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Southern Railway No. 1401

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Southern Railway No. 1401
Smithsonian Institution, Negative #: 63164


This object appears in the following sections:

Work and Industry
American Railroads in the 20th Century — Railroads to Mid-Century / Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927

Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927
Lives on the Railroad: Salisbury, North Carolina, 1927 — Locomotive Engineer & Fireman

Locomotive cab interior
Locomotive cab interior

Oil can and torch from locomotive cab
Oil can and torch from locomotive cab

Engineer's tool box
Engineer's tool box

Model, Southern Railway 1401 locomotive

Toy Southern Railway van

Oil Can

Alemite Grease gun used in railroad repair shops

3-head wrench used in locomotive and/or railroad-car work at Spencer Shops

Torch, Inspection

Journal Hook used in railroad work

Hammer, used in railroad shop

Chisel, Cold


Alligator Wrench used in locomotive- and railroad car-repair shops, used at Spencer


Large Spanner

Crowfoot Wrench

Home-made Saddle-Bolt Spanner

Monkey Wrench

Sockets (3)

Swages for rivet gun (3)

Staybolt taps (2)

Machinist's Caliper

Locomotive Fireman's Scoop (Shovel)

Rivet Gun, Small, Pneumatic

Southern Railway station at Salisbury, North Carolina. Street-side view

Railroad passenger coach, interior

Conductor and engineer compare watches

Pullman porters and maids helping passengers, composite photo

Southern Railway 'Book of Operating Rules'

Main Erecting Hall, Spencer

Aerial view of Spencer Shops

Workers outside Southern Railway's Spencer Shops

Diesel and steam locomotives together

Fireman stoking a locomotive's firebox

Machinist's Divider, used at Spencer

Steam locomotive, Southern Railway No. 1401
Catalog #: 320000, Accession #: 196330
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection

Far from ordinary were the Class Ps-4 type steam locomotives of the Southern Railway.

The Ps-4 type was "among the most celebrated passenger locomotives operated in the United States...." [John H. White, Jr. ]

Inspired by handsomely painted British locomotives, the Ps-4's green and gold livery set these locomotives apart from the funereal black associated with most American steam locomotives in the 20th century. The distinctive green was exclusive to locomotives on the Southern that were assigned to the company's principal passenger trains, such as the 'Crescent Limited,' the 'Piedmont Limited,' and others.

Built to a standard design, the first group of Ps-4s was constructed for the Southern Ry in 1923 by the American Locomotive Company (ALCo). These locomotives were patterned only partly on the successful Pacific design developed in 1918 by a design committee organized by the United States Railroad Administration, when U.S. railroads were under federal control during and after World War I.

In 1926, ALCo built for Southern a second order of Ps-4s at its Richmond Works, in Richmond, Virginia. The 1401 was included in this order. The 1401 was assigned for most of its operating life (1926-1952) to the Charlotte Division of the Southern Railway. (Hence the name, 'Charlotte' painted in small letters on the side of 1401's cab.)

The Charlotte Division was part of the Southern's Washington-Atlanta mainline, with extension of the mainline to Birmingham and New Orleans on trackage leased by Southern. The Charlotte Division included the line between Greenville, S.C. and Salisbury/Spencer, N.C. Thus the 1401 rarely, if ever, ran north of Spencer, the location of the Southern's vast Spencer Shops for the heavy repair of locomotives from throughout the system.

A Ps-4 was capable of hauling 12-15 steel passenger cars, about 700-1000 tons, at 80 mph on level track. (The 'hill and dale' profile of the Charlotte Division, however, kept average speeds to about 50-60 mph.) The 14,000 gallons of water in the tender permitted runs of about 150 miles - the full length of the Division - between water stops, although there would be one intermediate water stop normally scheduled. Fuel (16 tons of bituminous coal) in the tender was good for the full 150 miles.

As was the practice with all mainline steam locomotives, a locomotive on a through train was 'changed' at 'division points' (such as Greenville and Spencer) - i.e., the arriving engine was uncoupled and sent to the roundhouse for fueling and servicing, while a freshly prepared locomotive was coupled onto the train in its place for the continuation of the run.

The 1401 was one of eight Ps-4s used to haul President Franklin Roosevelt's funeral train from Warm Springs, Georgia, to Washington in mid-April 1945. (The locomotives were used in 'doubleheaded' pairs, each pair heading the train on the four Divisions between Atlanta and Washington.) The 1401, with the 1385 immediately behind, headed the train from Greenville to Spencer. It was mostly a slow procession at 20-25 mph, slowing to 10 mph at every hamlet and stopping briefly at larger towns, so that the people who lined the track over the complete distance could view the train.

"There was a solid line [of people] on both sides of the track," said Box Childers, fireman that day on the 1385. "I believe you could have walked on their heads all the way [from Greenville] to Salisbury. And they all looked so sad."

Engineer of the 1401 that day was Richard 'Easy' Cooksey, of Charlotte. Fireman of 1401 was recorded as a Mr. Cox, of Fairforest, S.C. Engineer of 1385 was O.B. Surratt of Spencer. [Source for Childers quote: Greenville (S.C.) News, Sept 23, 1962; the reporter interviewed the retired Mr. Childers for an article about the 1401's move into the National Museum of History & Technology (now NMAH) in November 1961.]

1401 ended its days hauling local trains. It was last 'shopped' (fully repaired) at Spencer Shops in 1951.

The locomotive was retired from service in 1952. A Regent of the Smithsonian, who was also on the board of directors of the Southern Railway, headquartered in Washington, D.C., persuaded the Regents to accept the 1401 in 1953 as a gift from the Southern - to represent the 'age of steam railways' in American history.

From 1953 to 1961, the 1401 was stored at Alexandria, Va. When the new National Museum of History & Technology (now NMAH - under construction from 1959) was ready, the Southern gave the 1401 and its tender a full external restoration, with new paint and striping, in October-November 1961.

Two 250-ton-capacity railway steam cranes of the Southern lifted 1401 from a rail spur located about two miles from downtown, where 1401 had been moved. The two cranes set the engine (sans tender) on a special, 200-ton-capacity, multi-tire trailer. Late on the night of Nov 25/early on the morning of Nov 26, 1961, the engine and its tender were moved (part of the way on Constitution Ave.) to their new home in Washington.

Another eleven days were required to place the engine and tender in the museum. The east end of the new museum was completed around the installed 1401. In January 1964, the museum opened to the public.

Physical Description

Passenger steam locomotive: Class 4-6-2 'Pacific' (also Class 'Ps-4' on Southern Railway). Complete locomotive includes engine and its - very necessary - tender, which carries the locomotive's fuel for the firebox and water to feed the boiler, to make steam for propulsion.

Dimensions: 91' 11-7/8" L x 14' 11" H x 10' 2" W.

Weight: Total, engine and tender in 'working order' with coal in firebox and tender and water in boiler and tender is 561,600 lbs. or 281 tons. Includes 92 tons of fuel and water in engine and tender. Total weight of engine + tender as displayed is 189 tons.

Color: Green set off with gold striping, aluminum-painted running board edges and tires, and chrome-plated steel rods and valve gear (the chrome plating - never applied to any locomotive's rods because chrome-plating weakens steel - simulates the brightly polished steel rods and valve gear typical of Ps-4 locomotives in service, 1926-1953).

Firebox Grate Area: 75 square feet.

Cylinders (2, with one on each side, at front; these propel the locomotive): 27 x 28.

Driving Wheels: 73" dia.

Steam Pressure: 210 lb/sq. in.

Fuel: Coal (16 tons coal, plus 14,000 gallons of water, in tender)

Date Made:
Dates Used:
1926 - 1952
Alabama, Dist of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia
States on routes of Southern Rwy
Gift of Southern Railway

The 4-6-2 'Pacific' type steam locomotive, for passenger trains, was introduced late in the 19th century and perfected after 1910.

Among the most numerous type of steam locomotive, for passenger trains operated in the United States from ca. 1910 to 1955, was the 'Pacific' type. This type was characterized by 4 leading or 'pilot' wheels, arranged in a 'truck' to guide the locomotive in curves; 6 large-diameter driving wheels for power and speed; and a pair of 'trailing wheels' in a 'trailing truck'under the rear of the engine to help support its great weight.

Related People, Places, and Events
American Locomotive Company, Richmond Works

Place of Manufacture
Richmond, Virginia (1926)

Related Place
Spencer Shops, Spencer, N.C.
1401 repaired at Spencer many times, last in 1951. Spencer was northern end of Charlotte Division. 1401 usually dispatched on trains from either Spencer or Greenville.

Related Place
Greenville, S.C.
Southern end of Charlotte Division. 1401 was normally dispatched on trains from either Greenville or Spencer.

Place of Use
Charlotte, N.C.
A roundhouse and locomotive servicing point for the Charlotte Division at Charlotte

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