White Pass & Yukon 2-8-0 Locomotives in Canada

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 56 (Locobase 10678)

Data from [], last accessed 19 July 2009--link later changed to [], last accessed 10 January 2015.

56 was delivered as a Vauclain compound (see Locobase 10677) in 1900, but like most others in North America soon was converted by the WP & Y to a short-stroke simple layout. Unusually for such conversions, the engine appears to have been fitted with a new boiler and firebox. Both were bigger and the latter included a larger grate area.

The 56 remained in service as a switcher on the railroad until the late 1930s.

Class 6 (Locobase 10677)

Data from [], last accessed 19 July 2009. See also DeGolyer, Volume 22, p. 59 and Record of Recent Construction, No 14, p. 111.. Works numbers were 16455-16456 in January 1899. See also "Two Notable Railroad Projects", Volume 20, No. 9 (September 1899), p. 143 and "Letters", The Railway Conductor, Volume XVI, No 3 (March 1899), p. 219 and "The White Pass & Yukon Railway", Engineering News, Vol XLII, No 14, (5 October 1899), pp. 218-219.

These sizable 3'-gauge Consolidations with outside frames were delivered as Vauclain compounds. What's odd is that Baldwin would build such short-stroke, four-cylinder engines; the LP cylinders were placed over the HP cylinders and, as with all Vauclain compounds, they shared a common valve train. They were delivered with boilers pressed to 200 psi.

The Engineering News article included two detailed maps of the projected right of way and a full account of the profile. The Railway Conductor's March 1899 letters column featured several reports from Milton G Pumphrey of Skagway about the just-launched WP&Y and the conditions that created the need for these two engines:

"The White Pass and Yukon railroad is climbing along up the summit of White Pass. Superintendent of Construction M. J. Heney, says they are working about fifteen hundred men now, and have not lost any time on account of stormy weather-working every day, if the mercury is playing down around zero. They have established camps all along from the summit to Lake Bennett. In Skagway they are working five hundred men on the Belt Line, a track down to the wharf at Deep Water. When this is completed all freight will be loaded directly into the cars."

The next report provided some insight into the WP&Y's search for greater power"

Whiting, superintendent, has just returned from a three month's vacation, visiting his home in Denver. Col., and attending to very important business for the company, going to the Baldwin Locomotive IWorks and purchasing two very powerful engines, which will be here in a few days, and are very much needed now to buck snow and pull material to the track layers. Our best engine, No. 5. can only take three loads up the hill at present. All the engines are kept very busy pulling material, freight, snow plow and Sanger up a 4 per cent grade in the snow.

Our assistant chief engineer, John Hislop, is the busiest man in Alaska. He had to look after Mr. Heney's part of the work and, while away so busy, we, the boys in Skagway, elected him a councilman and "The Honorable Mayor of Skagway." There are no flies on the mayor of Skagway, especially in the winter time."

Pumphrey felt the need to dampen (or chill) any thoughts of easy money in the Yukon:

"I am receiving letters of inquiry as to the expense of living, and if they should buy everything before coming to Alaska. I would say to the Brothers, if you are coming up to Alaska don't buy anything. You can buy cheaper here than you can pay freight and dockage from below. For this reason: There are several large outfitting houses that carry everything from a silk handkerchief to a dog team, and buy in large quantities, and can sell at a small advance on Seattle prices. If any of the Brothers are looking for work shoveling, picking or driving a drill or shoveling snow, why come along, but if you are looking for soft jobs, such as passenger train, don't come; there is nothing but hard work in Alaska.

Skagway, Alaska. Milton G. Pumphrey. "

Several months later, The Locomotive (of the Hartford Boiler Company), summarized the engines' performance.

"These locomotives are now in service there; and the first passenger train was run from Skagway up to the summit of the White Pass on February 20, 1899. "This railroad," says Mr. Emerson, "is a great example of engineering and constructive skill. It would have been a great feat to grade forty miles and build twenty over a similar rocky pass under the most favorable conditions; but this work was done in seven months, in a region without laborers, one thousand miles from supplies, three to four thousand miles from rolling mills and car shops, and against fearful climatic conditions. Day after day fresh snow drifted over the road bed, and day after day it had to be shoveled off, sometimes to a depth of six to eight feet. Supplies, bridge timbers, fire wood, even, for the enormous camps, had to be carried over almost impassable snow trails. There were days when men could not work on account of the storms or the intense cold; but they had to be fed and warmed." In concluding his article, Mr. Emerson says: "Nowhere else as on this gold trail has the genius of engineers wrought such beneficent and rapid change in so short a time."

Despite their early success, the compounds clearly failed to meet expectations. The WP sold the 57 to the Klondike Mines Railway in 1906 as their #3, but only began regular service hauling firewood in 1910. 3 was retired unmodified in 1915, but must have been preserved under cover for decades, for it was donated to Dawson City in May 1961 and put on display at Minto Park.

56 was simpled in 1907; see Locobase 10678.

Class 61 (Locobase 10680)

Data from [], last accessed 19 July 2009. See also DeGolyer, Volume 23, p. 34 and Justin Franz, "Work progress on an Alaska narrow-gauge locomotive - in Colorado NEWSWIRE", Trains Magazine website, 8 December 2017 at []; and SteamEnthusiast4000 (Chris H) "Steam (returning/being restored/being rebuilt) in 2020", posted 19 April 2020 on the Railway Preservation News Interchange forum at [], both last accessed 8 April 2023. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 2 April 2023 email reporting the 61's restoration program and for noting the original loaded tender weight and coal capacity.) Works number was 17814.

This single Consolidation had the same power dimensions as the converted #56 (Locobase 10678), but was a road engine. Like most of the WP&Y locomotives, 61 had an outside frame (to make room for the Stephenson link motion inside). In the original Baldwin specification, the tender's spec came from the company, which stipulated that the coal space would hold 5 1/2 tons (5 metric tons). The White Pass's diagram showed that capacity had increased to the 7 1/2 tons shown in Locobase's spec.

Although the diagram doesn't reveal why, the original firebox heating surface area of 79.3 sq ft (7.37 sq m) increased to the 101 sq ft shown. Locobase suspects the difference reflected the installation of arch tubes. Tractive effort is calculated as 17,600 lb (7,983 kg, 78.3 kN) possibly because the railway used a 0.65 coefficient.

As with several of the older White Pass locomotives, its retirement in 1944 was followed by submerging the engine in the Skagway River as part of the rip rap. In 2007, Steve Butler recovered the 61 with the goal of restoring it. Stathi Pappas acquired the 61 and his Stockton Locomotive Works of Antonito, CO began the actual project. An ultrasound depicting a sound boiler led to an upsurge in action that included facing off the bearing surface and delivery of the outside frame in February 2019.According to an early 2022 post, work on the main crankpins of the driver set was well along.

Class 68 (Locobase 10682)

Data from [], last accessed 19 July 2009. See also DeGolyer, Vol 30, p. 240. Works number was 30998 in June 1907.

Following a few years after earlier Consoldations, this engine had bigger cylinders, a bigger firebox, grate, and boiler and substantially more weight on the drivers. Like the others, it used an outside frame to allow for a larger firebox.

68 had a relatively short career, one cut short by a rockslide in August 1917 that totalled the engine.

Class 69 (Locobase 4216)

Data from "Recent Narrow Gage [sic] Locomotives for Heavy Service," Railroad Age Gazette, Vol XLV, No 12 (21 August 1908) article (pp. 755-758). See also DeGolyer, Volume 31, p. 211. Works number was 32762 in April 1908.

The RAG report covered three recent narrow-gauge engine deliveries, the Consolidation "...probably represents the limit of capacity attainable in an eight-coupled locomotive on a line laid with 56-lb rails." Like most such predictions, this forecast failed to anticipate all possible solutions to increasing tractive power on the narrow gauge. Still, the writer wasn't too far off, as Consolidations on 3-ft-gauge track went, this one may have offered the most.

This rigid-wheelbase design had the frames outside the wheels, which opened up more space for the firebox. Another result was the need to use outside cranks on the drivers which, together with the multi-part Walschaert link arrangement, caused the wheels to disappear from view altogether. Another unusual feature in this engine was the Baldwin low-superheat smokebox superheater.

In December 1954, the WP & Y sold the 69 to the Black Hills Central as "Klondike Casey". Still later the Klondike Casey went to the Nebraska Midland.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Middle Run Media

Locobase ID10678 10677 10680 10682 4216
RailroadWhite Pass & YukonWhite Pass & YukonWhite Pass & YukonWhite Pass & YukonWhite Pass & Yukon
Number in Class12111
Road Numbers566-7/56-57616869
Number Built2111
BuilderWP&YBurnham, Williams & CoBurnham, Williams & CoBurnham, Williams & CoBurnham, Williams & Co
Valve GearStephensonStephensonStephensonStephensonWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)11.50 / 3.5111.50 / 3.5110.92 / 3.3311.67 / 3.5612 / 3.66
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)16.30 / 4.9718.75 / 5.7117.58 / 5.3619.50 / 5.9419.83 / 6.04
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.71 0.61 0.62 0.60 0.61
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)45.50 / 13.8743.67 / 13.3146.33 / 14.1248.42 / 14.7648.92 / 14.91
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)82,000 / 37,19580,000 / 36,28788,000 / 39,916120,000 / 54,431119,810 / 54,345
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)90,000 / 40,82389,500 / 40,59798,000 / 44,452133,000 / 60,328134,360 / 60,945
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)69,000 / 31,29860,500 / 27,44262,000 / 28,12380,000 / 36,28780,640 / 36,578
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)159,000 / 72,121150,000 / 68,039160,000 / 72,575213,000 / 96,615215,000 / 97,523
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)3000 / 11.363000 / 11.363000 / 11.367000 / 26.524000 / 15.15
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT) 5.50 / 5 5.50 / 5 7.50 / 78 / 7 4.50 / 4
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)34 / 1733 / 16.5037 / 18.5050 / 2550 / 25
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)38 / 96538 / 96538 / 96540 / 101642 / 1067
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)180 / 12.40200 / 13.80180 / 12.40180 / 12.40160 / 11
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)17" x 20" / 432x50811.5" x 20" / 292x50817" x 20" / 432x50819" x 22" / 483x55921" x 22" / 533x559
Low Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)19" x 20" / 483x508
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)23,272 / 10556.0117,321 / 7856.6823,272 / 10556.0130,378 / 13779.2531,416 / 14250.07
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 3.52 4.62 3.78 3.95 3.81
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)126 - 2.25" / 57120 - 2.25" / 57204 - 2" / 51182 - 2.25" / 57182 - 2.25" / 57
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)15.25 / 4.6515.23 / 4.6414.25 / 4.3416.50 / 5.0316.67 / 5.08
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)97 / 9.0165.38 / 6.07101 / 9.38107 / 9.94100 / 9.29
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)14.65 / 1.3615.70 / 1.4617.40 / 1.6221.20 / 1.9721.20 / 1.97
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1205 / 111.991135 / 105.441622 / 150.691860 / 172.801860 / 172.86
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)386
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1205 / 111.991135 / 105.441622 / 150.691860 / 172.802246 / 172.86
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume229.52471.57308.95257.62210.88
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation26373140313238163392
Same as above plus superheater percentage26373140313238163969
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area17,46013,07618,18019,26018,720
Power L136702821461939817408
Power MT394.68310.96462.87292.55545.26

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