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Erie Railroad L1 Class: #2600, 2601 & 2602: 0-8-8-0 Articulated Camelbacks: American Locomotive Works

#2600, #2601 & #2602

L1 Class

American Locomotive Works 
Schenectady, New York
July 1907
c/n 42269 - 42270 - 42271

0-8-8-0 Articulated Camelbacks

by Philip M. Goldstein

counter added 10 January 2022

26 March 2024: Adam Hofmann's N Scale kitbash of Erie L1 2601 addedModeling
8 March 2024: Reading 2-6-0 showing dual firebox doors addedOne Fireman or Two?  One!
and Dual Firebox Doors




able of Contents

Specifications of the L1 ClassPrefaceWho's whoWhy The Cab In The Middle?
The Wootten Firebox
History of the L1E. T. Stotesbury
(partner with J. P. Morgan)
Trustee, Owner of #2600, #2601, #2602
L1 Reliability & Longevity:
Dispelling myths and bad assumptions
One Fireman or Two?  One!
and Dual Firebox Doors
1 = 3 or 3 = 6
No, it isn't Enron math
Pushers and HelpersErie RR Track Chart - 1929
Delaware Division - Susquehanna to Deposit
That Small Tender
It only had to go so far.
Gulf Summit Comparison
with PRR Allegheny Summit Operation
Technical Journals & Publications "The Test" - 1907
Dynamometer car - Erie Railroad
"The Thesis" - 1908
C. R. Cullen / S. D. Gridley 
Cornell University
Erie RR - Special Instructions
Delaware Division - July 1, 1914 
Delaware Division - November 1, 1921
Placement of the Caboose
Before or after the pusher locomotive?
The Baldwin Rebuild - 1921L1 Mishaps
L1 Engineers Pay Rate - 1910
$6.00 per day
George W. Ball, loco engineer
Seniority holder for Pusher Operations on Gulf Summit
Camelbacks Banned? Not.
More bad myth.
Modifications & Differences
BibliographyMemorabilia & PhotographsModeling
The AuthorGuestbook

Click on the builders plate  at the bottom of each chapter to bring you back to this table of contents.




Erie Railroad - L1 Class #2600
"Angus type" also known as the "Mellin Compound Mallet"




road: Erie cylinders, low pressure (front): 39" bore x 28" stroke (simple)
Erie locomotive class: L1 cylinders, high pressure (rear): 25" bore x 28" stroke (Mellin compound)
builder: American Locomotive Co (Schenectady, NY) valve type, high pressure: piston
builder class: 0880 C410 valve type, low pressure: Richardson balanced slide
date built: July 1907 valve gear: Walschaerts
number in class: three boiler diameter : 84"
Erie road numbers: 2600, 2601, 2602 number of tubes: 404
construction numbers: 42269, 42270, 42271 tube diameter: 2.25"
wheel arrangement: 0-8-8-0 (articulated) tube length: 21'
driver diameter: 51" steam pressure: 215 p.s.i.
total locomotive wheelbase: 39' 2" grate area: 100 sq. ft.
engine wheelbase (individual): 14' 3" firebox area: 343.2 sq ft
total wheelbase locomotive & tender: 70' 5" evaporative heating surface (total): 5313.7 sq. ft. (5666 sq. ft. after rebuilding)
total length, locomotive & tender: 84' 9¾" (coupler face to face) superheating surface: (1170 sq. ft after rebuilding)
minimum curve radius:16 degreestotal heating surface:6,108 sq. ft
locomotive weight (on drivers): 410,000 lbs. tractive force: 94,070 lbs. @ 90% cutoff; 89,000lbs. @ 85% cutoff
locomotive weight (total): 410,000 lbs. (441,660 lbs. after rebuilding) axle loading: 54,100 lbs.
tender weight (loaded): 167,700 lbs. factor of adhesion: 4.32
total weight locomotive & tender:577,700 lbs. (609,360 lbs. after rebuilding)indicated horsepower @ 5.0-6.5 mph:800 - 1141
tender capacity (water):8,500 gallonsdelivered horsepower @ 5.0-6.5 mph:584 - 999
tender capacity (coal): 16 tons date rebuilt: 1921
fuel: soft (bituminous) or hard coal (culm anthracite) rebuilder: Baldwin Locomotive Works (Eddystone, PA)
to 2-8-8-2, cab moved to rear, installation of feedwater heaters, superheaters and automatic stokers
all scrapped: December 1930






My interest in camelback locomotives:

   Simply put: this website is dedicated to the existence of three very unique locomotives - the Erie L1 Class.

   I have always had a particular fondness for camelback type locomotives; and of all the types built, these three articulated 0-8-8-0 type constructed by American Locomotive Works (Schenectady, NY) for the Erie Railroad are at the top of the list. A close second being the St. Clair Tunnel 0-10-0 side tank Camelbacks.

   To say these were unusual locomotives is an understatement. They were of the first Mallet locomotives to be constructed in the United States - believed to be the third, fourth and fifth examples constructed, and following the orders to ALCo for an 0-6-6-0 for the Baltimore & Ohio and an order to Baldwin Locomotive Works for a 2-6-6-2 for the Great Northern. 

   These three Erie L1 0-8-8-0 locomotives built were the only articulated Mallet Camelbacks built and would be Erie Railroads' first "Mallet" locomotive. The correct pronunciation: mah-LAY, after Anatole Mallet, who was a Swiss civil engineering consultant. But here in the States, I have also heard it pronounced MAL-let (like the hammer). You say to-may-to, I say to-MAH-toe, but mah-LAY is the correct pronunciation.

   A Mallet locomotive has the driving wheel arranged in two groups, i.e.: 2-6-6-2 or 0-8-8-0, 4-8-8-4 and so forth; with the the two larger numbers in the center being powered drive wheels. Normal rigid wheelbase locomotives such as the 0-4-0 through the 4-12-2, with the center number being the powered drive wheels. 

   The Erie L1 0-8-8-0 were further noted as "Mellin compound Mallets", after Carl J. Mellin who patented the method of compounding the steam cylinders use from:

Simple: intake - expansion - exhaust (to atmosphere)


Compound: intake - primary high pressure expansion - exhaust to low pressure cylinder - secondary low pressure expansion - exhaust (to atmosphere). 

   This was a very efficient way to use the steam twice, and was especially so for large locomotives where single expansion would have used up the steam capacity too quickly.

   Obviously this compound articulated mallet design was a success, as they served the Erie Railroad reliably for 14 years, at which time they were rebuilt to reposition the cab and add modern steam locomotive appliances developed from advances in locomotive technology to make them more efficient; and at which time they operated for 9 more years.

   The L1's were designed for and assigned to pusher service over the Gulf Summit grade and Susquehanna Hill, which includes the famed Starrucca Viaduct on the New York - Pennsylvania border, and the line was part of the Erie's Delaware Division.

   The 0-8-8-0's pretty much never ventured west of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania; or east of Deposit, New York. However, a publicity image by Erie Railroad shows one of the locomotives in Port Jervis, NY in 1911.

   But despite this local limited use, they obviously left their mark on the collective history of railroading as many items were produced to publicize their construction and service; postcards, paintings, and advertising scale models. These locomotives remain the topic of many discussions today.


"World's Largest Locomotive"

   The Erie L1's when they were first built in 1907 carried the distinction of being the World's Largest Locomotive.

   Whether that "largest" consideration was to be by wheel arrangement, length or weight; remains to be argued. But in 1907 and in the case of the L1's, t
his title could be applied to both total weight as well as the wheel arrangement. Up until the time of construction of the L1's in 1907;

  1. No locomotives constructed had a total weight that exceeded 410,000 lbs. (205 tons)
  2. No locomotives carried a 0-8-8-0 Whyte notation wheel arrangement, thereby this locomotive had the most amount of drive wheels at this time.

   Obviously, this title was held by another locomotive prior to the L1's being constructed; and the title would eventually pass onto other locomotives as technological developments allowed ever longer frames to be cast and larger locomotives to be built and that operated at higher boiler pressure.

   But for their time, these L1 behemoths had undisputed worldwide recognition.

Dispelling bad information

   Unfortunately, due sometimes in part to novice railfans and sometimes in part to biased and / or revisionist historians; there is a great deal of misunderstanding or just plain bad assumption on their parts regarding these locomotives (and to be frank, others locomotives and topics as well). 

   Regrettably, this erroneous info makes its way onto the web and before you know it its being parroted in dozens of Facebook groups and railfan threads. 

“The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion.” John Lawton

or if you prefer:

Damnant quod non intellegunt.
Translation: They condemn what they do not understand.

   A good deal of the information within the chapters of this site, were in fact inspired by these myths and misinformation, with good old fashioned research and posting the documentation to prove otherwise.

   I know some of you will appreciate the effort. Naturally, if I am in error; please feel free to contact me and I will make a good faith effort to review the facts you provide.




A veritable "who's who" of railroad notables

   In one way or another, indirectly or directly; the design of the Erie L1 came about as the result of several inventors, engineers and designers of industrial apparatus.

John E. Wootten
1822 - 1898
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Wootten realized in the mid-1870s, when he held the position of Superintendent of Motive Power (and soon after General Manager) of the Philadelphia & Reading RR; that if a firebox be could be designed to utilize the vast unwanted quantities of anthracite culm (mine / breaker waste) in the Northeast United States; a vast savings in the cost of operation of steam locomotives could be achieved. Wooten would take Millholland's position of master mechanic; when the latter retired from the P & R. While James Millholland first designed a firebox for burning anthracite culm; it would be Wootten that would go on to perfect the final result, and have his name inextricably associated with the design.

Due to its width and placement, the design of the Wootten firebox required the repositioning of the engineers cab which resulting in the Camelback locomotive type.

This is without a doubt the most significant contribution to the Erie L1 design, not to mention those Camelback style locomotives that both preceded and succeeded it. 

James Millholland
1812 - 1875
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Railway master mechanic, initial design of anthracite firebox, and many other inventions which became standard on American railroads.

Millholland had the honor of working on Peter Cooper's "Tom Thumb" locomotive, and found so much pleasure in working with it, he dedicated his profession to railroad locomotives.

Also an early user and advocate of the superheater, the feedwater heater, and the injector.

Inventions and contributions include the cast-iron crank axle, wooden spring, plate girder bridge, poppet throttle, initial design of the anthracite firebox, water grate, drop frame, and steel tires.

Anatole Mallet (pronounced mah-LAY)
1837 - 1919
Lancy, Switzerland
Mechanical engineer, inventor of the first successful compound system with articulated railway steam locomotive, patented in 1874.

Developed the boiler over articulated frames containing drive wheels and compound cylinder placement (in contrast to the Beyer or Garrett types of articulated locomotives); and of which the Erie L1 fell into this Articulated Mallet design type.

This Mallet style of locomotive became popular not only for the heavy freight drag or pusher operations; but for timberland harvesting firms with excessive curvature and steep grades as well.

Angus Sinclair
1841- 1919
Laurence-kirk, Mearns, Scotland

Erie Railroad special instructor, locomotive engineering, publisher of "Railway & Locomotive Engineering" technical journal.

Sinclair's "contribution" to the Erie L1, was that he is believed to have stated before the L1's were completed, that the L1 would "dry up the country's canals and make water transportation obsolete".

While this was clearly hyperbole, it is understood that the Erie RR saw fit to honor this statement by assigning Sinclairs' name to the class of locomotive: "Angus"

While all the men mentioned thus far have contributed to the advancement of steam locomotives, or at least certain design philosophies;
it is this man that is most directly involved in the design and construction of the Erie L1 Articulated Compound Locomotives:

Carl J. Mellin
1851 - 1924
Hagelbergs församling, Skaraborgs; Sweden
Mechanical engineer and designer of steam locomotive and marine steam propulsion systems. From 1877 to 1887, after completing technical studies, apprenticeships and internships; he was employed by Robert Napier & Son, Glasgow, Scotland; as a designer for maritime propulsion systems, as well as the ships themselves. He then was employed by Atlas (now Atlas Copco) in Stockholm, Sweden.

He immigrated to the United States in 1887. In 1894, he obtained the position of chief engineer for the Richmond Locomotive Works, in Virginia; and in 1902 began employment as a consulting engineer for American Locomotive Works of Schenectady, New York.

Here, Mellin directed the design office as well as supervised the workshops for the construction of propulsion machinery for US Navy battleships; but his forte was designing locomotives.

He is recognized for the designing the "The Spirit of the Twentieth Century", a 4-4-2 "Atlantic" built for the "Big Four" (the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway) 
exhibit in the Palace of Transportation at 1904 Worlds Fair / Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. This exhibit earned him a gold medal.

Specific to this website, Mellin was supervising engineer for American Locomotive Company when the Erie L1's were designed and built, a
nd he developed and patented the specific compound cylinder system used on the Erie L1 design.




Why the cab is in the middle: the Wootten Firebox

   Some readers may not know the reason for the cab astride the boiler arrangement of Camelback locomotives, so it is here I will take some time to explain.

   The Wootten firebox was designed by John E. Wootten, who was at that time in 1866, the Superintendent of Motive Power for the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad and held the position of General Manager of the same railroad beginning 10 years later. 

   Technically, Wootten's firebox design was the culmination of an effort beginning with James Millholland, and it is there the story begins.

   James Millholland became involved with the railroads at an early age, with the honor of working as an apprentice on Peter Cooper's "Tom Thumb" locomotive. Millholland found so much pleasure in working with that locomotive, he dedicated his profession to railroad locomotives. He progressed his way up through the ranks of the mechanical forces until he attained the position of railway master mechanic for the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad.

   At this point in time most locomotives were primarily fueled with wood or soft coal. It was here he realized, due to the plentiful supply of anthracite coal in the Northeastern United States; that he attempted to design a firebox capable of burning this hard coal. Anthracite was so hard in fact, it was also called "stone coal". 

   Millholland would take wood burning locomotives that were nearing the end of their service life, or had suffered various forms of firebox or boiler failure; and rebuild them with fireboxes of his designs. 

   Millholland's design found that a wider and shorter firebox than normal to burn this anthracite. As anthracite coal was harder than bituminous (soft) coal and by taking longer to burn, locomotives using anthracite therefore needed more "grate area" to sufficiently "fire" (generate steam) in the locomotive. 

   A simple comparison would be to wood species used for heating: softwoods such as pine or fir burned fast; while hardwoods such as maple, oak and ash burned slow.

   Typical wood or bituminous (soft coal) burning fireboxes on locomotives of that time were long and narrow, and fit between the locomotive frame. If the firebox was rotated 90 degrees to short and wide (instead of long and narrow), along with changes to the fire grate, the anthracite culm could be burned efficiently in a mobile object such as railroad locomotives. 

   Some of these initial designs of anthracite firebox worked, but not well enough to find widespread acceptance. One of the outstanding obstacles was the accepted form of banking a fire was to have thick or tall bed of fuel (wood or soft coal) and long flame. 

   His plans were interrupted in January 1854 when the Philadelphia & Reading Shops burned, and his attention was needed on the rebuilding of those facilities. While he was able to return his attention to converting the P&R's fleet of locomotive to coal burning; he never truly succeeded in developing a successful anthracite firebox. He resigned his position in 1866.  His successor was John E. Wootten. 

   Like Millholland prior to him, Wootten was aware of the plentiful amount of anthracite from the areas mines.

   Even more prolific was the waste "culm". Culm is the remnants and smaller pieces of coal after it had been broken and sized by screening for commercial use.

   As this culm was mostly small and irregularly sized, it was unwanted. It found itself being piled next to or in close proximity to the breakers (the coal sizing mills) and in quantities to be considered a nuisance.

   As with most things unwanted, it was extremely cheap and in large abundance. Large abundance might very well be an understatement, as there were hundreds of
veritable mountains of this unwanted culm scattered throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.

   If a locomotive firebox could be developed to use this culm and burn it easily, efficiently and reliably; the railroad(s) would benefit from it as a cheap fuel source.

   How cheap was culm? Putting it into perspective for the era: circa 1890; the rates for coal was as follows: screened anthracite coal of the pea size cost 60 cents per gross ton, whereas culm was only 10 cents per gross ton. This constituted a 50 cent per ton difference; however it should be noted that the pea anthracite and the culm was blended 1:1 for use in Erie locomotives. This brings the averaged amount to 35 cents a ton, allowing a net savings of 25 cents per ton of coal.

   In reviewing Millholland's designs; Wootten realized the misgivings and errors of the then established science of firing a boiler with thick beds of fuel and tall flame. That method may have worked for soft coal or wood, but it did not work for anthracite. 

   By dispensing with those established practices of firing a boiler by that method, and now specifying a thin bed of fuel and short flame, Wootten was able to make his firebox design meet the criteria required of being reliable, efficient and by way of the fire being easy to maintain and as such the heat output, a novice fireman could maintain it.

   In other words, culm was now suitable for locomotives, where men of a varying degrees of ability could satisfactorily achieve and maintain the fire fueled by anthracite for producing a steady and reliable production of steam for all operating conditions whether it flat and level or mountainous territory, the slow pulling of a heavy freight, or a face pace of a passenger train on a schedule.

   But, this oversized "Wootten" firebox took up most if not all of the space on the rear of the boiler or "backhead" where the cab was normally placed.

   This position of the firebox also presented the issue of the cab floor now being higher than the standard tender deck height.

   Also, due to the broad nature of the firebox, the engineer could not see around the firebox as he would encounter with a normal rear mounted cab.

   If the cab were to be mounted on top of the Wootten firebox, the crew would be in effect sitting on top of the firebox. 

   Also as a result of this placement, the cab would be raised higher than before and would necessitate the tunnels of that time to be raised. This of course was not an option. 

   As we can see by the bottom left image, the Philadelphia & Reading contemplated this rear cab Wootten firebox arrangement. Ungainly to say the least!

    So, necessity dictated the locomotive cab be located towards the center of the boiler in front of the firebox instead of on the rear as normal. 

   Hence the camelback locomotive was born. This placement allowed the engineer to retain access to the entire length of the boiler, and from the front or the rear steps to maintain the appliances.

   The fireman however would remain in the rear to feed the fuel as customary, and tenders with high deck heights were constructed for use with camelback locomotives.

   However, the Wootten firebox also changed the weight distribution on the locomotive chassis, and due to the increased size of the firebox, mostly precluded the use of trailing trucks on the frame to support the firebox. This meant the firebox needed to be mounted over the driving wheels for support, which meant moving the driving wheels further back in the design of the chassis. 


    This is why Camelbacks are predominantly seen in wheel arrangements without trailing trucks, and where the driving wheels could carry the full weight of the Wootten firebox. These wheel arrangements were mostly comprised of (but not limited to) those listed (and there were camelback locomotives with trailing trucks):

as well as road engines such as:

   Notice, most of these wheel arrangements lack a trailing truck. An exception to this list is 4-4-2 (Atlantic), which while it had a trailing truck, was built plentifully later on with Wootten fireboxes.

   So as a result, with the cab was relocated to middle of the boiler; such locomotives became known as "Camelbacks" or "Mother Hubbards". The design worked very well for many of the railroads located in the northeastern "hard coal country" of the United States such as the few that come to mind. There were many others and by no means should this be considered a complete list:

   When locomotive design practice evolved to feature rear mounted cabs on locomotives with Wootten fireboxes, these cabs lacked the usual doors on the front wall. This is perfectly illustrated by the image of the rebuilt Erie L1 at right.

   Without a doubt, this lack of front doors on the cab hindered the engineer and / or fireman from their basic maintenance duties such as but not limited to: filling the sand domes; adjusting valves; cleaning the bell; oiling and maintaining the steam generator for locomotive lighting; all of which are along the top of the locomotive as well as lubricating / maintaining the air pumps for the brakes, which were mounted along the side of the locomotive.

   The engineer or fireman (or both) would have to climb down at the cab / tender access steps, walk to the front of the locomotive, then climb back up to boiler walkway; instead of exiting directly from the front of the cab as had been the practice.

Erie Railroad #2600 after Baldwin rebuild - 1921
authors collection

   In the case of a 55 foot locomotive chassis as on the L1 - from cab / tender steps to front steps; it was a hike: 55 feet to the front, 50 feet back to the cab; 50 forward to dismount at the front steps and then 55 feet back to the cab / tender steps.

   And you thought the engineer sat on his seat and the fireman leaned on his shovel all day! 

   It should be noted - this trend away from camelbacks was due to safety. But as I will cover in a later chapter, camelbacks were not universally banned by the Interstate Commerce Commission or any other federal agency, by locomotive employees unions, et cetera; despite the popular misconception they have been.





The History of the L1 Locomotive

   and the P1 Class Triplex "Matt H. Shay" for direct comparison


   We are fortunate that a very nice history concerning the construction and reconstruction of these locomotives is contained in the 1970 book: "Erie Power" by Fred Westing & Alvin Staufer (Stauffer Publishing, 1970). You will find these pages under the chapter of Erie Mallets, pages 198 through 215.

   For the sake of thoroughness, I have scanned and reproduced the pages here on the chapter of Erie Mallets for reference. I highly recommended purchasing a copy of the book, if for nothing else, the great action photographs. The book can be found for very reasonable amounts on most used book websites, internet auctions and shopping sites.

   Until my own research, I pretty much regarding this historical accounting as gospel - after all, it was published 50 some odd years ago and within a generation or two of the locomotives operation. 

Unfortunately - it is not as accurate as once believed

   But as original documents and photographs surfaced during my research, I uncovered several inaccuracies; some major, others just cosmetic. Insomuch, learning of these inaccuracies was kind of disappointing, as I have always revered the older publications (like the Staufer "Power" books) to be authoritative. 

   However, it now appears in his composition, Mr. Westing may have allowed a little too much personal opinion sway his judgment on overall performance or in captions for the images. In particular are his conclusions regarding the performance testing conducted by the Erie Railroad and Cornell University in 1907, and of which the explanations for some of the lackluster results.

   The test results are defined in great detail, and explain the reasons behind the results of the third test, and how it skewed and lowered the average performance numbers on the whole. These explanations can be read in "The Test" and the "The Thesis" chapters.

   I have also included the last few pages of that chapter which pertain to the experimental Erie 2-6-8-0 Mallet and the Erie Triplex 2-8-8-8-2 "Matt H. Shay", and as the images of the Erie L1 both as built and as reconstructed by Baldwin Locomotive Works were on those pages, even though the text was for a different locomotive entirely.

   I have annotated the scanned pages with those differences I found or highlighted details that reinforce my disproving of common myth and misinformation.

    Please note, the following pages have been digitized for reader convenience, reference and review under the Fair Use provision of the US Copyright Office and no such infringement should be inferred by the use of said documents for commentary, criticism, and research as discussed below. Original copyright remains with original author (Frederick Westing) and publisher (Alvin Staufer / Staufer Publishing).


1) "two fire doors to facilitate spreading coal" and; "if you wanted to use two fireman"
2) "speedily draining the boiler of steam" in simple or single expansion mode; 
in compound expansion mode, of which this was the standard mode for use.
3) dynamometer car rated to 70,000 lbs tractive force, but the L1's were rated at 94,000 lbs.!
If the geiger counter at Chernobyl only read to 3.6 roentgens, does that mean there wasn't 15,000?

4) "results showed ONE good fireman could get plenty of power from an L1."
5) "satisfactorily replaced" (not questionably, barely, could not or unsatisfactorily)
6) Subjective assumption. The L1's did everything they were designed to do and did it for 21 years, reliably. Perhaps this chapter could have been better worded as "the full power potential of the L1's could not be measured accurately with the equipment available at that time of testing, and perhaps should have been retested if and when that equipment became available."

Since this authors having secured a first generation high resolution scan of the original DeGoyler negative housed in the Southern Methodist University archives; that is a person (presumably the fireman) standing by the firemans canopy, not a head or tender light. Furthermore, with the new scan, we are able to discern that train is on the eastbound track, the tender light is not illuminated, thereby the train is going up Gulf Summit. So yes; they are pushing against the four wheel bobber caboose. This is not unheard of: in the Placement of the Caboose chapter, there is a postcard of three Consolidations pushing on a bobber caboose and coal train. Returning to this image, the train is stopped and posing for the photographer, hence the men on top of the tender and cars. The image as well as a zoom and crop may be seen in the Memorabilia & Photographs chapter below.

The wooden pushing beams were installed from the beginning. They are seen in the erecting drawings, builders photographs (including the E. DeGolyer construction image on p.202 above) as well as images in Railroad Gazette (p.174).

While this highlighted text has nothing to do with the Erie L1 Class; it does show how misinformed present day railfans assume that when the coal and water was used up in the Triplex, it lost tractive effort. Which as read here, was not the case as it clearly states that factor was taken into account in the design! Not to mention the locomotive being used on short runs and replenished more quickly, the coal and water was not run down as other distance hauling locomotives would be.

Table of comparative statistics among the various Erie Mallets (L1 class highlighted).


"Erie Power"
chapter on Erie Mallets; pages 198-215
by Fred Westing & Alvin F. Stauffer
(Stauffer Publishing, 1970)
added 13 January 2013





Edward T. Stotesbury - Trustee, Owner #2600 (and 2601, 2602)

   On March 13, 2022; I received an interesting email from Mr. John Dale:
"I have a period silver gel yardlong photograph of the 2600 that shows a lot of detail, unseen in the typical postcard sized views of this locomotive. The plate below the makers plate states that the owner and trustee of this locomotive at the time it was constructed was Edward T. Stotesbury, a partner at J. P. Morgan and railroad investor.

A quick Google search and several images of Edward can be found, which is without a doubt, the gentleman in the photo standing next to the engine. I have never found any references in any publication that links him to this engine other than in the details of the image I own."


   This certainly is an interesting tidbit of information, and I have to shamefully admit after all these years; I never noticed the trustee plate under the builders plate. Now that I have examined the images of 2601 and 2602, they all have trustee plates.

   Fortunately, Mr. Dale's photograph is large enough to discern the following:

Edward J. Stotesbury
(standing by tender steps)
American Locomotive Company 42269 builders plate
E. T. Stotesbury
Trustee, Owner Plate

   The presence of these trustee plates also tells us that the L1 locomotives (and presumably a lot of other equipment as well) were financed by external financial institutions independent of the railroad corporation. In this particular case, the financier was none other than John Pierpont Morgan.

   This external financing comes as no surprise, as the practice continues to this very day with the Class 1 railroads.

   Morgan's financial interests became heavily intertwined with the Erie Railroad (along with several other railroads) after the Financial Panic of 1893. He also helped influence the railroad industry to adopt the nationwide standard gauge width for track to facilitate ease of interchange.

L1 Reliability & Longevity


   Some less-than-minimally-informed railfans state the L1's were "not successful" or they were "short lived".

   Simply put: the three L1's served the Erie Railroad reliably from 1907 to 1921, as built and without modifications or major repairs. Fourteen years is a decent period of time for service longevity on a steam locomotive, especially so for those locomotives built towards the beginning of the 20th Century, and those in round the clock heavy pushing service, and unlike the pampered & polished queens of crack passenger trains.

   Add to this yet another seven years of service following their rebuilding by Baldwin to rear cab, and with (then) modern appliances of automatic stoking, feedwater heaters and superheating. It should be noted this rebuilding retained most of the original valve & piston assemblies gear (only the front cylinder set was changed), chassis, drivers, and the boiler.

   This gave Erie the L1 Class a total service life of twenty-three (23) years.

   When we compare the L1 with its direct predecessor for Gulf Summit pushing service, we find the Erie S1 / J1 Class (2-10-0 Decapod) of which six were built in 1891. These were built for the same purpose as the L1 would be in 1907: pushing service over Gulf Summit. These S1 class locomotives would be paired up, and helped push freights over the hill.

   In 1907, and with the arrival of the L1's; these Decapod's would be rebuilt and converted from compound cylinders to simple expansion (and now reclassed as J1) and relegated to yard service, where t
hey would soldier on until the mid 1920's. So, here we have yet another successful class of locomotive, of which only six were constructed; with a rebuild taking place at 16 years of age, and a total service life of approximately twenty-five years.

   With the S1's retired from pushing assignments over Gulf Summit, these duties now fell to
the L1 and other newer locomotives like the R Class 2-10-2 "Santa Fe" types, which began arriving in 1915. Forty-two R1 Class were initially built, followed by fifty-five more by the end of 1919. All ninety seven were out of service by 1949 which correlates to a thirty-four year service life.

   Now, let us really try to stack the deck against the L1; and compare the L1's twenty-three year service life (of a non-superpower locomotive built in 1907) with later popular and proven "superpower" locomotives, both articulated and rigid wheelbase and built towards the middle of the century with pretty much all the modern appliances developed and maximized to enhance steam locomotives:

railroadlocomotive type# builtusage datesservice lifenotes
Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy"251941 - 196221 yearsAnd the Big Boy's are undoubtedly considered successful.
Union Pacific 4-6-6-4 "Challenger"1051936 - 195824 yearsSome were rebuilt to fuel oil and other modifications at midpoint through their lives. All successful.
Norfolk & Western 2-8-8-2 "Y Class"161942 - 195917 yearsSuccessful.
Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-6  "Allegheny"601941 - 195615 yearsSuccessful.
Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 "J Class"141941 - 195918 yearsSuccessful.
Reading T-1 4-8-4 "Northern"301945 - 195914 years(originally built as 2-8-0's in 1923); heavily reconstructed in 1945 to 4-8-4.

   The list can go on and on. If one simply looks at the website; and browse through the data tables; you will find even more popular steam locomotive designs that did not last as long as the Erie L1, but were considered "successful".

   Yet another way to calculate the successfulness of the L1 Class, is the mileage accrued. Taking the following criteria learned from the six month test of the L1's concluding on March 31, 1908 showed the L1's cumulative total locomotive mileage (of all three locomotives) as 31,763 miles.

   Breaking this number down:

  31763 miles divided by the three locomotives = 10587.6 miles per locomotive, for that 6 month period.
  10587.6 ÷
6 (months) = 1764.6 miles per locomotive per month.
÷ 30 days = 58.82 miles per day
÷ 24 hours = 2.45 trips per hour

  These figures correlate, as the rule books specified Mallet pusher locomotives could operate at no more than than 22 miles per hour as stated in the Erie RR - Special Instructions - 1914; and L1 engineers earned pro rated overtime over 10 hours: L1 Engineers Pay Rate - 1910.

   Remember: the L1 was a locomotive that its only purpose was to make short duration (18-20 mile) round trips: eighteen miles from Susquehanna up to Gulf Summit and return to Susquehanna; or twenty miles from Deposit to Gulf Summit and return to Deposit. 

   The L1's were not designed to be the sole or dual power
like the C&O Allegheny's were, to haul 11,500-ton coal trains for 250 miles from Hinton, West Virginia to Columbus, Ohio; or to be high speed heavy haul freight locomotives like UP's Challenger's and Big Boy's were between Ogden, Utah and Green River Wyoming - 160 miles, or fast passenger locomotives like the N&W J Class and Reading T-1 were.

   And, if by chance you are judging the success of the L1 locomotives by the number built (in this case: three); a low production total does not always equate to lack of success. Erie only had three L1's built, because it only needed three. The small area of operation (twenty mile radius) and specialized duty assignment (a slow pusher) did not require a large fleet of locomotives as would be needed with long distance high speed running like some of the later superpower locomotives in the list above, where a locomotive would be out of area for hours or even days at a time on through freights traversing multiple states.

   In closing out this chapter, when you think about it; the L1 locomotives could not be anything less than reliable to serve in such a manner and accrue that mileage in short spurts, and were nothing short of durable to have served in that manner for twenty-three years.

   As you can see for yourself, this being "short lived" or "unsuccessful" is just another blatantly incorrect assumption with no basis in factual documentation. 





One Fireman or Two? ONE!


   Returning to the subject at hand (pun intended), the three Erie 0-8-8-0 locomotives here were originally hand fired (meaning a fireman had to hand shovel coal into the firebox). It should be noted these locomotives has 100 square feet of grate area and the locomotives were equipped with two doors on the backhead.

   Due to this, it is increasingly and quite frustratingly; stated repetitively in internet groups that these Erie locomotives utilized two fireman, one for each firebox door. This, without any room for doubt; is the most prolific case of misinformation regarding the Erie L1's.

   Recently added to my collection is the June 1970 issue of Railroad Magazine. This issue contains a five page article on "Erie's Monster Mallets", p. 30-34 as authored by Robert A. Le Massena. While most of the article is concerned with the Triplexes, there is a brief mention of the L1's; and sure enough it is stated the locomotives "gulped steam in such vast quantities that two fireman were needed to spread coal over the 100 square-foot grate." 

By all historical accounts and documents, this is not the case.

Official railroad recordations and documents to date, indicate they were fired by a single fireman.

   This is confirmed in official documentation, namely the Erie RR Dynamometer Test of 1907 and the Cornell University senior thesis of 1908. I think it is safe to conclude the railroad and university engineers of that era were a little better informed to the staffing requirements than railfan assumptions half a century later. I know what you are thinking, aren't I a railfan? Yes, But I'm drawing my conclusions from official documents from the era, not erroneous information being repeated a century after. 

   If one takes the time to read the historical accounting of the design of these locomotives as written in Erie Power (as seen above); references are made, several times in fact, to a singular fireman:

"... Hand fired loco had two fire doors to facilitate spreading coal over that huge grate area. Also handy if you wanted you use two fireman."

   Not: Locomotive had two fire doors for two fireman, nor anywhere in the chapter does it specify two fireman were needed to fire this locomotive.
"... if you wanted to use two firemen" not "when you used two fireman" or "for two firemen".

   The use of the second fireman was an option secondary to the need of covering the grate area with even coals. One fireman was the norm, and nothing about this locomotive required noting or needing a second fireman in normal operation.

"... On the other hand it had the effect of speedily draining the boiler of steam which on a hand fired L1, did much to prevent a fireman from viewing the majestic panorama from Starrucca Viaduct."

   Reference to a singular person fireman, not firemen.

   Also this reference to "speedily draining the boiler" was in reference to the simple / compound intercepting valve being set for simple instead of compound. According to multiple documents; the majority of the time and in normal operation the valve was set for compound, with simple being used in emergency situations of having to start the locomotive from a dead standstill on the grade with a load.

"... several runs showed one good fireman could get plenty of power from an L1 Mallet without being taxed to the point of collapse."

   Again, reference to a fireman in the singular, not firemen in plural.


   In the 1908 thesis written on page 18 by Charles R. Cullen and Sidney Dias Gridley upon their observing the 1907 Erie Dynamometer Testing:

"The Coal... it was weighed and dumped out for the use of the fireman."

   Once again; fireman, in the singular.

   In the photo of #2602 that appeared in the Alexander book, again, one man by the air compressor (the fireman), one on the walkway in front of the cab (the engineer) and one on the pilot (the brakeman). Three men: One fireman. One engineer, one brakeman / switchman.
   Some of you may wish to point out in some of the photos, there are more than three crewmen. I refer you to the Erie Rulebook which stipulates:

Pusher locomotives between Susquehanna and Gulf Summit will be provided with flagman."
   Normally, there was no conductor for pushing locomotives; as conductors were assigned to the through train the pusher locomotive was assisting. Some of the photos show men in suits. Obviously they are not part of the crew. It is also understood the Port Jervis taken in 1911 image was an Erie publicity photo (hence the suit clad men) and other employees were included in the image.
   In the dynamometer tests conducted in 1907 by the Erie Railroad; the written context of "The Test" makes reference to several times to the 'fireman', (in the singular) and not "firemen" (in the plural) and this document holds additional and necessary confirmation of the assignment of a SINGLE fireman to fire the locomotive.

Not only do official documents refer to a singular fireman, but non-railroad document do as well. I submit verbatim:

"The poor results of the third run, as compared with the first and second, are explained by the fact that fireman was not of a grade equal to the men who fired the first two tests."

   Fireman in the SINGULAR.

   It is unfortunate some railfans cannot fathom such a large locomotive being singularly fired. Yet, according to all archival sources, it was.

   Part of the reason for the construction of the L1's was to reduce the need for multiple smaller locomotives required for pushing, and this was to include saving on manpower by eliminating an engineer and fireman on each of the pusher locomotives.

   When referencing the misconception of a second firedoor equaling a second fireman; by the placing of that second fireman on the L1 (as it wrongly assumed) would have partially negated that savings in manpower and defeated the purpose of the design of the L1 in the first place.

   Perhaps some of you may have visons of that scene in "Emperor of the North" where 'Shack' and 'Coaly' are shoveling in coal as fast as they can to get out of the way of fast mail they are about to meet head on; or in the movie "The Train" with 'Pesquet' and 'Didont' are frantically shoveling coal to outrun the RAF fighter.

   But that is not the case here. The L1 was a locomotive designed for slow speed pushing over limited distance; not main line, long distance speed and hauling.

   Also, it is pertinent to read the operations manuals and trade literature of that era and pertaining to the locomotives and railroads of that day. Fortunately, these publications are readily available for free on Google Books, and I have included them below.

   And now, I shall explain the reason for two firebox doors.

Dual Firebox Doors 

It doesn't mean there were two firemen...

    It should be noted it is now understood that the Erie L1's used both anthracite culm OR bituminous coal. The Thesis of 1908 written by Cornell University seniors
Charles R. Cullen and Sidney Dias Gridley clearly lists the coal used during the 1907 Erie RR Dynamometer Tests as bituminous, from Erie Railroads' own Dagus Mine in Pennsylvania. As the 1907 test incurred no special preparations; it can be concluded that the coal used during the test was used as well in regular service, and of which was dispensed at the Susquehanna Coaling Tower near the shops for all locomotives.

   Anthracite coal burned slower but hotter than bituminous (hence the Wootten firebox).

   And any coal fired boiler requires an even bed of coals - and with a wide firebox as used in the Wootten design; two fire doors allowed a single fireman to more evenly distribute the coals over a larger area.

   Whereas, a single centered door on a Wootten firebox (as commonly seen on other fireboxes) would hinder or outright prevent the fireman from reaching the rear most corners (blind spots) of the firebox making it difficult or impossible to either shovel in coal or rake it even to those corners.

  You will note, that the center graphic in the diagram at right, illustrates this "blind spot" in conjunction with a single, centered firebox door.

   An uneven coal bed (the layer of coal on the fire grate) would cause uneven heating of the steel firebox; which at best, would cause inefficient firing and steaming qualities.

   This uneven firing would lead to irregular expansion and contraction rates and 
this would greatly reduce the service life of the firebox; even possibly leading to a catastrophic failure.

   This is why on coal fired locomotives, the fireman; after shoveling coal into the firebox, may rake the coal bed even with a hoe, which is a long bar with steel blade fastened at 90 degrees on the end.

   The basics of firing of with anthracite culm and the tools involved are covered below, in an excerpt from "Steam Boiler Engineering", 1920. (see diagram below).

   By having those two doors on the backhead enabled that single fireman to shovel, distribute and maintain the coal in a much more even manner, greatly increasing firing and steaming efficiency, and of which can be better visualized by the right most graphic in the diagram above.

   Many Camelback locomotives used dual firebox door backheads and this was not in relationship to the overall size of the locomotive or to use two fireman.

   Referring backwards in time to the initial development of the Wootten firebox, the first successful class of locomotive to carry the Wootten firebox was Philadelphia & Reading #408. (Remembering, first Millholland and then Wootten were master mechanics for that railroad.)

   #408 was a 4-6-0 "Ten Wheeler". We are most fortunate that both side and rear photographs exist. Obviously the rear photo is the one most important to this chapter and we will address.

   What do we notice about this firebox backhead? Two firebox doors. Note the size of the locomotive; not large at all in comparison to the width of the firebox.

   There was more involved to maintaining a fire in a locomotive then just shoveling a load of coal in and slamming the firebox door shut. Several different tools were necessary to even out and maintain that fire; which are illustrated below and being able to access the entire firebox with those tools, was quite important.

   It should also be noted that even some conventional bituminous coal fired fireboxes were sometimes equipped with dual firebox doors.

   Referring to the images below, the left photo is of Lehigh & New England RR #207; an 0-6-0 switcher built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1936 and now preserved at the Illinois Railroad Museum. It is not a camelback nor does not have a Wootten firebox.

   The photo at below right, is of Central Railroad of New Jersey #592, a 4-4-2 "Atlantic" built by American Locomotive Works in 1901, and preserved at the Baltimore & Ohio RR Museum. This locomotive is a camelback with Wootten firebox.

   The 4-4-2 in comparative terms is not a much larger locomotive than the 0-6-0 either, but CNJ 592 was designed for and was used in high speed (60+ mph) express passenger service. It is a camelback, and has a Wootten firebox.

   Here, we can clearly see both camelback and conventional firebox locomotives are equipped with dual firebox doors.

   Different service applications, different service speeds, different locomotive builders, a 30 year difference in build time, but: same fuel (anthracite culm). And both have dual firebox doors.

at left:

Lehigh & New England Railroad #207
0-6-0 switcher - Baldwin Locomotive Works, built 1936
NOT a Wooten firebox, not a camelback
but still equipped with dual fire doors for burning anthracite.
Illinois Railroad Museum,
Union, Illinois

Matthew Gustafson photo

at right:

Central Railroad of New Jersey #592
4-4-2 "Atlantic" - American Locomotive Co, built 1901
Wootten firebox, Camelback
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum
Baltimore, Maryland

Al Hafner photo


Reading # unknown
4-4-0 "American" (Baldwin Locomotive Works or Reading Shop)
Wootten firebox, Camelback

Reading Company Coaling Tower & Roundhouse; Reading, PA March 8, 1926.

collection of Gerry Meyle, Sr.
   It should be noted however, not all camelbacks had two firebox doors.

   Small camelback style locomotives that were equipped with Wootten fireboxes, such as pre-1900's 4-4-0's and the Reading Class A4b 0-4-0's, had a single extra wide firebox door.

   A single extra wide firebox door on these locomotives was acceptable, because even the Wootten fireboxes on this small a locomotive were not so excessively wide that a single wide firebox door would not hinder access to the back corners for the tools.

at left:

Philadelphia & Reading Railroad #1187
Baldwin Locomotive Works, built 1903
Wootten firebox, Camelback
Strasburg Railroad, Strasburg, PA
(now at Age of Steam Roundhouse, Sugarcreek OH)

Dick Leonhardt photo

at right:

Franklin Double Butterfly extra width
which would have been used on the P&R 1187

with many thanks to Kelly Anderson
   So, to make a short story long; two firebox doors did NOT mean two firemen. It meant easier access for ONE fireman to efficiently fire the locomotive and tend the coals on the grate, and especially so on those locomotives equipped with a wide Wootten firebox for burning culm anthracite.

   Think of this analogy: you can still fit four people in a two door coupe, but a four door sedan made it easier for all four to get in and out.

   But a two door coupe with really big doors also made it easier for people in the back seat to enter and exit.

   (I wonder if I have gotten my point across yet?)

   If after reading this and the light bulb goes on over your head and you say, "Now I understand!"; you have earned my respect and a warm hearty welcome to the club of informed knowledge.

   And, there is one less mis-informed person out there thinking the Erie L1 0-8-8-0's used two fireman.




1 = 3 or 3 = 6

No, it isn't Enron math.

   The main purpose for the design of the L1 Mallets was to reduce the need for multiple pusher locomotives per train, and with that reduction of locomotives; a reduction in manpower; as each pusher required an engineer and a fireman.

   Three pushers equaled six men, not including the men on the head end locomotive(s) which could be two or even four men if the train was double headed. In short, a single train could have ten crewman not including the conductor, brakemen or flagmen (of which were assigned to pusher operations). Thirteen men to move one train. That is quite the crowd.

   The average freight train climbing Gulf Summit and of that era could be comprised of 50 to 70 cars, and ranged between 3,000 to 3,500 tons.
   Prior to the arrival of the L1's in 1907; the locomotives primarily assigned to pusher service over Gulf Service were the
S1 class 2-10-0 "Decapods" in 1891 and the H10 Class 2-8-0 "Consolidations" in 1900.

Here we see three locomotives (which appear to be H10 class 2-8-0 Consolidations), pushing a loaded hopper train eastbound;
Each H10 weighed 313,400 lbs. total loaded and developed 37,500 lbs of tractive effort each
so three H10's would total 940,200 lbs in weight and 122,500 lbs in tractive effort.

   So, depending on the tonnage of each train and the tractive effort of the lead locomotive(s), as well as the tractive effort of the pusher locomotives available; each train would require at least one, and up to three pushers.

   The reason so many locomotives were needed, was to develop the tractive effort required to start and maintain movement of a train. The tractive effort required consists of the consideration of numerous factors, but for most applications only four factors need to be considered.

  1. A force of 2 to 5 pounds per ton of train weight is required to move on straight level track. At very slow yard speeds only 2 to 3 pounds is needed while increasing to about 5 pounds at higher speeds. This force is required to overcome bearing friction, rail deflection, minor flange contact, etc. 

    Prior to the development and widespread installation of roller bearings; the initial starting requirements were much higher when cars had friction bearings as they did during the era of the operation of the L1. (Today, with all roller bearing journals this is not much of a consideration).

    At speeds above 30 to 40 miles per hour, air resistance becomes a factor, but this not a factor with Gulf Summit operations at train speeds were under 30 mph for freight trains.

  2. The second factor to consider is track curvature. Cars in a curve require a good deal of tractive effort because the wheels are mounted on solid axles. Wheels must slip and slide through the curve because of the difference in radius of the inside and outside rails. However minimal the curve, this slippage will be encountered. Wheel flange contact with the inside of the railhead adds additional friction.

    For the cars in the curve, the tractive effort required is 0.8 pounds per ton per degree of curvature, where curvature is defined as the number of degrees the track curves per 100 feet.

  3. The percent of grade is perhaps the most important factor governing tractive effort. For every ton of train weight in a grade, 20 pounds of tractive effort is needed for each 1% of slope. (One percent of a ton or 2000 pounds equals 20 pounds). A 1% grade is defined as a vertical increase of one foot for each 100 feet of horizontal distance. A 1% grade is considered steep; a 2% grade is unusually steep.

    In reference to operations on Gulf Summit, we are dealing with a 1.36% grade (unadjusted - not factoring in the curvature).

  4. The final factor and one frequently overlooked is the tractive effort required for acceleration of the train. It takes about 10 pounds per ton to accelerate to a speed of 6 miles per hour in one minute or 12 miles per hour in two minutes, a reasonable rate for a heavy train. Increasing this tractive effort increases the acceleration rate proportionately.

   So, in having to push trains over Gulf Summit, multiple locomotives were required.

   In some cases two locomotives were double headed on the lead end, and two pushers placed on the rear of the train. This equalized the forces between pushing and pulling. Too much force on the pulling end would break coupler knuckles or drawbars; and too much force on the pushing end could twist a car, break a frame or just simply buckle the train into a derailment.

While it is thought that any heavy freight service locomotive would have been suitable for assisting trains up Gulf Summit, only a few such classes were actually suitable and therefore actually designated and assigned in Susquehanna for regular pusher service. These were: 

"H class Consolidations (2-8-0),
"S/J class" Decapods (2-10-0) [formerly 'S' Class, reclassed to "J Class" when converted to single expansion cylinders in 1907],
"R class" Santa Fe's (2-10-2), or
"S class" Berkshires a/k/a "3300's" (2-8-4) after 1927

A comparison of freight locomotive classes that operated during the life span of the L1 are listed below. Light duty classes are omitted. The experimental M Class (even though short lived) and P Class Triplexes are included as both were intended for the same service duty as the L1. Also included is the K1 class passenger locomotive as due to its weight, was prohibited from operating in conjunction with a Mallet over Lanesboro and Starrucca Viaducts as proscribed in the rule books.

class wheel
loco type namecommonly assigned service dutiesyears classes
entered service
tractive effort
driver wheelbase
weight of locomotive
(not including loaded tender)
total weight locomotive & tender (loaded)
C1 - C3a 0-8-0 Eight Coupledswitching, shifting1905 - 193051,04215'201,000 - 237,000 pounds364,000 - 400,000
H10 - H27 2-8-0 Consolidationmedium duty slow freight1900 - 190645,71117'187,000 - 213,300 pounds
H27 - 260,100
313,400 -
H27 - 430,200
J1 (former S class) - J2  2-10-0 Decapodheavy slow freight, pushing1891 - 191851,49018' 10"193,000 - 197,900290,650 - 344,600
K14-6-2Pacificheavy passenger190530,24813'230,500393,300
L1 rebuilt
94,07014' 3" (each set)410,000 
M1 2-6-8-0 hybridexperimental191162,08217' (rear 8 coupled set)208,000 (reverted to 0-8-0 1916)348,050
N1 - N3a 2-8-2 Mikadoheavy fast freight / dual1911 - 192662,94916' 8"320,000 - 346,050508,900 - 519,780
P1 Type 1 / Type 2 2-8-8-8-2 Triplex pushing / mid train helper1914 - 1916176,25616' 6"853,050 / 860,3501,169,750 / 1,177,050
R1 - R3 2-10-2 Santa Feheavy fast freight1915 - 191982,98222' 6"380,000 - 429,300629,100 - 586,100
S1 - S4 2-8-4 Berkshireheavy fast dual 1927 - 192978,90418' 3"443,000 - 468,000753,000 - 846,600
* figures listed are for the largest locomotive of that class, as different groups of locomotives for that class would vary in specification.
As locomotives developed, they mostly grew in capability so highest known number for a locomotive class is listed for baseline comparison during the life span of and against the L1.

Dual service = freight & passenger service

All tractive effort figures except for L1 obtained from

   The main issue that was encountered using 2-10-0 or 2-10-2 wheel arrangement locomotives, was their long driver wheelbase: up to 22 feet 6 inches on the 2-10-2's.

   When taking into consideration the plethora of curves on the Gulf Summit run between Susquehanna and Deposit, these rigid wheelbases were the upper limits of suitability. The locomotives had the tractive effort, but not so much the agility or flexibility to negotiate the curves with minimal resistance. Their rigid wheelbase would also cause wear on the inside face of the rail head quicker than those of shorter wheelbase.

   In short, a minimum of eight men for one train, and this does not yet include the conductor of the train, brakemen which were also assigned to the trains or the switchmen to operated the switches at Susquehanna and Gulf Summit.

   When freight traffic was heavy with several trains present and waiting for "a push over the hill", the pool of locomotives could be depleted rather quickly.

   Reducing the amount of locomotives needed to push a train, also reduced the time involved in servicing and maintenance of each of those locomotives both daily as well as the monthly shop servicing as required.
   However, this replacing of three locomotives with a single locomotive was not without issue either. With reduced numbers of locomotives assigned, when one out of the two locomotives suffered a mechanical failure, the train tonnage could not be averaged out among the three (or more) remaining locomotives as it used to be.

   This is a similar dilemma in regards to modern day freight railroad operations and a result of the horsepower race of diesel locomotives; the higher the horsepower of the single locomotive, reduced the need for multiple locomotives of lower horsepower.

   In other words: four locomotives of 2500 horsepower equals 10,000 horsepower. If one locomotive failed, you were reduced to 7,500 horsepower. But chances are the locomotives were not being operated at maximum rating, so there was even a little leeway in asking them to do a little more.

   But as 4000, 4400 and 6000 horsepower locomotives were developed, less locomotives were assigned to the train, with most of the time only two locomotives totaling 8000, 8800 to 12,000 horsepower were needed to be assigned. But, when one of those two units failed, the train lost half instead of a quarter of its horsepower.

   This is where locomotive reliability factors into the equation. And this applied to steam locomotives as well.

   Enter the L1 Articulated Mallet.

L1 versus P1

   For comparison, the L1's were built in 1907 and had been operating reliably for seven years, when the first P1 Triplex; #2603, quickly renumbered 5014, better known as the "Matt H. Shay" arrived on scene in 1914.

   After testing, it was determined that the first Triplex with its 90 square foot fire grate was insufficient and needed to be enlarged, and so the grate area on the Matt H. Shay was expanded to 121.5 square feet. This enlarged grate area was built from the start for the two subsequent Triplexes (5015 & 5016).

   From the beginning, the P1's were designed and built with Schmidt firetube superheaters, with 53 elements and 1,584 square feet of heating surface; of which this was the largest superheater incorporated into any locomotive at that time. A Street mechanical stoker eliminated hand shoveling. The feedwater pumps as first installed, were powered off the crossheads behind the cylinders, but these turned out to be woefully insufficient. They were subsequently replaced with steam powered reciprocating feedwater pumps those of larger volume and on the boilers right side.

   It is also recorded that all too often; that only one P1 was in working order most of the time; and due to their size, Erie's Susquehanna Shop could not service or repair them. The Triplexes were required to be sent to either Lehigh Valley Railroad's Sayre Shops (65 miles away) or Erie's Dunmore Shop (50 miles away) for major overhaul. While these are relatively close, this was still farther away than its home shop of Susquehanna.

   Despite being built later than the L1's, and with all the appliances modern to that period, it is documented that all three P1 class were out of service by 1927, and were scrapped on the following dates: 5014 in October 1929; 5016 in March 1930, and 5015 in February 1933.

   The P1's for all their ballyhoo; only operated thirteen and eleven years respectively.

   It is stated in Erie Power, that the summation of the P1 amongst those men that operated them was thus: "too many legs, not enough boiler". Furthermore, some men believed if the feedwater heaters worked as intended, the outcome would have been a better steaming locomotive.

   The L1's, which had been rebuilt in 1921 and served another nine years for a total life span of twenty-three years; and thus outlived the more powerful and more advanced P1 Triplexes by three years.

   All documentation to this day reflects reliable operation of the L1's over their lifespan.





"Pushers" and "Helpers"

also known as "banking locomotives" in the United Kingdom

  The L1's were designed for, and assigned to "pusher service"; that is, they assisted by pushing heavy freight trains over Gulf Summit on the Pennsylvania / New York border.

  These freight trains normally had one or two locomotives on the head end; which was sufficient for most of the route, was fairly level along the banks of the Susquehanna River and the West Branch of the Delaware River. But to go over the steep Gulf Summit, it was inadequate.

   Placing a third or even fourth locomotive at the head end of the train would provide more pulling power, but with the weight of the train pulling backwards downhill, the train could then incur a pulled draft gear (the bar that holds the coupler under the freight car) or a broken coupler knuckle.

   This would make the train "break" into two parts, and even with the recent advent of air brakes, this was not something a railroad wanted to happen on steep grades.

   Pusher locomotives like the L1's; were added to the rear of the train at Susquehanna, PA for the eastward trains, and if needed, at Deposit, NY for westbound trains.

   This relieved the tension and strain on the draft gear and coupler knuckles throughout the train length, as well as alleviated slack action which is also known as run in / run out.

   The maximum grade of the west slope from Susquehanna to the Gulf Summit is 1.36%, and is slightly steeper than the east slope of Deposit to Gulf Summit, of which the maximum is 1.01 %.

 A 1.36% grade equates to a 72' rise in 5,280' of length. It should be noted, a 1.36% grade is not the steepest grade encountered on a railroad in the United States, much less on the Erie Railroad system. (The steepest grade on the Erie Railroad was the Blossburg to Alford, PA segment which was was 2.84%.)

   This 1.36% grade was not the only factor involved requiring the addition of locomotives for assistance in surmounting Gulf Summit, as we will see in the next chapter.

Erie RR Delaware Division Track Chart - 1929

Susquehanna to Deposit - more curves than Jayne Mansfield

   The following is an actual track chart of the Erie Railroads' Eastern District, Delaware Division (Susquehanna to Mill Rift) & Jefferson Division as drawn in November 2, 1929 (updated to 1932) by the Office of Division Engineer. Dimensions are 15.5" x 145".

   I have only provided the Susquehanna to Deposit (MX crossover) segment below, which is pertinent to this website and the operations of the pusher locomotives for Gulf Summit.

   You may click on the image for a high resolution enlargement. Use the back arrow on your browser to return you here. If you need a scan of another segment or the entire map for your research, please feel free to contact me at

authors collection
added 08 January 2022

   As you can observe, not only is the climb up to Gulf Summit a rather steep one, but there also exists many sharp curves on both sides of Gulf Summit that range up to 6 degrees 0 minutes of arc. One curve in particular reverses from 5° 7' to 5° 1' in the opposite direction and back to 4 degrees 43 minutes in less than a mile.

   These reverse curves add significant resistance to the train struggling to make it up the grade, so it was not an easy "straight run" up and over.
Because of these grades and curves, speeds for negotiating Gulf Summit are low.

   Rules as specified in the Erie RR July 1914 "Hand Book of Special Instructions for the Delaware Division" (unabridged scan in the Erie RR - Special Instructions chapter below):

  "The speed of Mallet type locomotives over Starrucca Viaduct and Lanesboro Bridge will not exceed twenty (20) miles per hour"
  "Mallet type engines will not use less than thirty (30) minutes from Gulf Summit to Susquehanna."

   30 minutes to go 8 miles equates to no more than 22 miles per hour (21.8182 to be ultra precise).

   The Erie Railroad Employees Time Table #5 - issued August 2, 1931 (one year after the L1s were retired), maximum track speed is listed as the following for freight trains:

Eastbound Track:

Westbound Track:

   Even today, the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway which now operates over that same segment of track, maintains a speed restriction of 30 miles per hour as well as tonnage restrictions for Gulf Summit; and this with modern multiple unit controlled six axle diesel locomotives with traction control, dynamic brakes and not to mention better metallurgy in regards to couplers, draft gear and freight car construction.
   Slow and steady wins this race, not frantically shoveling coal into firebox to go 60 miles per hour.



Small Tenders

because it only had to go so far...

   It is also often noticed and commented on that the tenders of the L1's were small in comparison to the size of the locomotive. And, unfortunately once again it is often assumed by the unknowledgable that this "must have limited the L1's usefulness or success". Yet once again, this is a false assumption.

   Due to their shorter area of operations, the L1 did not venture far. Most often, the L1 pushed the train up to and over Gulf Summit, with the L1 being uncoupled at the summit. It then coasted back down hill to its originating point, whether it be Susquehanna or Deposit. This method of operation is described in the trade journals below.

   So, at the longest; an L1 locomotive only had to travel 8 miles upgrade with pushing a loaded train. It was then run "light" and coasting mostly back downgrade to its starting point.

   If for whatever the reason the locomotive was in Susquehanna, PA and was needed in Deposit, NY; that was just 15 miles one way or 30 miles round trip. And at 15 miles an hour, this was just about an hours service time between pushing a train over the Gulf Summit, and returning, including the time required in getting their telegraph orders, uncoupling from a train, and throwing the switches and switching to the appropriate eastbound or westbound track for the return trip and returning the switches to normal position.

   The Erie Railroad facilities at Susquehanna were quite extensive: there was a large machine shop: 774' by 138' with room for up to 40 locomotives; a boiler shop, a blacksmith's shop, a pattern shop, a paint shop, a foundry and engine rooms for the equipment in the various shops.

   It also was the location for both the coaling tower and water tank of 55,000 gallon capacity (pump fed); where as the Deposit, NY location offered only a water tank of 33,000 gallon capacity (gravity & pump fed). 

   Should the occasion so arise where an L1 would have to make a longer journey to Port Jervis, this trip was just under 100 miles from Susquehanna; and equated to 3.5 hours running time. 16 tons of coal and 8,500 gallons of water was sufficient for that trip as well. Additionally, most towns along that segment of the Erie Railroads' Delaware Division had a standpipe or water tower, so a trip with a "only" 8,500 gallon capacity tender, was not detrimental to the locomotive operation or a significantly delaying factor; if it was even required.

   Therefore as you can now understand, a large capacity tender (such as those for long hauls) were not necessary to the daily operation of the L1. As the L1's (and Triplexes) never ventured far from either of its service terminals, it therefore could be fueled and watered several times a day if necessary.

   For comparison, the Matt H. Shay "Triplexes" (Erie Class P-1) - for all their size - also only carried 16,000 pounds of coal (same as the Erie L1's), and only 1,500 gallons more water (10,000 gallons vs. 8,500).

   Again, it needs to be reiterated: the Erie L1's were not cross country / long distance locomotives; like Challengers, Big Boys, Alleghenys, Chesapeakes or any other large articulated locomotives with a long haul tender. Those carried a lot of fuel and water to cover large distances without stopping frequently. That was not the case for the L1, which was never more than 20 miles from its "home".

   Hauling a locomotive tender that was larger than needed and further than it needed to go, was inefficient to say the least.

A Comparison to PRR's Allegheny Summit Pusher Operation

Altoona - Gallitzin - Johnstown, PA

   The Erie Railroad Gulf Summit pusher operation is similar to the more recognized and publicized Pennsylvania Railroad Altoona helper engine operations in Pennsylvania. These locomotives assist westbound trains up the grade from Altoona, around the majestic Horseshoe Curve and through the Gallitzin Tunnels; to then be cutoff at Cresson, where they would then be ran "light" (without a train) back downgrade to Altoona.

   Please keep in mind this chart is the averaged grade over the distances shown between each respective summit to the east and west starting points for that ascension; and does not reflect the ruling grade, or the grade for a particular segment of track between the points shown, which can actually be steeper or shallower.

Gulf Summit (Erie RR) Allegheny Summit (Pennsylvania RR)
(east) elevation change averaged grade (east) elevation change averaged grade
Deposit 990' Altoona 1178'
(7.5 miles) 385' .97% (12 miles) 1017' 1.70%
Gulf Summit 1375' Gallitzin 2195'
(4 miles) 430' 2.04% (25 miles) 1007' .76%
Susquehanna 945' Johnstown 1188'
(west) (west)
Distances and elevations are calculated from track charts of the respective railroads.

   However, the significant differences between the Erie RR operation and Pennsylvania RR operation are: not only is the climb to the summit of longer distance for the Pennsylvania RR; but the curves are much more gradual and of wider radius. This allows for higher track speeds and lengths for trains for the Pennsylvania operation.

   As such, the greater distances covered by the Pennsylvania necessitated carrying more fuel and water, and locomotives with larger tenders. 






Technical Journals & Magazines


   One of the more enjoyable aspects of this modern society we live in (when you get past the internet spam, scams and being bombarded with the generally depressing state of affairs in the world today); is the ease and convenience of locating 100 year old (and older!) technical journals and trade magazines for early industrial equipment - not just locomotives; but maritime vessels as well.

   I rely heavily on Google Books, and they do deserve a significant amount of credit for hosting and organizing the millions of documents and publications, not to mention the relative ease in which to search for them. 

  So, without further ado, here are those documents pertaining to the development, and testing of of the Erie L-1 Class.


The Railroad Gazette, November 2, 1906
Order Announcement
added 08 January 2022

The Railroad Gazette, August 16, 1907
added 08 January 2022

Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen's Magazine, October 1907
Completion and Delivery
added 08 January 2022



Engineering News, October 3, 1907
Completion and Delivery
added 23 January 2022


The Locomotive Magazine (Great Britain), September 14, 1907
As I stated above and without exaggeration; the construction of the L1's were noted worldwide.
And we are taking about the country that invented the steam locomotive, a little over 100 years prior!
added 08 January 2022



"The Test"

   This next publication, is perhaps the single most important document regarding the capabilities of the L1 Class locomotives. It is mentioned in Al Staufer's / Frederick Westings "Erie Power" about the dynamometer car testing conducted on the L1 locomotive class following their delivery.

   Well, here are the unabridged results with charts and graphs. Granted, most railfans will not be interested in the details, but there those of us that are attentive to and appreciative of; the minutiae.

   This is especially so when the bane of any interest or hobby are the revisionist historians who mis-state facts and details; whether due to their innocent lack of knowledge, or their parroting of others and their intentional bias.

   Of particular note in the below document, are the specific reasons for the varied and questioned results observed during the test:

   One can hardly expect consistent results when basic variables changed per test. In my opinion, some of these should not be a considered a negative factor. Rarely are real world operating conditions closely controlled as laboratory or test facility environments.

   One cannot expect outstanding consistency when external conditions not inherent to the design of the locomotive skews the data.

   Another fact revealed by the this document, is the necessary confirmation of the assignment of a SINGLE fireman to fire the locomotive and I submit verbatim:

  • "The poor results of the third run, as compared with the first and second,
    are explained by the fact that fireman was not of a grade equal to the men who fired the first two tests."

   "An inexperienced fireman". SINGULAR!

   Thanks to this document, we can now see why the results were not as outstanding as one would expect. It clearly explains that the parameters of the test were skewed by external conditions and not due to the general design of the locomotive.


American Engineer and Railroad Journal, June 1908
Dynamometer Car Testing and Results
added 08 January 2022



The Thesis - 1908

C. R. Cullen / S. D. Gridley - Cornell University senior thesis

   In February 2022; I ordered and received a copy of the 1908 thesis as submitted by Charles R. Cullen and Sidney Dias Gridley to Cornell University for their senior thesis. These thesis was written in conjunction with the Erie Railroad Dynamometer Car Test the year before, and that both Messrs. Cullen and Gridley were present for.

   This thesis holds very interesting information over and above the The Erie Test findings in the above chapter.

   For one, I immediately took note that it is now confirmed that bituminous coal was used in the L1's, not just anthracite culm as would be expected by the presence of the Wootten firebox. Since no special preparations were made for test, therefore this use of bituminous was normal. The thesis goes into such detail as to include the source of the coal used: Dagus Mine of the Erie RR, located in Elk County, PA, its moisture content, volatility, etc (p.38)

   We also now know the test utilized #2602 (p. 15).

   Other interesting reading is the calibration of tenders water capacity. The tender was unhitched from the locomotive, and emptied of coal. Water was filled to top of tank and tender was weighed. Water was drained an inch at a time, and tender weighed at each inch and once more when empty. (p.16)

   For the coal, a partition was built in the tender diving up the coal bunker and a platform built on the partition that held a scales. Cans were placed on the scales, men shoveled coal in the cans on the scales, their weight recorded and then dumped out for the use of the "fireman"; speaking of which (and most importantly) we also have another confirmation that a single fireman was used (p. 18).

   The amount of men present and on the locomotive during the test (in addition to the engineer and fireman): Eighteen! (p. 24)

   Platforms and handrails were attached to the locomotive at the various locations for
"indicator men" observing the respective measurement recorders and to be analyzed while the locomotive was in use. Some indicator men sat on the low pressure (front) cylinders themselves (!), and platforms were built on the front of the high pressure cylinders for those men. Since the locomotive was traveling under 7 mph for the test, the men were in "no danger" (p. 22-24).

   In all, this thesis is 115 pages long, and while it contains some duplicates of the graphs from dynamometer car test, it also includes others that are not, as well as calculation tables. I have simply put a link to the .pdf file here, instead of recreating the entire document as a .jpg file for display here. Click on the cover page below:



Erie RR Rule Books & Special Operating Instructions

pertaining to pusher locomotive operations, Gulf Summit operations (Susquehanna - Deposit)

   Research for this website, dictates my having to be thorough, and this required the purchase of mundane items such as rulebooks. Sometimes I am fortunate and there is a great wealth of information contained as in the 1914 Special Instructions & Condensed Bulletins, and yet other times there may only be one or two applicable rules, or even none at all.

Rules of the Operating Department

Form 3293 - November 1, 1908 - revised to 1918

517. When ascending grades upon which pusher engines are used, the conductor is required to protect the rear of the train in the same manner as if there were no pushing engine.
518. When a pushing engine leaves a train, it is required the flagman or brakeman be on the rear car to apply brakes should the train part.

Special Instructions & Condensed Bulletins

Delaware and Jefferson Divisions - Form 3775 - in effect July 1, 1914


   This next book contains special instructions directly regarding pusher locomotive operations, including the Erie L1 Class "Mallet" locomotives over Gulf Summit; between Susquehanna, PA and Deposit, NY.

   Considering this book is now 108 years old, it is in remarkable condition. I have scanned the entire booklet for viewing here, highlighted those particular chapters pertaining to L1 Class, pusher locomotive service, operations for the Susquehanna - Gulf Summit - Deposit segment of the line; as well as listed them in text for searchability.

Special Instructions

  • Eastward trains (Susquehanna to Gulf Summit) on eastbound track will not exceed 25 mph.
  • Westward trains (Gulf Summit to Susquehanna) using the eastbound track will not exceed 15 mph (a/k/a wrong railing).
  • Doubleheaders are forbidden on descending grades between Gulf Summit and Susquehanna and Gulf Summit and Deposit. (Uphill double heading only!)
  • More than one Mallet type locomotives (L1 Class) not allowed on Starrucca Viaduct or Lanesboro Bridge at same time.
  • Mallet type locomotives (L1 Class) not allowed on Starrucca Viaduct or Lanesboro Bridge with K1 class (4-6-2 - 110 ton) or heavier locomotives (M, N, P, R Classes)
  • Acceptable for one Mallet type locomotive (L1 Class) with H-27 Class [2-8-0] #140 or M-1 Class [2-6-8-0] #1830 as long as they are separated by a light spacer car.
  • Speed for Mallet type locomotives (L1 Class) over Starrucca Viaduct & Lanesboro Bridge not to exceed 20 mph, nor will brakes be applied or speed reduced unless in emergency. 
  • Mallet type locomotives (L1 class) shall not use less than 30 minutes from Gulf Summit to Susquehanna (8 miles) (this equates to +/- 22 mph).

  • Pusher locomotives between Susquehanna and Gulf Summit will be provided with flagman.
  • Multiple pusher locomotives will be coupled together for the return trip from Gulf Summit to Susquehanna.
  • Heavy pushers (L, M, N, P, R Class) returning from Gulf Summit to Susquehanna coupled together will separate prior to crossing Starrucca Viaduct,
    and may continue to Susquehanna without recoupling.
  • Pusher locomotives will use crossover at Gulf Summit under protection of interlocking signals.

  • K1 (4-6-2) and L1 (0-8-8-0) and N1 (2-8-2) Class locomotives forbidden on old #2 bridge at MP192.22 (west of Susquehanna Station) or 
  • on the eight north tracks of bridge at MP191.24 over Exchange Street & Drinker Creek east of Susquehanna Station.

  • Ash pans to be kept closed

  • When necessary for heavy pusher to be used on rear of train, air brakes to be cut through to pusher engine, and for engine to be handled in same manner as a double header.
  • Forbidden to handle a train between Starrucca & Gulf Summit or Deposit & Gulf Summit without having air cut through to cars / caboose behind pusher locomotives (i.e. mid train helper)

  • Pusher engines will be furnished with marker lamps, but not road engines except running light from terminal.
Passenger Train Service
Freight Train Service

  • Empty wood frame flatcars to be placed on rear of freight trains.
  • Forbidden to push upon empty wood frame flat cars unless in good condition and proper load.

  • Trains taking pushers from Susquehanna & Deposit will stop before pushers get behind caboose.
  • Couplings between cabooses and helping engines will be left intact. Forbidden to remove knuckles, lock pins or fasten the lift lever in unlocked position.
Miscellaneous Rules

added 13 January 2013


Erie RR - Special Instructions

Hornell Region / Delaware Division - in effect November 1, 1921

  • Couplings between cabooses and helping engines will be left intact. Forbidden to remove knuckles, lock pins or fasten the lift lever in unlocked position.
  • Wood under frame flat car placed on rear of train. forbidden to push trains with wood frame flat cars unless on rear end unless with proper load and in good condition.
  • When necessary to a couple a heavier engine than H21 Class on freight train as pusher on ascending grade, air brakes will be cut through to pushing engine.
  • No circumstances shall a car without any brakes (air or hand) be handled behind caboose unless exceptions as listed.
  • Eastbound and westbound freight trains will not exceed 15 mph passing over top of hill at Gulf Summit.
  • After passing top of hill, lead engineman will shut off steam as soon as pushers can keep train moving, and use straight air brake as much as possible to keep slack of train bunched as much as possible until rear of train as passed top of hill; after which automatic brakes can be used to set brakes on entire train.
  • Care should be taken to not heat tires of on engine.
  • Pusher engines will be detached when rear of train has passed top of hill, and train allowed to proceed.
  • Above instructions do not apply when stop is made for placing cars on rear of train which were handled behind pushers up the hill.
  • Pusher engines on eastbound first class trains will remain on train until over top of hill.
  • Said pusher engines will use crossover east of Gulf Summit between eastward main track and passing siding to run around.
  • Conductors on freight trains will see that they have required air pressure in caboose before leaving Gulf Summit to descend grade; in either direction.
  • Air brakes on all passenger train to be tested in both directions at Gulf Summit before descending grade.
  • Trainmen on freight trains when cutting off pusher engines at Gulf Summit will give pusher engineman hand signal so they may get away from train.
  • Pusher engines shall not couple to moving trains.
  • Pusher engines operating at Deposit will go to MX crossover and couple to westbound trains while they are taking water.
  • An engine will not be coupled to rear of any train on a descending train without instructions from superintendent.
  • Eastbound ordinary trains will stop at Deposit to make inspection of train.
added 26  January 2013



Placement of the Caboose

Before or After the Pusher Locomotive???

   Despite the revelations and the vast amount of information that these rule books contain, I can find nothing in either about restrictions regarding the placement of a caboose between the pusher locomotives and the train.

   This is a pertinent question, and it is often debated in railfan groups. It is stated in Erie Power on page 180:

"The helpers are NOT PUSHING ON THE CABOOSE - and reasons are obvious. Not all cabin cars (Pennsy term) are build to withstand the unbelievable thrusts with the push-pull effect of engine on each end of the train. the two gargantuan Berks are leaning into the train to the tune of 150,000 lbs. - tractive force delivered by over 7000 cylinder horsepower.

   The following is the accompanying image to that caption, with what appears to be a steel caboose behind the two locomotives:

p. 180: two S Class "Berkshire" 2-8-4 pushing, with what appears to be a steel caboose behind the locomotives.
The Berk's entered service in 1927; so this would be towards the very end of L1 service and well into steel caboose era.
If the caboose is steel construction, why is it still placed behind the locomotive?
Granted: each 2-8-4 weighed more than an L1 (443,000 vs. 410,000 lbs), and almost as much tractive effort (82,500 vs 94,070 lbs).
In this photo you are looking at 165,000 pounds of tractive effort pushing on that train.

in direct contradiction, we see in the very same book as well as postcards of the era; many images of a caboose (whether they be wood or steel construction) between the pusher locomotive and train, or a caboose between the two pushers on the end of the train, sometimes with a second caboose behind the second pusher: p. 147, 159, 160; and 180.

   Furthermore, a caboose (regardless of construction) in front of the pusher may be unoccupied, but that caboose could just as easily be crushed or derailed with the forces of a pusher engine behind it, as an occupied caboose can be.

   Aside of the human safety factor which I completely understand and accept; I have difficulty believing that would be the railroad's sole concern. A caboose may not have been the most technologically advanced or expensive piece of equipment found on a railroad, and it still has a financial value in case of damage or loss.

   Not to mention the delays to that and subsequent train movements and the labor in having to remove the wreckage. Especially so if such an occurrence was to take place while traversing over Starrucca Viaduct? It is 110 feet to he bottom and would make for a mess!

   So why leave the caboose in front of the pusher engine, irregardless?

   Without knowing the construction of the particular models of caboose in the images or locating the legislation in black and white; I regret to say; I just do not know at this time. If you do, please feel free to contribute at

Here we see three locomotives (which appear to be H10 class 2-8-0 Consolidations),
pushing against what appears to be a 4 wheel bobber caboose partially obscured by the tree.
Each H10 weighed 313,400 lbs. total loaded and developed 37,500 lbs of tractive effort each - so three H10's would total 940,200 lbs in weight and 122,500 lbs in tractive effort.
More than a single L1. And all of this against a wood bobber caboose?
While not a true "photograph", most postcards originated from a basic black and white image. Here we have what an L1 pushing against what appears to be a wood caboose.

p. 147: What appears to be a steel caboose between train and N Class "Mikado" #3038,
as well as a wood caboose trailing the locomotive, and in almost the same exact location as the image on p. 180.
p. 159: Two R Class "Texas" 2-10-2's pushing loaded coal train. First pusher locomotive & tender pushing on caboose (appears to be steel) - second locomotive & tender trailing what appears to be a wood caboose.

p. 160: one R Class "Texas" 2-10-2 and tender with steel caboose; one N Class "Mikado" and tender with steel caboose trailing .

   So for the time being, I have nothing concrete in the way of Erie Railroad rules pertaining to placement or position of a caboose, whether it be wood or steel; and whether between a pusher and its train or behind the pusher.

A State Regulation?

   On the state level, I did locate the following information on the web. It is from the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission, as adopted 1946 which unfortunately is significantly after the usage era of the L1:

  § 33.53. Pusher engines.

 All common carrier railroads operating in this Commonwealth shall promulgate or modify existing operating rules and procedures for the government of their respective employes so as to require that the operation of a pusher engine or engines behind an occupied cabin or caboose car, in train, shall be used subject to the following conditions:

   (1)  If the horsepower to be used by a pusher engine or engines behind a cabin or caboose exceeds 3,500, the train crew shall, before such a move is made, vacate the cabin car and occupy the pusher engine or a cabin car or caboose behind the pusher engine or engines, and the train shall be brought to a stop before the pusher engine or engines are detached.

   (2)  The practice of ‘‘cutting off on the fly’’ pusher engines behind occupied cabin cars shall be limited to those instances in which the horsepower used by the pusher engine does not exceed 3,500.

   The provisions of this § 33.53 were formerly designated Rule 18 by the Commission.

   Unfortunately, this does not shed light on earlier steam operations but does shows there were rules for the occupancy of a caboose when placed in front of a pusher locomotive(s).

   What we do know from reading the steam era rulebooks; is "cutting off on the fly" was prohibited. Trains must come to a stop, with the hoses for the air brakes disconnected by hand. So obviously, rules changed between steam and diesel era.

   In conclusion; for the era of operations for the L1's (1907-1930) and whether caboose placement was determined by said caboose construction, the tractive effort of pusher(s) locomotive(s) and / or the tonnage of the train being pushed; remains to be re-discovered in official Federal, State or Railroad issued document.

The Baldwin Rebuild

   As previously mentioned, several tests conducted of the L1 locomotives as built showed they while they were successful in some areas of performance, there were inconclusive results in other parameters.

   However they would go one to operate as built for 14 years.

   In 1921, Baldwin Locomotive Works was contracted by the Erie Railroad to rebuild the three L-1 class locomotives.

   By the time these rebuilds took place, locomotive builders had devised a way to mount the locomotive cab on the rear of the Wootten firebox. While they were still higher than the conventional cab, and the crew would lack a front door to the running boards; the engineer and fireman were reunited. But the locomotives lost their "camelback" look, which of course takes away some of their uniqueness.

   A single axle pony truck and single axle trailing truck were added, making them of 2-8-8-2 wheel arrangement.

   As part of this rebuilding, the locomotives were now equipped with Schmidt Type A superheaters, Standard DuPont Type B automatic stokers and Elasco feedwater heaters to make them more efficient, as well as competitive with more modern (at that time of rebuild) locomotive designs.

   Also, the set of front driver cylinders was changed from slide valve type to piston valve type.

   They would retaining their original road numbers and L1 classification.


1921 - Port Jervis, NY
authors collection
added 2021


   Despite these improvements, just nine years after being rebuilt; all three of these behemoths would be scrapped in 1930. And they outlasted the more powerful Baldwin built Triplexes!

   Their retirement was not so much due to the upgrades being unsuccessful; but 30 years is (give or take) about the life span of a average steam powered freight locomotive. Especially those seeing heavy duties. The boiler, firebox and other internals, after seeing so many thousands of cycles of expansion and contraction, it just becomes more cost efficient to retire, than to rebuild




L1 Mishaps


   Due to the low speeds and limited area of operation for the L1's; the chance of accidents or mishaps were greatly reduced. However, a poor track condition could rear up and effect any locomotive, anywhere at anytime.

   And as we now are aware, they could not be eliminated entirely; as there is at least two minor incidents involving an L1. The first a derailment:

The Deposit Courier
Monday, October 12, 1910

"Erie engine No. 2,601, one of the largest engines in the world, was derailed at Gulf Summit Sunday night. It was pulling a train of about eighty cars and was running along at a fairly good rate of speed when suddenly it left the track. The big engine pounded along the rails for about 500 yards, cutting off the ends of the ties and tearing up the roadbed for a considerable distance. The Susquehanna wrecking crew was called and repaired the damage."

   The second known incident occurred while being serviced in Susquehanna Shops:

Interstate Commerce Commission
September 18, 1926:

   It should be noted that the Interstate Commerce Commission reports only pertain to those mechanical failures in which an injury and or fatality is reported.


L1 Engineers Pay Rate

January 1, 1907 Agreement - Effective April 15, 1910;  Supplemental December 1, 1910

   Imagine if you will, my surprise when looking for rules or regulations on the placement of a caboose in conjunction with pusher locomotives; I happen across an arbitration filing for locomotive engineers for the Erie Railroad.

   Further imagine my increased delight to see that the engineers of the L1's took home some of the highest pay out of all the engineers on the Erie, to the tune of $6.00 per day. Allowing for 22 work days per month, that comes to $132 per month. 

   It should be noted, that these Angus drivers were paid flat rate for the day (equivalent to 60 cents an hour), and received pro-rated overtime pay after 12 hours of service, then reduced to 10 hours of service in December 1910. This in comparison when other engineers were putting in 16 hour days and getting paid 3.9 to 4.2 cents per mile. 

   At that point in time, $6.00 per day is not something to sneeze at. Adjusting for inflation at the time of writing this in February 2022; that equates to $169 per day, $3,718 per month, or $44,616 per year.

   Not bad considering you were in charge of the largest locomotive in world.


George W. Ball, locomotive engineer

Seniority holder for pusher operations on Gulf Summit
Erie Railroad
, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania - Delaware Division

GEORGE W. BALL, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.

George W. Ball, son of Charles Ball, a mason and contractor of Honesdale, Pa., was born in that city April 23, 1853. 

He was an industrious student in the public schools until he was 18 years of age, when, having acquired a good education, he cast about for means to earn a livelihood. The first opening he found was in the capacity of an oiler on the Gravity road for the Delaware & Hudson Coal Company, and he accepted the same, serving them faithfully for one year, when he resigned to take a position as brakeman on the Erie. 

For six years he ran between Honesdale and Port Jervis and then was advanced to fireman. Eight years in this capacity fitted him to become an engineer, and in December, 1886, he was promoted to that responsible position. For nine year he ran an engine in the freight department on the Delaware Division, his work demonstrating his entire fitness for the place and winning him the approval of his superiors. 

In 1895 he was given a pusher, which he runs between Susquehanna and Gulf Summit, and he is better pleased with this run than with regular road work.

On September 9, 1874, Mr. Ball was united in marriage to Miss Ella Eggleston, daughter of Ensign Eggleston, proprietor of a livery barn in Honesdale. Nine children have been born to them, two of whom, Russell and Ruth, died when quite young. Grace, aged 24, is married; Charles, 22, is a telegraph operator; Lulu, 20, and Mary, 19, both accomplished young ladies, reside at home; James, aged 17, is an apprentice in the Erie machine shop; Frank, ll, is attending school, and Harold Ray, 6, is the baby of the family. Mrs. Ball is a member of the Ladies' Auxiliary Lodge, B. of L. E., and a fine, motherly lady, who takes great pride in her interesting family. Mr. Ball is a very popular man, both among his fellow workmen and acquaintances generally. He is a member of Starrucca Division of 137, B. of L.E.; Susquehanna Lodge No. 246, Order of Red Men, and Canewacta Lodge No. 360, F.&A.M.

Excerpted from: "American Locomotive Engineers, Erie Railway Edition," H.R. Romans Editor; Crawford-Adsit Company Publishers, Chicago, IL 1899.

George Ball, of Engine 2600 fame, absolutely refused to believe the new 5014 had anything on the "Big Ange", until one day he was assigned to the new machine. Now he is willing to trade even.

September, 1914 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine

Mr. George W. Ball, engineer, is back on the "Matt Shay" after several months' illness.

June, 1915 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine

From the Susquehanna Transcript the death of George W. Ball is learned. It stated that he died in St. Augustine, FL, where he went in search of renewed health. He came to Susquehanna 25 years ago and was employed on the Honesdale Branch. He had been formerly employed as engineer in the pusher service out of Susquehanna, running on the Delaware Division for a number of years.

January, 1924 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine


Camelbacks Banned?? Not.

The Much Maligned Mother Hubbard


   It's been stated that the Erie L1 Camelbacks were rebuilt because camelback style locomotives were banned by the (take your pick) 


   Despite being a successful design, there were downsides to the camelback style locomotive. 

   With the engineers controls and cab being located to the middle of the boiler, this separated the engineer from the fireman at the rear. Even when automatic stokers were available, the fireman was still separated from the engineer on the other side of the boiler. This prevented regular communication between the engineer & fireman which was inconvenient to say the least.

   A well known fact about crews operating Camelback locomotives, was that the engineer was subjected to the boiler head in the small cab in summer, and the fireman was subjected to cold temperatures and wind in the winter under the simple overhang at the rear of the boiler.

   These were but a minor inconvenience when compared to "broken rod" accidents on camelbacks. There was more than one case where a main rod broke loose of its journal on high speed passenger locomotives, and as this rod began flailing about - it literally sideswiped the cab off that side of the locomotive, more often than not taking the engineer with it. These rod failures also happened on conventional rear cab locomotives but as the rods were forward of the cab, the crew was unaffected being in a safer and more survivable position.

   Needless to say, these rod failures on camelback locomotive were far and few between but very dramatic, and they helped fuel the misguided outrage against camelback locomotives. 

   This was not the only type of accident. There was a case on the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Elmira, NY on February 14, 1897 in which the engineer, William Heckman; leaned way too far out of the cab window, thereby striking his head on a trackside water crane (standpipe), and subsequently killed. Yet, the locomotive continued along on its route with his body slumped out of the cab window, until the fireman realized the engineer was not slowing down or stopping as scheduled, and thus make his way to the cab via the sideboard to stop the locomotive.

   In comparison, other types of locomotives suffered accidents just as dramatic: firebox & boiler explosions, derailments, collisions. 

   After all this, it should be noted however that no federal legislation was ever enacted that outright banned camelbacks, despite the longly held misconception there was such a law prohibiting them.

   Even I was guilty of this false belief; that is until being contacted by Dan Cupper, deputy director of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. Mr. Cupper graciously forwarded me a back issue of Railroad History, Issue #219 - Fall Winter 2018.

   In this issue, there is a twenty-three page feature article written by Gregory P. Ames; (with no less that 75 separate citations) with references to proposed Federal and State Legislative Acts against camelback locomotives, but of which none were never enacted on a Federal level by the Interstate Commerce Commission or any other federal agency.

   Only two states: Arkansas and Indiana; and only two provinces in Canada: Saskatchewan and Alberta; actually passed legislation prohibiting new camelbacks from being constructed (not banning the ones already in service). And in Canada a codicil in the law allowed for a third crewman in the opposite side of the engineer in case of emergency. 

   To paraphrase the article, years were spent in attempting to locate the actual Federal "law" in the National Archives, Library of Congress; State Libraries; Interstate Commerce Commission documents - anything - that was enacted to federally prohibit the construction of camelback locomotives. But none were found.

   If you are a fan of camelback locomotives, and / or wish to read the research about the actual lack of ICC outlaw of camelback for yourself; I highly recommend in obtaining a copy. 

Back issues are available for $7.50 for members and $15.00 for non-members
of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, and you want Issue 219 - Fall / Winter 2018.

   While the rod failure / cab swipe accidents were dramatic, they were in fact very far and few between. Sort of like commercial aircraft accidents - it is the dramatic ones that make the news, but millions of miles are flown without injury or failure; that is until the accident occurred.

   The uniqueness of the camelback made it stand out. Subsequently, the blame was laid (often erroneously) at the style of locomotive, thanks to often misguided media frenzy. In similarity: the media frenzy of today regarding accidents with self-driving automobiles. Of which following investigation, 98% are attributed to human / operators error. But yet the style of car itself is blamed and not the person who set it on automatic and decided to take a nap. 

   If it bleeds - it leads. And you thought this was recent problem with todays media?

   When specifically referencing to the Erie 0-8-8-0's, of which never operated over 30 mph; they were not subject to the high speed stresses incurred by fast passenger camelback locomotives, and therefore never had a rod failure / cab swipe incident during their career. 

   Eventually, ways were devised to mount conventional locomotive cabs to the rear of the oversized firebox (very well illustrated by the photo of the 2600 after its rebuilding by Baldwin Locomotive Works), thereby eliminating the need for anthracite burning locomotives with camelback cabs. 

   But back to the supposed "outlawing of camelbacks".

   Reference has it that new camelback locomotives were built right up through 1927: Lehigh & New England Railroad had three 0-8-0 camelbacks built by Baldwin Locomotive Works and delivered in September 1927, the same year this "ICC camelback ban" was supposedly enacted. For the record, an ICC ban on camelbacks was to have been enacted in 1918 as well; but again camelbacks were still being built after that date as well.   

   Irregardless, there were 154 camelbacks in service in 1930; and 39 in 1941; with the last camelback in revenue passenger service operating up until 1954 on the Central Railroad of New Jersey. There is a camelback locomotive that surpasses those and you might have heard of it; Colorado Fuel & Iron 4 (ex-Reading 1187) which retired from that assignment in 1962, went to Strasburg RR (tourist) and ran for 5 more years. Not a bad service life for a locomotive that was supposed to have been banned 30 some odd years prior.

   Add this to the advent of diesel-electric locomotives, which eventually did away with steam power altogether.


Ames, Gregory P.
"Mother Hubbards' Bone of Contention"
Railroad History #219 - Fall Winter 2018
(Railway & Locomotive Historical Society; 2018)

Best, George M.; Armstrong, G. W.; Edson, William D.
All Time Erie Locomotive roster"

Railroad History #131 - Autumn 1974, p. 22-113 
(Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, 1974)

Charles R. Cullen & Sidney D. Gridley
Test of Mallet Articulated Compound Locomotive on Erie Railroad
Cornell University (Senior Thesis) 1908

Le Massena, Robert A.
"Erie's Monstrous Mallets"
Railroad Magazine - June 1970; p. 30-34
(Popular Publications)

Mellin, Carl J.
"Articulated Compound Locomotives"
paper read before American Society of Mechanical Engineers
American Locomotive Company - December 1908
(reprinted by Periscope Film; 2006)

Schopp, Bill
"Erie Camelback Articulated"
Railroad Model Craftsman
Volume 23, No. 9, February 1955)
(Carstens Publishing)

Westing, Frederick
"Erie Power"

Erie Mallets, p. 198-215
(Alvin Staufer Publishing, 1970)

White, John H.
"James Millholland and Early Railroad Engineering"
United States National Museum Bulletin 252; The Museum of History & Technology; Paper 69 
(Smithsonian Press, Washington DC, 1967)

Railroad Gazette
November 2, 1906 
August 16, 1907 

Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen Journal
October 1907

The Locomotive
September 14, 1907

American Engineering & Railroad Journal
June 1908

Steam Boiler Engineering
A Treatise on Steam Boilers and the Design and Operation of Boiler Plants
February 16, 1929

Erie Railroad (corporate documents as follows)
Office of Division Engineer; Track Chart for Eastern District - Delaware Division; 1929 / updated 1933
Special Instructions, Delaware Division; July 1, 1914
Special Instructions, Delaware Division; November 1, 1921
in depth Erie steam locomotive specifications

for selected biographical information

Google Maps
for general cartography


Erie L1 Memorabilia & Photographs

Art, Advertising, Postcards & Images



   Strangely, unlike most unusual locomotives, there is quite a bit of memorabilia and images available pertaining to the L1's.

   Most of my collection and memorabilia pertaining to the Erie L1's is comprised of images and postcards.

   As such, I collect anything in reference to the Erie Railroad L1 Class Locomotives #2600, 2601 & 2602:

unknown publisher, unknown date
authors collection



M. F. Kotowski - 1986
authors collection



AZO Real Photo Post Card
divided back
postally unused
authors collection

Locomotive Publishing Ltd., 3, Amen Corner, London, E.C., Real Photo Post Card
note this card has person posing by tender steps
(believed to be E. T. Stotesbury, trustee - see large photo in Stotesbury chapter)
undivided back
postally unused
authors collection

Burton, Pub'r, Lanesboro, PA
divided back
postally unused
authors collection

C. D. Burton, Lanesboro, PA
divided back
postmarked Callicoon, NY - August 26, 1912
authors collection


pub. by Albany News Company
divided back
postally unused
authors collection

Hugh C. Leighton, Portland, ME #27053
Made in Germany
divided back
postally unused
authors collection

The Valentine & Sons Publishing Co, Ltd. New York
printed in Great Britain
divided back
postmarked Matamoras, PA - August 19, 1910
authors collection

Leighton & Valentine Co, N. Y. City. #204840
Printing in United States
divided back
postally unused
authors collection

no publisher info
divided back
postally unused
authors collection

rppc - divided back
postmarked Union Grove, NY - October 15, 1907
authors collection


Herald Post Cards, Hallstead, PA
divided back
postally unused
authors collection

Baker Brothers Elmira, N.Y. #2123
divided back - printed in Germany
postally unused
authors collection


No. 2600 Art Tone Series by C. D. Burton, Lanesboro, PA
divided back - printed in Germany
postmarked Susquehanna, PA - July 21, 1910
authors collection

Herald Post Cards, Hallstead, PA
divided back
postally unused
authors collection



Starrucca Viaduct - unknown date
This image is a first generation high resolution scan of Everett DeGolyer's original negative.
crop and zoom below.
authors collection
Southern Methodist University - DeGolyer Library
not to be reused or reproduced without SMU consent.
added 28 February 2022

Note the marker lamp to right of tender light and on tender tank. The placement of a red flag or red marker light was specified to be placed
on the rear of tender when locomotive was pushing. This was so ordered
in the rule books. Locomotive is definitely pushing.


#2601 - Port Jervis, June 1911
authors collection


#2601 - builders photo?
image courtesy of A. A. Arnold
digital copy authors collection
added 31 January 2020

enlargement of cab writing:


#2602 - unknown location (believed to be Gulf Summit, NY) -
unknown photographer
"American Locomotives"
by E. P. Alexander, (Bonanza Books, 1950)



#2602 - unknown location (believed to be Gulf Summit, NY) - 1915
unknown photographer
stamp on back of photo: C. T. Andrews, 4231 S. W. 38th St. W. Hollywood, Fla.

this first generation darkroom print is identical to the image in Alexander's book, therefore it appears to have been commercially produced.


#2602 - unknown date - Gulf Summit, PA - unknown photographer
from the 1979 Erie Railfan Calendar
authors collection
added 2021

#2602 - unknown date - Gulf Summit, PA - unknown photographer
This particular image is quite an exciting addition to my collection. Just when you think all that is already out there is all that exists, something new turns up.
It is a dark room print from a glass plate negative and this particular image has been unknown until now,
as I never seen it published in any historical accounts, industrial journals or railfan books or websites.
The back of the image is marked: New Jersey Industrial Photographers - P. O. Box 64, Carlstadt, NY 07072

authors collection
added 27 April 2023


#2601 - unknown date (assumed to be 1921) - Baldwin Locomotive Co, Eddystone, PA
Note that the main rods are removed and the head & backup lights have been changed from kerosene to electric and repositioned.
unknown photographer
authors collection
added 31 August 2014



#2602 - unknown date (assumed to be 1921) - Baldwin Locomotive Co, Eddystone, PA
Note that the main rods are removed and the head and backup lights have been changed from kerosene to electric and repositioned.
unknown photographer
authors collection
added 31 August 2014



American Locomotive Works
erecting drawing
unknown provenance



unknown publication
If any reader knows what publication this is from, please let me know at


American Locomotive Builders Card for 0880 C410 Type - Erie L1 class
of particular note is the listing under "fuel": soft coal.
Thanks to the Cullen / Gridley Thesis of 1908, we can now confirm that bituminous coal was used in the Erie L1's.
image from internet
added 01 January 2022


from The National Geographic Magazine
October 1909 - Vol... XX, No. 10
courtesy of J. Wanzyck
added 13 January 2013


This painting sold at a recent auction (NOT eBay) and as my luck would have it, a year before I located it.
It was painted by John Wallace Elder, a professional artist who lived from 1872 through 1954, and created many detailed paintings of locomotives.
The drawing is dedicated to the memory of James Millholland (1812–1875). Millholland was an American railway master mechanic who is particularly well known for his invention of many railway mechanisms. 
Millholland's inventions and contributions include the cast-iron crank axle, wooden spring, plate girder bridge, poppet throttle, anthracite firebox, water grate, drop frame,
and steel tires. He was also an early user and advocate of the superheater, the feedwater heater, and the injector.
Several of his innovations were adopted as standard practice by the railroad industry.
Dimensions of the painting are 20 1/2" tall x 56 1/2" wide.
Estimated sale price: $1,500 to $2,500. Closing price: $1,400 plus buyers premium of 26%, and shipping.
As I stated, I found this item after the auction took place and closed; but I would have loved to at least partaken in the quest to own it personally.
That being said, I respectfully request that the fortunate person who does now own it would be kind enough to furnish better images of it, for inclusion here. 
It would be most sincerely appreciated, and if you so wish to be recognized - your name listed here as well.
image from internet
added 01 January 2022


This ladies and gentlemen, is the real deal.
Sent to me by a fan of this website and of whom owns this astounding artifact.
image was offered to be shared here, but the owner wishes to remain anonymous and I will honor his wish;
on the proviso that if and when the time comes, and this thing of beauty needs a new home;
that I be thought of. The line forms behind me!
added 11 January 2022



Modifications & Differences

Head and tender lamps:

   As originally built and delivered, the Erie L1 locomotives were equipped with kerosene fired headlamps and tender lamps and the headlamps were mounted at the top of the smokebox and in front of the smokestack. Note the square lamp box with small chimney on top.

   At some point in their history (between 1915 and 1921), these kerosene lamps were changed to electric lamps and are now in cylindrical housings; and these are seen in the image after arrival at Baldwin for rebuilding.

   The headlamps have also been relocated to the center of the smokebox door. On the tenders however, we see different locations for placement of the back up light: 2601 had her tender lamp placed on top of the coal boards, whereas 2602 had hers on the top deck and slightly lower than the coal boards.

Front Boiler Walkways
   At some point, the walkways on either side on the front boiler section (in front of the cab) was extended and wrapped around the front of the smokebox, so a crewman did not have step down to the chassis then back up again.


Hand Rails

   Also noted are differences in hand rails, both those in front of the engineers cab, and on the front engine section. Also, these differences appear to vary amongst the three sisters: as delivered:
  • 2600 had no handrails alongside the boiler in front of engineers cab; 
  • 2601 did have handrails in front of the cab and on front engine set; and
  • 2602 is seen both with and without handrails.



   Another difference seen throughout the dates of the photographs known, is the location of the bell.

   On 2600, it isn't seen at all,
   on 2601 it is seen in front of the smokestack, and
   on 2602 it is both not seen at all and seen in front of the smokestack.

   Yet the locomotives are clearly in service in the photos..





   Way back when I was 12 or 13, the family and I made one of our annual jaunts to Strasburg, PA. I went to the National Toy Train Museum there and much to my shock, there was a brass model of an Erie L1 in HO Scale on display.

   Despite my asking in my local hobby shop, I was never able to ascertain who manufactured it or where to purchase one (not that I figured I could afford one anyhow!)

   Lapse forward 30 years, the advent of the internet and advancements in model making and tooling (and cheaper Asian labor forces!) saw new L1 models being released in limited runs and the advertising to see they sold well.

   There are now a few commercially produced scale models of this class of locomotive in both HO and O (3 rail) Scale:

distributor manufacturer item number scale material issue era prices seen notes
Overland Ajin Precision OMI 1548.1 HO brass   $3500  
NJ Custom Brass Daiyoung 222 / ST 227 HO brass ca. 1970's? $1750 - 1995  
Sunset / 3rd Rail Models (Korea) O (3 rail) brass 2001 $899-1400 only 170 issued
MTH - (Russian Iron) #2601 (China) 20-3118-1 O (3 rail) die cast 2005 $1300 locomotive only
MTH - (Russian Iron) #2602 (China) 20-3441-1 O die cast 2005 $1399 locomotive, 5 hoppers & caboose set
MTH - (Black)  #2601 (China) 20-3442-1 O die cast 2005 $1399 locomotive, 5 hoppers & caboose set

  (And if anyone out there has a non-operating, damaged, or burned out HO and / or O scale model they are willing to sell, please email me.
All I desire are models for static display.)


Front Cover & Inside of MTH Electric Trains for Erie 0-8-8-0
Item #20-3118-1


   But alas, all of these commercial releases are cost prohibitive for a casual modeler like myself to own especially as a teen. The brass models then ran in excess of $700, and the O scale ready to run now sell in excess of $1400 retail.

   So, I scratchbuilt my own.


Scratchbuilding my own L1

Yes, it's photoshopped!
How else would I have been able to get an Erie L1 on Starrucca Viaduct for the first time in almost 100 years?
My scratchbuilt HO scale model superimposed on a photo I took of the real Starrucca Viaduct in 2012.


   I am not the first to scratchbuild an Erie L1; as evidenced by an article by Bill Schopp in the February 1955 issue if Railroad Model Craftsman shows:

Railroad Model Craftsman (Carstens Publishing) - Volume 23, No. 9, February 1955
authors collection
added 13 January 2013
rescanned 22 January 2022

    My scratchbuilding the Erie L1 would be my third attempt at scratchbuilding any locomotive in any scale. My first "scratchbuilding" attempt (re: cobbing) being a non-prototype RS2 short hood shop switcher on a B chassis; my second attempt being a 0-6-0T BEDT #16 in HO scale (requiring a scratchbuilt saddletank) which came out rather well; and I already had modified ready-to-run locomotives into either BEDT #14 and #15 or converted a rear cab PRR locomotive to a Camelback 4-4-2 Atlantic.

   While I am particularly critical of my own creations - I have no patience painting, but will spend hours custom fabricating or modifying frames;, I am quite proud of this attempt.


   The locomotive started as an undecorated Mantua HO scale 2-6-6-2 logging loco (catalog #334) and the tender is from the Mantua 4-4-2 #460 "Lindbergh Special" (catalog #460) or PRR #7002 (catalog #336) locomotives (as well as used by other locomotives in the catalog). This tender closely conforms to the silhouette of the tenders used with the L1's.

   I purchased super-detailing parts (valves, boiler plugs, handrail standoffs from various vendors in Walthers Catalog and through local fellow modeler Frank Bell as well as Mantua. Frank was also generous enough to lend me his copy of Al Staufer's "Erie Power", and somewhere along the line I had located and acquired HO scale drawings of the Erie L1 class in one of the railroad modeler magazines. At the time, I did not know they were from the February 1955 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman (Carstens Publishing)... Now I do!


   The cab is an "as molded" from Mantua, as are the domes and front headlight (which I know is incorrect). Front cylinders are Mantua castings from the 2-6-6-2T Booth Kelly logger, (catalog #326) while rear cylinders were original to this model. Hoses and piping are custom bent brass rod and various diameter solder. The live steam crossover is large diameter solder with heat shrink tubing. The valve in front of the cab is a custom hand filed piece of solder. The reversing bell crank is styrene and bronze phosphor wire, as are the handrails. The firebox is from the shell of a Mantua camelback locomotive (although I can't recall which one though, either a 4-6-2 or 2-8-2). The boiler in front of the cab is from the same Mantua kit. The section of boiler between the firebox and cab is heated and bent styrene sheet, as are the running boards.

   The frames are Mantua zamac castings for the 2-6-6-2 locomotive (three axles per frame), which as it turned out driver diameter and axle spacing was close enough to satisfy my needs and I think both were only off by a few scale inches). As I required a four axle per frame arrangement for my 0-8-8-0, I purchased four frames (two front, two rear) from Mantua and proceeded cut the first two of the three axles off the rear frames and the last two of the three axles on the front frames, making a total of four two axle half frames. Then placing them in a jig, I scored the parts with guide lines for alignment, measuring axle spacing, and proceeded to file the mating surfaces with a jewelers file. I bored holes lengthwise on the cut ends of the four pieces, and using solid brass rod as alignment pins and a dot of two part epoxy on the ends of pins, I proceeded to mate the two halves together for each frame and clamped for an hour. Also, the bottom frame covers (which hold the axles in place) were made using the same technique (two each cut in halves), only they are not joined and are four pieces, each held in place by the original screw at each end of the frame.

   Once the frame pins cured, I assembled the drive wheels with connecting rods (but not main rods) and checked for alignment and binding movement. Fortunately, the design of the frame has brass 'u' shaped axle bearing sleeves that are the full width of the frame, so I only had to file to "tweak" alignment on one bearing sleeve. Once I was satisfied with the axle alignments, I assembled the sub-chassis and motor drive, lubricated all axle bearing surfaces with graphite and sewing machine oil lubricant of my own concoction, and ran the mechanism for two hours in a vise to break in the mechanisms, rods, pistons and other reciprocating parts.

   While this was going on, I finished super-detailing the body and began painting. The smokebox is FloQuil flat black with the rest of the body being FloQuil semigloss black, applied with a sable brush. Like I said, I am not patient when it comes to painting. When the MTH O Scale models came out, they had Russian Iron sheet metal from the smokebox back. I really don't know if this was prototypical. I can't see Erie dressing up a mundane pusher locomotive like some crack passenger locomotive. Even if they did, it could not have stayed clean and shiny for long. My personal philosophy has always been that freight and industrial engines were for the most part grimy and dented and a shiny, perfect paint job just doesn't capture the "grit and use" of a freight engine. 

  While I used the cast zamac boiler weights from the original model, I added a substantial amount of lead weight to fill in the remainder of the open space within the body shell. I then test assembled the body and chassis for fit, and tweaked accordingly.

   Upon completion and my satisfaction of fit, I took the locomotive to the Catskill Mountain Model Railroaders club (then located in Kelly Corners, NY in the Hubble Brothers building), I test ran the locomotive on an actual layout with various radius curves and grades.. After some minor tweaking of the articulating frames, I operated the locomotive at various speeds, loads and direction for several hours. It ran flawlessly. 

   I returned home, finished painting, and applied decals. Funny sideline here: I wanted to number the locomotive 2600, but the 2600 decal wouldn't fit the brass number plate I had purchased for the smokebox front. So, I numbered it 2601! Also, all the lead and solder I packed into the body cavities brings the weight of the locomotive without tender to 2.2 pounds!

   The next operating day of the Catskill Model Railroaders Club, I unveiled #2601 in front of the other members. Frank Bell, (who supplied some of the parts and Erie fan) was so totally taken aback by the locomotive, he immediately offered me a substantial amount of money for it. As much as I liked Frank, I just couldn't bear to part with "my 2601". We held a little contest on the layout, pitting #2601 against the other locos. For starters, 2601 out-pulled every other single locomotive in presence. Then we did a "load test". 

   We kept adding cars to a train pulled by #2601, which included a 2.5% grade containing a 20" radius reversing 's' curve (somewhat replicating the famous Ulster & Delaware Railroad's Pine Hill double horseshoe curve here in NY). #2601 only stalled out after 49 cars weighing around 1.5 to 3 ounces each (the Catskill layout standard weight was 1.5 oz., while my personal cars were weighted for 3 oz, due to poor trackage on my old home layout.) This 49 car train this may not seem like much, but keep in mind this was on a scale 2.5% grade with a double 's' curve. I would eventually like to see what #2601 could pull on the straight & level with a consistent 1.25 or 1.5 oz car weight for all the cars.

   Other members tried pulling the same train with one, or in some cases two or three locomotives, and failed. In one case, another member had two diesel locomotives with six powered axles attempting to pull the 49 car train, but stalled just past the double 's' turn (point of maximum resistance both on grade and lateral). I ran 2601 up behind the train, and shoved, "pushing" the train just like the prototype would in 1907 (albeit this with steam locomotives on the head end)!

   I never got around to installing DCC into the locomotive, or finishing the superdetailing, so for the most part, 2601 now sits on a piece of panel track in my china cabinet on display. Every so often I take it out, put in locomotive cradle and run it to keep the mechanism in working order. Someday, I hope to take a trip over to Starrucca Viaduct and take better images with Starrucca as a back drop. (You'd think I would have already done so, as Starrucca is only about an hour and half away from me!)








   If any interested readers would like to submit images of their L1 models, please feel free to submit them to me. I would be honored to include them here.



   Now, we all do things our own way, so normally I let everyone toot their own horn. But this was worth adding to the page:

An Erie L1 built from Lego!

   Built by Tony Sava, I happened across his images several years ago on Flickr. I emailed him in 2013 for permission to use them here and thought I never got a reply. Lo and behold, I was cleaning out my Flickr mailbox, and in fact received a response I never saw (or recall seeing or reading) saying to use his images here, as he used this webpage to design his! So without further ado, here they are and thanks Tony!



Erie L1 in N Scale

   It was inevitable. In March 2024, I made acquaintances with Adam Hofmann on Facebook, who was looking for erecting drawings for a Delaware & Hudson Camelback. I gave him a lead, and in conversation he mentioned he executed a kitbash of an Erie L1 in N scale, so I invited him to send a picture for inclusion here.





The Author

Please click here to learn about the

Erie L-1 Memorabilia Wanted!

   I am always interested in purchasing items pertaining to the Erie 0-8-8-0 L1 Class of locomotives. 

Even if what you have is not for sale, and should it not already be included on this page,
you are cordially invited in sharing a copy for inclusion here.
You will of course be credited.

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