Isthmian Canal Commission/Panama 2-6-0 "Mogul" Locomotives in the USA

ES&NA #201 (ex-MC&SA) at Eureka Springs AR, D&R #10 at Ford Park, Shreveport LA, and PRR #299 at Paterson NJ are all sisters of the same ICC 201 class of 1906. ICC (Isthmian Canal Commission) was the US Government agency that built the Panama Canal. It purchased 100 of this 201 class from Alco-Cooke. All were originally 5-foot gauge as was the entire Panama Railroad (PRR) up to its demise in 1979, when it was turned over to the Republic of Panama. All 201's were oil-fired and all had sloped tenders. After the Canal was completed in 1914, the ICC was dissolved and the Panama RR (US Govt owned) acquired the 299 for work in the US Government's Dredging Division at Gamboa, mid-point on the Canal. It work there working during the 1950s. The 299 remains as built (except for environmental removal of the asbestos insulation jacket), including its 5-foot gauge. The ES&NA 201 is the most radically changed, with an entirely different tender.

Photos of the Panama Canal during construction (1904-1914) will show the 201 class Moguls as being the workhorses of that huge project (along with 40 of the ICC 301 class Moguls built by Baldwin).

Text by Lance Terrell

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 201 (Locobase 6424)

Data from diagram published on [] . See also "Mogul (2-6-0) Locomotives for the Isthmian Canal Commission", The Railway Age, Volume 41 (29 June 1906), p. 1259 and "Mogul Locomotives for the Panama Excavation", Railroad Gazette, Volume XLI [41], No 3 (20 July 1906), pp. 59-61. See also "With Wier at Wiergate", Gulf Coast Lumberman, November 15, 1937. Bound in a scrapbook in the collection of Lester Haines, reproduced from the Texas Transportation Archive at, last accessed 3 September 2018. Works numbers were 39092-39121, 39142-39211 in 1906.

These Moguls were the principal motive power for the Canal Zone during the construction of the Panama Canal. They were ordered in a block for $11,307 each. (Alco's construction numbers are not a single series, however, probably because they were assigned regardless of actual builder. It's likely that this order filled Cooke's books for at least the remainder of 1906. These small Moguls had sloping tenders for greater ease in reverse-running.

The RG report dismissed this batch's design as "merely an example of mogul locomotive design as it had been developed 10 or 15 years ago." It called attention to the short tube lengths in both this set and the 20 Brooks locomotives described in Locobase 6425. Indeed, a tube length'diameter ratio of 70:1 would have been quite short given the prevailing goal of 100:1 as optimum.

One site -- [] (visited 22 Dec 2004) -- notes that in 1913, the Panama Railroad hauled 2,916,657 passengers and transported 2,026,852 tons of freight across the Isthmus. At that time it was reported to have had the heaviest per-mile traffic of any railroad in the entire world!"

Once the Canal was done, most of the stud was sold off to various other railroads.

201 was rebuilt to the standard gauge to lumberer W T Carter & Brother (formerly Carter-Kelley Lumber Company) for their Moscow Camden & San Augustine railroad. Still bearing its ICC road number, the 2-6-0 was retired in 1962 and donated to the Grigsby Foundation. Meanwhile the Arkansas & Ozark Railway (formerly the Missouri & North Arkansas) had closed, but the railroad remained intact and was revived in 1978 as the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas,. The 201 ran as a wood-burner on the ES&NA until its boiler ticket ran out in the late 1990s. According to Wikipedia, the expense of burning 1 1/2-2 cords per day played a role. She later went to the Reader Railroad to be restored.

212 and 262 only left the ICC rails in 1940, when they were sold first to the Gulf Refining Company as their road numbers 4 and 6, then almost immediately to Wier Long Leaf Lumber. In 1937, that company was featured operating a "mighty sawmill" at Wiergate, west of Texas's Sabine River and "grinding away into the 'last great stand' of virgin Long Leaf Yellow Pine timber west of the Sabine." (Such industrious deletion figured in the overall eradication of 97% of all such timber stands in the US.)

213 and 238 to Kirby Lumber,

227 to the Wichita Falls, Ranger & Fort Worth,

226 and 228 to Delta Land & Timber,

233 and 248 to T R Miller as their #9-10,

239 and 242 to Hillyer Deutsch Edward of Oakdale, La,

267 to the Dallas, Cleburne & Southwestern as their #9,

268 to the Northwestern Railroad of South Carolina (later renumbered 14),

273 to the Ouachita & Northwestern,

277 to Grant Timber & Manufacturing as their 12, then Good Pine Lumber,

278 to Dardanelle & Russellville as their 10

294 to Edward Hines Yellow Pine

The Alaska Railroad bought several in 1915: 208, 221, 224-225, 239 and 242 (later sold, see above), 264266, 270, 272, 275-276, 277-278 (later sold, see above), 280, 285-- most were scrapped in the mid-1930s but a couple survived to serve in World War II.

Others were turned over to the US War Department: 209, 243, 253, 255-256, 260, 271, 297

Class 301 (Locobase 12183)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University Vol 29,. p. 265. Works numbers were 30051-30056, 30121-30124, 30141-30147, 30187-30190, 30213-30220, 30259-30263, 30273-30277, 30313-30314 in February 1907.

As the Isthmian Canal Commission's construction of the Panama Canal shifted into high gear, it placed large orders with several builders for Moguls of very similar dimensions. For Alco-Cooke's 1906 order, see Locobase 6424.

After the canal was completed, most of the class was handed over to the United States Army Quartermaster Corps. 315, 322, and 340 were bought by AB Shaw and sold to Carnegie Steel. 325 went to the Duluth & Northern Minnesota as their #20.

Class 601 (Locobase 6425)

Data from diagram published on 22 Dec 2004). See also "Mogul (2-6-0) Locomotives for the Isthmian Canal Commission", The Railway Age, Vol 41 (29 June 1906), p. 1259; "Moguls for the Isthmian Canal Commission," Railway Master Mechanic (August 1906), p. 266; and "Mogul Locomotives for the Panama Excavation", Railroad Gazette, Volume XLI [41], No 3 (20 July 1906), pp. 59-61.

Compared to the 201 class ordered in the same year from Cooke (Locobase 6424), this Mogul design was bigger in all respects. The design's taller driver fitted it for mixed-traffic operation and its larger boiler meant more endurance.

The Panama railroad received 20 and operated them for 15-20 years.

RMM's report introduces the class with the wistful observation that"It is a refreshing reminder of 'days agone to read at this time of an order for 120 mogul engines, and to see their familiar lines worked out in their simplest proportions, as in the days when holding sway as the ideal freight power on lines handling the heaviest freight traffic, but this difference, that while the type is preserved, modern proportions obtain in all details."

Railroad Gazette dissented from RMM's rosy review in several important respects. Its assessment first noted what might seem an insignificant difference in the distance from the tip of the nozzle to the bottom of the petticoat pipe between the smaller Cooke Moguls and these Brooks engines. "Certainly these dimensions are difficult to harmonize when it is considered that the two machines are to burn the same grades of coal, are to run over practically the same tracks, and to perform the same service."

(RG conceded that several factors might account for the different choices, but complained that no such discussion had appeared.)

RG continued the observation that the dimensions were "high in mogul construction." Acknowledging that the weight was "not excessive", but the driver loading was "well up in the scale of modern practice." The journal implicitly questioned carrying the boiler "by an expansion pad at the front and a rather heavy buckle plate at the rear, while the frame itself is cut away into a very irregular contour."

Proceeding to the firebox, the author says its cross-sectional "great amount of flare at the top" was a design feature that had been "urged that the large amount of steam passing over the sheet in rising, keeps the water away, increases the temperature at the upper rows of staybolts, and tends to increase the breakages that occur at that point."

A discussion of spring suspension offers a more ambiguous evaluation, but RG stands firmly against the short tubes in the boiler in both the Cooke and Brooks products, although Brooks compensates by substantially increasing the number of tubes. And the journal's author only adds that arriving at a suitable tube heating surface area value"brings up the old and still unanswered question as to the relative value, for evaporative purposes, of the several sections in the length of the tubes."

All were rebuilt to roll on standard gauge track in 1917. Twelve of the 20 went in that year to the Grand Trunk Western as ther E14 class; these were 602-604, 607-609, 611-613, 615-616, and 619. They traded the sloped-back tenders of the ICC years for conventional tenders that carried 4,500 US gallons of water and 12 short tons of coal. The GTW gave them road numbers 1100-1111, later renumbering them to 890-901. The GTW sold 890-893 in 1934 to the Detroit, Caro & Sandusky as their 1-2, 7, and 9.

In 1922, the AlaskaRailroad bought seven of the eight remaining locomotives: 601, 605-606, 610, 614, 618, and 620.

Class 801 (Locobase 943)

Date is edition of Locomotive Cyclopedia. Works numbers were 7323 in November 1941, 7324-7325 in December, 7326 in January 1942, 7327 in February, 7328 in April.

These World War II locomotives fleshed out the Panama Railroad's stud with superheated Moguls that delivered a healthy increase in power.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID6424 12183 6425 943
RailroadIsthmian Canal Commission/PanamaIsthmian Canal Commission/PanamaIsthmian Canal Commission/PanamaIsthmian Canal Commission/Panama
Number in Class10040206
Road Numbers201-300301-340601-619801-806
Number Built10040206
BuilderAlco-CookeBurnham, Williams & CoAlco-BrooksPorter
Valve GearStephensonStephensonStephensonWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)13.33 / 4.0613 / 3.9614.50 / 4.4213.33 / 4.06
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)21.25 / 6.4820.50 / 6.2522.67 / 6.9121.25 / 6.48
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.63 0.63 0.64 0.63
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)52.71 / 16.0757.29 / 17.4654.75 / 16.69
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)41,100 / 18,643
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)120,500 / 54,658108,000 / 48,988127,500 / 57,833133,000 / 60,328
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)138,400 / 62,777126,000 / 57,153147,500 / 66,905155,000 / 70,307
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)95,500 / 43,31870,00088,000 / 39,916
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)233,900 / 106,095196,000235,500 / 106,821
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)4000 / 15.154000 / 15.154000 / 15.15
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)11 / 106 / 6
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)67 / 33.5060 / 3071 / 35.5074 / 37
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)54 / 137254 / 137263 / 160054 / 1372
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)180 / 12.40180 / 12.40180 / 12.40220 / 15.20
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)19" x 24" / 483x61019" x 24" / 483x61020" x 26" / 508x66019" x 24" / 483x610
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)24,548 / 11134.8024,548 / 11134.8025,257 / 11456.4030,003 / 13609.15
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.91 4.40 5.05 4.43
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)236 - 2" / 51252 - 2" / 51316 - 2" / 51
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)11.67 / 3.5611 / 3.3512.27 / 3.74
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)134 / 12.45151 / 14.03174 / 16.16156 / 14.50
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)27.60 / 2.5623.20 / 2.1631 / 2.8831 / 2.88
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1560 / 145.391590 / 147.772203 / 204.661603 / 148.98
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)367 / 34.11
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1560 / 145.391590 / 147.772203 / 204.661970 / 183.09
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume197.97201.78233.12203.43
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation4968417655806820
Same as above plus superheater percentage4968417655808116
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area24,12027,18031,32040,841
Power L145854821614614,287
Power MT251.66295.24318.81710.47

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