"The development of the 2-8-4 wheel arrangement for steam locomotives was a result of an effort by the Lima Locomotive Works to improve on the speed and horse power of the USRA Mikado (2-8-2) locomotive, which was designed by the United States Railroad Administration during World War I. The USRA design had difficulty keeping up steam over long periods and often experienced wheel slippage.
"Lima Locomotive Works' engineer William E. Woodward started with a New York Central Class H-7 "Mikado" type locomotive and added a larger firebox, creating an experimental Class H-10 "Mikado". He then went one step further and designed a locomotive with a 100 square foot firebox. This larger firebox required a four-wheel trailing truck to support it. The resulting locomotive was designated Class A-1, and it was the first 2-8-4.
"This new 2-8-4 locomotive was sent to the Boston & Albany Railroad by Lima in the early spring of 1925 for tests on that railroad. In several test runs over a division of the railroad that crossed the Berkshire Hills, the demonstration locomotive, which carried road number "1" hauled up to 2500 tons. The most dramatic test occurred on April 14, 1925. A Class H-10, 2-8-2 "Mikado" type steamed eastbound from the Selkirk Yard pulling a 46 car, 1691 ton, train. About 47 minutes later the Class A-1 demonstrator led a 54 car, 2296 ton, train up the same eastbound climb through the Berkshires. The demonstrator Class A-1 arrived at North Adams Junction ten minutes ahead of the Class H-10. Soon after these impressive tests, the Boston & Albany ordered forty-five of these new locomotives, which quickly became known as "Berkshires".
"Lima put its Class A-1 demonstrator on the road and sent it across the country to sell this new class of locomotive. Wherever it went the Class A-1 established new records. This locomotive was later shipped to the Illinois Central Railroad as part of its order for fifty "Berkshires" and became Illinois Central road number 7049.
"After its debut in 1925, the "Berkshire" type locomotive continued to be improved by locomotive builders and the various railroads that used them. These heavy-duty main line locomotives were used by many railroads. Notably among them were the Boston & Albany Railroad, the Chesapeake & Ohio, the Erie Railroad, the Illinois Central Railroad, the Nickel Plate Road and the Pere Marquette Railroad.
"Railroads that used 2-8-4 "Berkshire" Type Locomotives (data provided by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media):
* Santa Fe
* Boston & Maine
* Chicago & North Western
* Chesapeake & Ohio
* Detroit, Toledo & Ironton
* Illinois Central
* Louisville & Nashville
* Missouri Pacific
* Nickel Plate
* Norfolk & Southern
* Pittsburgh & Lake Erie / Boston & Albany
* Pere Marquette
* Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac
* Toronto, Hamilton, & Buffalo
* Wheeling & Lake Erie"
From SteamLocomotive.com, used with permission.
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