Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio 4-6-6-4 "Challenger" Locomotives in the USA

The Clinchfield was the last Class 1 railroad to be built east of the Mississippi. It opened in 1915, linking Spartanburg, SC with Elkhorn City, KY. It went from the extreme southeast corner of Kentucky, through the western tip of Virginia, eastern tip of Tennessee, the western tip of North Carolina, and into the northwest corner of South Carolina. No railroad that served five states was shorter than the Clinchfield. In 1924, the Atlantic Coast Line and the L&N leased the railroad. The Clinchfield maintained a separate identity up to the mid 1970s, when it was folded into the Family Lines, which morphed into the Seaboard System then into CSX.

During the increased war-time traffic of the early 1940s, the Clinchfield Railroad needed more locomotives. They ordered eight single-expansion 4-6-6-4s from the American Locomotive Company and took delivery of them in 1942 and 1943. They were similar to the D&H Class J "Challengers" built in 1940. These locomotives were designated Class E-1 and were assigned road numbers 650 though 657. They had (4) 22 x 32 cylinders, 69" drivers, a boiler pressure of 265 psi, exerted 101,000 lbs of tractive effort and weighed 607,000 pounds.

After the war in 1947, four more "Challengers" were received from ALCO. This group was designated Class E-2 and given road numbers 660 through 663. These locomotives were very similar to the Class E-1s.

There were six other "Challengers" received by the Clinchfield. The D&RGW did not like the six ALCO built 4-6-6-4s they received through the War Production Board in 1943. The D&RGW preferred the locomotives they had purchased from the Baldwin Locomotive Works. The D&RGW sold the six Alco-built "Challengers" to the Clinchfield in 1947. This group was designated Class E-3 and were given road numbers 670 through 675. The construction numbers of these six locomotives were 70163-70168.

All 18 of the Clinchfield "Challengers" were retired in 1953 and 1954.

In November of 1992, to help the City of Kingsport, TN and CSX celebrate the 50th anniversary of the running of the Santa Train from Elkhorn City, KY to Kingsport, Union Pacific brought their Challenger in, renumbered and relettered it to be Clichfield 676.


ClassQty.Road NumberYear BuiltBuilder Notes
E-1 3650-6521942ALCONumbers 650-652 scrapped in 1954.
E-1 1 6541942ALCONumber 654 scrapped in 1954.
E-1 16531943ALCONumbers 653 scrapped in 1954.
E-1 3655-6571943ALCONumbers 655-657 scrapped in 1954.
E-2 4660-6631947ALCONumbers 660-663 scrapped in 1954.
E-3 6670-6751943ALCOBought second hand from the D&RGW in 1947. They were D&RGW numbers 3800-3805. Numbers 670-675 scrapped in 1953.

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class E-1/E-2 (Locobase 337)

Data from tables in 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia, substantially supplemented by Clinch 1948 Locomotive Diagram supplied in May 2005 by Allen Stanley from his extensive Rail Data Exchange. (Thanks to Chris Hohl for his 14 March 2012 email noting the road numbers for the E-1 and E-2s and for correcting the valve gear.) Works numbers were 69998-70005 in January 1943 and 75464-75467 in November 1947.

The E-1 & E-2 were virtually identical to the earlier D&H J-95s although the Clinchfield locos had a higher adhesion weight and larger piston diameter. Firebox heating surface included 78 sq ft (7.25 sq m) of arch tubes. See Locobase 338 for a description of the revised bearing design that permitted smooth riding at high speeds.

Eight E-1s were delivered in 1942-1943, four E-2 in 1947. Both classes retired by 1954; the E-1s were scrapped in September and October 1955. E-2s remained on the roster until they were sold as a batch to D Joseph in December 1962 for scrap.

For the six Clinchfield E-3s, see the Denver & Rio Grande Western L-97 entry at Locobase 16358.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Locobase ID337
RailroadCarolina, Clinchfield & Ohio (Clinchfield)
Number in Class12
Road Numbers650-657. 660-663
Number Built12
Valve GearBaker
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m)24.34 / 7.42
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)59.92 / 18.26
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheelbase 0.41
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)70,000 / 31,752
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)420,000 / 190,509
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)607,000 / 275,331
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)396,300 / 179,759
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)1,003,300 / 455,090
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)22,500 / 85.23
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / Liters/MT)26 / 24
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)117 / 58.50
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)69 / 1753
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)265 / 18.30
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)22" x 32" / 559x813 (4)
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)101,121 / 45867.77
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.15
Heating Ability
Tubes (number - dia) (in / mm)222 - 2.25" / 57
Flues (number - dia) (in / mm)60 - 5.5" / 140
Flue/Tube length (ft / m)22 / 6.71
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)636 / 59.09
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)108 / 10.04
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)5392 / 501.12
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)1680 / 156.13
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)7072 / 657.25
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume191.48
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation28,620
Same as above plus superheater percentage35,489
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area208,990
Power L125,640
Power MT807.52

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Wes Barris