Chesapeake & Ohio 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Locomotives in the USA

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad began with the merger of the Virginia Central and the Covington & Ohio Railroads. It later acquired the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad, the Pere Marquette and the B&O. By 1987 when it was taken over by CSX it also had incorporated the Western Maryland Railroad.

During World War II, the C&O turned to the 2-8-4 wheel arrangement to handle the fast freight schedule demanded by the war-time needs. The C & O had watched the development of the 2-8-4 on the Nickel Plate Road and the Pere Marquette through the "Advisory Mechanical Committee" which was common to the four railroads controlled by the Van Sweringens. It based its 2-8-4 design on the NKP and Pere Marquette "Berkshires". However it chose to name them "Kanawhas" after the Kanawha River, which paralleled its main line.

Between 1943 and 1947, the C & O purchased ninety, Class K-4, 2-8-4 "Kanawhas", twenty from the Lima Locomotive Works and seventy from the American Locomotive Company. These locomotives were numbered 2700 through 2789. All of these locomotives had 69" diameter drivers, 26" x 34" cylinders, a 245 psi boiler pressure, they exerted 69,350 pounds of tractive effort and each weighed about 292,500 pounds.

By mid 1952, the C & O had received enough diesels that it began to retire even the "Kanawhas", which still had service time, and by 1957 all were retired. All but the thirteen that were donated to various cities were scrapped by May 1961.

The City of Buffalo, NY received number 2701 and placed it on display near the waterfront where vandals wrecked it and it was scrapped. There are twelve surviving C&O 2-8-4 "Kanawha" type locomotives.


ClassQty.Road NumbersYear BuiltBuilderNotes
  1. The C&O donated 2701 to the city of Buffalo, NY. It was placed on display near the waterfront where vandals wrecked it so bad that it had to be scrapped after being on display for only a few months. Numbers 2700, 2705 and 2707 are preserved. All the others scrapped by 1961.
  2. Numbers 2716, 2727, 2732 and 2736 are preserved. All the others scrapped by 1961.
  3. Numbers 2740-2749 scrapped by 1961.
  4. Numbers 2755 and 2756 are preserved. All the others scrapped by 1961.
  5. Numbers 2760, 2776 and 2789 are preserved. All the others scrapped by 1961.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class K-4 (Locobase 55)

Data from tables in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia and from C&O - 4 - 1947 Locomotive Diagrams supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for the tip about the Baker gear and for catching an error in the 1st built date and his 22 September 2017 email reporting unlikely boiler pressure values for 177 entries. A Locobase macro caused the error .) The first 40 came from Alco in 1943 and 1944, Lima supplied the next 20 in 1945 and 1947, and Alco finished the class with 30 more in 1947.

Firebox had 103 sq ft (9.5 sq m) in two thermic syphons and 19 sq ft (1.75 sq m) in arch tubes. Long-stroke cylinders were served by 14" (356 mm) piston valves. All axles turned inside Timken roller bearings, feed water heaters were Worthington Type 5 1/2 S SAs, and the coal moved through Standard HT automatic stokers.

Called "Kanawhas" by the railroad, "Big Mikes" by the Chessie drivers. Very similar to Pere Marquette N-1s but heavier and pulling immense tenders. In fact, these K-4s were among the heaviest and longest 2-8-4s in service and were known for good performance.

Farrington (1976) notes a run from Stevens to Russell (95/4,845 tons), then from Russell to Hinton (61/3,170 tons) in which the engine consumed 49,500 gallons of water and 25 tons of coal.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID55
RailroadChesapeake & Ohio (C&O)
Number in Class90
Road Numbers2700-2789
Number Built90
Valve GearBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)18.20 / 5.55
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)42 / 12.80
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.43
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)93.17 / 28.40
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)73,800 / 33,475
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)292,000 / 132,449
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)460,000 / 208,653
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)388,000 / 175,994
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)848,000 / 384,647
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)21,000 / 79.55
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)30 / 27
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)122 / 61
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)69 / 1753
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)245 / 16.90
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)26" x 34" / 660x864
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)69,368 / 31464.83
Booster (lbs)14,000
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.21
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)73 - 2.25" / 57
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)202 - 3.5" / 89
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)19 / 5.79
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)462 / 42.92
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)90.30 / 8.39
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)4773 / 443.59
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)1932 / 179.55
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)6705 / 623.14
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume228.48
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation22,124
Same as above plus superheater percentage28,539
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area146,015
Power L133,005
Power MT996.76

C&O 2700 For many years, 2700 was displayed in Coonskin Park in Charleston, WV. While displayed in the park, 2700 was neglected and vandalized. The area where 2700 was displayed was adjacent to the B&O line that ran from Charleston to Sutton. In the early 1970s, the St. Albans Fire Department restored and moved 2700 to St. Albans, WV. When 2700 was moved, it was pulled along this same line to the mainline of the NYC and up river cross the Kanawha at Deep Water approximately 45 miles east of Charleston. It was then brought back down the C&O mainline to St. Albans. The closer bridge across the Kanawha in Charleston was unable to carry both 2700 and the locomotives needed to pull her.

Later, 2700 was stored on a siding blocked by several baggage cars near the Dennison Railroad Museum in Dennison, OH. She had been completely stripped of all the gauges, valves, name plates, windows, bell, whistle and anything else you can think of. Many of these items were donated by individuals during the campaign to restore her back in the 70s. Unfortunately, she was in worse shape than after enduring years of vandalism in Coonskin Park.

In August, 2001, the Dennison Depot Museum was making preparations to put 2700 next to the depot. The museum is planning on restoring the cars but the future of 2700 doesn't look good. In 2002 I was told that the parts that were taken off of 2700 (including the side rods) are being used in restoration effort on the 2716. In 2009 I was told that cosmetic restoration of 2700 would begin in 2010.

2700 was finally restored in 2017 and looked better then any time she had been on display.

CO 2701 In 1954, the C&O donated 2701 to the city of Buffalo, NY. It was placed on display on a short stretch of track near the waterfront. 2701 had been on display for only one week and all of the glass was broken and everything that could be removed (short of using a torch) was removed. Souvenir-hunting vandals wrecked her so bad that 2701 had to be scrapped after being on display for only a few months!
2705 is on display at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD. Upon retirement, 2705 was sent to the scrap lines behind the diesel shops at Russell, KY, but survived into the mid 1970s along with three sister 2-8-4s (2756, 2770, 2781), the last K-2 2-8-2 (1189), J3a 4-8-4 614 (still wearing 611 to which it had been temporarily renumbered just before retirement), H-6 2-6-6-2 1309 (Baldwin's last domestic steam locomotive), and H-8 2-6-6-6 1604. 1604 was donated to the Roanoke Transportation Museum circa 1969. Tragically, two of the four 2-8-4s and the K-3 Mike were cut up at Russell, KY in the early 1970s.

In 1975, the balance of the steamers at Russell were moved to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, where they all reside today, with the exception of 614. 2705 was repainted sometime around 1996.

  • 2705 (1992 Wes Barris photo)
  • 2705 (Bob Rathe Photo)
CO 2707 2707 is on display at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL. In 1955, after 2707 was retired, it was put on display in Brookside Park in Cleveland, OH. However, it had become derelict and unwanted and was sent to a scrap dealer. In 1981, 2707 was obtained from that scrap dealer by a private owner. It was stored at a former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse in Cleveland. The roundhouse had been leased by the Midwest Railway Historical Foundation. Sometime in the early 1990s, 2707 was relocated to the IRM.
CO 2716 2716 is owned by the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, KY.
  • 2716 was operated briefly in 1981 and 1982 by the Southern Railway. During this time its headlight was moved from the platform to the center of the smokebox to look more like other SR locomotives.
  • 2716 was also operated briefly by the FWHRS in 1996.
  • 2716 is currently being stored at the FWRHS in Ft. Wayne, IN. It has been prepared for towing and will be moved back to KRM during the spring of 1999.
  • As of mid November 98, 2716 is still inside the shop building in New Haven, IN (next to NKP 765) being prepared to be towed over NS down to New Haven, KY to the KRM, where she will be stored until such time she can pull the New River Gorge excursions in WV. If it looks like steam can return to the Gorge trains, then she will be given the new boiler tubes the FRA is requiring.
  • As of February 1999, 2716 is waiting for final inspection by NS for transport. Upon return to KRM she will be displayed adjacent to museum building on a new siding built for temporary display. Upon completion of KRM's new roundhouse, 2716 will receive her new flues and will be returned to revenue service along the rolling fork river valley.
  • Thomas J. von Trott has some more information on 2716.
  • 2716 was moved from New Haven, IN to New Haven, KY in March, 2001.
CO 2727 CO 2727 2727 is on display at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, MO. It was donated to the museum in 1957.
Photo courtesy Richard Glueck Photo courtesy Richard Glueck 2732 is on display at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond. The museum is in the former RF&P Broad Street Station. 2732 was moved to the museum in April, 2003 after spending many years at the Robin Hood Road Visitors Center. In 2000, the city decided to close the visitors center. The Virginia Museum of Science has accepted the locomotive and plans to move it to onto the museum site. Although, the city has removed the boiler jacketing and asbestos, 2732 is in poor shape. The cab is rusted out and requires metal work. The cab controls have been badly vandalized. The whistle is missing. Beside 2732 is an RF&P passenger car and caboose. Photos courtesy Richard Glueck.
CO 2736 2736 is on display at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, WI. Since these photos were taken, 2736 has been moved into the new McCormick Train Pavillion.
Photo courtesy Brian Clauto 2755 is on display in Chief Logan State Park, Logan, WV. In the late 1970s or early 1980s, 2755 was badly vandalized. The windows were smashed and gauges were destroyed by vandals. Anything that could have been stolen was, or was badly damaged from the vandalism. 2755 was later repainted and the windows were replaced. An enclosure was built for protection. There have been offers in the past to restore the the engine. All offers have so far been rejected.

C&O 2756 2756 is on display in Huntington Park adjacent to the War Memorial Museum at the intersection of Hwy 60 (Warwick Blvd) and Hwy 17 (Mercury Drive) on the James River in Newport News, VA.

Upon retirement, 2756 was sent to the scrap lines behind the diesel shops at Russell, KY. As far as I can determine, 2756 was removed from the scrap lines and placed in Huntington Park on August 25, 1963 (dedicated on Labor Day 1963) while the remaining three sister 2-8-4s remained in Russell and survived into the mid 1970s (see the notes on 2705 for more details). As you can see from the photo, 2756 received a good cosmetic restoration in 1997 - 1998. The cab windows have been replaced with plexiglass and the locomotive is illuminated at night. The number plate was stolen but replaced by a sheet metal copy.

  • 2756 (Pete Piszczek Photo)
  • 2756 (Pete Piszczek Photo)
CO 2760 2760 is on display in Riverside Park in Lynchburg, VA. For many years, the care of this locomotive had been a disgrace and 2760 was in horrendous condition. Just about everything that could be stolen from this locomotive was stolen. It needed every kind of work imaginable. First three photos courtesy Richard Glueck.

In 2004 an elementary school teacher and the local Kiwanis Club began a "Save the Train" campaign. They planned on cosmetically restoring the locomotive over the following two years.

In September of 2004 restoration work had began at Riverside Park. The attached passenger car and caboose have received some attention although the passenger car may have to be scrapped. 2760's tender has been sandblasted and primered. Work had also begun on the locomotive. The city planed to cover the locomotive once restoration is completed. Photo courtesy Pete Page.

In 2018 it was reported that the cosmetic restoration of 2760 has been completed. It now sits in a covered and fenced area.

C&O 2776 2776 is on display in Jesse Eyman Park in Washington Court House, OH. In 1960, when 2776 was placed here, the engine was separated from the tender first, since the radius was too sharp off the mainline to move them together. First the tender was moved into its present position and then the engine was placed in front of it while they repositioned the track in front to move the engine forward. They then moved the engine forward and repositioned the track behind it and moved it into it present position with a backhoe.

2776 is in remarkably good condition. Paul Keller has been the self appointed caretaker of 2776 for over 30 years. He oils and greases and paints everything on a regular basis on the off-hand chance that it will be revived to life some day. He has removed and stored all of the valuable parts such as gauges and windows.

It is interesting that the city of Washington Court House was never a C&O town, so why a C&O engine? The Pennsy and DT&I railroads serviced Washington Court House. It was the DT&I line on which 2776 was delivered some 30 years ago.

C&O 2789 2789 is currently being restored at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, IN.
  • In 1998 2789 was undergoing restoration.

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Wes Barris