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Leviathan: 1926

Washington, D.C., or vicinity circa 1926. "Southern R.R. Co. Crescent Locomotive 1396." View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

Washington, D.C., or vicinity circa 1926. "Southern R.R. Co. Crescent Locomotive 1396." View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.


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Leviathan in color

Sadly there are no contemporary color images of Ps-4s in their early days, but my friend Tom Alderman of Mayretta, GA has given us an idea of what it looked like on that day in Alexandria when 1396 posed for the camera.

Looking east toward Callahan Street

This view of the Southern Railway yard in Alexandria is looking east. The Masonic Temple would be behind the photographer's left shoulder. The little yard shacks were on the other side of Callahan Street. These shacks were there as late as 1980 or so as I have a photo of them. The roundhouse was to the right of the locomotive, probably out of the picture. The building to the right may be the yard office. The Northern Virginia Model RR club occupied a building in this approximate location for about 20 years from the early '50s until the early '70s.

Herby's Ford was located to the left of the photo, on the opposite side of the Callahan Street crossing. It was built soon after WW2.

My favorite

This is my favorite of the images posted on Shorpy this past year. I don't know why; I'm not interested in railroads or big machines. I keep coming back to it, though. Perhaps it's because despite my disinterest I admire this magnificent machine and the work that went into creating and maintaining it. It makes me think about traveling and I imagine how people of the time would have looked at it in awe and thought of the big cities and world beyond their own region.

Thanks Dave and crew for the work you've done and thanks to all the insightful Shorpy posters. Best wishes for the new year, and many more intriguing photos and enlightening posts.

Museum Piece

The same class of locomotive photographed by me in 2006 when I visited the Smithsonian's railroad section.

Alexandria Yard

The George Washington National Masonic Memorial was dedicated in 1923 but not mostly completed until 1932, so I don't believe that appears adjacent to the far telegraph pole. I believe this view is looking roughly east, with the wooden yard office to the right of the locomotive. About where the boxcars are out of view in the distance is where Hoofe's Run crossed under the tracks.

-- Frank R. Scheer, Railway Mail Service Library


This photo was taken in Southern Railway's yard in Alexandria, near the King Street station - if you look just to the right of the most distant power pole, you can see the George Washington Masonic Temple.

No. 1396 was one of the first 12 PS4s delivered in Southern Railway's new "Sylvan Green" paint scheme. Most were lettered "Southern" on the tender, but no. 1396 was lettered "Crescent Limited" (not "Queen & Crescent" - that refers to the Cincinnati - Chattanooga - New Orleans route, and was applied to no. 6689) and assigned to the new, all-Pullman luxury train of the same name.

Greatest achievement

I maintain that the steam locomotive remains mankind's greatest accomplishment.

Old 1396

Beautiful engine absolutely beautiful! She was built 9 years & 9 months before I came along. Reminds me of the troop trains in the 1940s, heading south on the L&N Line as they passed through my hometown in central Kentucky, a little burg called Wildie in Rockcastle County. Wish I was back there now.


As far as excursions, you're probably thinking of Southern Ry. #4501, a freight engine, which was bought back from a shortline, and painted-and-otherwise-gussied-up to represent a passenger engine. It pulled many excursions starting in 1966. The real SR passenger steamers didn't make it past 1953 or so. (When the management realized steam excursions would be a real crowd-pleaser, the one in the Smithsonian was already "trapped inside.")



One of your best yet.

This is one of your best yet. Very handsome.

Cheers to you and the National Photo Company.

Southern Class

A Great Railway. Great class of loco: Ps4. Same as the one in the Smithsonian. WOW!!

Still puffin'

I have lived in Chattanooga and more than once rode on the excursion trains pulled by this locomotive! (see history link)

I must compliment Dave on the enlargements of small details in the photos. Reminds me of the movie "Call Northside 777" in which the murderer is caught because the photo lab enlarges the date printed on a newspaper held by a newsboy! Ever tried newspapers, Dave?

[Yes indeedy. - Dave]

1396, 1926

Queen Crescent Limited

A short history of the Queen Crescent Limited.

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