Southern Railway 4501

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Southern Railway 4501
Southern Railway #4501 on display in 2006
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder Baldwin Locomotive Works
Serial number 37085
Build date 1911
Configuration 2-8-2
UIC class 1'D1'h
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Driver dia. 63 in (1.600 m)
Adhesive weight 215,700 lb (97,800 kg)
Loco weight 272,900 lb (123,800 kg)
Fuel type Coal
Boiler pressure 205 psi (1.41 MPa)
Cylinders Two, outside
Cylinder size 27 in × 30 in (686 mm × 762 mm)
Valve gear Walschaerts
Performance figures
Tractive effort 53,900 lbf (239.8 kN)
Factor of adh 4.00
Operators Southern Railway
Class Ms
Number in class 1st of 182
Numbers 4501
Retired 1963 (revenue)
1998 (excursion)
Restored 1966 (1st), 2014 (2nd)
Current owner Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
Disposition Operational at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Southern Railway 4501 is a 2-8-2 "Mikado" type steam locomotive built in 1911 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Southern Railway. As the very first of that wheel arrangement the railroad owned, 4501 served the Southern Railway hauling freight until being retired in 1966. Today the locomotive operates in tourist and mainline excursion service for its owner the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


4501 worked on many different divisions of the Southern Railway system from 1911 to 1948; first in Tennessee, then in Virginia, Kentucky, and lastly, in Indiana. In 1948 the Kentucky and Tennessee Railway purchased the locomotive and renumbered it as their #12. When #12 was retired by the Kentucky and Tennessee Railway in 1963, a railfan, Paul H. Merriman, bought the locomotive for The 4501 Corporation with $5,000 of his own money, and restored it for excursion use on the Southern Railway System. In 1964, after running to Chattanooga from the K&T in Stearns, Kentucky, an initial restoration was done by Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) (which Merriman founded with Bob Soule) volunteers at the facilities of the Lucey Boiler Company in Chattanooga, just blocks away from TVRM's storage facilities, which were at the time located on the former Western Union Company tracks.

Excursion career[edit]

After this restoration was completed in 1966, the 4501 launched Southern Railway's full scale steam excursion program, which ran for several decades until it was ended by Southern successor Norfolk Southern in 1994. From 1994 to 1998, 4501 ran at the museum pulling excursions. 4501 was taken out of service in 1998 due to the need for boiler work and placed on static display until 2008. 4501 has been called "The Green Mikado" because, for the majority of its excursion career, it received green paint with gold trim that was historically used only on Southern Railway's passenger locomotives. However, being a freight locomotive, 4501 was never painted green during its original operational life on the Southern. Shortly after to the end of the Norfolk Southern Steam program, the Tennessee Valley RR museum painted it black to reflect how it looked when in operation on the Southern Railway.

4501 at Chattanooga post-restoration preparing to pull an excursion to Summervillle, Ga., on October 4, 2014.

21st century operations[edit]

With the demise of Norfolk Southern's steam program in 1994, many of the excursion locomotives were sent back home to their respective museums. 4501 was then sent home to the TVRM where it operated until 1998 where it was sidelined needing major boiler work. In 2008, the locomotive was stripped down for a complete boiler inspection. Norfolk Southern, in June 2010, announced they would run excursions with 4501, Southern Railway 630, and U.S. Army 610, with their new 21st Century Steam program. In 2011, Southern 630 returned to service pulling tourist trains for TVRM and some of the first mainline excursion trips for the 21st Century Steam program. With 630 in operating condition, restoration on 4501 began in earnest in 2012.

On January 8, 2014, Norfolk Southern announced on their Facebook page (by sharing a picture that was posted by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum) that 4501 passed its FRA hydro test, and that all of its wheels were placed back underneath it. The grates and ash pan have also been replaced. [1]

On March 6, 2014, a static steam test was performed and the 4501 passed all FRA certification. In mid August 2014, the locomotive was repainted just before restoration was completed. Per Trains Magazine and TVRM, 4501 made its first test runs on September 4 and 5 and pulled trains for TVRM's 2014 "Railfest" on September 6 and 7.

On May 1st 2015, 4501 became the first steam locomotive to operate for the 21st Century Steam program in 2015 when the locomotive returned to the mainline network for the first time in 21 years for a test run from Chattanooga to Cleveland, Tennessee and return on Norfolk Southern trackage. Afterwards it was confirmed the locomotive was in top mechanical condition for mainline service.

Pop culture references[edit]

4501 is shown while under steam in the 1974 movie Ridin' the Rails: The Great American Train Story, starring Johnny Cash.

4501 appears several times in the 1978 movie Summer of My German Soldier, set in Georgia during World War II.

4501 was also used as the locomotive in the 1999 movie October Sky. Its role was a coal-hauling locomotive lettered for the more setting appropriate Norfolk and Western Railway and was shown several times in the film. A short clip of famed rail photographer O. Winston Link as the engineer shown in the abandoned spur-line scene. Link was particularly fond of Norfolk and Western locomotives.[2]

The locomotive appeared in Johnny Cash's 2002 music video for the cover song "Hurt". About a minute into the video he is seen at the throttle of the locomotive.

Modern upgrades[edit]

When the locomotive was restored for the second time in 2014 many upgrades were performed on the locomotive. The most obvious is the addition of reproduction Worthington SA feedwater heater. 4501 was sold before this upgrade could be performed, though her original cylinder castings had been replaced with new ones during her career to accommodate this upgrade. The Ms class Mikados that remained in service with Southern received a Worthington S-3½ feedwater heater and a coal stoker, the stoker addition was to comply with a Interstate Commerce Commission rule. 4501 did not receive a stoker during her time at Southern or the Kentucky & Tennessee due to an exemption clause in the ICC rule governing locomotive stoker requirements. A stoker was also added during this restoration, which was missed during her first career and she was often seen with several firemen riding on her coal pile during her past excursion career. Her boiler also received attention and was re-certified at 205 psi (1.41 MPa) a pressure increase of 5 psi (0.03 MPa) over her original operating pressure, the higher operating pressure also gives a small boost to tractive effort. This, combined with bearing, throttle, tender, and frame work, has brought her into her third career in the best shape of her life.[3]


  1. ^ Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum photo of 4501 in restoration Retrieved 2014/01/18
  2. ^
  3. ^ Ray, G. Mark (May 2014). "Secrets of a Steam Star". Trains. 74 (5): 18. 
  • Wrinn, Jim (2000). Steam's Camelot: Southern and Norfolk Southern Excursions in Color. TLC Publishing. ISBN 1-883089-56-5. 
  • Drury, George H. (1993). Guide to North American Steam Locomotives. Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 0-89024-206-2. 
  • Morgan, David P. (1968). Locomotive 4501. Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Publishing.