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The versatile 2-8-2 Mikado

By | November 29, 2021

This common steam locomotive was at home pulling freight or passenger loads

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Steam locomotive standing in rail yard
Smoking steam locomotive with freight train in treeless hills

Santa Fe No. 3243 moves a freight extra westbound at milepost 54 near Summit on Cajon Pass in the early 1950s. It is one of 128 Mikados in the 3160-3287 series built by Baldwin between 1917 and 1920. Classic Trains collection

Smoking steam locomotive with freight train in treeless hills
Steam locomotive parked with its nose in a street crossing taking water at a wood water tower

Baltimore & Ohio No. 4592 takes water at Buckhannon, W.Va., on July 1, 1957. The railroad had 100 2-8-2s in the Q-3 class, Nos. 4500-4599, built by Baldwin in 1918 and retired by 1959. Jim Shaughnessy photo

Steam locomotive parked with its nose in a street crossing taking water at a wood water tower
Steam locomotive smoking with freight train in curve

Elgin, Joliet & Eastern No. 747 heads an eastbound freight about 2 miles east of the railroad’s Joliet, Ill., yard. The railroad, long associated with northwest Indiana’s steel industry, was a Chicago bypass. R. H. Braun photo

Steam locomotive smoking with freight train in curve
Steam locomotive pulls freight train under signal bridge and across diamond

Extra 3156 West departs Marion, Ohio, on the Erie Railroad. Baldwin built 40 N-3 Mikados for the Erie 1923. H. W. Pontin photo

Steam locomotive pulls freight train under signal bridge and across diamond
Steaming steam locomotive hooked up to stationary piping

A reprieve for Great Northern steam: 2-8-2 No. 3386 serves as a stationary boiler in Superior, Wis., in November 1959 to steam heat iron ore hoppers for unloading. Note that the main rods are removed. It is one of 22 class O-7 locomotives built by the GN between 1929 and 1931 from retired M-2 class 2-6-8-0 articulateds. Philip A. Weibler photo

Steaming steam locomotive hooked up to stationary piping
Steam locomotive standing in rail yard

Illinois Central 2-8-2 No. 1607 steams at Chicago in April 1948. The railroad had more than 500 Mikados built by Alco, Baldwin, and Lima in addition to those built in its own shops. J. Bowie photo, C. W. Witbeck collection

Steam locomotive standing in rail yard
Steam locomotive standing in rail yard
 
Steam locomotive standing in rail yard
Man stands on steam locomotive tender in front of station in snow

Southern Pacific 2-8-2 No. 3249 is southbound at Thornbrook, Calif., with train 327 on Dec. 30, 1951. No. 3249 was built by Baldwin in 1913 and was the highest numbered locomotive the railroads Mk-5 class. The train was discontinued effective Feb. 26, 1952. Fred H. Matthews Jr. photo

Man stands on steam locomotive tender in front of station in snow
Doubleheaded steam locomotives on passenger train

In 1940, Union Pacific sometimes used one of its aging 2-8-2 Mikado type locomotives as a helper on Sherman Hill in Wyoming. In this picture, No. 2296 assists 4-8-4 No. 807 at Cheyenne with train 21, the Pacific Limited, operated to the West Coast from Kansas City and Chicago.  R. H. Kindig photo

Doubleheaded steam locomotives on passenger train

The 2-8-2 Mikado-type steam locomotive was the first with a firebox behind the drivers and supported by a trailing truck. Originally conceived by Baldwin Locomotive Works and the narrow gauge Interoceanic Railway in Mexico, the first U.S. Mikado was a 50-inch drivered Baldwin built in 1901 for the Bismarck, Washburn & Great Northern. In 1902, Baldwin delivered 15 2-8-2s to the Santa Fe. During World War II, several railroads tried to redesignate their 2-8-2s “MacArthurs,” but the name didn’t stick. New York Central and subsidiaries had the most with 1,387. Denver & Rio Grande Western operated the last on a Class I railroad on its narrow-gauge lines in Colorado and New Mexico.

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