2-8-8-2 "Chesapeake" Locomotives in the USA

The first examples of this wheel arrangement were built in 1909 for the Southern Pacific. They were experimental Mallet type locomotives with the boiler split into two sections. The front section was more of a feedwater heater than a boiler. These locomotives later evolved into the now famous cab forward design.

Although most railroads did not have a specific name for this wheel arrangement, the C&O called them "Chesapeakes" while the SP called them "Mallet Consolidations".

Norfolk & Western made this design famous by spending many years putting a lot of effort into perfecting the compound design. The N&W ended up with the ultimate stump-puller in their 2-8-8-2s with unsurpassed pulling ability. Fortunately, two of these impressive steam locomotives survive today.

A Dimensional Comparison of Large Locomotives

Books and magazines will often state that the Big Boy was the largest steam locomotive ever built. But, what do they mean by "largest"? When comparing steam locomotives, many different quantities can be considered. For example, weight, length, horsepower, and tractive effort are all characteristics of how "large" a steam locomotive is. In many of these categories, a locomotive "larger" than a Big Boy can be found. Does this mean that all of those books and magazines are wrong?

If you were to ignore all of the unsuccessful and experimental locomotives, then look at the overall ratings of the remaining steam locomotives in the above categories, it would become clear that there were many large locomotives. One could argue that the Big Boys were the largest and maybe they were. But the NP Z-5, the DM&IR M-3/4, the C&O H-8, and the N&W Y6b were all examples of the largest of all successful steam locomotives.

ClassM-137Y6bR-2Z-5AC-9M-3/M-4EM-1AC-10/11/12Big Boy (4884-2)4664-5H-8 - 1645AQ2S1GL
Wheel Arrangement2-8-8-22-8-8-22-8-8-22-8-8-42-8-8-42-8-8-42-8-8-44-8-8-24-8-8-44-6-6-42-6-6-62-6-6-44-4-6-46-4-4-64-8-2+2-8-4
Cyl:Dia x Stroke26x3225x3228x3226x3224x3226x3224x3224x3223.75x3221x3222.5x3324x3019.75x2822x2622x26
Driver Diameter6358636363.5636463.568696770698448
Boiler Pressure235300240250250240235250300280260300300300200
Grate Area145106.2126182139.5125117.5139150132135122121.713275
Evaporative Heating Surface6,8114,9157,8697,6736,9186,7825,2986,4705,7554,6426,7956,6396,7255,6613,396
Superheater Heating Surface2,1521,4783,5153,2192,8312,7702,1182,6162,0431,7412,9222,7032,9302,085835
Weight on Drivers552,700548,500544,000558,900531,200560,257485,000531,700545,200404,200504,010432,350393,000281,450324,464
Total Engine Weight665,100611,520630,750723,400689,900695,040628,700657,900772,250634,500751,830573,000619,100608,170
Maximum Axle Weight69,08868,00070,90066,40062,10069,10067,80085,48072,00079,78040,992
Tender Weight408,250378,600372,780402,000400,700438,000382,000393,300436,500434,500431,710378,600422,000451,840
Total Engine and Tender Weight1,073,350990,1201,003,5301,125,4001,090,6001,133,0401,010,7001,051,2001,208,7501,069,0001,183,540951,6001,041,1001,060,010472,864
Overall Wheelbase108114.87106.02110.08112.99113.49112.5112.17117.58106.67112.92108.27107.62123.7683.58
Tractive Effort137,174124,644162,475145,930123,364140,093115,056123,364135,37597,352110,211125,897100,81676,40389,137
Tractive Effort Booster13,90013,40015,000
Maximum Speed5063807060100
Drawbar Horsepower5,600@256,000@406,345@41.57,498@465,300@437,200

Railroads that used 2-8-8-2 "Chesapeake" Locomotives in the USA (data provided by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media)

Surviving Examples of 2-8-8-2 "Chesapeake" Locomotives in the USA

No.ClassF.M. WhyteGaugeRailroad LineLocationStatusBuilder InfoNotes
2050Y3a2-8-8-24'-8½"N&W Illinois Railway Museum, Union, ILdisplayALCO (Richmond) #64070, 1923Came to the museum in the late 1970s.
2-8-8-214½"Whiskey Riverunknown, Cleveland, OHstoredFrom Marshall, WI; being regauged to 16
2156Y6a2-8-8-24'-8½"N&W Virginia Museum of Transportation, Roanoke, VAdisplayN&W #317, 1942 On loan from St. Louis MoT for five years
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