Skagit 2-6-2 "Prairie" Locomotives in the USA

Class Details by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media

Class 6 (Locobase 15489)

Data from Baldwin Locomotive Works Specification for Engines as digitized by the DeGolyer Library of Southern Methodist University, Vol 80, p. 415. See also Charles E Benjamin, "History of the Incline: Up and Down on the Incline Scene", Trolley Fare (September/October 1987), archived at the Seattle City Light website at [], last accessed 17 October 2013; and Brian J Cantwell, "Singed-at-the-edges Newhalem can't shake aroma from North Cascades fire", Seattle Times (23 September 2015), archived at, last accessed 31 March 2019. (Thanks to Jacob Woods for his 9 January 2019 email adding further information about the 6's later career.) Works number was 60440 in July 1928.

The 6 supported several Seattle City Light water projects in the Skagit River Valley that lay 140 miles (225 km) northeast of the big city. The railway used an incline, electric power in the steepest sections, a car ferry, winch, and steam power from Rockport Junction on the Great Northern to two sites: the Gorge powerhouse and the dam at Newhalem, Wash.

The 6--the Skagit's only steamer--rode on the last of the modes from 1928 to 1954 when the railroad was abandoned. Proportioned like a logging engine, this oil-burning, superheated Prairie had 8" (203 mm) piston valves. Maximum curvature was a relatively high 35 degrees (radii of 135 feet), but ruling grades came to only 1.2% compensated, although there were short grades of 4%. 6 provided the railway's passenger power for both the workers on the projects and for the excursions that took tourists to sample the dramatic views.

After the Skagit closed, the 6 was preserved in Newhalem. In 1973, a short-lived excursion road built a shed in Concrete, WA to house the 6 during its restoration, but never had the funds to complete the project.

Jacob Woods' email reported the 6's further adventures: "6 was restored operated from the shed at Concrete for just short of a decade. Eventually the BN Crews and Management in the GN Line from Concrete had a falling out with the 6's operators and coupled with the financial situation, 6 was parked in the shed. Seattle City Light eventually worked to get her returned to the park, properly sealed up for the future (chimney cap and safety valve covers)."

As of 2013, the 6 remained on display in Newhalem.

Principal Dimensions by Steve Llanso of Sweat House Media
Locobase ID15,489
Number in Class1
Road Numbers6
Number Built1
Valve GearWalschaert
Locomotive Length and Weight
Driver Wheelbase (ft / m) 9.33 / 2.84
Engine Wheelbase (ft / m)26.75 / 8.15
Ratio of driving wheelbase to overall engine wheebase 0.35
Overall Wheelbase (engine & tender) (ft / m)48.33 / 14.73
Axle Loading (Maximum Weight per Axle) (lbs / kg)
Weight on Drivers (lbs / kg)105,000 / 47,627
Engine Weight (lbs / kg)134,000 / 60,781
Tender Loaded Weight (lbs / kg)75,000 / 34,019
Total Engine and Tender Weight (lbs / kg)209,000 / 94,800
Tender Water Capacity (gals / ML)3500 / 13.26
Tender Fuel Capacity (oil/coal) (gals/tons / ML/MT)1500 / 5.70
Minimum weight of rail (calculated) (lb/yd / kg/m)58 / 29
Geometry Relating to Tractive Effort
Driver Diameter (in / mm)44 / 1118
Boiler Pressure (psi / kPa)170 / 11.70
High Pressure Cylinders (dia x stroke) (in / mm)18" x 24" / 457x610
Tractive Effort (lbs / kg)25,537 / 11583.40
Factor of Adhesion (Weight on Drivers/Tractive Effort) 4.11
Heating Ability
Firebox Area (sq ft / m2)114 / 10.59
Grate Area (sq ft / m2)28.15 / 2.62
Evaporative Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)1706 / 158.49
Superheating Surface (sq ft / m2)378 / 35.12
Combined Heating Surface (sq ft / m2)2084 / 193.61
Evaporative Heating Surface/Cylinder Volume241.35
Computations Relating to Power Output (More Information)
Robert LeMassena's Power Computation4786
Same as above plus superheater percentage5647
Same as above but substitute firebox area for grate area22,868
Power L110,014
Power MT630.77

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Wes Barris