Steam Locomotive, Southern Railway 1401

Steam Locomotive, Southern Railway 1401

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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
Place Made
United States: Virginia, Richmond
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
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad
America on the Move
America On The Move
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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My aunt often rode The Lonesome Pine Special out of St Charles Va. I don't know if it was green but was a 462.
"My grandfather, James Leslie Hepler, was the fireman on her last commercial run. Unfortunately long before I was even born. Growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I've had numerous occasions to be able to go and visit this beauty and smile at the knowledge that a little piece of my family history is in the Smithsonian Museum."
Can anyone tell the running order of the passenger cars on the 1926 crescent limited between Washington dc and Atlanta ga. I cannot find this information anywhere. thanks chuck
This was the first engine my grandfather operated when he worked for the railroad.
"These comments are all so interesting as the 1401 was always a favorite of my family. My grandfather, E.J.Voss, worked for the Southern Railroad in Louisiana, and was transferred to Washington, D.C., in the 1930s, where he worked in the offices. Reading H.Ray's comments about his father being in charge of the moving of the 1401 was great to read. My grandfather was also involved with her move--only he was handling things in the offices. It is really interesting to see the great team it took to move this "Queen of the Tracks", to her home in the Smithsonian, where all of America can enjoy her beauty & majesty. Grandpa retired shortly after the moving of the 1401, but I cannot ever think of him, or her, without thinking of the other. We often refer to the 1401 as "Grandpa's " train, because of his close relationship with it."
"What a wonderful exhibit this engine is. I had the immense pleasure of visiting your museum when on a visit to Washington some years ago. As I am now 83 years old, I don't expect to see it again. Well done for showing the youth of today the joys of life as it used to be. Yours aye Peter Feiler"
"My great grandfather was THE engineer for the 1401. His name was Clarence Henry Gaines. His name is the one on the plaque in the National Museum. He was the engineer who pulled the FDR funeral train from Warm Springs, GA to Arlington National Cemetery. There may have been other engineers at times but he is the one of record. "
I was born and raised in Alexandria Virginia. My father and mother purchased a home at 520 South Payne Street in 1956. Myself and other youngsters would play on this locomotive when it was stored at regional offices maintenance facilities between Duke and Wilkes streets in Alexandria. We were so sad when the locomotive was moved from there. No more Jesse James robberies or Lone Ranger and Tonto rescues. Brings back a lot childhood memories.
"My great uncle D.C. (CLEVE " ) Surratt lived in Greenville,S.C. On several occassione he told me about the day he pulled President Roosevelt's body from Warm Springs,Ga. to Spencer ,Nc, I believe but it could have been all the way to Washington."
"My grandfather, David Cleveland Surratt (or D.C. as railroaders called him) drove that locomotive from Greenville, SC to Spencer, NC and back. My grandmother, Nell E. Surratt noted in diary of 1961 that "they took Cleve's locomotive up north to Washington, D.C. to the Smithsonian. " I took her to the Smithsonian to see the train and she was shocked to see the placard in front of the train attributing the engineer as O.C. Surratt. Oscar C. Surratt was my grandfather's brother and also worked on the Southern. She claimed that "Box " (the name she called the fireman on the train) as getting the two Surratt brothers confused. My grandparents lived in Greenville, S.C. "
"My father used to ride his bicycle to the Depot in LaGrange Ga. after school to see "The Crescent Limited " pull in on the way to Atlanta or Montgomery, Atlanta & West Point #290 would pull the train from Atlanta to Montgomery. He also saw the Ps-4s pulling the train up around Decatur, Ga. on the way to and from Washington. Thankfully #290 was saved also and my wife and parents got to ride a couple of "Steam Specials " behind it. It was basically a Ps-4 with a shorter tender, but it made us feel like we knew what seeing a Ps-4 would have been like. "
"It was a great joy to see the 1401 at the museum when I visited. I had just read about it in a book. This is one of the steam engines that pulled President Franklin D. Roosevelt's funeral train from Georgia to Washington, and it was so nice to be able to see it just days after I had read about it."
The 1401 stirs a lot of memories for my Family. My Great Granfather Sam A. Moore was an engineer either on 1401 or another 1400 class engine and my Granfather Samual Tavner Moore was the boiler inspector who pulled her off the road for boiler maintance just before she was donated to the Smithsonian. When my Dad saw her his remark was that he had never seen her so shiney. (Grandad often took Dad to the yard when he was young.) It is nice to see anot only a bit of the country's history saved but the family's as well.James Shawn Moore
My grandfather was the engineer on a narrow gauge train in the mountains of Colorado. He grew up loving trains as great grandpa had been a railroad telegrapher.The new engines then were astonishing to the populace. A cab-over engine was new as were the different steam whistles they blew.To this day my whole family (in describing something really new or special) still quotes the grandpas: "It is cab-over-engine whistle dixie!"
"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, William V. Towson, lived in Spencer, North Carolina and was a engineer for the Southern Railway. I wonder if the Strayhorn family can be located so that I may learn more about the Spencer shops, specifically the 1401 Crescent Limited and it's final journey to the Smithsonian. Also, any information on George Allen who engineered the train that went off the track in Monroe Va and was killed. He was my uncle.
I started working for the Southern Railway on Holland Lane in Alexandria, Va. in 1967. I worked as a clerk and often times I would spend the next eight hours laboring in the engine house, putting sand into the engines, changing brake shoes, ect. George Strayhorn was the Master Mechanic who was responsible for the motive power for the 4 or 5 trains daily that took the freight from Potomac Yard into the south. One of the trains number 153 had engines in the middle of the train for an even flow of energy and it's destination was New Orleans. He was respected by all of his people and he was simply a pleasure to work for. George Strayhorn was a very good person and nothing you can say about a person is better than that.
Preservation of this locomotive is especially significant because the Southern 1401 was the leading locomotive (of two Ps-4 Pacific-type) that pulled the Presidential funeral train of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from Warm Springs to Atlanta, Georgia, on April 13, 1945. FDR had passed away the previous day. Ten Ps-4 locomotives were used by Southern Railway to move that train, in pairs over five districts between Warm Springs and Washington, D.C. The other nine locomotives, like most Southern Railway steam locomotives, were all scrapped as dieselization progressed.
Two comments: (1) See my correction to comments posted. (2) I visited this Monday, April 1st, 2019, and spent an hour+ looking at and photographing the 1401. That was probably my tenth (10th) visit over the decades. The sound effects are great but previously you included sound of a steam locomotive accelerating away from a passenger station. That sound track was great, I miss it. I made an error in my just-posted comment (corrected version below). The 1401 powered FDR's funeral train between Greenville, SC and Salisbury, NC ... NOT between Warm Springs and Atlanta, Georgia. Also, the ten locomotives were (8) Ps-4 including the 1401 and (2) older Ps-2: "Preservation of this locomotive is especially significant because the Southern 1401 was the leading locomotive (of two Ps-4 Pacific-type) that pulled the Presidential funeral train of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from Greenville, South Carolina to Salisbury, North Carolina, on April 13, 1945. FDR had passed away the previous day. Eight Ps-4 and two Ps-2 steam locomotives were used by Southern Railway to move that train, in pairs over five districts between Warm Springs and Washington, D.C. The other nine locomotives, like most Southern Railway steam locomotives, were all scrapped as dieselization progressed."
When I was a lad 11 years age - my grandfather and uncle were both ironworkers and had a hand in building the History Museum where these locomotives are housed. My grandfather came home from work one afternoon and told me to lay down and nap; we were going out later. Later was at dusk. We went to the mall and sat near the Washington Monument. At dark we saw flashing lights and my grandfather took me down to the construction sight; on the scene was this locomotive '1401' and it was my thrill and seed to my life long work as a heavy haul trucker and crane witness the rolling of this great machine to where it sets this very day.
I know I'll sound like a foamer for saying this, but I'd like to see the 1401 return to service one day.
As a young child in the early 1950's, my Mother took me by train from Richmond, Virginia to see my grandparents in Shreveport, Louisiana & what a trip it was: the Chesapeake & Ohio to Charlottesville, the Southern Crescent to New Orleans, & the Kansas City Southern to Shreveport - I cannot recall the color of the locomotive, but even as a child I remember how massive & beautiful it was watching it arriving at the station in Charlottesville & at rest in New Orleans - I can still picture it today like it happened yesterday.
"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 grandfather Luther Graham Lloyd was an engineer on Southern Railway 1401. He had the run from Spencer NC north. He went to Washington DC to watch the engine go into the open back of the Museum. His son, Lewis Lloyd also worked on the Southern Railway line. I believe there were several engineers assigned to sections of the run for the entire run from Warm Springs GA to Washington DC would have been too long for one engineer. Our family is very proud of our railroad heritage and we all love to visit Papa Lloyd's engine in Washington D.C.
My Dad, Millard D Hester (MD or Bill) was a fireman and then engineer on the Southern and was one of many who "drove" / "fired" this beautiful "beast"! His run was Atlanta to Greenville, SC. Returning from WW2 (and New Guinea) , he returned to civilian life as a fireman on the extra board, took correspondence courses from ICS, passed his engineer exams, and retired as the senior most engineer on the Southern in the 60's, commanding the Crescent (or what was left of it) between Greenville and Atlanta with pride for a number of years. By that time he had served as Secretary - Treasurer of his local of B of LE, and was serving as President of same at retirement. He loved this engine and what it represented for America!!! He and my Mom sent two sons to MIT and their daughter to Emory, again with love and pride. Leaders like them are very scarce in our lives today!
My name is Lindsay Dobson. I am a lifelong resident of Greenville, South Carolina. My dad, Charles Daniel Dobson went to work for Southern Railway in 1939 and retired in 1987 after 47 years of service. His dad, O.L.Dobson, went to work for the Southern in 1915 and retired in1967. I especially remember my dad, Charles Dobson as saying that the 1401 could reach speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Thinking it was an exaggeration, i investegated that statement----sure enough, it was true!! Dad fired and ran the old girl and for sure he told me that on one trip a speed of 100 mph was obtained between Gaffney, South Carolina and an area called Broad River.Needless to say they were running a bit late!!. I myself, went to work for the Southern in 1974. Was a brakeman for 3 years and then was promoted to the big seat. I retired in 2014. Yes, it was a fascinating career, but so hard on the family life! I would never do it again, but, it was in my blood at that time. The love affair of the rails are long gone now, but, as many of you, we have the memories of our careers and the really neat tales of railroading from all of those that have passed. But the 1401 will live forever and has its own stories that none of us will ever know about. Thank all of you that have posted your comments.
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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