The peak of the locomotive industry saw 27 manufacturers in business throughout America. By the 1920’s, the field had narrowed to just four prominent locomotive builders. Of these, the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio, was recognized as the builder of the “Cadillac” of all steam engines.
Based on the high quality of its engines, Lima was the last surviving locomotive shop and produced the final commercially built mainline passenger steam locomotive to be built in America. It was the Number 614. Number 614 had its last bolt tightened to roll out of the Lima shops in June of 1948.
Locomotive #614 was designed and built to pull the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway’s premier express passenger trains, The George Washington and The Fast Flying Virginian between Richmond and Chicago over the eastern continental divide formed by the Allegheny Mountains.
An instant success, 614’s reliability, power and speed enabled the railroad to increase the size of the trains she pulled and at the same time shortened scheduled running times between destinations.
In 1945, the American railroads’ locomotive fleet was comprised of about 40,000 steam locomotives and 500 of the new diesel-electric engines. Repeated strikes by the coal miners’ union forced railroads to transform their fleets. Just eight years later, there were 32,000 diesel-electrics compared to just 300 steam locomotives in operation.
#614 was retired from service in 1952 and was relegated to a storage track in a Kentucky roundhouse, where she sat for more than two decades.
In 1976, she was cosmetically restored and donated to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
#614 is the only surviving “Greenbrier” type steam locomotive from the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.
**NOTE: In the fall of 1956, just before retirement, it was renumbered 611. The C&O had a power shortage and as a result, leased a number of 4-8-4’s from the RF&P, including their 614. To alleviate confusion, a paint brush and chisel were taken to the 614, since the original C&O 611 had already been retired.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE #614
In 1979, #614 was sold to railroad enthusiast and entrepreneur Ross E. Rowland, Jr., who oversaw a crew of 15 mechanics and some 100 volunteers to completely rebuild her: a project that took 18 months to complete at a cost of $1.5 million. During the rehabilitation process, her fuel capacity was doubled from 25 to 50 tons – carried in the traditional tender behind the locomotive. An auxiliary tender was added to attend to her thirst, doubling her water-carrying capacity from 25,000 to 50,000 gallons. All modifications made to #614 were aimed at enabling her to pull a 25-car, half-mile-long passenger train all day without having to stop for any type of service. In so doing, the #614 today equals the range of a modern diesel-electric locomotive.
TALL, LONG, HEAVY, POWERFUL & FAST
Locomotive #614 is 16 feet tall, 112 feet long and weighs-in at 434 tons. She develops approximately 5,000 horsepower and, at her peak, is capable of running at 100+ miles per hour.
BLACK SILVER … AND PROVEN
#614 was accorded the singular honor of being the only steam engine ever leased by Amtrak in its 25-year history. For a portion of its run through West Virginia, she pulled The Cardinal, on schedule and at speeds approaching 80 miles per hour. During America’s energy crises in the early 80’s, #614 served as a test-bed locomotive, pulling coal trains on the C.S.X. railroad as part of a program to design a new-generation coal-fired locomotive.
614’s most recent assignment has been powering a series of excursions from Hoboken, NJ to Port Jervis, NY over NJ Transit’s Bergen County, Main and Conrail’s (now Metro-North Railroad) Southern Tier lines. These 180 mile round-trip “Iron Horse Rambles” and “Erie Limited” excursions have carried nearly 17,000+ people, some of whom have come from as far as New Zealand, Australia and Japan for the chance to ride behind this magnificently restored engine. As Ross Rowland states, “the Port Jervis excursions are the only place in the free world where one can ride behind steam (with no diesels anywhere in the consist) at speeds up to 79 M.P.H. and be afforded open-air space to really soak in the sound and fury of this magnificent example of the steam locomotive builder’s art running at speed.”
He goes on to say “the 180 mile round trip to Port Jervis is an ideal excursion in that it allows us to run at sustained high speeds, gives the 614 a real challenge in bringing the 26 car long train up the 1%, 13 mile long grade coming home out of Port Jervis, gives the customers the thrill of a 20 square mile vista from the 3,000 foot high Moodna Viaduct (the train stops briefly on the viaduct to allow everyone to get great photo’s etc.). If you love steam, this is as good as it gets.”
SELF-RELIANT AND READY TO TRAVEL
In 1998 our friends at NJ Transit installed a complete set of upgrades ( hardware & software) to equip the 614 with all the modern gear needed to allow her to operate at track speed ( 79 mph ) on their busy passenger railroad. Installed were a microprocessor, cab signals, Automatic Train Stop, 26L brake system, event recorder, digital speed recorder, diesel control stand, satellite tracking and all new wiring. Estimated value of these upgrades is $ 600,000.00 With these additions 614 has the basics needed to be upgraded further to a fully compliant PTC equipped locomotive.
THE PROOF IS IN THE PULLING
There were no tourist steam-train operations in 1960. Today, there are 275 +/- throughout the 50 states, attracting more than 15 million visitors yearly. And these are stationary attractions drawing ridership from virtually the same geographic regions. One of these excursion lines reports that when the steam locomotive is pulling the train, ridership and revenues increase by 100% over ridership and revenues when the motive power is diesel.
In the words of a veteran showman and major entertainment producer, “With a diesel, it’s another train; with a steam locomotive, it’s a happening!”
Indeed, it has been the demonstrated experience of mainline steam excursions – when the steam locomotive heads a train – – that not only do hundreds of thousands of people line the tracks, but major media coverage is a given.
|Builder||Lima-Hamilton Corporation, Lima, Ohio U.S.A.|
|Built for:||Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad|
|Month / Year Built:||June, 1948|
|C&O Railroad Class:||J3-a Greenbrier|
|C&O Railroad Road Number:||614|
|Length, including tender:||112 ft 3 in (34.21 m)|
|Drivers diameter:||72 in (1,829 mm)|
|Weight on Drivers:||282,400 lb (128.1 tonnes)|
|Locomotive Weight:||479,400 lb (217.5 tonnes)|
|Locomotive & Tender Weight:||868,530 lb (434 tonnes)|
|Grate Area:||100.3 sq ft (9.32 m2)|
|Cylinders (dia x stroke):||27.5 in — 30 in (698 mm — 762 mm)|
|Boiler Pressure:||255 lb (1.76 MPa)|
|Tractive Effort:||68,300 lb (303.81 kN)|
|Tender Capacity as built 1948:||As built: 21,500 US gal (81,000 l; 17,900 imp gal) water; 50,000 lb (22.7 tonnes) coal
Current tender: 18,200 US gal (69,000 l; 15,200 imp gal) water; 100,000 lb (45.4 tonnes) coal,
Auxiliary tender: 31,800 US gal (120,000 l; 26,500 imp gal) water