Southern Railway 1401

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Southern Railway 1401
Southern Ps4.jpg
Southern Railway 1401 seen in the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
BuilderAmerican Locomotive Company Richmond works
Serial number66888
Build date1926
 • Whyte4-6-2
 • UIC2′C1′ h
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Leading dia.33 in (0.838 m)
Driver dia.73 in (1.854 m)
Trailing dia.43 in (1.092 m)
Loco weight304,000 lb (138,000 kg)[1]
Total weight565,600 lb (256,600 kg)[2]
Tender cap.Coal: 16 short tons (14.5 t)
Water: 14,000 US gal (53,000 l; 12,000 imp gal)
Boiler pressure200 psi (1.38 MPa)
Cylinder size27 × 28 in (0.686 × 0.711 m)
Performance figures
Tractive effort47,500 lbf (211.29 kN)
OperatorsSouthern Railway (U.S.)
Number in class46 of 64
LocaleUnited States, South and Midwest
Current ownerSmithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
DispositionOn display

Southern Railway 1401 is a steam locomotive that is the sole survivor of Southern Railway's Ps-4 class. Today it is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. It has a Pacific-type or 4-6-2 (Whyte notation) wheel arrangement and was built in 1926 by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) at their Richmond works.[3]


It pulled Southern's highest-level passenger trains from 1926 until dieselization in the early 1950s, mostly on Southern's Charlotte Division. On Saturday night, April 25th, 1942, #1401 and fellow class locomotive #1403, derailed and landed on their sides when they hit a stalled truck on the crossing at Norcross, Georgia. Its most famous and historic use was as one of the locomotives that pulled President Franklin Roosevelt's funeral train from Warm Springs, Georgia, to Washington in April 1945.[4] The Smithsonian Institution gathered information on two of 1401's engineers from a 1962 Greenville, SC, newspaper interview with one of the Southern's fireman nicknamed "Box Car". "Box Car" (fireman for "DC") accidentally confused the engineers, who happened to be brothers. Oscar "OC" Surratt was one of the engineers on the train that took Roosevelt to Warm Springs. His brother Cleve "DC" Surratt was one of the engineers that brought Roosevelt's body back to Washington. In the 1950s, war hero and outside legal counsel to Southern Graham Claytor (who would later become Southern's president) convinced then-Southern president Harry deButts to donate one of the retired Ps-4s to the Smithsonian instead of scrapping it. In this way 1401 was saved, and has been on display at the Smithsonian since it was delivered there on November 25, 1961.[5][6]

Current status[edit]

Today Southern Railway 1401 is one of the attractions at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Southern cosmetically restored the locomotive just before sending it for display at the Smithsonian, and it was probably stored serviceable when it was retired from active service, but it has not operated in more than half a century. When Graham Claytor was a Southern executive in the mid-1960s, he attempted to lease 1401 from the Smithsonian for operational use in Southern's steam excursion program. The Smithsonian refused, and Claytor leased Southern Railway 4501 (originally a freight locomotive with a 2-8-2 wheel arrangement) and painted it in the green, gold, and silver scheme instituted for the Ps-4s. Accordingly, it seems unlikely that 1401 will ever steam again. However it is believed to have been in good condition when retired, and has spent most of the time since inside; it is probably in relatively good internal and mechanical condition. Cosmetically, it is in excellent shape. In 2012, the locomotive made an appearance in an episode of Parks and Recreation.


  1. ^ "Southern Railway No. 1401".
  2. ^ "Steam locomotive, Southern Railway No. 1401". America on the Move: Collection. National Museum of American History. Archived from the original on July 21, 2015.
  3. ^ "Southern Railway 27"x28" Pacific Type diagram". Southern Railfan.
  4. ^ Killan, Michael (November 16, 2003). "An exhibit that will really move you". Chicago Tribune. p. 8-6 – via open access
  5. ^ Associated Press (November 26, 1961). "Smithsonian Gets 132-Ton Locomotive". The Bridgeport Post. Bridgeport, CT. p. 1 – via open access
  6. ^ Associated Press (November 27, 1961). "Last Run - To a Museum". The Indianapolis Star. p. 36 – via open access
  • Prince, Richard E. (1983). Southern Railway System Steam Locomotives and Boats (revised ed.).[page needed]
  • Ranks, Harold E.; Lowe, Shelby F. (1966). Southern Steam Power.[page needed]
  • Wrinn, Jim (2000). Steam's Camelot: Southern and Norfolk Southern Excursions in Color. TLC Publishing. ISBN 1-883089-56-5.[page needed]
  • Bryant, H. Stafford, Jr. (October 1950). "Ps-4". Trains: 20–26.
  • King, Ed (January 2002). "Whence the Ps-4, Really?". Ties. Southern Railway Historical Association. 16 (1): 3–9. (origins of Ps-4 design)
  • Morgan, David P. (December 1978). "A Paean to the Ps-4". Trains: 28–34.

External links[edit]