blue.
  • The Wabash Bluebirds (before the diesels took over the name) which were 700 series Hudsons that were rebuilt in the Decatur Illinois shops from Mikados in 1943 and 1944 were painted dark Wabash blue with a gray stripe and semi streamlined (running board shroud).
  • The AT&SF "Blue Goose" (number 3460) was the only streamlined steam locomotive that the AT&SF owned. It ran between Kansas and Denver in the 1930s. It was painted eggshell blue and silver.

Other Blue Steam Locomotives

  • Thomas the Tank Engine
  • The S class Pacifics of the Victoria Railways (Australia) were painted royal blue with yellow striping. Alas, all were scrapped.
  • Chinese SL-7 (former Manchurian, now at Sujiatun Steam Locomotive Museum)
  • London Northeastern 4468 Mallard (set worlds speed record of 126 mph on July 3, 1938)
  • SNCF 232U1: blue with yellow accents, wheels: black (Currently located at the Mulhouse French National Railroad Museum)

Orange Steam Locomotives

This one is easy. Everyone has heard of and has seen pictures of the famous Southern Pacific Daylight class GS-4 Northern number 4449. In my opinion, this is the most attractive streamlining ever applied to a steam locomotive. The colors used when 4449 was dressed up in the Freedom Train livery would also qualify this as a red, white or blue locomotive.

Other Orange North American Steam Locomotives

Yellow Steam Locomotives

This is the only surviving streamlined Hudson and a beautiful example of a yellow steam locomotive. It is C&O number 490 and on display at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD.

Other Yellow Steam Locomotives

  • C&O 490
  • Dantzler Lumber 0-4-0T+T #1147 (South of Zephyrhills, FL on highway 301 is a place called Festival Park. In the park sits this 0-4-0T+T. This 1907 Vulcan was built as Florida Phosphate 2, and in 1933 was sold to Dantzler Lumber (near Tampa) and renumbered 1147. After its career was over, it was placed on display in Lowery Park in Tampa. It was later moved to the Florida Gulf Coast Railroad Museum in Parrish. My guess is that was recently moved to its present location. I don't know if the tender was really part of this locomotive or not (it already has a tank). Also, the smoke stack is not authentic. Perhaps both the tender and balloon smokestack were added by Dantzler Lumber and they fired it with wood instead of coal.)
  • Busch #9 (One of the Busch Gardens (Tampa, FL) steam locomotives)
  • Denver & Rio Grande Western narrow gauge 2-8-0 at Gunnison, Colorado has been re-painted to its 1955 era yellow and silver "BumbleBee" paint scheme.
  • Adolf Meyer 0-4-0T (LaPorte County Historical Steam Society, Hesston, IN)

Gray Steam Locomotives

Ten of the J3 Hudsons (5445-5454) were built streamlined (in 1938). The design was developed by Henry Dreyfuss. Half of these locomotives had boxpok drivers. The other half had Scullin double-disc drivers. These locomotives were used primarily for New York - Chicago service. Shrouding over the main air reservoirs was removed in 1941. All streamlining was removed from these locomotives in 1945.

Other North American Gray Steam Locomotives

Other Gray Steam Locomotives

  • French PO RR Pacific: "artillerie" (gunnery) gray. One, 231 ALCO built restored in original colors (Currently located at the Mulhouse French National Railroad Museum)

Gold and Silver Steam Locomotives

In 1964 CB&Q 5632 was painted with temporary (water-based) gold paint to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of CB&Q's suburban service. Chicago - Aurora runs were made on May 20, 1964 (a mid-week trip - on the actual day) and on May 23rd. The May 23rd trip consisted of a record number of passengers (about 3500) for a CB&Q fan trip (22 coaches were used). By June, 5632 was once again painted black. However, 5632 was again painted gold to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Kansas City Union Station with a trip to St. Joseph on October 31, 1964 and a trip to Bevier, Missouri on November 1. The trip on November 1, 1964 proved to be 5632's final (CB&Q excursion) trip for when she returned to Galesburg, she was stored unserviceable with no further extension on flue removal.

Other Gold and Silver Locomotives

Brown Steam Locomotives

I haven't seen any existing brown steam locomotives. However, Union Pacific's Omaha Shops shrouded two locomotives in 1937. The 7002 locomotive was built to pull heavy passenger trains over the Rocky Mountains, with massive 6-foot wheels driven by 4,000 horsepower. The 2906 was one of 10 P-13 Pacifics built for the UP by Baldwin in 1920. They were shrouded primarily to serve as relief power for the dieselized Cities streamliners between Omaha and Ogden or Denver. Pacific 2906 and Mountain 7002 served between 1939 and 1941 on the Forty-Niner , a heavyweight, all-Pullman streamliner departing five times a month from Chicago to San Francisco, site of the Golden Gate Exposition. The locos bore UP's prewar streamliner colors of Armour Yellow, Leaf Brown, and Scarlet. The 7002 ended its spectacular 32-year career as a rescuer engine for stalled locomotives.

Other North American Brown Locomotives

Other Brown Locomotives

  • Some Australian Queensland Rail C17 4-8-0s were painted brown and green.
  • French NORD RR: all compound express locomotives. Nicknamed the "Chocolat". One, 231 restored in original colors. (Currently located at the Mulhouse French National Railroad Museum)

Other Web Pages with Colored Steam Locomotives