The Burlington Route
Burlington Route - Colorado & Southern

CB&Q No. 5621As late as 1956 Galesburg, Illinois, was an active center of steam power for the Burlington Route (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, a component of today's BNSF Railway — formerly Burlington Northern & Santa Fe — system). Famous for its diesel-powered Zephyrs which introduced high-speed streamlined passenger trains to the American railroad scene in the 1930s, the Burlington was also one of the last holdouts for steam in main line freight service. Pride of its stable were the class O-5 Northerns (4-8-4 type). Most railroads with 4-8-4s considered them a dual-service locomotive, but the CB&Q used its 5600s mostly as heavy-duty, high-speed freight haulers. The earlier locomotives in the series were built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1930 as class O-5, but the later ones (including this example) were erected by the CB&Q's own West Burlington shops in 1936-1940 as class O-5A.

A trip to Galesburg in November 1956 netted me one of my favorite shots. Here, 4-8-4 No. 5621 starts a heavy train out of Galesburg for points west. Below is a broadside shot taken a few seconds later. Like others of her class, No. 5621 had 74-inch drivers, 28x30-inch cylinders, and 250 pounds of boiler pressure per square inch. All of this produced 67,500 pounds of tractive effort. What kept her rolling, however, were the 106.5-square-foot grate area of the firebox, the 5225 square feet of evaporative heating surface and the 2403 square feet of superheating surface. These features supplied the steam-producing capacity for continuous running at speed.

CB&Q No. 5621

Although passenger service was not their regular assignment, according to viewer Marshall Taylor "it wasn't all that unusual to see O-5's on passenger duty, especially for Chicago-Denver second sections or mail-heavy trains during World War II." In the final days of Burlington steam, a few of the O-5s were called upon to head railfan specials throughout the system.

CB&Q No. 5632

The photo above shows No. 5632 in that role at the Galesburg depot in June, 1960. I was in town for the wedding of college friends Larry and Donna Uffelman, and made a point of dropping by the depot before returning home to Bloomington, Illinois. I shot this locomotive in Ektachrome slide film also, with another camera (below). No. 5632 was an oil-burner, formerly assigned to the Burlington's western lines. The engine operated until 1963, but was scrapped early in the 1970s.

CB&Q No. 5632

My friend Larry Uffelman, mentioned above, grew up in Galesburg in a railroad family. Upon discovering this web page some time ago he wrote me, "My grandfather and my father both worked for [the Burlington], and my Uncle Wilhelm worked for the Santa Fe. We lived just across the street from the Burlington line into Chicago and just about a half a block from the Santa Fe tracks. During the days of steam, the Burlington engines seemed to chuff out large clouds of smoke as they passed our house, leaving dirt and grit all over everything, including my mother's washing that she hung on the line in the backyard. If diesels hadn't come in when they did, my father would never have been able to hold his job."


CB&Q No. 4992 and 4961

Galesburg was the site of an active hump yard, still one of the important yards on the BNSF Railway. A hump yard allows the cars of an incoming freight train to roll down a lead track onto classification tracks for assembling into trains for various destinations. When a road engine brings a train into the yard, it usually goes to the servicing facility and a yard engine takes over the train. In late 1956, the CB&Q was still using several of its trusty Mikados, or "Mikes" (2-8-2 type) for humping trains and other switching chores. No. 4992, above left, was working the yard in November and No. 4961, above right and below, resting at the coal tower in December. Like the Mikes of other railroads, these engines would have served as main line power in the 1920s. But with the triumph of the diesel virtually complete, the Burlington Route's remaining 2-8-2s were happy to eke out a few more precious years in this menial task.

Nos. 4961 and 4992 were soon to meet the acetylene torch, but sister locomotive No. 4960 went on to fame as a hauler of rail steam excursions. Rebuilt some years ago and equipped to burn waste cooking oil, she has served in recent years as a mainstay of the Grand Canyon Railway in Arizona. Another classmate, No, 4963, survives at the Illinois Railway Museum, and No. 4978 is preserved at the Union Depot Railroad Museum in Mendota, Illinois. This O-1A class was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1923, and featured 64-inch drivers, 27x30-inch cylinders, and a boiler pressure of 200 pounds per square inch. They exerted 58,000 pounds of tractive effort and weighed about 290,000 pounds minus tender. Many members of the class featured the bundled Elesco feedwater heater ahead of the stack, visible on No. 4992.

CB&Q No. 4961

Viewer Dennis Manwarren, formerly of Illinois and now of Colorado, informs me that he has the whistle from Mikado No. 4992 which he acquired when he found the engine being cut up for scrap at Eola Yard, near Aurora, Illinois. This occurred in 1960 or 1961, when today's tight security was a thing of the future. Railroad employees allowed him to take many items from the scrapyard, and even helped him carry the heavier ones! Mr. Manwarren once possessed 4992's throttle, reverse lever and other items but today only has the whistle and the "Do Not Step In The Conveyer" sign from the tender. He writes that he was delighted to find the photo here.


Our December 1956 visit to Galesburg found a line of "dead" engines waiting scrapping or, in some cases, a happier disposition. One that survived the torch was 4-6-4 No. 4000. She was erected in 1930 as No. 3002, a member of class S-4, by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. This class had 78-inch drivers, a boiler pressure of 250 pounds per square inch, and 25x28-inch cylinders. These engines weighed around 390,000 pounds and produced 47,700 pounds of tractive effort. They boasted a grate area of 87.9 square feet, with an evaporative heating surface of 4247 square feet and 1830 square feet of superheater surface.

CB&Q No. 4000 (Aeolus)

With the advent of the Burlington Route's famous Zephyr diesel streamliners, some steam power was needed to protect their schedules when the regular engines were out of service. In 1937, the CB&Q's West Burlington Shops rebuilt No. 3002 with a shroud emulating the "shovel-nose" style of the earlier stainless-steel streamlined diesels. As rebuilt, No. 3002 was renumbered to No. 4000 and christened Aeolus after the ancient god of winds, in keeping with the Zephyr motif. In 1941 the shops built sister locomotive No. 4001, also called Aeolus. (To view a photo in our Random Steam Collection, click here). Because of the similarity between Aeolus and the name Alice, No. 4000 soon acquired the nickname "Big Alice the Goon" after a Popeye cartoon character. Both engines lost their shrouds to the World War II steel drive, but the nickname held. Today "Alice" is displayed in La Crosse, Wisconsin, cosmetically restored by The 4000 Foundation, Ltd.

CB&Q No. 5622

Among the other stored locomotives in December, 1956 was 4-8-4 No. 5622, its snow-capped boiler testifying to its "dead" condition. Its rods were still connected, and perhaps it was being held in reserve for a possible return to service if required by an upsurge in traffic. As far as I know, that call never came for No. 5622 and she was scrapped in 1960. Four of these Burlington Route O-5 4-8-4s have been preserved.


The 2-10-4 or Texas type locomotive was used by a number of North American railroads in heavy freight service, including coal and iron ore trains. Only the Canadian Pacific employed them in regular passenger service, over mountain grades in the Rockies. The Burlington's 2-10-4s in class M-4 were built in 1927 and 1929 by Baldwin Locomotive Works. They tipped the scales at 504,570 pounds locomotive weight, and at 93,700 pounds of tractive effort they were without doubt the Burlington's heaviest and heftiest steam engines. Their 64-inch drivers rendered them definitely freight locomotives, and they spent their later career at the head of coal drags originating in southern Illinois. Carrying 250 pounds of boiler pressure per square inch, they had a grate area of 106.5 square feet, 5907 square feet of evaporative heating surface and 2487 square feet of superheating surface.

CB&Q No. 6316

On a dreary, wintry day around Thanksgiving, 1956, I photographed No. 6316 as she sat on the lead tracks to the Galesburg roundhouse, perhaps having come up from Beardstown with a train of coal hoppers. No. 6316, built in 1927 and rebuilt in November, 1939, was scrapped in 1959. The Burlington called its 2-10-4s the "Colorado" type, and photos show them operating in their namesake state during the 1930s-1940s.


A family trip from Illinois to visit relatives in the Denver area in August 1957 was also planned as a steam-hunting expedition by the men of the family. One target was the Colorado & Southern, a subsidiary of the Burlington Route. This was my first chance to try out my new 35mm camera, a modest Montgomery Ward model of German manufacture, on steam photography.

C&S No. 631, No. 608

In Denver, we found that terminal operations were conducted jointly by the Colorado & Southern and the Santa Fe. Switching was performed by a group of chunky Consolidations of class B-4R built in the early 1900s. They had 57-inch drivers, 22x28-inch cylinders and a boiler pressure of 200 pounds per square inch, and developed 40,400 pounds of tractive force. Some of them, like No. 608 (at right), were lettered for both railroads, while No. 631 (at left) bore only the C&S lettering and the Burlington Route herald. No. 641 of this class of 2-8-0s worked the Climax-Leadville branch until October, 1962, becoming the last steam locomotive in regular operation on a Class 1 railroad in the United States. It, and No. 638, are displayed today in two Colorado locations, but Nos. 608 and 631 shown here did not survive.


On many railroads the 2-10-2, or Santa Fe type, was the favored heavy hauler going into the 1920s. The large cylinders and low drivers of these machines made them suitable for "drag freights," long trains moving at relatively slow speeds. In 1915 the Colorado & Southern took delivery from Baldwin of five engines of class E-5A, Nos. 900-904. They had a driver diameter of 59 inches, 30x32-inch cylinders, and a boiler pressure of 200 pounds. With a grate area of 88 square feet, they weighed about 344,000 pounds and exerted 83,000 pounds of tractive effort. The E-5 class received many improvements over the years, including feedwater heaters — note the Worthington type BL ahead of No. 902's firebox.

C&S No. 902

C&S No. 902 As the demand for faster freight traffic grew, 2-10-2s on some railroads were displaced by the new breed of "superpower" locomotives, having a larger firebox supported by a four-wheel trailing truck that enabled them to steam freely at high speed even with a heavy load. The last 2-10-2s built for use in the United States were delivered in 1931. Too large to be demoted to branch line and local service, many older 2-10-2s were retired or rebuilt into other types.

It is one of history's ironies, therefore, that a 2-10-2 like the Colorado & Southern's No. 902 should have been among the last main line steam locomotives in regular service on the Burlington system. She is shown here in Denver on August 14, 1957. Much photographed and filmed, she held down the run to Cheyenne for a year or so, and was not scrapped until 1961. It is also ironic that, at least until 2006, more 2-10-2s were operating in the world than any other type of steam locomotive. The National Railways of China were still building QJ-class 2-10-2s into the 1980s, and a few remain in service on some industrial trackage although they are now gone from main lines. What's more, two of the QJs were recently imported into the Midwest and have been operated on the Iowa Interstate Railroad. Not bad for a locomotive type considered obsolete in North America for eight decades.