Santa Maria Valley 2-8-2 "Mikado" Locomotives in the USA

The Santa Maria Valley Railroad began in1911. Its 14 mile main line is located about 250 miles south of San Francisco and 175 miles north of Los Angeles on the Central Coast of California. There is an interchange with the Union Pacific in Guadalupe, CA.

By 1915, the railroad was handling 5700 cars a year. In 1925, traffic had declined to a point that the railroad was forced into bankruptcy, and it sold its assets to the Dominion Oil Company headed by Captain G. Allan Hancock. Hancock converted the railroad into a fresh vegetable carrier. The railroad was reorganized as the Santa Maria Valley Railroad Company.

Hancock revitalized the railroad and purchased a new steam locomotive, number 21, the only new steam locomotive the railroad ever purchased, from the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Number 21 had 50" diameter drivers, 19"x 20" cylinders, a 200 psi boiler pressure, it exerted 31,900 pounds of tractive effort and it weighed 166,000 pounds.

In 1943, a line was laid to the Santa Maria Army Air Corp Base. The SMV carried thousands of solders during WWII on special trains. Three additional locomotives, number 206, 100 and 1000, were added to the roster to handle the traffic. After the war, business continued to grow and the railroad prospered and like most railroad the SMV purchased diesel locomotives.

On February 24, 1962, an excursion ran from Santa Maria to Guadalupe and return. This excursion was the last run for number 21. Hundreds of rail fans turned out including Walt Disney who rode in the cab with Captain Hancock and Manny Phillips who had engineered and fired her on her first run 36 years earlier. The Astoria Railroad Preservation Association is now restoring number 21.

Three other SMV steam engines still exist. Number 205 a 2-6-2 is privately owned and undergoing restoration for possible use on the Portland & Western Railroad. Number 100 is in Oregon and is also privately owned. Number 1000 is on display at Travel Town Museum in Los Angeles, CA.


Qty.Road NumbersFrom Other RRYear Acquired Year BuiltBuilderNotes
1100Pope & Talbot19421926Baldwin2
  1. Bought new from Baldwin in 1925. Number 21 being restored by the Astoria Railroad Preservation Association, Inc.
  2. Number100 was built by Baldwin in 1926 as number 4 for the Charles R. McCormick Lumber Co. It was sold to the Pope & Talbot Lumber Co in 1938 and became P&T number 100. Sold to SMV in 1942. Sold to the White Mountain Scenic Railway in 1962 and then sold to the Wasatch Mountain Railway in 1976. It was then sold to Fred Kepner Estate in 1999. Fred Kepner still owns the locomotive which is in storage in Merrill, OR.
  3. Bought second hand from the Newaukum Valley Railroad in 1944. Retired in 1953 and donated to the Travel Town Museum in Los Angeles where it remains today as the SMV # 1000.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 5/21 (Locobase 16638)

Data from DeGolyer, Volume 76, pp. 413-415. See also ""Baldwin 21" on the Astoria Railroad Preservation Association website at [], last accessed 8 June 2023; and "History" on the Santa Maria Valley Railroad website at [], also last accessed 8 June 2023. (Many thanks to Joe Skorch for his 1 June 2023 email asking about the 21's fuel and tender. Locobase discovered he had not created an entry for the engine.) Works number was 58368 in April 1925.

SMVRR began in 1911 as a oil road bringing oil and asphalt from Roadamite to Guadalupe and later included switching operations at a Union Sugar plant. The latter's closing in the 1920s led to financial troubles.

ARPA's history describes the central role played by its owner Captain G Allen Hancock, who contributed financially to the SMV's 1925 emergence from bankruptcy and materially improved the 35-mile (58 km) line that "pulled loads of sugar beets, vegetables and petroleum products." This oil-burning Mikado, bought new as one of the Captain's first investments, was well-suited to the SMV's branch-line service, which ran on 70 lb/yard (35-kg/metre) rail (except for 4 miles of 50 lb/yard-25 kg/metre track) .

Baldwin's spec referred to its "Photo 8172" as the design "general" design basis, "except to omit auxiliary dome, and to have Laird type crosshead, cross-compound air pump, and tender for oil." It ws unadorned with arch tubes or a superheaters, but sported 10" (254 mm) piston valves. The 5 (later 21) used a Van Boden -Ingles burner manufactured by San Francisco's E Sullivan company to burn oil with gravity of "12 and 14 to 18 degrees." . Its "long and low" tender profile provided "clear vision when running back yards.

The SMV's close relationship with the Southern Pacific is apparent in the number of appliances and other parts to be "similar" to an Espee correlate.

Captain Hancock was known to have had "a passion for putting himself at the throttle," and over the next 37 years, reports ARPA's history, "[t]he 81-ton locomotive became a favorite on the railroad for both its domineering presence on the track and its famous engineer. "

Retired in 1962 after a last run with Captain Hancock at the throttle and Walt Disney in the cab, 21 lay idle until 1966 when a Washington State preservation group bought the engine, had it dismantled, and trucked it to Snoqualmie. Restoration plans failed to bear fruit and the 21's parts lay unassembled until ARPA bought them in 1991 for $27,000.

Restoration by ARPA volunteers has taken more than 30 years as the association sought to bring it back to its 1925 configuration. By 2022, much of the locomotive had been salvaged or fitted with new parts, but work remained to do..

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID16638
RailroadSanta Maria Valley
Number in Class1
Road Numbers5/21
Number Built1
Valve GearWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)14 / 4.27
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)29.25 / 8.92
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.48
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)60.83 / 18.54
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)128,000 / 58,060
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)162,000 / 73,482
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)126,000 / 57,153
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)288,000 / 130,635
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)6000 / 22.73
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)2500 / 9463
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)53 / 26.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)50 / 1270
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)200 / 13.80
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)19" x 26" / 483x660
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)31,912 / 14475.06
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.01
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)290 - 2" / 51
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)16.83 / 5.13
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)142 / 13.19
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)38.80 / 3.60
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2686 / 249.54
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2686 / 249.54
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume314.89
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation7760
Same as above plus superheater percentage7760
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area28,400
Power L16635
Power MT457.11

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Wes Barris