JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Crescent Limited: 1926

Crescent Limited: 1926

Alexandria, Virginia, circa 1926. "American Locomotive Co. -- Southern R.R. Crescent Limited 1396." Seen here from the other side, with more info in the comments. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Formal steam engine portraits

required that the side rods be in the "down" position,
witnessed by this photo of 1396.

Take a look at any steam locomotive builders photos; you will see all photos are made with the rods down.

Thanks to those who corrected some who mistakenly referred to this as a "Hudson" 4-6-4 engine type. These beauties were 4-6-2 "Pacific" class locomotives arguably the most ubiquitous steam locomotive type ever to run on the world's railways.

The Canadian Pacific ran both light small pacifics
and heavier more powerful ones until the end of steam.
I would imagine many other roads did too.

Crescent was a class act

In 1977, I made a train trip with 3 children from Benson AZ to Augusta GA. Our "heritage fleet" Amtrak sleeper was dropped in New Orleans to be picked up by the next day's Southern Crescent. The Amtrak car's air conditioning quit and, as the temperature rose, the elderly Southern conductor sent an equally ancient porter to move us to another car. As we stepped into the coolness, I blurted out, "Hey, the air conditioning works." The old black porter put down the bags, turned to me and standing stiffly erect, said, "Suh, this is a Southrun cah. EVERTHING WORKS!"

Pilot beam casting with poling pockets.

The pilot beams on most modern US locos were a proprietary casting made by Commonwealth Steel, later known as General Steel Castings, of Granite City Illinois. The poling pockets were a standard feature of the casting, and can be seen on most locos, whether they were for passenger, freight or switching service.

Pole pocket

What is strange to see on a mainline flyer are the pole pockets at the front just above the first wheel. In local service it sometimes was necessary to shove a car on an adjacent track using a long wooden pole socketed into this pocket and into a similar pocket on the car to be shoved. A dangerous practice that could result in serious injury when the pole snapped.

That cylindrical appliance

is a Feedwater Heater. An Elesco Feedwater Heater to be precise. Made by Locomotive Superheater Company (hence the name L-S-CO), it used steam to preheat the water before being injected into the boiler so as to reduce the total energy needed to bring it to a violent boil at 200 psi. There were a number of Feedwater Heater manufacturers, the Elesco and Coffin types being the most easily identified because of their most common location on top of the smokebox between the smokebox front and stack (or smokestack).

Elesco FWH/paint scheme.

The appliance between the bell and the smokestack is an Elesco feedwater heater. It uses exhaust steam from the loco's cylinders to pre-heat the feedwater going into the boiler. The cylindrical part is the heater bundle, and the feedwater pump is the appliance visible just above the rear coupled wheel.

1401 in the Smithsonian is in the correct paint scheme, which is largely green - inspired by the livery of the Southern Railway in Britain. The grey mentioned is representative of the graphite and oil-based finish typically applied to loco smokeboxes and often fireboxes on US railroads. The smokebox was usually unlagged, and so the external surfaces got quite hot when the engine was in steam. Normal paint would quickly burn off, so graphite used instead.

Cylinder behind the bell?

As handsome a machine as I have seen.

I can identify most of the systems here, but the cross ways cylinder between the bell and the smoke vent has me stumped. A lot of complexity there, it must be a worthwhile bit of steam technology. Who can say what it is?

Painted Green...

I am not sure if the Smithsonian has the locomotive painted correctly but my comment for Shorpy's other side of the locomotive image shows that they have it depicted with green trim and the rest is gray. Here is my comment and my image from the Smithsonian.


The previous post regarding the "Hudson" class of locomotive on the NYC are effectively correct including the mention of the "20th Century Limited being pulled by the "Hudson" type 4-6-4 locomotive. The locomotive in this image however is a 4-6-2 "Pacific" from the Southern Railway and called a Ps-4. Its sister locomotive No. 1401 sits in the Smithsonian. They were painted a stunning green with gold trim. Some of the most beautiful locomotives on US rails.

It's beautiful!

Most engines, at least this side of the water, were very much 'cleaner' in appearance than the Hudson ... but this engine appears to proclaim to the world that it is a very tough and powerful machine. To my eyes, it looks wonderful ... an amazing array of 'stuff' and 'things' just hung on the outside of the locomotive, all of it going to make this one purposeful-looking machine. And, presumably, maintenance was easier.

As for those punctuality rates; they make UK rates today look pretty poor, despite ultra-modern electric traction, computers, and the like. The people who operated the services all those years ago were evidently made of the 'right stuff'. How things have ... progressed.

This locomotive

was painted green.

The "Hudson"

The first 4-6-4 in America was built for the New York Central by ALCO and named after the river it ran. It proved it be such a popular configuration between 1920 and 1940 they were in use by 21 American railroads (and many more overseas) -The Canadian Pacific was its second most user. Various railroads built these in their own shops and called them by assorted names, but Hudson prevails. In their day they set two speed records. However, in the '40's the clear superiority of the diesel sent these to the scrap yards. A great steam engine; pulled the 20th Century Limited in its day.

Daily Crescent

Amtrak still operates the Crescent on a daily basis between New York City and New Orleans. It's even slightly quicker now. When the service was inaugurated in 1926, the journey from Washington to New Orleans required 33 hrs and 55 minutes. Today, thanks to 87 years of innovation and investment, the trip will only take you 26 hrs and 2 minutes!

Washington Post, May 7, 1933.

Crescent Limited Sets Up Records

Running on a faster schedule than in any previous year, the Crescent Limited, ace of the Southern Railway System's passenger train service between New York, Washington, Atlanta and New Orleans, broke all records for on-time performance in the year ended April 25, 1933, the eighth of its operation.

Out of the 365 trips in each direction the Crescent Limited reached Atlanta on time southbound on 360 days, or 98.6 percent, and reached Washington on time northbound on 357 days, or 97.9 percent. This brought the on-time performance for eight years up to 98.3 percent southbound and 96.4 percent northbound. On April 25 the Crescent Limited was placed on a schedule of 15 hours and 5 minutes between Atlanta and Washington, 20 hours and 10 minutes between Atlanta and New Your, and hour having been cut from the running time in each direction between Atlanta and Washington.

The Crescent limited is operated over the Pennsylvania Railroad between New York and Washington, the Southern between Washington and Atlanta, the West Point Route between Atlanta and Montgomery and the Louisville & Nashville between Montgomery and New Orleans.

So little stock, so high the rent

How much would the shoes have been to pay the rent? It doesn't look like a high volume place and the selection is very small.

[Probably didn't even make enough to pay for the coal. But at least they could move to a new location easily enough. -tterrace]

OOPs: Intended for the 'Juvenile Footwear'.

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.