USRA 2-6-6-2

The USRA 2-6-6-2 is a standardized design of 2-6-6-2 Mallet locomotives developed by the United States Railroad Administration during World War I.

USRA 2-6-6-2
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
BuilderBaldwin (10)
Alco (20)
Build datefrom 1911 to about 1940
Total produced30
Specifications
Configuration:
 • Whyte2-6-6-2
Gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Driver dia.56+14 in (1,429 mm)
Trailing dia.45 in (1,143 mm)
Adhesive weight376,500 lb (170,800 kg)
Loco weight449,000 lb (204,000 kg)
Boiler pressure210 psi (1.45 MPa)
Cylindersfour, two LP (front), two HP (rear)
High-pressure cylinder22 in × 32 in (559 mm × 813 mm)
Low-pressure cylinder35 in × 32 in (889 mm × 813 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort77,900 lbf (347 kN)
C&O Class H6
Type and origin
Only specifications that differ from above are shown
BuilderBaldwin
Serial number74269–74278
Build date1949
Total produced10
Specifications
Driver dia.56 in (1,422 mm)
Trailing dia.44 in (1,118 mm)
Adhesive weight366,700 lb (166,300 kg)
Loco weight434,900 lb (197,300 kg)
Career
OperatorsC&O
ClassH6
Numbers1300–1309
Retired1957
Disposition2 preserved
C&O 1308
C&O 1309

DesignEdit

The USRA 2-6-6-2 locomotive is a Mallet, or compound articulated type, having both low-pressure and high-pressure cylinders. The smaller high-pressure cylinders powered the rear set of driving wheels, and the larger low-pressure cylinders powered the forward set of driving wheels. The USRA 2-6-6-2 articulated locomotives were direct developments of the Chesapeake & Ohio class H2 and H4 series.

OrdersEdit

During the tenure of the USRA, 30 of these articulated steam locomotives were built. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) [875-894, later 1520-1539] and Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway (W&LE) [8001-8010] ordered the USRA 2-6-6-2 Mallet. The first Mallet was delivered to the W&LE in 1919 for $71,966.94. Later, the Nickel Plate Road (NKP) leased them from the W&LE, renumbering them for use on its rails. The independently pivoted front engine allowed it to negotiate branch lines and tight curves while hauling larger consists than its smaller cousins in the USRA series.

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad ordered the first of these compact 2-6-6-2 articulated steam locomotives from Alco in 1911. It was a massive locomotive for the time, and it performed well enough for the C&O to order additional, but slightly modified, versions right through 1923. These locomotives were designed to replace the 2-8-0 Consolidations for the coal drags on the C&O’s Hinton Division. The 2-6-6-2s could handle more tonnage than the double-headed pair of 2-8-0s they replaced, and they burned less coal in the process. The 2-6-6-2s proved to be ideal mine run engines as their power and flexibility plus low weight on drivers made them ideal for the curving and heavily graded branches in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia.

An additional ten (10) locomotives were built in 1949. These C&O Class H6 2-6-6-2s, numbered 1300 to 1309, were the last steam locomotives produced by Baldwin for use in the United States. The last of these were retired in 1957. Most of the locomotives were scrapped, but the last two produced were retained by C&O as examples of their steam heritage. The C&O 1308 is in the care of the Collis P. Huntingdon Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society at Huntington, West Virginia, while the C&O 1309 was restored to operation on December 31, 2020 at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad in Cumberland, Maryland.

ReferencesEdit