Copper River & Northwestern 2-8-2 "Mikado" Locomotives in the USA

The CR&NW's last locomotive purchase was five Alco Brooks 2-8-2s, delivered in two batches: 70-72 in 1915 and 73-74 in 1917. While these reflected modern standards of design, with a wide firebox, trailing truck, and probably superheaters, they had only 48 inch drivers.

The CR&NW operated between Cordova and Kennicott, Alaska from 1910 to 1938. One thing worth noting is the fact that to date: it is the only non-government, standard gauge railroad to "successfully operate" in the state. The Alaska Railroad continues to operate under state government ownership.

In 1938 when CR&NW was abandoned, the McCloud River Railroad bought 72 and 73, which became McCloud River #26 and #27. #26 was scrapped in November 1955. #27 was scrapped by the end of 1953.

In May 1947 McCloud River sold the large rectangular tenders with which the pair arrived from Alaska to the Shevlin Hixon Lumber Company of Bend, Oregon for $3,714.00 for use with their locomotives #4 and #8. Shevlin Hixon operated log trains over the Great Northern mainline from Bend south to Chemult and needed the larger tenders so that their locomotives could make that run. Should be noted that while McCloud River Railroad was technically independent, it was controlled by the same group of stockholders that also owned the McCloud River and Shevilin Hixon lumber companies, and the ownership group marketed the output of both mills together under the Shevlin Pine Sales umbrella. McCloud River initially purchased one Vanderbuilt-style tender from the Southern Pacific for the #27 at a cost of $2,615.41 ($2,000 f.o.b. Oakland, $124.20 freight, $491.21 conditioning, purchased 5/1947). The railroad then removed the tender from the #15 and mated it to the #26, but after a short time the company purchased a second Vanderbuilt tender from SP at a cost of $ 2,297.68 ($2,000 f.o.b. Mt. Shasta City, plus $297.68 to install, purchased 7/1947) and reunited the #15 with its tender.

Information courtesy John Bruce and Jeff Moore..


CR&NW Road NumberYear BuiltBuilderConstruction NumberDispositionReceiverNew Road Number
X-4soldNorthern Pacific46
701915ALCO55490soldMidland Terminal62
711915ALCO55491suffered boiler explosion in 1936, rebuilt, sold 1940Alaska Railroad
721915ALCO55492sold 12/1938; scrapped 11/1955McCloud River Railroad26
731917ALCO57291sold 11/1938; scrapped 1953McCloud River Railroad27
741917ALCO58164soldMidland Terminal63

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 70 (Locobase 16434)

Data from American Locomotive Company builder's card for Class 282 S 191, supplied by Jeff Moore of McCloud River RR ([] and []) through an email from Steve Low. (Thanks to Steve Low and to Jeff, who supplied additional information used below.) See also "The Copper River and Northwestern Railway" on the Abandoned Rails site at [], last accessed 2 July 2019. Works numbers were 55490-55492 in November-December 1915, 57291 in April 1917 and 58164 in August 1917.

The CR&NW (aka Can't Run and Never Will) was built to exploit copper deposits near Mt Wrangell east of Anchorage, Alaska. Starting at the port of Cordova, the line squirmed east then northeast, then northwest, and east north east "across glaciers, canyons, and other perilous landscapes to reach the copper mines around Kennicott." The mines lay near the base of Nabesna Glacier. Total mileage came to 193.9 (312.2 km). (Even in 2016, according to one comment, one could only reach the former mines over 100 miles of road after leaving the highway, "of which the last 60 mi are gravel and potholes."

The CR&NW was only and always a mineral line, making money by hauling copper ore. So when Kennecott deemed the lode mined out, it ran its last ore train on 10 November 1938 and was granted permission to abandon in May 1939.

70 and 74 both went to the Midland Terminal as their 62-63. According to Al Weber's locomotive-by-locomotive Alco records, both were sold in 1948 to the Noroeste de Mexico as their 200-201. They ended their careers on the Chihuahua al Pacific as their 200.

Steve Low confirmed 71 was retired by the CR&NW in 1936 after a boiler explosion that killed the fireman and severely burned the engineer . Although it lingered for years on the backtrack and was eventually sold to the Alaska Railroad, it was not used by that railroad.

72 and 73 were both sold to the McCloud River Railroad in 1938 as their 26 (in December)-27 (in November). Jeff Moore has mined the history of the road and its locomotives and found that the McCloud had budgeted $100,000 for two new Mikados. " It appears

they instead found the two CR&NW machines at a fraction of that estimate," he concludes. In fact, the two cost S16,234,39 f.o.b. plus "conditioning" costs of $2,692.64 or a total of $19,017.03.

The inverted order of the pair's history extended to the end of their days. 27 was sold first to the Sixth Street Auto Wrecking Company in the summer of 1953. (One supposes that Sixth Street wasn't planning to dismantle it for parts ...). More than two years later, Luna Brothers (a dealer in scrap) bought the 26 in November 1955.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID16434
RailroadCopper River & Northwestern
Number in Class5
Road Numbers70-74
Number Built5
Valve GearWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)13.50 / 4.11
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)29.50 / 8.99
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.46
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)64.27 / 19.59
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)144,500 / 65,544
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)191,000 / 86,636
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)180,100 / 81,692
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)371,100 / 168,328
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)9000 / 34.09
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)4000 / 15,140
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)60 / 30
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)48 / 1219
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)180 / 12.40
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)20" x 28" / 508x711
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)35,700 / 16193.27
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.05
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)186 - 2" / 51
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)26 - 5.375" / 137
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)17 / 5.18
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)163 / 15.14
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)50 / 4.65
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2448 / 227.51
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)497 / 46.19
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2945 / 273.70
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume240.47
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation9000
Same as above plus superheater percentage10,530
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area34,328
Power L110,943
Power MT667.82

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Wes Barris