Colored Steam Locomotives

Page Contents: [Red Steam Locomotives] [Green Steam Locomotives] [Blue Steam Locomotives] [Orange Steam Locomotives] [Yellow Steam Locomotives] [Gray Steam Locomotives] [Gold and Silver Steam Locomotives] [Brown Steam Locomotives] [Other Colored Steam Locomotive Web Sites]

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 Union Pacific Jupiter and the Central 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

Other Green Steam Locomotives

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

Other Blue Steam Locomotives

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

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

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

Other Web Pages with Colored Steam Locomotives