Southern Pacific 2479

Infobox Locomotive
name=Southern Pacific 2479

builder=Baldwin Locomotive Works
builddate=October 1923
gauge=4 ft 8½ in (1435 mm)
railroad=Southern Pacific Railroad
disposition=undergoing restoration to operating condition
currentowner=California Trolley and Railroad Corporation
deliverydate=December 1 1923
retiredate=July 19 1956
driversize=73 in diameter
cylindersize=25 in dia × 30 in stroke
weight=300,000 lb
weightondrivers=180,700 lb
boilerpressure=200 psi
tractiveeffort=43,660 lbf

Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) 2479 is one of six heavy 4-6-2 Pacific type steam locomotives built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1923, designated the P-10 class. 2479 was retired from service in 1956 and is currently undergoing restoration to operating condition; it is one of three surviving Southern Pacific 4-6-2 steam locomotives.


Design and initial use

The six locomotives in 2479's class were designed to pull such trains as the "Overland Limited" between Sparks, Nevada, and Ogden, Utah, a total 568 miles, without changing engines. Average speed was 35 mph including stops. This would require road speeds of about 60 mph.

Performance proved most satisfactory and thereby set the basic design for all remaining Pacifics built for the SP. The Pacific held many long distance assignments including the "Daylight Limited" between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the "Sunset Limited" between Los Angeles and El Paso, Texas, and the Sparks to Ogden run. As larger 4-8-2 class locomotives were assigned to these name trains, the 4-6-2 classes were reassigned to local passenger runs between Sacramento and Oakland and the San Francisco-San Jose, California, commute service. The 2479 ended its service on these routes.

In February 1937, disaster struck the 2479. Pulling a passenger train call "The Owl" and steaming at 70 mph as it approached Selma, California, the locomotive struck a car lodged on the tracks. The impact indirectly caused the locomotive, its tender and seven cars to derail. The engine's pilot was bent on impact with the automobile and caught at the next grade crossing throwing the locomotive off the rails. Both the engineer and the fireman were killed. Although 2479 experienced heavy damage, it was rebuilt and placed back in revenue service. 2479 was again rebuilt at the railroad's Bayshore shops on August 2 1941, increasing its boiler pressure to 210 psi, and its tractive effort to 45,850 lb. Its retirement came on July 19 1956, as steam locomotion technology was replaced with newer diesel locomotives. SP 2479 was donated and moved to the Santa Clara County fairgrounds on September 6 1958.

Preservation and restoration

Since 1989, the volunteers of the Santa Clara Valley Railroad Association (SCVRRA) have averaged over 5,000 hours per year on the restoration of SP 2479. This amounts to approximately twenty-five person years expended. This time represents time spent directly on the locomotive and does not include the many hours spent attempting to raise funds, recruit and train volunteers, and do the administrative tasks that are required of any organization whether for profit or not.

At the end of 1994, the SCVRRA merged with the San Jose Trolley Corporation to form the California Trolley and Railroad Corporation, a not-for-profit educational organization with the mission to preserve historic rail equipment of importance to the history of the Santa Clara Valley and to provide and interpretive venue. One of the underlying reasons for the merger was that the new organization could be a more effective fund raising vehicle.

To date, the principal source of funding for the locomotive restoration has been the Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Commission and volunteer fund raising efforts over the years. Approximately, $350,000 has been raised to date. Of this amount $230,000 represents the cost of the boiler repair done by a professional boiler contractor required by federal and state law. The work on the boiler was begun by Manley Boiler Repair in May 1998. Work continues to progress, 2479's pistons are removed from its cylinders, and its wheels will soon be re-installed.

2479's current location is at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose, California. It's future home will be the San Jose Railroad Museum, which is currently looking for a location.


* [ California Trolley and Railroad Corporation NPO]

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