Classic Trains explores the history of a rare steam passenger engine that helped lead the way in streamlining.
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New York Central’s 275 4-6-4 Hudson-type engines are among the most celebrated of all steam locomotive classes. As the top passenger power of one of the most passenger-oriented railroads from the late 1920s to the early 1950s, the J-1, J-2, and J-3 classes were in the public eye like few other groups of engines. That they powered the famous 20th Century Limited (“the world’s greatest train”) would be enough to ensure them a place in history. No wonder Lionel’s postwar J-1 was one of the best-selling toy trains of all time. Adding to the Hudsons’ mythic status is the tragic fact that not one of them was saved for posterity, making them the most notable locomotives to have vanished without a trace.
One member of the Hudson clan — J-1 No. 5344 — stands out from the rest. Four photos from the Kalmbach Media files tell its story.