Steam Locomotives of North America - Volume I
by Robert A. LeMassena

ISBN No. 0913582263

$150.00: Not Signed or Numbered, Last Copy - RETAIL SALE ONLY

Like many other books, Articulated Steam Locomotives of North America began as a modest attempt to chronicle a certain type of locomotive—in this case, the Mallet-articulated locomotive in the U.S.A. This project soon ballooned into unanticipated magnitude. It wasn't long before it became evident that Canadian and Mexican engines could not logically be ignored; they were an important part of the story. After that, one thing quickly led to another. By including the double-truck Fairlies, one was obliged to recognize their single-truck counterparts, as well as several mechanical hybrids which defied accurate classification. Locomotives having geared trucks were indeed articulated; thus, something had to be said about them. Then, there was the booster-engine which temporarily transformed ordinary locomotives into pseudo-articulateds. The latter-day duplex-drive locomotives could properly have been omitted; however, that would have concealed an important episode of motive-power progress wherein one railroad tried to avoid articulation. Consequently, duplex-drive locomotives are included, too.

The net result of this editorial policy is not an all-time compendium of every bendable locomotive in North America; such an endeavor would easily be 10 times as large as this illustrated volume. Nevertheless, all the Mallets, double-truck Fairlies and various freaks are represented. But in the realm of the geared-truck locomotives and the single-truck Fairlies, only significant examples are shown—first, biggest and last of the two-truck, three-truck and four-truck models—yet, even this kind of sifting left a surprisingly great number of locomotives for inclusion. In this first volume of Articulated Steam Locomotives, the motive power is classified by railroad, and the story is that of each railroad's involvement with articulateds, regardless of variety.

The author's efforts to locate suitable photographs to illustrate this chronicle have been remarkably successful—and there have been few locomotives whose portraits have been completely elusive. Considering the objective was to obtain views of every kind of articulated steam locomotive on every major railroad, this was no easy task. However, the end result is a dazzling collection of over 600 photographs—including more than 32 color views—some of them quite rare.


The meaning of articulated does not lack precision; it means jointed, and implies mechanical flexibility. But when it is added to the term steam locomotive, the combination embraces such a host of physical variety that personal opinion finally decides what is, and what is not, an articulated steam locomotive.

The origin of the articulated locomotive, as well as its further development, can be traced to the need for more tractive effort produced by a single locomotive operated by one crew. More power required more driving wheels; more drivers resulted in more length; and more length was possible only by the introduction of horizontal flexibility. Articulated steam locomotives were constructed by no less than 18 commercial builders in the U.S.A., each specializing in its own proprietary design almost exclusively. Baldwin produced the greatest variety of major types; Lima built two kinds, and all others concentrated on but one kind of articulated machine.

Four railroads—Canadian Pacific, Great Northern, Norfolk & Western and the Pennsylvania—built entire Mallet locomotives, and nine others possessed shops capable of major rebuilding and modification, but only five of them—Baltimore & Ohio, Great Northern, Southern, Southern Pacific and Union Pacific—indulged in this practice to a significant extent. Four commercial companies built but a single engine, and five others turned out fewer than 10 examples of their own mechanical concepts. Seven plants—American, Baldwin, Climax, Heisler, Lima, Mason and the Norfolk & Western's shops—produced the great majority of North American articulateds. With three exceptions, American built Mallets only, as did the N&W shops. Climax and Heisler manufactured only geared locomotives, and Lima constructed both varieties. Except for one double-truck Fairlie, the single-truck Fairlie was Mason's entire contribution. Nearly all of Baldwin's production was comprised of Mallets, although it did build half-a-dozen other types in insignificant quantities.

Unfortunately, the history of the articulated steam locomotive was a relatively short one. By mid-century, the North American articulated steam locomotive was on its way out—displaced by diesel-electric units. At the end of the 1950 decade, none could be found in service on any U.S. common-carrier railroad. Yet, Mallets could be found at work in Mexico until the mid -1960's, and three species of geared articulateds clanked through the woods of the Appalachians and the forests of the Northwest in the U.S.A. and Canada.

Though the articulated steam locomotive may have been considered extinct for all practical purposes by 1970, the articulated was certainly not dead. Several examples have been preserved by railroads themselves or by various organizations, and a few are actually in service hauling tourists every day (in season). Beyond that, the Cripple Creek & Victor in Colorado imported a German-built Mallet from Mexico and a single-expansion articulated from South Africa to run on its 24-inch-gauge rails. Other Mallets have been rescued from the forests, together with assorted Climax, Heisler and Shay engines, and all of them can be seen pulling trainloads of happy people who probably never experienced the incomparable thrill of watching and hearing and smelling and feeling a gigantic articulated at work on a railroad anywhere.

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