Lima Locomotive Works' engineer William E. Woodward started with a New York Central Class H-7 "Mikado" type locomotive and added a larger firebox, creating an experimental Class H-10 "Mikado". He then went one step further and designed a locomotive with a 100 square foot firebox. This larger firebox required a four-wheel trailing truck to support it. The resulting locomotive was designated Class A-1, and it was the first 2-8-4.
This new 2-8-4 locomotive was sent to the Boston & Albany Railroad by Lima in the early spring of 1925 for tests on that railroad. In several test runs over a division of the railroad that crossed the Berkshire Hills, the demonstration locomotive, which carried road number "1" hauled up to 2500 tons. The most dramatic test occurred on April 14, 1925. A Class H-10, 2-8-2 "Mikado" type steamed eastbound from the Selkirk Yard pulling a 46 car, 1691 ton, train. About 47 minutes later the Class A-1 demonstrator led a 54 car, 2296 ton, in the same direction. The demonstrator Class A-1 arrived at North Adams Junction ten minutes ahead of the Class H-10. Soon after these impressive tests, the Boston & Albany ordered forty-five of these new locomotives. Being the first railroad to use this new wheel arrangement the B&A chose to call them "Berkshire" type.
Lima put its Class A-1 demonstrator on the road and sent it across the country to sell this new class of locomotive. Wherever it went the Class A-1 established new records. This locomotive was later shipped to the Illinois Central Railroad as part of its order for fifty "Berkshires" and became Illinois Central road number 7049.
After its debut in 1925, the "Berkshire" type locomotive continued to be improved by locomotive builders and the various railroads that used them. These heavy-duty main line locomotives were used by many railroads. Notably among them were the Boston & Albany Railroad, the Chesapeake & Ohio, the Erie Railroad, the Illinois Central Railroad, the Nickel Plate Road and the Pere Marquette Railroad.
Twenty of the "Berkshire" type locomotives exist today: 2 from the Pere Marquette, 6 from the Nickel Plate Road and 12 of the C & O's 2-8-4 locomotives, which they called "Kanawhas".
There are also a number of tenders that were used on "Berkshire" type locomotives that have survived. Two are from the L&N. One was the tender from L&N number 1966 and it is now at the Southern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA and the other is the tender from L&N number 1985 and it is now at the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, KY. There is also one that was used behind the NKP 765 and then N&W 611. There is another in New Haven, IN, one in Noblesville, IN and one used with MILW 261.
Information for this introduction to Berkshires provided by Richard Duley.
|Number of Locomotives by Builder|
|Railroad||ALCO||Baldwin||Lima||Other||From Other Railroads|
|Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe||15||7 B&M|
|Boston & Albany||55|
|Boston & Maine||25|
|Chesapeake & Ohio||70||20|
|Chicago & North Western||12|
|Detroit, Toledo & Ironton||6|
|International - Great Northern||5|
|Louisville & Nashville||20||22|
|New York, Chicago & St. Louis||15||65|
|Pittsburgh & Lake Erie||7|
|Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac||10|
|Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo||2|
|Wheeling & Lake Erie||32|
|Drivers||69" dia.||69" dia.||69" dia.|
|Weight on Drivers||264,300 lbs||278,000 lbs||292,000 lbs|
|Total Locomotive Weight||440,800 lbs||436,500 lbs||460,000 lbs|
|Locomotive & Tender Weight||802,500 lbs||794,500 lbs||850,000 lbs|
|Grate Area||90.3 sq ft||90.3 sq ft||90.3 sq ft|
|Cylinders (dia x stroke)||(2) 25" x 34"||(2) 26" x 34"||(2) 26" x 34"|
|Cylinder HP||2754 HP||2979 HP||2979 HP|
|Boiler Pressure||245 psi||245 psi||245 psi|
|Tractive Effort||64,100 lbs||69,350 lbs||69,350 lbs|
|water:||22,000 gals.||22,000 gals.||gals.21,000|
|coal:||22 tons||22 tons||30 tons|
|No.||Class||F.M. Whyte||Gauge||Railroad Line||Location||Status||Builder Info||Notes|