4-6-4 "Hudson" Locomotives in the USA

The First Hudson, New York Central No. 5200

On January 1, 1926, when Paul Kiefer took over as Chief Mechanical Engineer of Motive Power and Rolling Stock of the New York Central System, the NYC was the nations largest railroad. At that time, its passenger business had grown to a point that many of its main line trains had to be operated in sections because the Class K-5 Pacifics assigned to passenger service could only haul a maximum of 12 cars. It was apparent that a new passenger locomotive was needed, yet no decision had been reached to solve the passenger power crisis.

Kiefer quickly made a decision to proceed with an experimental 4-6-4 locomotive and selected the American Locomotive Company to build it. He followed the example of Lima's William E. Woodard and designed a locomotive with a large grate area and a four wheel trailing truck to support it.

The first Class J1a Hudson

Kiefer's design looked much like a Class K-5, Pacific. It was only 5 inches longer and had the same cylinders (25 X 28) and drivers (79") as the 4-6-2's, but the boiler pressure was increased to 225 psi. The new 4-6-4 locomotive had a slightly larger boiler evaporative heating surface, 24 sq. ft. more of firebox and 14 sq. ft. more of grate area. This new design could produce much more steam per square foot of heating surface and needed a much larger superheater to maintain the same steam temperature as the K-5's. The total weight was about 41,000 lbs more, and with no increase of weight over the drivers. An increase of 3820 lbs in Tractive Effort was obtained with the increase in boiler pressure.

The American Locomotive Company delivered the first Class J-1a (road number 5200) on February 14, 1927 and it was thoroughly tested on the main line between Albany, NY and Syracuse, NY.

After the testing, Paul Kiefer went to see Pat Crowley who was the president of the entire NYC system. He asked Crowley what name the new locomotive should have, Crowley thought for a few minutes and then said "let's call her the Hudson, after the Hudson River" and the name stuck.

Information for this introduction to Hudsons provided by Richard Duley.

Builders of 4-6-4 "Hudson" Type Locomotives (by Richard Duley)

RailroadNumber Build (Builder)
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe16 (Baldwin)
Baltimore & Ohio4 (B&O)
Boston & Albany10 (ALCO), 10 (Lima)
CCC & St. Louis30 (ALCO)
Canadian National5 (MLW)
RailroadNumber Build (Builder)
Canadian Pacific65 (MLW)
Chesapeake & Ohio13 (Baldwin), 5 (C&O)
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy12 (Baldwin) 2(CB&Q)
Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific6 (ALCO) 22 (Baldwin)
RailroadNumber Build (Builder)
Chicago & North Western9 (ALCO)
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western5 (ALCO)
Grand Trunk Western6 (MLW)
Illinois Central1 (IC)
RailroadNumber Build (Builder)
Maine Central2 (Baldwin)
Michigan Central30 (ALCO)
National Railway of Mexico10 (ALCO)
New York Central195 (ALCO)
RailroadNumber Build (Builder)
New York, New Haven & Hartford10 (Baldwin)
New York, Chicago & St. Louis4 (ALCO), 4 (Lima)
St. Louis-San Francisco10 (STSF)
Wabash7 (Wabash)

A Dimensional Comparison of Hudsons

RailroadATSFCB&QCMStP&PC&NWC&OCentral RR of New JerseyDelaware, Lackawanna & WesternICMECNickel PlateNYCNYNH&HFrisco/(SLSFTCI&RWabash
Class3460S-4F-7E-4L-2aH-1 / SU-31M-11437DL-1a/L-1bJ3a-DreyfussI-510604-6-4 30.9.3P1
Wheel Arrangement4-6-44-6-44-6-44-6-44-6-44-6-4T4-6-44-6-4T4-6-44-6-44-6-44-6-44-6-44-6-4T4-6-4
Cyl:Dia x Stroke23.5x29.525x2823.5x3025x2925x3021x2626x3018x2423x2825x2622.5x2922x3026x2821x2626x28
Driver Diameter8478848478638056.573737980746380
Boiler Pressure300250300300255200245150240215265285225200220
Grate Area9987.996.590.790.268.2681.523.562.666.88277.182.554771
Evaporative Heating Surface4,3034,2474,1663,9584,1781,9233,8541,2703,8264,2194,1873,8153,9761,8924,225
Superheater Heating Surface2,0201,8301,6951,8841,7854301,1231,7601,0551,7451,0421,2353541,051
Weight on Drivers210,800207,730216,000216,000219,500163,500198,00072,275171,400175,475201,800193,000189,400146,000196,390
Total Engine Weight417,300391,880415,000412,000443,000291,700377,000155,133312,590316,500365,500365,300360,960261,000374,680
Maximum Axle Weight71,60069,78057,60058,70064,40064,00051,20065,570
Tender Weight396,246326,050375,000360,000393,000313,100189,610206,200420,000332,000242,000208,000
Total Engine and Tender Weight813,546717,930790,000772,000836,000291,700690,100155,133502,200522,700785,500697,300602,960261,000582,680
Overall Wheelbase88.6782.2389.8388.9893.8739.2581.2133.9272.3773.6588.4984.8383.7139.3775.46
Tractive Effort49,45647,67650,29455,02252,10330,94052,79117,54841,39240,68141,86043,96848,91930,94044,244
Tractive Effort Booster
Maximum Speed
Drawbar Horsepower

Railroads that used 4-6-4 "Hudson" Locomotives in the USA (data provided by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media)

Surviving Examples of 4-6-4 "Hudson" Locomotives in the USA

No.ClassF.M. WhyteGaugeRailroad LineLocationStatusBuilder InfoNotes
490L1a4-6-44'-8½"C&O B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore, MDdisplayAlco (Richmond) #66555, 1926Rebuilt from an F-19 class Pacific boiler and streamlined.
3003S-44-6-44'-8½"CB&Q South Main Street, Burlington, IAdisplayBaldwin #61501, 1930 Operated in the CB&Q's steam excursion program.
3006S-44-6-44'-8½"CB&Q Galesburg Railroad Museum, Galesburg, ILdisplayBaldwin #61527, 1930
534 (434)4-6-412"WF&P (AT&SF) Wabash, Frisco & Pacific Railroad, Glencoe, MOoperationalK.E. Reynolds , 1955From Casa de Fruta, CA.
535 (350)4-6-412"WF&P Wabash, Frisco & Pacific Railroad, Glencoe, MOoperationalAlbert J. Wagner & Son (Plainsfield, IL), 1950sBuilt as a semi-streamlined 4-4-4 Jubilee named Cardinal.
4-6-414"Kiddieland Limited Hesston Steam Museum, Hesston, INoperationalWagner & Sons Miniature Train Co, 1950 From Kiddieland, Melrose Park, IL.
56614-6-416"Kings Lights Railroad, Houston, TXstored operationalE.C. Eddy, 1961 From the Pinconning & Blind River Railroad, Fairview, MI then the Michigan Au Sable Valley Railroad, Fairview, MI.
50024-6-415"Ramona & Burley Park Burley Park, Howard City, MIoperationalWagner & Sons Miniature Train Co From East Grand Rapids, later Lowell.
4000 (3002)S-4A4-6-44'-8½"CB&Q Copeland Park, LaCrosse, WIdisplayBaldwin #61500, 1930 Named Aeolus.
5320J-1e4-6-416"NYC Panella Pacific Railroad (private), Lodi, CAout of serviceMercer Locomotive Works (Hamilton, NJ), 1947
3001S-44-6-44'-8½"CB&Q Ballingall Park, Ottumwa, IAdisplayBaldwin #61446, 1930 Wears the builder's plate No. 61522 from CB&Q 4-8-4 5606, which was scrapped in May 1960.
345034504-6-44'-8½"AT&SF RailGiants Train Museum, Pomona, CAdisplayBaldwin #59993, 1927
3000S-44-6-414"CB&Q Dekalb County Fairgrounds, Sandwich, ILoperationalAC Augie, 1973Replica.
502 (5313)J-14-6-44'-8½"TH&B (NYC) Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, PAstoredAlco, 1927Steam generator car made from the tender of NYC Hudson 5313.
47 (1542)X-10-a4-6-4T4'-8½"CNR (GTR) Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, PAstoredMontreal Locomotive Works, 1914First locomotive to operate at Steamtown USA.
52124-6-415" Traintown Railroad Park, Broadway, Sonoma, CAoperational
170L-1a4-6-44'-8½"NYC&StL Museum of Transportation, St. Louis, MOdisplayAlco (Brooks) #67211, 1927 Oldest surviving Hudson type steam locomotive.
2839H1c4-6-44'-8½"Atlantic Central (CPR) The Nethercutt Collection and Museum, Sylmar, CAdisplayMontreal Locomotive Works, 1937From Allentown, PA. Appeared in Coal Miner's Daughter.
346334604-6-44'-8½"AT&SF Kansas Expocenter, Topeka, KSrestorationBaldwin #62086, 1937 Cosmetic restoration only.
5433J-34-6-415"NYC Hiawatha Live Steamers, Tupper Lake, NYoperationalSeymour Johnson, 1968 From Bell Gardens, Valley Center, CA.
3007S-44-6-44'-8½"CB&Q Illinois Railway Museum, Union, ILdisplayBaldwin #61528, 1930
4-6-415" Lions Park, Waterman, ILstoredFrom Riverside & Great Northern RY shops, Wisconsin Dells, WI.

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