ASME-Landmark:Southern Pacific


Southern Pacific was the only major railroad in this country to use steam locomotives with the cab in front. This design concept allowed the engineer and fireman to see further down the track and contributed to greater safety around curves, and through tunnels and snowsheds in the mountains. It also eliminated smoke and heat entering the cab of the engine.

Southern Pacific #4294, a 4-8-8-2 cab-in-front articulated locomotive, is the sole surviving steam locomotive of its type. The 4-8-8-2 locomotives were really two engines combined into one. They had one boiler which served two sets of cylinders driving independent groups of wheels. These locomotives were long, heavy, and the largest, most powerful locomotives on the Southern Pacific during their time. They were fast—capable of attaining speeds of 70 miles per hour. These locomotives were used to haul heavy freight and passenger trains over the steep grades in the Sierra and Cascade Mountains.

The articulated wheel-base steam locomotive represents the final phase of steam locomotive development in size and power. In 1956, these locomotives were displaced by a diesel-electric locomotive. The #4294 was presented to the City of Sacramento on October 19, 1958, and later given to the State of California for display in the California State Railroad Museum; it was cosmetically restored in 1981 and remains on display today in excellent, potentially operational, condition. See ASME website for more information