Steam Locomotive, Southern Railway 1401

The 4-6-2 "Pacific" type steam locomotive for passenger trains was introduced late in the 19th century and perfected after 1910. It was among the most numerous type of steam locomotive for passenger trains operated in the United States from about 1910 to 1955. This type was characterized by four leading or "pilot" wheels, arranged in a "truck" to guide the locomotive in curves; 6 large-diameter driving wheels for power and speed; and a pair of "trailing wheels" in a "trailing truck" under the rear of the engine to help support its great weight.
Far from ordinary, the Class Ps-4-type steam locomotives of the Southern Railway were inspired by handsomely painted British locomotives. The Ps-4's green and gold livery set these locomotives apart from the funereal black associated with most American steam locomotives in the 20th century. The distinctive green was exclusive to locomotives on the Southern Railway that were assigned to the company's principal passenger trains, such as the Crescent Limited, the Piedmont Limited, and others.
The Charlotte Division was part of the Southern's Washington–Atlanta mainline, with extension of the mainline to Birmingham and New Orleans on track leased by Southern. The Charlotte Division included the line between Greenville, S.C., and Salisbury/Spencer, N.C. Thus the 1401 rarely, if ever, ran north of Spencer, home of the Southern's vast Spencer Shops for the heavy repair of locomotives from throughout the system.
A Ps-4 was capable of hauling 12–15 steel passenger cars, about 700–1000 tons, at 80 mph on level track. (The hill-and-dale profile of the Charlotte Division, however, kept average speeds to about 50–60 mph.) The 14,000 gallons of water in the tender permitted runs of about 150 miles—the full length of the Division—between water stops, although there would be one intermediate water stop normally scheduled. Fuel (16 tons of bituminous coal) in the tender was good for the full 150 miles.
Object Name
locomotive, steam
locomotive, passenger
locomotive, full size
Date made
Southern Railway
American Locomotive Company. Richmond Works
Physical Description
bronze (overall material)
steel (overall material)
green (overall color)
overall: 15 ft x 10 ft x 92 ft; 4.572 m x 3.048 m x 28.0416 m
Place Made
United States: Virginia, Richmond
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad
America on the Move
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


"My grandfather, Robert H. Strayhorn was a conductor for the Southern Railway from 1898 until 1943. He lived in Spencer, NC and did the run from Spencer, NC to Monroe VA. My father had an engineering degree from NC State and following his service in WWII begain working for Southern Railway in 1946. We moved to Alexandria VA in 1957 where my father was promoted to Master Mechanic. When I was growing up I remember the 1401 before it was restored was stored at the Alexandria Diesel shop on Holland Lane in Alexandria. We used to climb all over the engine while it was stored at the shop. My father was also involved when the engine was moved to the Smithsonian building prior to construction. I remember that several derricks were used to move the engine along with the use of old trolley car tracks. My fater retired from the railway in 1975. R strayhorne "
"My grandfather, L.E. Brown Sr., was an engineer on the 1401 Steam Locomotive for many years. He was one of the engineers the Smithsonian brought in to inspect the 1401 after it was first set up in the exhibit hall. The Atlanta Constitution interviewed him shortly afterward. He said during the interview that each steam engine had its own character and quirks and the railroads usually kept the same engineers tied to each one because they became used to what made those locomotives run smoothly. The diesel engines just weren't the same. My grandfather took me to visit "granddaddy's train " many times when I was a child. He passed away in 1973 when I was 9. His family still misses him, and we love visiting the 1401 and remembering him."
My great grandfather (adopted father) Ray Housum was a fireman on the 1401 during the 1940s in Alexandria, Virginia . In 1997, he and a coworker were interviewed by the Smithsonian Magazine about working on the 1401 and were allowed to go back inside to explain how it was operated and about their lives working for the Southern Railroad.I've never seen him so happy as when he climbed back inside the cab and did a video interview for the musum. He kept saying , "I never thought I'd see her again. . .I never thought I'd see the old girl again. "He had tears of joy in his eyes. I'm blessed to have been witness to this event and am pround that my father was a part of Railroad history.
"With regard to the "trailing wheels", their principal function was to enable the locomotive to be fitted with a larger firebox, thereby increasing the rate of steam production in the boiler."
I just would like to know if one of the engineers for the 1401 was a man named Samuel Austin Moore because my father states that his grandfather Samuel Austin Moore was the engineer of that train. Thank You Patrick S. Moore
"My dad, Robert R. Ray, Jr., was general forman with Southern in Atlanta in 1961 and was in charge of moving the 1401 into the museum. He took my brother and me to Washington for the move. The "dark " picture showing the cab (6th Street) also shows my dad, my brother and me (Bob and I have the fuzzy ear-muff hats on and are wearing white socks)."
My father W.J. Davis was a fireman on this locomotive in his early 20's.He loved his job through the steam years. My father commuted from Columbia SC and for years worked in Charlotte for Southern. He passed away as NS Terminal Trainmaster at Charlotte in 1987.
"My Father, Joseph H. Austell was the engineer on the Crescent Limited for over 35 years! He drove it from Greenville, SC to Spencer, NC. I remember well meeting him at the station many times. He told me many tales of his experiences and keeping hobos off the coal tender was often mentioned. They would try to get on when the engine was taking on water at the terminal. I still have his Hamilton Gold railroad watch which still keeps perfect time. I have donated the shovel his fireman, Leaper Thompson, used. I also still have the one used for stoking the fire. He would leave Greenville on one day, go to Spencer, spend the night, and come back to Greenvile and then have one day off. It was 15 days per month schedule. I remember well him getting a call and saying No 37 or No. 38 was on time. We lived on Washington St which was on the same street with the station. Mother kept a scrap book and I have many clipping about the train."
"Well seeing as I am a steam locomotive buff, I have to say that to see a locomotive like this, even though she may not be under steam, it's still nice to see it at least preserved and saved from being cut up for scrap. One can only imagine what it must have been like to pull the throttle out on ol' 1401...I wish I was in her cab right now."
"My grandfather Red Nesbit drove this locomotive back and forth between Greenville, SC and Spencer, NC for many years. Yes, the 1401. Both my grandfathers, my father and myself all worked for Southern Railway. I have lots of railway stuff but probably the coolest one is a bell off the 1400 class loco. Yes a beautiful brass bell just like the one in your picture of the famous 1401."

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