Trains.com
You have 7 views remaining.

Home / Railroads & Locomotives / Fallen Flags / Remembering New York Central locomotives

Remembering New York Central locomotives

By | January 29, 2021

New York Central is the Railroad of the Month for January 2021

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories and more.

A streamlined steam locomotive on a track.
Two cab unit-style diesel locomotives appear in a rail yard.

Alco FA diesel locomotives


New York Central had the biggest fleet of Alco’s postwar freight carbody diesels, with 124 FA cab units and 73 FB boosters. Delivered in dashing “lightning stripes,” most got the simpler “cigar-band” scheme in the 1960s.

Photograph by Jim McClellan
Two cab unit-style diesel locomotives appear in a rail yard.
A steam locomotive hauling a passenger car on a multi-track mainline.

4-6-2 steam locomotive 4742


Famous for its Hudsons, NYC had a formidable fleet of more than 600 Pacifics. No. 4742, seen on a Hudson Division commuter train in 1940, was one of 91 class K-3 engines built by Alco during 1918–23.

Photograph by Frank Quin
A steam locomotive hauling a passenger car on a multi-track mainline.
An oblique overhead view of an electric locomotive in a rail yard.

2-D-2 electric locomotive 1118


NYC’s class S third-rail electrics, dating from before the 1913 opening of Grand Central Terminal, were among the longest-lasting of any North American locomotives. The first was built in 1904; the last was retired in 1981.

John P. Ahrens
An oblique overhead view of an electric locomotive in a rail yard.
A black and silver "shark nose" diesel sits on a weedy track in a rail yard.

2-D-2 electric locomotive 1118


NYC’s class S third-rail electrics, dating from before the 1913 opening of Grand Central Terminal, were among the longest-lasting of any North American locomotives. The first was built in 1904; the last was retired in 1981.

John P. Ahrens
A black and silver "shark nose" diesel sits on a weedy track in a rail yard.
A steam locomotive appears with a train in a rail yard.

4-6-4 steam locomotive 5220


NYC was first to field the 4-6-4 wheel arrangement, in February 1927. The road amassed a fleet of 205 J-1s, 20 low-drivered J-2s for hilly subsidiary Boston & Albany, and 50 J-3 “super Hudsons.” They were the Central’s signature passenger engines.

Photograph by H.W. Pontin
A steam locomotive appears with a train in a rail yard.
A streamlined steam locomotive paused on a track.

4-6-4 steam locomotive 5451


The final 10 J-3 Hudsons of 1938 were streamlined to pull the 20th Century Limited, which had been given all new lightweight cars. From fin-nosed 4-6-4 to boat-tailed observation car, the train was the work of designer Henry Dreyfuss.

Classic Trains collection
A streamlined steam locomotive paused on a track.
A streamlined cab-style E unit locomotive.

E7 diesel locomotive 4000


E7 No. 4000, the first of New York Central’s eventual fleet of 112 E units (36 E7As, 14 E7Bs, and 62 E8As) stands at the road’s Englewood engine terminal in Chicago in 1946. NYC soon adopted a version of the lightning-stripe passenger livery that reversed the shades of gray worn by No. 4000.

L.V. Lucy
A streamlined cab-style E unit locomotive.
An electric locomotive leading a train at speed.

2-C+C-2 electric locomotive 238

Built in 1929 to haul passenger trains on NYC trackage in and out of Cleveland Union Terminal, 21 2-C+C-2 electric locomotives were sent east after the CUT electrification was shut down in 1953. The “P-motors” became the workhorses of the lines out of Grand Central Terminal, hauling all manner of trains, including the experimental diesel Xplorer in 1956.

Photograph by Roy Blanchard

An electric locomotive leading a train at speed.
Two double-headed steam locomotives head around a curve hauling a freight train.

2-8-4 steam locomotives 1426 and 1435


NYC’s Boston & Albany subsidiary was the first customer for Lima’s A-1 2-8-4 of 1925, buying 55 between 1926 and ’30 to haul freights over the Berkshire Hills. Here, Nos. 1426 and 1435 work east at Chatham, N.Y., in 1946.

Photograph by Ralph E. Hallock
Two double-headed steam locomotives head around a curve hauling a freight train.
A large steam locomotives pauses in a rail yard.

4-8-2 steam locomotive 2889


Despite its entirely appropriate “Water Level Route” slogan, NYC had more 4-8-2 Mountain types — 600 — than any other road. The L-1 and L-2 classes of 1916–30, like No. 2889, were for freight, while the L-3 and L-4 engines (1940–44) were superb dual-service machines. NYC called them Mohawks, after the river it main line followed across New York State.

Photograph by Donald A. Somerville
A large steam locomotives pauses in a rail yard.
A large steam locomotive pulls a passenger train through a station area.

4-8-4 steam locomotive 6017


NYC’s steam development peaked with the S-1 and S-2 4-8-4 Niagara heavy passenger engines, 27 of which were built in 1946–47. They were among the best of all steam designs.

Photograph by Frank Quin
A large steam locomotive pulls a passenger train through a station area.
Four diesel locomotives coupled together haul a train on a multi-track main line.

GE U25B diesel locomotives


NYC signed up for 70 of General Electric’s landmark U25B road-switchers in 1964–65. Brand-new 2505 and three sisters roll an intermodal train east out of Collinwood, Ohio.

Photograph by J. David Ingles
Four diesel locomotives coupled together haul a train on a multi-track main line.

All through January 2021, Classic Trains is celebrating the majestic and mystique of the New York Central.

Please enjoy this photo gallery of NYC locomotives selected from the David P. Morgan Library at Kalmbach Media.

Only from Classic Trains!

You must login to submit a comment