Union Pacific's "War Babies"

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This page was last updated on January 13, 2015.

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The following comes from "Motive Power of the Union Pacific" by William Kratville and Harold E. Ranks, pages 137-139:

In 1945, a dire power shortage developed on the system, especially on the Wyoming Division. The road searched throughout the country to borrow or buy additional motive power and finally located five USRA design Norfolk and Western Mallet compounds and thirty Chesapeake and Ohio simple articulateds to fill the gap.

The locomotives were delivered to the UP at Council Bluffs beginning June 16, 1945, and due to the desperate need for them, they were only delayed long enough to be outfitted with UP lettering and number boards (sic: train number indicators) before being sent to Cheyenne and put into helper and Cheyenne-Laramie freight service.

Generally speaking, the locomotives were in poor shape, and as fast as the road could manage to take an engine from the hard-pressed pools, the locomotives were shopped at Cheyenne and brought up to the higher Union Pacific standards.

The Norfolk and Western Mallet compounds were of United States Railway Administration design and built by Alco in 1919. On the N & W they were numbered the 2013, 2020, 2025, 2030 and 2041. They became UP numbers 3670-3674.

As delivered, this class of engine had Duplex stokers, Type A superheaters, Baker valve gear, Worthington feedwater heaters, 57" drivers and 16,000 gallon, 23 ton Rectangular tenders which had been built in 1924-1927 by Alco. They used six wheel tender trucks.

[photo caption] 3588, as rebuilt by Cheyenne shops, had headlight visor which was soon removed, feedwater pump moved to side of firebox, received ex-D&RGW Elesco feedwater heaters.

The Chesapeake and Ohio locomotives were delivered with Duplex stokers, Type A superheaters, Walschaert valve gear, 57" drivers, and Elesco K-54 feedwater heaters, mounted atop the smokebox and the bell hung on the smokebox face.

The locomotives had been built by Baldwin and Alco for coal hauling chores on the original owner's line and thus were slow-moving creations and the Sherman Hill work was just like home for the type. The Norfolk and Western locos first worked the Butte line but later were generally restricted to Rock Springs coal mine work.

The Chesapeake and Ohio locomotives were of two classes. The 3570-3588 were simple articulateds built by Alco in 1924, the 3589-3599 were Baldwin built. Both series had Alco cast steel water bottom tenders (built in 1930) with six wheel tender trucks and had a capacity for 21,000 gallons of water and 25 tons of coal.

The UP 3580-3599 were C&O 1540-1589 series. Fourteen were built by Alco, the other six by Baldwin. Of the other ten C&O units, four were Alco's- 1540, 1541, 1549, and 1551 on the original road. The six Baldwins were originally the 1575, 1579, 1580, 1582, 1586, and 1588. These were renumbered UP 3570-3579.

The C&O locomotives cost $77,000 each and the N&W compounds, $48,000 each. Beside the few C&O's which were rebuilt, all had minor pipe and air-brake valve changes. Some of the tenders were modified as late as 1947, just before the units were scrapped. The N&W locomotives had no work done on them while on the UP.

As they came from the Cheyenne Shops, the C&O locomotives looked like UP 3500's with their headlight changed to the center of the smokebox face, air reservoir on the pilot, gray smokebox and headlight visor, which was later removed.

When experience showed the feedwater pumps on the C&O locos were sucking more air than water, the pumps were moved back alongside the firebox to be closer to the water supply.

The tenders off three of the scrapped Mallets were put behind the 5017, 5018, and 5034 and met the torch with those engines in 1952, 1954, and 1955. Several tenders were also converted to fuel storage cars and two more were converted in the Cheyenne Shops to Boiler cars and are still used on special passenger assignments pulled by freight power, mostly on the Los Angeles and Wyoming Divisions.

The only favorable comment about the War Babies were that they could pull more on less steam pressure than anything else on the road. Even with 125-150 lbs. on the gauge, they could start a train.

The N&W, which when first put into UP service were assigned to the Butte line, lasted longer, but these too, were all gone by late 1947.

The locomotives took the brunt of the Cheyenne-Laramie assignments for many months, and were withdrawn from service in 1946 and 1947. Some of the N&W units were the last "War Babies" to be withdrawn.

[photo caption] C&O articulateds bore brunt of Sherman Hill traffic in 1945-1946. 3575 is ex-C&O 1557. Laramie, 1946.

[photo caption] C&O 1588 became UP 3592. Cheyenne, October, 1946.

The C&O articulateds were built to handle long coal drags from the mines to the sea where tonnage, not speed, was the prime factor. On the UP's Wyoming Division, which is noted as the fastest mountain division in the world considering total number of feet rise, and where the road always gave trains enough power to really move, the C&O locos just were not fast enough. Their boilers were known as a "low water" type and to run them with the modern UP articulateds, caused the water to pull right out of the stack before it became steam. They were sometimes used one in front, and another as helper. They would get up the Hill but tie everything up behind them. Consequently, the C&O's were quickly cut up after the war.

Far from the coal fields of West Virginia the cumbersome Mallets died, no match for roller-bearing Challengers and Big Boys.

[photo caption] Ex-N&W 2030 became UP 3670, worked Rock Springs mine area

[photo caption] Norfolk and Western Mallets were received in good condition but frames were too light for fast service on UP. Like C&O power, N&W locos only received new name and numbers before tackling UP tonnage on the line. 3b72, Cheyenne, 1944. Note spoke wheels.

[photo caption] When received, C&O locos were in particularly bad shape with broken and patched frames. Road only had time to reletter before pressing into service.

More Information

Roster Listings, ex C&O engines (UP 3570-3599) -- A direct link to the roster listings of the ex C&O engines.

Roster Listing, ex N&W engines (UP 3670-3674) -- A direct link to the roster listing of the ex N&W engines.

Page from UP Equipment Record book -- An image of the page from UP's large Equipment Record ledger book.