Railroads & Locomotives Locomotives Grand Canyon Railway’s 4960

Grand Canyon Railway’s 4960

By Nastassia Putz | September 11, 2023

This environmentally friendly Mikado serves the Grand Canyon

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A black steam locomotive pulls passenger cars down a single-track line under a blue sky
Grand Canyon Railway’s No. 4960, a 2-8-2 Mikado built in 1923 for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, rolls south with a National Model Railroad Association Pacific Southwest Region charter on June 10, 2023. The O-1A class locomotive is fueled by waste vegetable oil collected from local restaurants. Carl Swanson

Builder: Baldwin Locomotive Works

Wheel arrangement: 2-8-2 Mikado

Build date: March 1923

Why it’s important: Grand Canyon Railway’s 4960 was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. The O-1A class 2-8-2 Mikado No. 4960 was ideally suited for powering fast freight trains across Burlington’s mostly level Midwest routes. With the arrival of diesel locomotives, the 4960 was set aside for occasional use on the railroad’s steam excursion specials from 1958 to the end of the railroad’s steam program in 1966. The engine was acquired by Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis., and later moved to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in nearby North Freedom, Wis. The 4960 then ran for a short time on the Bristol & North Western Railroad in Virginia before going into storage. In 1989, Xanterra Travel Collection, Grand Canyon Railway’s owner, purchased No. 4960. The Mikado was extensively overhauled by CGR and entered operation between Williams, Ariz., and the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Fun fact: Protecting the environment takes on added emphasis for a steam locomotive operating in the heart of one of the world’s natural wonders. The 4960 was converted in 2009 to burn waste vegetable oil collected from restaurants across northern Arizona. The 4960 consumes 1,200 gallons of vegetable oil and 12,000 gallons of water in a single 110-mile round trip between Williams and the Grand Canyon.

Location: Grand Canyon Railway, Williams, Ariz.

Website: thetrain.com

A crew member in blue coveralls checks the front of a parked black steam locomotive on a bright, sunny day.
A crewman checks over the 4960 at the Grand Canyon depot as it prepares for its 65-mile return run to Williams, Ariz. Carl Swanson


One thought on “Grand Canyon Railway’s 4960

  1. Seems to me that a fair number of currently oil burning steamers could be easily modified to burn cleansed used vegetable oil, now that such oil has finally been seen to be reusable for many things. Yep, it changes the smell considerably, but it is far more friendly to air quality. Not sure what the smoke looks like, though.

    As a side note, many people single use such oil at home, but there is little or no recycling available in most communities except from commercial use. And it’s good enough that in some places it gets stolen.

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