Sierra Railway 2-8-2 "Mikado" Locomotives in the USA

The Sierra Railway Company of California was incorporated in 1897 by founders Thomas S. Bullock, Prince Andre Poniatowski, and William H. Crocker. A 41-mile right-of-way was completed between Oakdale, CA and Jamestown CA in late 1897. The line was extended to Sonora, CA in 1899 and to Tuolumne City, CA in 1900. A 19-mile branch to Angels Camp was completed in 1902, and other temporary branches were built to haul construction materials for the Stanislaus River and Tuolumne River dams. The 57.4 miles of this short line railroad connected with the Union Pacific and the Santa Fe at Oakdale, CA.

In 1937, the Sierra Railway was sold to the new Sierra Railroad Company, and the debts of the original company were settled. In 1955, the railroad made the switch from steam to diesel power, but retained the steam locomotives for movie and television work.

In 1971, the Sierra Railroad opened "Rail Town 1897" as a tourist attraction with its vintage steam locomotives and facilities. In 1979, The Crocker Association, which was the sole owner of the railroad at that time, closed Rail Town and put both the Sierra Railroad and the Jamestown complex with equipment up for sale separately.

In 1980, the Sierra Railroad was sold to Silverfoot Inc., and in 1982 the California Department of Parks and Recreation purchased the Jamestown facilities and reopened the site as Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. In 1995, Silverfoot resold the operation to the Sierra Pacific Coast Railway, which merged with the Yolo Shortline Railway in 2003.

There are two surviving Sierra 2-8-2 "Mikado" type locomotives. They are numbers 34 and 36. Number 34 is on display at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, CA. Number 36 is owned by Fred Kepner, who has this locomotive in storage in Merrill, OR.


Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 34 (Locobase 14334)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University Volume 76, p.418+. Works number was 58679 in September 1925.

If the smaller Prairies and Consolidations that traveled from Eddystone to Jamestown, Calif were headed for the light track, this Mikado was destined for the heavier (56 lb/yard, 28 kg/metre) rail of the main line. Maximum grades were still 4%, but the curves had a somewhat less demanding maximum curve of 30 degrees.

Like the 28 (Locobase 14333), the 34 went into storage in 1955 as the Sierra replaced its steamers with diesels. In 1962, the railroad sold the 34 to Reed Hatch to run on Arizona's White Mountain Scenic Railroad.

It later returned to the Sierra Railroad and ran for several years before it was placed in storage.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID14334
RailroadSierra Railway
Number in Class1
Road Numbers34
Number Built1
Valve GearWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)13.50 / 4.11
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)28.75 / 8.76
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.47
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)56.83 / 17.32
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)140,000 / 63,503
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)174,000 / 78,925
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)114,000 / 51,710
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)288,000 / 130,635
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)5000 / 18.94
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)2500 / 9463
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)58 / 29
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)46 / 1168
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)190 / 13.10
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)19" x 26" / 483x660
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)32,953 / 14947.25
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.25
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)168 - 2" / 51
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)26 - 5.375" / 137
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)16.50 / 5.03
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)150 / 13.94
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)37.70 / 3.50
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2195 / 204
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)489 / 45.45
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2684 / 249.45
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume257.33
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation7163
Same as above plus superheater percentage8452
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area33,630
Power L112,545
Power MT790.20

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Wes Barris