Southern Railway 4501

Southern Railway 4501 is a preserved Ms class 2-8-2 "Mikado" type steam locomotive built in October 1911 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the first of its wheel arrangement type for the Southern Railway (SOU). In 1948, the locomotive was retired from the SOU in favor of dieselization and was sold to the shortline Kentucky and Tennessee Railway (K&T) in Stearns, Kentucky to haul coal trains.

Southern Railway 4501
SOU 4501 with the Smoky Mountain Special near Paint Rock, NC on May 30, 1970.jpg
Southern Railway No. 4501 leads the Smoky Mountain Special excursion near Paint Rock, North Carolina, on May 30, 1970
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
BuilderBaldwin Locomotive Works
Serial number37085
Model12-48 1/4 E
Build dateOctober 1911
Rebuild date1964–1966
 • Whyte2-8-2
 • UIC1'D1'h
Gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Driver dia.63 in (1,600 mm)
Adhesive weight215,700 lb (97,800 kg)
Loco weight272,900 lb (123,800 kg)
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacityOld tender: 12 t (12 long tons; 13 short tons)
New tender: 16 t (16 long tons; 18 short tons), formerly 18 t (18 long tons; 20 short tons)
Water cap.Old tender: 8,000 US gal (30,000 l; 6,700 imp gal)
New tender: 13,000 US gal (49,000 l; 11,000 imp gal), formerly 12,500 US gal (47,000 l; 10,400 imp gal)
Boiler pressure205 psi (1.41 MPa), formerly 200 psi (1.38 MPa)
Feedwater heaterWorthington SA (added during its 2012-2014 overhaul)
CylindersTwo, outside
Cylinder size27 in × 30 in (686 mm × 762 mm)
Valve gearWalschaerts
Performance figures
Power output2,700 hp
Tractive effort53,900 lbf (239.8 kN)
Factor of adh.4.00
OperatorsSouthern Railway
Kentucky and Tennessee Railway
Norfolk Southern Railway
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
Number in class1st of 182
  • SOU 4501
  • K&T 12
  • L&N 1593
NicknamesThe Big Engine (by K&T crews)[2]
RetiredFebruary 1964 (revenue service)
September 20, 1998 (1st excursion service)
RestoredAugust 1966 (1st restoration)
September 6, 2014 (2nd restoration)
Current ownerTennessee Valley Railroad Museum
DispositionOperational, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Mikado Locomotive No. 4501
Southern Railway 4501 is located in Tennessee
Southern Railway 4501
Southern Railway 4501 is located in the United States
Southern Railway 4501
Location2202 N. Chamberlain Ave., Chattanooga, Tennessee
Coordinates35°3′43″N 85°15′1″W / 35.06194°N 85.25028°W / 35.06194; -85.25028Coordinates: 35°3′43″N 85°15′1″W / 35.06194°N 85.25028°W / 35.06194; -85.25028
Built byBaldwin Locomotive Works
NRHP reference No.79002440
Added to NRHPMarch 28, 1979

When the K&T was dieselized in 1964, No. 4501 was purchased by a railfan named Paul H. Merriman with $5,000 of his own money and brought to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Shortly thereafter it was returned to steam for main line excursion service on the Southern's steam program started by the railroad's president, W. Graham Claytor Jr. in 1966 through Merriman's 4501 Corporation.

Repainted in Southern's passenger Virginian green and gold paint scheme, No. 4501 operated as the main line steam excursion star of Southern's steam program until being replaced by larger steam locomotives in 1985. The locomotive ran again from 1990 until 1994, when Southern's successor, Norfolk Southern discontinued the steam program due to rising insurance cost and decreasing rail network availability.

No. 4501 continued operated for the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Merriman was a founding member of TVRM alongside Robert "Bob" Soule, and eventually handed 4501 over from his personal property to museum property. Repainted into its original freight black livery in 1996, the locomotive was retired when its boiler ticket certificate expired in 1998.

With the upcoming of Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam Program and the success of TVRM's Southern Railway 630, the restoration on No. 4501 began in 2012 and completed in 2014, with period upgrades such as a feedwater heater and mechanical stoker added in which most of 4501's classmates received in the 1940s, but the locomotive itself never received. No. 4501 was currently operated in tourist excursion service at TVRM, traditionally on the longer trips to Summerville, Georgia throughout the year and TVRM's Missionary Ridge Local as needed during the weekends.



182 2-8-2 "Mikado" type MS class steam locomotives were built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, the American Locomotive Company, and the Lima Locomotive Works between 1911 and 1917 to haul freight trains for the Southern Railway (SOU) and were numbered in the 4501-4635, 6250-6284, and 6600-6611 series.[3][4] They were designed with 63 in (1,600 mm) driving wheels, 53,900 lb (24.4 tonnes) of tractive effort, an operating boiler pressure of 200 psi (1.38 MPa), and their tenders had a capacity of 12 tonnes (12,000 kg) of coal and 8,000 US gallons (30,000 l) of water.[1][5] Some of these locomotives were equipped with Walschaerts (Nos. 4501-4603, 4624-4635) and Southern valve gears (Nos. 4604-4623).[5][6] In the 1940s, some of the locomotives were eventually re-equipped with Worthington feedwater heaters, mechanical stokers, bigger sand domes, larger tenders, and multiple-bearing (MB) crossheads to improve their performances.[6][7]

Revenue service and first retirement (1911-1964)Edit

No. 4501 was built by Baldwin in October 1911 at a cost of US$23,182 as the first of its wheel arrangement type for the SOU.[1] It worked on many different divisions of the SOU system from Tennessee, to Virginia, to Kentucky, and finally Indiana, hauling freight trains.[2] The locomotive was retired from revenue service and was sent to be stored at a railroad boneyard at Southern's Princeton Shops in Princeton, Indiana.[2] On October 7, 1948, the Kentucky and Tennessee Railway (K&T), headquartered in Stearns, Kentucky, purchased the No. 4501 for $8,225.00 and renumbered it as their No. 12 locomotive.[2] No. 12 worked on the K&T hauling coal trains until 1964, when the K&T purchased three ALCO S-2s diesels from the Denver & Rio Grande Western, thus No. 12, along with the K&T's other steam locomotives, were retired from revenue service.[2]

First restoration and excursion service (1966–1998)Edit

Railfan Paul H. Merriman bought No. 12 for the 4501 Corporation with $5,000 of his own money and renumbered it back to 4501.[2] On June 6, 1964, after the 4501's journey to Chattanooga from the K&T, an initial restoration was done by Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) volunteers at the facilities of the Lucey Boiler Company in Chattanooga near the TVRM's storage facilities, which were at the time located on former Western Union Company tracks.[2]

No. 4501 was stripped down for an extensive overhaul with the thin cab floor, the rotted ash pan, and the rusty smokebox front replaced.[8] The dented cab roof was straightened and a radio antenna was installed.[8] The cylinder cocks were reworked and the throttle was lapped with a new airline run to the repacked reversing gear.[8] With the homage of Southern Railway executives, the 4501 was repainted in the Southern passenger Virginian green and gold paint scheme instead of its original freight black livery.[8] After the restoration was completed in August 1966, the 4501 launched its first public run between Chattanooga and Richmond, Virginia, officially kicking off the Southern Railway's new steam excursion program.[8][9]

In 1969, No. 4501 was upgraded with a larger tender, which was originally used behind a Central of Georgia 2-10-2,[10] before being used for a maintenance of way wreck train in Georgia.[11] The new tender holds 18 tonnes (18,000 kg) of coal and 12,500 US gallons (47,000 l) of water, which improved the locomotive's range greatly.[10][a] At the same time in November, during the 75th anniversary of the Southern Railway, an event called the "Steam-O-Rama" took place in Anniston, Alabama, along the Birmingham to Atlanta main line.[13] It featured No. 4501, Savannah and Atlanta 4-6-2 No. 750, which was restored by the Atlanta Chapter NRHS,[14] and London and North Eastern Railway A3 No. 4472 "Flying Scotsman", which was in the course of its USA tour at the time.[13]

In the summer of 1973, No. 4501 was run off of Southern Railway property for a series of excursion trips in the Midwestern United States on the Illinois Central (IC), the Chicago and North Western (C&NW), the Milwaukee Road (MILW), the Rock Island Line (RI), and the Norfolk and Western (N&W).[15][16] During that time, the locomotive was famously assigned to pull the Schlitz Circus World Museum train via the CNW line between Baraboo and Madison, Wisconsin and the MILW line to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[15] On March 28, 1979, No. 4501 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]

On April 11, 1981, the locomotive suffered a cracked front flue sheet at Dalton, Georgia during an excursion trip from Atlanta, Georgia to Chattanooga.[17][18] A diesel locomotive pulled the remainder of the trip and No. 4501 was towed back to the Irondale Workshop in Birmingham, Alabama for a long-term rebuild until November 1984.[18][19] Following the rebuild, No. 4501 received a newly welded tender body with the coal capacity decreased to 16 tonnes (16,000 kg) and the water tank capacity increased to 13,000 US gallons (49,000 l).[10] The tender's old Andrews pilot trucks were replaced with modern roller bearing trucks.[19]

At the end of the 1985 operating season, the locomotive was retired from main line excursion service and moved back to TVRM due to the steam program being expanded by the Southern's successor, Norfolk Southern (NS) with larger Norfolk and Western steam locomotives, 4-8-4 J Class No. 611 and 2-6-6-4 A Class No. 1218 to haul the longer and heavier excursion trips.[20] Five years later, No. 4501 returned to main line excursion service to negotiate with lines that were off limits to Nos. 611 and 1218.[21]

On November 3, 1991, during Norfolk Southern's 25th anniversary steam program, No. 4501 triple headed with Norfolk and Western No. 611 and No. 1218 to pull an excursion train of 28 passenger cars from Chattanooga to Atlanta.[22] At Ooltewah, Tennessee, No. 4501 took a few coaches for a complete round trip, turning around at Cleveland, Tennessee.[22] Afterwards, No. 611 and No. 1218 completed the rest of the trip to Atlanta.[22]

In 1994, the NS executives announced that they would discontinue their steam program due to serious safety concerns, rising insurance costs, the expense of maintaining steam locomotives, and decreasing rail network availability due to a surge in freight traffic.[23][24] No. 4501 made its last public NS main line excursion trip from Birmingham to Columbus, Georgia on April 30, but was taken off at Alexander City, Alabama due to overheated bearings, and the Norfolk Southern GP59 diesel locomotive No. 4610 finished the rest of the trip.[23][25] Afterwards, the No. 4501 returned to TVRM on May 25.[25]

After Norfolk Southern ended their steam program in late 1994, No. 4501 remained at TVRM operating their excursions through North Georgia on the Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway shortline.[26] In October 1996, the locomotive was repainted back to its original freight black livery for TVRM's 35th anniversary, until it was retired due to the expiration of its boiler ticket on September 20, 1998.[26]

Second restoration and excursion service (2012-present)Edit

In June 2010, Norfolk Southern announced that they would run excursions with No. 4501 and 2-8-0 "Consolidation" No. 630 with their new 21st Century Steam program.[27] In March 2011, No. 630 returned to service pulling tourist trains for the TVRM and some of the first main line excursion trips for the 21st Century Steam program.[28] With No. 630 in operating condition, the restoration of No. 4501 began in 2012.[29]

During the restoration of No. 4501 around 2013, the locomotive received upgrades to its trailing wheels that included the addition of roller bearings to help guide the locomotive through track curves.[30] A replica of a Worthington SA type feedwater heater from a 2-10-2 China Railways QJ Class was used to improve the locomotive's performance.[30] Its tender was given a mechanical stoker from Canadian National Railway No. 5288, a 4-6-2 steam locomotive that was also on display at TVRM.[30][31] These modifications increased the locomotive's operating boiler pressure from 200 psi (1.38 MPa) to 205 psi (1.41 MPa), which created a slight increase in tractive effort.[32] The Armstrong lubricators that spring-loaded the driving wheels were replenished by an automatic lubricator from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in North Yorkshire, England.[30]

On September 6, 2014, No. 4501 was steamed up for the first time in 18 years and made its debut at TVRM's 2014 Railfest.[33][34][35] The locomotive made a test run from Chattanooga to LaFayette, Georgia on the Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway line on September 25, 2014 to be prepared for TVRM's upcoming annual Summerville Steam Special on October 4 that year.[36]

On May 1, 2015, No. 4501 returned to the Norfolk Southern main line for the first time in 21 years and successfully completed a test run from TVRM to Cleveland, Tennessee and back.[37][38] On June 26, 2015, No. 4501 began to participate in the 21st Century Steam program, running the Radford Rambler excursion from Bristol to Radford, Virginia.[38][39] On June 27, the locomotive pulled the Lonesome Pine Special excursion from Bristol to Bulls Gap, Tennessee, and ran the Radford Rambler again on June 28.[38][39]

On September 12 and 13, 2015, No. 4501 ran a round trip excursion from Chattanooga to Cleveland, during TVRM's 2015 Railfest,[38][39] but on Sunday, the locomotive was taken off the excursion due to some bad coal damaging its firebox grates.[40] Two weeks later, the locomotive ran the Nancy Hanks Special excursion from Macon to Tennille, Georgia.[38][39][41]

No. 4501's main line excursion career for the 21st Century Steam program was very short-lived however. It was planned to run the Piedmont Limited round trip excursion from Atlanta to Toccoa, Georgia on October 3 and 4, 2015, but it was cancelled on October 1 due to Hurricane Joaquin.[38][42][43] As a result, Norfolk Southern officially concluded their 21st Century Steam program, while No. 4501 remained at TVRM to continue excursion operations and became the main motive power for its annual Summerville Steam Special excursion from Chattanooga to Summerville, Georgia.[38][44][45] In September 2019, No. 4501 was temporarily dressed up as Louisville and Nashville J-3 Mikado No. 1593 for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Historical Society annual convention.[46][47]

Appearances in mediaEdit

  • No. 4501 made its first feature film appearance in the 1971 movie Fools' Parade in which it was repainted to look resemble a Baltimore & Ohio steam locomotive.[48]
  • No. 4501 is shown while under steam in the 1974 movie Ridin' the Rails: The Great American Train Story.[48] A clip of this movie, with Johnny Cash at the throttle of the locomotive, was used in the music video for Hurt, which was covered by Cash.[35]
  • No. 4501 starred in the 1976 television movie Eleanor and Franklin.[48]
  • No. 4501 appears several times in the 1978 movie Summer of My German Soldier, set in Georgia during World War II.[48]
  • No. 4501 was used in the 1999 movie October Sky where it was dressed up to look like an N&W locomotive.[49]
  • No. 4501 was featured in the 2016 feature-length documentary And Then There Was One, which chronicles the history of the locomotive's career to that point.[50]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ No. 4501's original tender would eventually be rebuilt and used behind Southern Railway 630 in 2011.[10][12]


  1. ^ a b c d Carver, M.A. (September 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form – Mikado Locomotive No. 4501". National Park Service. Archived from the original on February 24, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Wrinn (2000), pp. 4–7.
  3. ^ Drury (2015), p. 295.
  4. ^ Drury (2015), pp. 297–298.
  5. ^ a b Ranks & Lowe (1966), p. 65.
  6. ^ a b Ranks & Lowe (1966), pp. 54–56.
  7. ^ Ranks & Lowe (1966), p. 67.
  8. ^ a b c d e Wrinn (2000), pp. 13–15.
  9. ^ Gruber, John (November 21, 2011). "Southern 4501's first excursion". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. Archived from the original on August 19, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d Ray (2014), p. 27.
  11. ^ Wrinn (2000), p. 26.
  12. ^ "Smoke & Cinders: Volume 49, Number 1; First Quarter 2010" (PDF). Smoke & Cinders. Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. 2010. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 29, 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  13. ^ a b Wrinn (2000), pp. 30–32.
  14. ^ Wrinn (2000), p. 8.
  15. ^ a b Wrinn (2000), pp. 39–41.
  16. ^ Wrinn (2000), p. 112.
  17. ^ Wrinn (2000), p. 57.
  18. ^ a b Wrinn (2000), pp. 115–116.
  19. ^ a b Wrinn (2000), p. 69.
  20. ^ Wrinn (2000), p. 74.
  21. ^ Wrinn (2000), p. 89.
  22. ^ a b c Wrinn (2000), pp. 90–91.
  23. ^ a b Wrinn (2000), p. 100.
  24. ^ Philips, Don (October 29, 1994). "Norfolk Southern plans to end nostalgic steam locomotive program". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 30, 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  25. ^ a b Craft, John (1994). "1994 US Excursion Schedules". SteamCentral. Archived from the original on December 22, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  26. ^ a b Wrinn (2000), pp. 109–110.
  27. ^ "Mainline steam excursions could return to Norfolk Southern rails soon". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. June 30, 2010. Archived from the original on July 6, 2020. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  28. ^ "Southern Railway 630". Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Archived from the original on May 19, 2021. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  29. ^ Haman, Ansley (March 31, 2012). "Southern Railway 4501 back on track". Times Free Press. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  30. ^ a b c d Wrinn, Jim (September 4, 2013). "Southern Railway 4501 is coming together at Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. Archived from the original on February 20, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  31. ^ "Canadian National Railway 5288". Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Archived from the original on May 19, 2021. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  32. ^ Ray (2014), p. 22.
  33. ^ "TVRM's Historic Steam Locomotive #4501 Is Ready For Tennessee Valley Railfest". August 27, 2014. Archived from the original on March 3, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  34. ^ "No. 4501 to debut Sept. 6-7 at Railfest in Chattanooga". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. August 28, 2014. Archived from the original on March 2, 2017. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  35. ^ a b Edwards, Lynda (September 6, 2014). "A century of steam: Rare locomotive built in 1911 has been reborn following three-year restoration". Times Free Press. Archived from the original on December 24, 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  36. ^ O'Bryant, Josh (September 28, 2014). "Restored railroad engine steams through LaFayette on shakedown run". Archived from the original on March 3, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  37. ^ "VIDEO: Southern No. 4501 steams on main line". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. May 1, 2015. Archived from the original on May 8, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  38. ^ a b c d e f g "Norfolk Southern 21st Century Steam Specials". Archived from the original on October 27, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  39. ^ a b c d "21st Century Steam". Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Archived from the original on June 14, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  40. ^ Scholl, Greg (October 21, 2019). "Mainline Steam Spectacular DVD". Archived from the original on June 12, 2021. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  41. ^ Timmerman, Jeremy (September 27, 2015). "Nancy Hanks steam engine in Macon draws passengers, spectators of all ages". Archived from the original on February 24, 2017. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  42. ^ "Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum". Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  43. ^ "Hurricane forces excursion trains to cancel". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. October 2, 2015. Archived from the original on November 10, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  44. ^ Gunnoe, Chase (December 22, 2015). "NS steam operations to focus exclusively on No. 611 next season". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. Archived from the original on February 10, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  45. ^ "Summerville Steam Special". Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  46. ^ "Southern 4501 to get makeover into L&N engine". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. August 7, 2019. Archived from the original on August 8, 2019. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  47. ^ Flanary, Ron (August 7, 2019). "SR 4501 masquerades as L&N 1593". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. Archived from the original on June 10, 2021. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
  48. ^ a b c d Wrinn (2000), pp. 28–29.
  49. ^ "Smoke & Cinders: Volume 37, Number 4; Fourth Quarter 1998". Smoke & Cinders. Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. 1998. p. 2. Archived from the original on June 8, 2001. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  50. ^ "New Southern 4501 documentary highlights locomotive's history, caretakers". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. September 12, 2016. Archived from the original on November 12, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2018.


  • Drury, George (2015). Guide to North American Steam Locomotives (2nd ed.). Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 978-1-62700-259-2.
  • Ranks, Harold; Lowe, Shelby (1966). Southern Steam Power (1st ed.). Barnhart Press.
  • Ray, G. Mark (May 2014). "Secrets of a Steam Star". Trains. Vol. 74, no. 5. Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 18–27.
  • Wrinn, Jim (2000). Steam's Camelot: Southern and Norfolk Southern Excursions in Color (1st ed.). TLC Publishing. ISBN 1-883089-56-5.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit