Great Western 90

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Great Western 90
Strasburg RR 90.jpg
Strasburg Railroad No. 90 at Leaman Place, Pennsylvania
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder Baldwin Locomotive Works
Serial number 57812
Build date 1924
 • Whyte 2-10-0
 • UIC 1′E h
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Driver dia. 56 in (1,400 mm)[1]
Axle load 38,000 lb (17,000 kg)[1]
Adhesive weight 190,000 lb (86,000 kg)
Loco weight 212,000 lb (96,000 kg)[1]
 • Firegrate area
54.3 sq ft (5.04 m2)[1]
Boiler pressure 200 psi (1,400 kPa)[1]
Cylinder size 24 in × 28 in (610 mm × 710 mm)[1]
Performance figures
Maximum speed 50 mph
Tractive effort 48,960 lbf (217.8 kN)[1]
Factor of adh. 3.88
Operators Great Western, Strasburg
Current owner Strasburg Rail Road
Disposition Operational, in excursion service based in Strasburg, Pennsylvania

Strasburg Rail Road no. 90 (ex: Great Western) is a 2-10-0 steam locomotive operated by the Strasburg Rail Road, outside Strasburg, Pennsylvania. She was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1924, in Philadelphia. She originally pulled sugar beet trains of about 40 to 50 cars length for the Great Western Railway of Colorado to the company's towering mill in Loveland, Colorado. Before being sold to the Strasburg Railroad, #90 ran excursions on the GWR, and even met with Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy #5632, a 4-8-4, and CB&Q #902, a 2-10-2. Some say that she also got t-boned by an 18-wheeler in the 1940s. In 1968, #90 was invited to double head former Canadian Pacific #1278, a G-5-d class 4-6-2 Pacific, to help her out with Ross Rowland's excursions along the steep grades. This was the last mainline excursion #90 would run. She was returned to the Strasburg Railroad to haul tourist and freight trains, and she has been to this day.


90 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1924, in Philadelphia. it originally pulled sugar beet trains of about 40 to 50 cars length for the Great Western Railway of Colorado to the company's towering mill in Loveland, Colorado. The 90 was the Great Western's largest and most powerful road locomotive, and saw extensive use on trains too large for the company's fleet of 2-8-0s. In 1944, 90 was hit by a truck at a grade crossing and knocked onto its fireman's side, killing both the fireman and the truck driver. The Great Western sent 90 to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad's shops in Denver for repairs.[2] Following WWII, 90 was used primarily in the Autumn during the harvest season.[2]

By the late 1950s, 90 was occasionally used in excursion service on the Great Western. One such excursion in 1963, Strasburg Rail Road's Chief Mechanical Officer, Huber Leath, met the Great Western's superintendent, a man who grew up in the vicinity of the Strasburg Rail Road, and struck a deal in which the Great Western would contact the Strasburg Rail Road as soon as the 90 was available for purchase.[2] The Strasburg Rail Road purchased the 90 on 5 April 1967 for a price of $23,000.00, and the locomotive arrived on Strasburg's property a month later on 5 May.[2]

In the winter of 1968, Ross Rowland's High Iron Company planned to operate a series of mainline steam excursions between Jersey City, NJ and Ardsley, PA on the Central Railroad of New Jersey. Rowland had originally planned to lease two ex Canadian Pacific G5-class 4-6-2s, numbers 1236 and 1283, both owned by George Hart, however those two locomotives were on emergency lease to the city of Reading, PA to provide steam for the city after the boiler at the Reading Steam Heat and Power Co. became disabled.[3] Since tickets for the excursion had already been sold, and Rowland was unwilling to pull the trip with a diesel, he leased Steamtown's ex Canadian Pacific 127 (formerly the 1278), a sister to the two locomotives he intended to use to pull the train. However, the 127 did not have enough power to pull the train over the grades on the CNJ near Jim Thorpe, PA on her own, and Rowland leased Strasburg Rail Road 90 to act as a helper engine for the trips, doubleheading with the 127 between Bethlehem, PA and Jim Thorpe, PA. After the trips concluded, 90 was returned to the Strasburg.

As it was on the Great Western, 90 is also the most powerful of the four steam locomotives in operation at the Strasburg Rail Road in Lancaster County PA, rated for 1,211 tons on the line. The Strasburg Rail Road purchased her in 1967, and it is now one of the two operating decapods in the United States. The other one being former Frisco #1630, who still operates today in the Illinois Railway Museum. Another light decapod, Woodward Iron #41 (formerly Alabama, Tennessee and Northern Railroad #401), just arrived at the Age of Steam Roundhouse in December 2015 for restoration.


90 has undergone a number of modifications by the Strasburg in order to better suit their needs.

  • In 1991, the sand dome between the steam dome and cab was removed along with all of its associated piping.
  • In 1993, the smokebox extension added in the 1940s by the Great Western to allow the locomotive to burn poorer grades of coal was removed in order to improve drafting. The coal board extensions were also removed at this time presumably to improve rearward visibility.
  • In 2006, 90's tender tank was replaced with a brand new identical tank made from stainless steel welded with cosmetic rivet heads spot welded to make it appear authentic. 90 was also given its 1920s scheme by having its visored Pyle National headlight replaced with a PRR style headlight that had previously been mounted on 475. 90 also had the Great Western lettering applied above the numbers on the sides of the cab along with the Great Western lettering being applied to the tender.
  • In August 2008, 90's tender had the Strasburg letters applied on it still keeping the complete 1920's scheme described above.
  • In 2011, 90 was fitted with a continuous blowdown mounted between its whistle and dynamo. 90 also had its original Pyle National headlight returned.
  • In February 2013, 90 was given her 1940's Great Western paint scheme and had her smokebox painted a white silver, her cab numbers were painted inside a Great Western trademark white diamond, her tender was fitted with stripes and had Great Western applied, her wheels were striped with white as well as her running boards, and her number and builders plate were painted black and gold.
  • In May 2013, 90 had her tender redone with the Strasburg lettering, all of the striping was painted black, the diamond numbers on the sides of the cab were taken off and plain white numbers were applied. The silver smokebox was left as well as the black and gold number and builders plate
  • In December 2013, 90 had her Reading Six Chime whistle replaced with a Hooter whistle but it was replaced back with the Reading Six Chime very shortly after.
  • In 2016, 90 had her smokebox repainted from her Great Western silver to a dark grey.

Other changes made include the addition of radio and the removal of a sheet metal cover on the pilot.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g King, E. W., Jr. in Drury p.351
  2. ^ a b c d Bell, Kurt; Plant, Jeremy (2015). The Strasburg Rail Road In Color. Scotch Plains, NJ: Morning Sun Books. p. 49. ISBN 1-58248-479-1. 
  3. ^ "History Book: For a second time, Reading ran out of steam". Reading Eagle. February 25, 2015. (subscription required)

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