Locomotives

SSW ENGINE 819

Engine 819 (pictured above) is a Class L1, 4-8-4 steam locomotive built by the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company (Cotton Belt Route) at its Pine Bluff, Arkansas shops in 1942. The mighty locomotive ruled the rails for a dozen years before being replaced by diesel locomotives. The engine was donated to the city in 1955 and "Old 819" reposed in Oakland Park until 1983 when the Cotton Belt brought it out of the park for restoration by the Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society, Inc. The engine's home is now in the Arkansas Railroad Museum which is located at the place of its birth, the Old Cotton Belt Shops in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.


The Big Engine is capable of pulling 100 freight cars with ease and burns about 15 gallons of oil per mile. The cost of this engine in 1942 was $143,607 which is the equivalent to over $2 million in today's dollars. The cost to rebuild the engine was $140,000 in 1983.


The 819's first trips after restoration were made in 1986 to Fordyce, Arkansas and Little Rock, Arkansas and it has made many trips since. However, these trips have now been suspended by the Union Pacific (the present owner of the old Cotton Belt Route).

SSW 819 SPECIFICATIONS
Power typeSteam
BuilderPine Bluff Shops
Build Date1943
Configuration4-8-4
UIC Classification2′D2′ h2
Gauge4' 8 1⁄2" (1,435 mm)
Driver Diameter70 in (1,778 mm)
Axle Load62,000 lb. (28.1 tonnes)
Weight on Drivers248,000 lb. (112.5 tonnes)
Locomotive Weight425,500 lb. (193.0 tonnes)
Tender Weight312,000 lb. (141.5 tonnes)
Gross Weight737,500 lb. (334.5 tonnes)
Fuel TypeOil
Fuel Capacity5,000 gal. US (19,000 l; 4,200 imp. gal.)
Water Capacity15,000 gal. US (57,000 L; 12,000 imp. gal.)
Boiler Pressure250 lbf/in² (1.72 MPa)
Firegrate Area88.3 sq. ft. (8.20 m2)
Heating Surface: Firebox469 sq. ft. (43.6 m2)
Superheater Area1,962 sq. ft. (182.3 m2)
Cylinders2
Cylinder Size26 × 30 in. (660 × 762 mm)
Valve GearWalschaerts
Valve TypePiston
Tractive Effort61,564 lbf (273.85 kN)
61,564 lbf (273.85 kN)4.03
Engine 819 is on display for 28 years at Oakland Park.
Engine 819 is on display for 28 years at Oakland Park.
Engine 819 is moved from the park to Cotton Belt’s track.
Engine 819 is moved from the park to Cotton Belt’s track.
Engine 819’s move from the park to the Cotton Belt Shop continues.
Engine 819’s move from the park to the Cotton Belt Shop continues.
Engine 819 is fully re-railed onto the Cotton Belt track.
Engine 819 is fully re-railed onto the Cotton Belt track.
Engine 819 is towed to the Pine Bluff Shops by a Cotton Belt EMD SW1200.
Engine 819 is towed to the Pine Bluff Shops by a Cotton Belt EMD SW1200.
Engine 819 arrives at her final home at the Cotton Belt Shops.
Engine 819 arrives at her final home at the Cotton Belt Shops.
A clipping from the Arkansas Democrat chronicles the restoration.
A clipping from the Arkansas Democrat chronicles the restoration.
Another clipping from the Arkansas Democrat documents restoration progress.
Another clipping from the Arkansas Democrat documents restoration progress.
Engine 819 is steamed up for testing.
Engine 819 is steamed up for testing.
Engine 819 moves under her own power for the first time in 29 years.
Engine 819 moves under her own power for the first time in 29 years.
Engine 819 emerges into the sunlight under her own steam power.
Engine 819 emerges into the sunlight under her own steam power.
Engine 819 stands proudly on the Cotton Belt Route’s mainline.
Engine 819 stands proudly on the Cotton Belt Route’s mainline.
The Engine 819 restoration/operations crew pose with the results of their efforts.
The Engine 819 restoration/operations crew pose with the results of their efforts.
Engine 819 is steamed up and ready for its inaugural run to Fordyce, Arkansas.
Engine 819 is steamed up and ready for its inaugural run to Fordyce, Arkansas.
Engine 819 pauses at Pine Bluff’s Union Station for a victory celebration.
Engine 819 pauses at Pine Bluff’s Union Station for a victory celebration.
The official SSW Train Order gives Engine 819 priority over all other trains for her Fordyce run.
The official SSW Train Order gives Engine 819 priority over all other trains for her Fordyce run.
The SSW Clearance Form documents Engine 819’s Fordyce run.
The SSW Clearance Form documents Engine 819’s Fordyce run.
Engine 819 steams down the track, bound for Fordyce.
Engine 819 steams down the track, bound for Fordyce.
Engine 819 steams into Little Rock.
Engine 819 steams into Little Rock.
Engine 819 is caught on a run-by through Redfield, Arkansas.
Engine 819 is caught on a run-by through Redfield, Arkansas.
Engine 819 makes a stop at Union Station in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
Engine 819 makes a stop at Union Station in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
Engine 819 thunders through the countryside on the way to St. Louis, Missouri.
Engine 819 thunders through the countryside on the way to St. Louis, Missouri.
Engine 819 steams past a picturesque lake on the way to St. Louis, Missouri.
Engine 819 steams past a picturesque lake on the way to St. Louis, Missouri.
Engine 819 takes on water at a stop in Maulden, Missouri.
Engine 819 takes on water at a stop in Maulden, Missouri.
The Engine 819 crew takes a break on the trip to St. Louis.
The Engine 819 crew takes a break on the trip to St. Louis.

819 RESTORATION GALLERY

CHASE SSW ENGINE 819 ON AN EXCURSION RUN TO TYLER, TEXAS

Courtesy Neil Dahl  |  Video in 5 Parts

SSW ENGINE 336

A 2-6-0 built by Baldwin in 1909. Retired in 1947. It was then sold to Meriwether Gravel Company of Lewisville and later was acquired by Gifford Hill Co. where it continued to work in a gravel pit until 1963. At that time is was put in the park In Lewisville, AR. In August 1994 it was donated to the Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society.

LS&I 2300

The first U23C built by General Electric in 1968. It was purchased by an individual and is now on loan to the Museum.

LITTLE ROCK & WESTERN 102

ALCO C-420 built in 1966 as L&N 1306, then rebuilt by Green Bay & Western before coming to Arkansas to the Little Rock and Western in 1981. Then purchased by an individual and is on loan to the museum.

PAPERTON JUNCTION SOUTHERN 7012

ALCO RSD-12 built in 1961 as Southern Pacific 7012. After several owners, it was sold to the Western Tennessee Railroad. Purchased from the WTRR in April 2003, it is on loan to the museum.

SANTA FE 843

ALCO RSD-15 built in 1960 as ATSF 843. Renumbered ATSF 9843. Sold to Squaw Creek Coal Co as 9843. After several owners was purchased by an individual and is now on loan to the museum.

SSW 5006

GP30 EMD built 1963 retired 1985. The engine was intended as a donation to the state of Arkansas for placement on the State Capitol grounds and had its diesel powerplant removed. When this plan fell through, the unpowered engine was donated to the museum for display.

UNION PACIFIC 2907

ALCO C-630 built in 1966 for the Union Pacific as 2907. Sold to Duluth, Messabi & Iron Range as 907. Sold to Cartier Railway in 1976 as No 34. It was purchased by an individual and is on loan to the museum. This is the last C-630 of this configuration in existence.

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