McCloud River 2-6-2 "Prairie" Locomotives in the USA

On January 21, 1897 the McCloud River Railroad Company and the McCloud River Lumber Company were formed, both operated and owned by the same individuals. They commenced operations relying almost entirely on locomotives leased from the Central Pacific. The railroad bought an 1891-built 2-6-0 from the California Railway, a new 3-truck Heisler locomotive #2 and a much smaller 2-truck Heisler #3 that had been sold to a Washington logger and rejected.

Needing more powerful locomotives, McCloud asked Baldwin for quotes on a road locomotive weighing in at 50 tons or less. The railroad's original mainline between McCloud and the CP connection contained three switchbacks, and because of that Baldwin suggested designs for a small Prairie, similar to machines they built for southern loggers in the previous two years. McCloud accepted the proposal, resulting in the #4. McCloud River eventually owned a total of 11 Prairies, all purchased new.


Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 10 (Locobase 12488)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University Vol 23, p. 249. Thanks to Stephen Low for his 10 November 2017 email correcting the Locobase number for the earlier engines.) Works number was 18674 in February 1901.

Fitted with a slightly larger boiler than the the 8-9 that preceded it (Locobase 12466), the 10 served the McCloud for more than 3 decades. In June 1935, the 10 went to the Yreka Western, where it operated until scrapped in 1944.


Class 11 (Locobase 16316)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University Volume 23, p. 263. Thanks to Stephen Low for his 10 November 2017 email advisiing Locobase that he didn't offer an entry for the 11.) Works number was 23875 in March 1904.

The 11 was an odd duck among all of the McCloud Prairie logging wood-burners, chiefly because it was a Vauclain compound. The HP and LP cylinders on each side of the smokebox were cast as a single unit and both were supplied through a single 10 1/2" (267 mm) diameter piston valve. It was also larger than any of the earlier McClouds. But it still had the relatively squat spark-arresting stack.

Steve Low summarized the 11's career as follows:"Purchase price $14,000, plus $1,974.57 freight. Electric headlight 4/1919; fire extinguishers 8/1920. Authorization for Expenditure to retire locomotive issued 11/30/1925, Retirement effected 12/1925." Notice that the engine apparently retained its compound setup for its relatively short career.

To W.S. Zimmerman (dealer/scrapper in Portland, OR) 1926 and moved to Portland circa 1929 leased by Consolidated Timber for use in Tillamook Fire salvage logging efforts. Scrapped 1939."


Class 20 (Locobase 15310)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University Volume 73, p. 311. (Thanks to Stephen Low for his 10 November 2017 email noting the error in the "1st built" field, and for his additional comments on the design.) Works numbers were 57617-57618 in January 1924.

These superheated oil-burning logging Prairies had a useful amount of superheater area. Their cylinders were served by 9 1/2 in (241 mm) piston valves. Steve Low gives Baldwin's price for "purchase, freight, and break-in costs" for the 20 ($27,082.96) and the 21 ($27,079.16)

The pair served the McCRR for over thirty years before being retired. They were sold for scrap on 23 November 1955. Both went directly to Purdy Company to be scrapped, but 21's tender served a while longer on the Stockton, Terminal & Eastern Railroad trailing the #3 (Locobase 14940) (The 3 had been produced to virtually identical specs and delivered to the Humboldt Northern in 1922.)


Class 24 (Locobase 16318)

Data from American Locomotive Company Builder's Card Order No. S-519, December 1925. (Thanks to Stephen Low for his 10 November 2017 email sending the builder's card and an account of the 24 and 25's histories.) Works numbers were 66434-66435 in October 1925.

A little over a year after Baldwin produced two superheated Prairies (Baldwin 15310), Alco delivered the first of two pairs of similar engines. The first two--Alco works numbers 66316-66317 in June 1925)--had the same power dimensions and engine weight as the Baldwins.

But the second pair, (Alco order number S-1519), which arrived about six months later, showed a distinctly different design approach to McCloud's requirements. A cylinder volume increase more than offset a 2" (50.8 mm) addition in driver diameter, giving a significant boost to starting tractive effort. Grate area--not a key variable in oil-burning locomotives--also grew with the firebox, whose heating surface area increased by about 40%. At the same time, evaporative heating surface area and superheater surface area shrank as 20" was lopped off each tube and flue. The adhesion wheelbase increased by 3" (76.2 mm) and engine wheelbase lengthened by 10" (254 mm).


Class 8 (Locobase 12466)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University Vol 23, p. 186. See http://www.mccloudriverrailroad.com/ for information on the railroad. (Thanks to Stephen Low for his 10 November 2017 email and Word doc giving details of the McCloud's locomotives.) Works numbers were 18595-18596 in January 1901.

Logging railroads such as the McCloud River needed locomotives with several axles to spread the weight over lightly built right of way. Thus the Prairie arrangement, often seen as an express passenger layout, appeared on dozens of logging engines. The Baldwin specs for this pair noted that they were to face ruling grades of 4% and curves of 383-ft (10-deg).

Steve Low provided detailed summaries of this duo's service history, which Locobase opts to repeat verbatim. For the 8, he notes: "Purchase price $9,250, plus $1,427.40 freight. Electric headlight 11/1918; fire extinguishers 8/1920; fire pump 2/1923. Retired 3/29/1934."

For the 9, Low says: "Purchase price $9,250, plus $1,403 freight. Electric headlight 11/1919; fire pump 3/1920; converted to oil 7/1921. Retired 3/29/1934. ". That is, same purchase price, but a slight reduction in the freight cost

The 8 remained with the McCloud River until January 1939, when it was sold to the Amador Central as their #7. The 9 went to the Yreka Railroad (later the Yreka Western) in December 1939. It joined the 7 on the AC in January 19420. Tom Correa sent an email to steamlocomotive.com in December 2012 telling us that the 7's nickname on the AC was "Iron Ivan".

Gene Connelly's list shows that Iron Ivan remained on the AC until December 1960, when it was donated to the California Chamber of Commerce, which put it on display outside of a police station.

9 took a different route, leaving the AC in April 1944 to work for the Nezperce & Idaho, a Lewiston, Ida based shortline that began as the Lewiston, Nezperce & Eastern in 1908 and was reorganized as the N&I in 1917. Its main line linked Craigmont to Nezperce 13.4 miles (21.6 km) away. (See "It's a short line, but a long story" published originally in the Lewiston Morning Tribune in 1961 and archived at [] . and Dan Butler "Railroads of the Camas Prairie,"The Pacific Northwest Forum

Volume 8, Numbers 2-3 (Spring-Summer, 1983), Pages 39-48), archived at []).

The Nezperce sold the 9 to Richard Hinebaugh in January 1966, who included it on the roster of the Kettle Moraine Railway in North Lake, Wisconsin. Known as the Sequoia, , the 9 operated until it boiler ran out of time in 2001. Steve Low corrected a statement (made by many sources, he adds) that the 9 was donated to the National Railroad Museum. Instead, he reports, the non-operating locomotive remained on the KM until 2015, when it was sold to the Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugar Creek, Ohio.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Class101120248
Locobase ID12,488 16,316 15,310 16,318 12,466
RailroadMcCloud RiverMcCloud RiverMcCloud RiverMcCloud RiverMcCloud River
CountryUSAUSAUSAUSAUSA
Whyte2-6-22-6-22-6-22-6-22-6-2
Number in Class11122
Road Numbers101120-2124-258-9
GaugeStdStdStdStdStd
Number Built11122
BuilderBurnham, Williams & CoBurnham, Williams & CoBaldwinAlco-SchenectadyBurnham, Williams & Co
Year19011904192419251901
Valve GearStephensonStephensonWalschaertWalschaertStephenson
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m) 7.67 / 2.348 / 2.44 9.50 / 2.90 9.75 / 2.97 7.67 / 2.34
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)23.83 / 7.2623.83 / 7.2624.83 / 7.5725.67 / 7.8223.83 / 7.26
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.32 0.34 0.38 0.38 0.32
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)47.54 / 14.4948.54 / 14.7952.48 / 16
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)82,000 / 37,195110,000 / 49,895106,000 / 48,081119,000 / 53,97882,000 / 37,195
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)107,000 / 48,534147,000 / 66,678132,000 / 59,874147,000 / 66,678107,000 / 48,534
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)50,000 / 22,68070,000 / 22,68086,000 / 39,00987,800 / 39,82550,000 / 22,680
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)157,000 / 71,214217,000 / 89,358218,000 / 98,883234,800 / 106,503157,000 / 71,214
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)2500 / 9.473500 / 9.474000 / 15.154000 / 15.152500 / 9.47
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)1800 / 6.801800 / 6.80
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)46 / 2361 / 30.5059 / 29.5066 / 3346 / 23
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)44 / 111844 / 111846 / 116846 / 116844 / 1118
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)160 / 11200 / 13.80185 / 12.80180 / 12.40160 / 11
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)16" x 24" / 406x61012" x 24" / 305x61017" x 24" / 432x61019" x 24" / 483x61016" x 24" / 406x610
Low Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)22" x 24" / 559x610
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)18,991 / 8614.1820,582 / 9335.8523,711 / 10755.1428,817 / 13071.1918,991 / 8614.18
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.32 5.34 4.47 4.13 4.32
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)122.70 / 11.40117 / 10.87104 / 9.66147 / 13.66114 / 10.59
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)16 / 1.4930 / 2.7921 / 1.9530.20 / 2.8116 / 1.49
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1562 / 145.171977 / 183.671342 / 124.671242 / 115.381499 / 139.31
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)292 / 27.13266 / 24.71
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1562 / 145.171977 / 183.671634 / 151.801508 / 140.091499 / 139.31
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume279.68629.30212.85157.70268.39
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation25606000388554362560
Same as above plus superheater percentage25606000458464142560
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area19,63223,40022,70331,22318,240
Power L14570355910,10076594347
Power MT368.60213.99630.19425.68350.62

  • 4 (Builder's photo, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 4 (circa 1938 Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 4 (Postcard, Jeff Moore collection, courtesy Steve Low)
  • 4 (Jeff Moore collection, courtesy Steve Low)
  • 8 (Builder's photo, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 8 (T E Glover collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 9 (May 4, 1937 photo, T E Glover collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 9 (Log train photo, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 10 (Builder's photo, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 11 (Builder's photo, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 11 (Sep 5, 1937 photo, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 20 + 14 (Triple header, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 20 (Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 21 (Sep 8, 1947 photo, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 22 (Sep 13, 1948 Pondosa photo, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 23 (T E Glover collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 24 (Builder's photo, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 25 (1960s fan trip, Bartle, Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
  • 25 (Jeff Moore collection courtesy Steve Low)
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