Canadian Government Railways 2854
Whyte System Type: 2-8-2 "Mikado"
Builder: Canadian Locomotive Company, Kingston Works
Cylinders (diameter x stroke in inches): 27 x 30
Weight on Drivers (in lbs.): 277,500 (also reported as 209,970)
Remarks: Acquired from Gettysburg Railroad in 1987 in purchase/trade for Canadian Pacific Railway 4-6-2 No. 1278 plus $100,000. Engine is operable.
Canadian National Railways 2-8-2 Locomotive No. 3254
History: Locomotive No. 3254, a "Mikado" type, often known colloquially as a "Mike," rolled out of the Canadian Locomotive Company's works at Kingston, Ontario, for use on the Canadian Government Railways in 1917 as No. 2854. With the power of the public treasury behind it, Canadian Government Railways was assembling a large stable of modern motive power in 1917 that included 2-8-0s, 2-8-2s, 4-6-2s, and 2-10-2s, despite the fact that Canada had for three years been fully engaged in World War I against the Central Powers as a Dominion under the British Crown. Furthermore, Canadian Government Railways characteristically ordered locomotives built with enclosed "all-weather" cabs to provide the engine crew protection against the harsh Canadian winters, so these locomotives constituted the latest in motive power of their types.
Canadian Government Railways had a very brief existence. Canada had a long tradition of government ownership of railways, both provincial and federal (Dominion) ownership, mostly in eastern Canada, though Canada also had many privately owned and operated railroads. But on April 1, 1916, the Dominion government consolidated five of its railways under a new government-owned entity, the Canadian Government Railways: they were the Intercolonial Railway with 1,527 miles of main line, the Transcontinental Railway, the Prince Edward Island Railway with 276 miles of narrow gauge, the 36-1/2-mile New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Railway, and the National Transcontinental with 1,814 miles of track extending west to Winnipeg. In May 1917, the Canadian Government Railways bought Class S-1-b 2-8-2 No. 2854, among others of its type, and that same year went on to add the International Railway of New Brunswick, and in 1918, the company swallowed the Elgin and Havelock Railway's 26 miles, the 30 miles of the Moncton and Buctouche Railway, the St. Martin's Railway's 28 miles, the 44.77-mile Salisbury and Albert Railway, and the mere 6-mile-long York and Carleton Railway. All of these lines lay east of Montreal except for the main line from Quebec to Winnipeg, Manitoba. A bit later the Caraquet Railway joined Canadian Government Railways, bringing 68 miles of main line into the system. By March 31, 1919, the company owned 767 locomotives, 725 passenger train cars, 26,878 freight cars, and 728 service cars. But its brief existence neared termination.
On September 6, 1918, the Dominion government appointed a new board of directors for its newly acquired, though privately built and operated, Canadian Northern Railway, and recognized that it needed to combine this new acquisition west of Lake Superior on the prairies with its lines east of Montreal that constituted the Canadian Government Railways. On November 20, 1918, the Canadian government assigned the new Canadian Northern directorate responsibility for administering the Canadian Government Railways, and on December 20, 1918, an Order-in-Council directed the board henceforth to refer to both systems as the Canadian National Railways. Thus, the Canadian Government Railways, large as the system was, lasted as a distinct entity for less than three years, although consolidation of the two systems did not begin until March 31, 1919, and the amalgamation was not legally complete until January 20, 1923.
The operational history of this Class S-1-b Mikado is not known, but the locomotive received its last shopping, class 3 repairs, at Allendale, Ontario, in February 1958. Canadian National probably retired the locomotive then or shortly thereafter and put it in storage.
In November 1961, Willis F. Barron of Ashland, Pennsylvania, purchased the locomotive with the intention of operating it, apparently on a Reading branch that served Ashland, but by the time he was able to move the locomotive, the Reading Company had abandoned and dismantled the branch. Barron had to dismantle the locomotive into its major components--frame and wheels, boiler, cab, tender--and truck it into Ashland where he apparently reassembled the locomotive on the grounds of his Ashland Court Motel, but he never bolted the parts together; the cab, for example, simply sat in place, held by its own weight. With his plans for operating the locomotive dismantled along with the nearby Reading branch, he sold the locomotive to the Adirondack Railroad near Lake Placid, New York, but that outfit never completed paying for the locomotive, and consequently never took delivery.
In 1982, the Gettysburg Railroad purchased No. 3254 from Barron and trucked it, again broken down into major components, along with one or more passenger cars Barron had owned, to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The Gettysburg Railroad operated some 25 miles of track between Gettysburg and Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania, which had once been the Reading Company's Gettysburg-Harrisburg Branch. One of the recent trends in American railroading has been the bankruptcy and collapse of a number of major railroad systems, the Reading among them, and the practice of entirely new small firms of private entrepreneurs, often railroad enthusiasts at heart, purchasing abandoned but not yet dismantled sections of main or branch lines and placing them back into revenue service using diesel-electric locomotives, in many cases hauling diesel-powered passenger excursions and, in some cases, acquiring steam locomotives and operating summer steam passenger excursions. The Gettysburg Railroad, among these, resumed common-carrier freight service between Gettysburg and Mount Holly Springs on October 15, 1976, and, after a few special passenger excursions, began regular passenger excursion service in May 1978. Eventually the company acquired a 2-8-0, No. 76, from the Mississippian Railway, to enable it to offer steam-powered excursions, and in 1982 it purchased Canadian National No. 3254.
The latter locomotive, once overhauled, reassembled, and placed in service, did not really meet the Gettysburg Railroad's excursion needs, for it was too large and too heavy a locomotive.
In the summer of 1987, however, the Steamtown Foundation, operating an excursion line from Scranton toward Pocono Summit, Pennsylvania, did need just such a locomotive. At that time the Steamtown Foundation needed an operable, heavy-duty locomotive. The time required to do the repair work on suitable Steamtown motive power was not available, and while the foundation at that time had a fair amount of money, it was out of time, and had to run diesel motive power on its supposed-to-be-steam excursion train. Consequently, Steamtown traded Canadian Pacific Railway 4-6-2 No. 1278 plus $100,000 for the Gettysburg Railway's operable Canadian National Railway No. 3254. The Gettysburg Railroad got a fairly light Pacific-type locomotive suitable to their needs, and the Steamtown Foundation got a fairly heavy Mikado suitable, though not really a passenger engine, for their heavier duty needs.
The Steamtown Foundation lettered its new acquisition "Lackawanna" in honor of the original builder of the railroad on which it now was to operate, and gave it the fictional number 1271, which would have been the number assigned to the last Lackawanna Mikado had the Lackawanna owned one more engine of that class than it did: the last Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Mikado had been No. 1270. In the transformation of the Canadian engine into a "Lackawanna" engine, the Steamtown shop removed the raised numbers 3254 under the cab windows, removed the distinctively Canadian National angled number boards from on top of the smokebox, replacing them with headlight number boards apparently from a Delaware, Lackawanna & Western electric car, and otherwise changed the appearance of the locomotive to represent more closely that of a true Lackawanna 2-8-2. In August 1987, the 1271 went into service hauling the Steamtown passenger excursion so that Canadian Pacific Locomotive No. 2317 could enter the Scranton Shops for repairs.
No. 3254 (a.k.a. 1271) is the only S-1-b class Mikado preserved, but a somewhat similar locomotive of predecessor class S-1-a, No. 3239, built two years earlier than No. 3254, is preserved by the Canadian Railway Museum at Delson, Quebec.
Condition: Locomotive No. 3254 is an operable locomotive, subject to the usual running repairs and periodic inspection and overhaul.
Recommendation: Canadian National Railways Locomotive No. 3254 is a historic locomotive that should be preserved and could be used to operate an excursion train. The Steamtown collection does not include any American Mikado type 2-8-2 locomotives, but counting Canadian National No. 3377, it has two Canadian Mikados. Until Steamtown National Historic Site can acquire an American 2-8-2, it should retain these two Canadian Mikados as representative of that wheel arrangement. This report leans toward No. 3377 as the later and less altered of the two Mikados to become a museum exhibit locomotive, rather than 3254, which can be used in passenger excursion service.
Clegg, Anthony, and Ray Corley. Canadian National Steam Power. Montreal: Trains & Trolleys, 1969: 27, 91.
Cornell, Jim. Telephone interview with author, Jan. 8, 1991.
"Railnews," Railfan and Railroad. Vol. 6, No. 11 (Sept. 1987): 32, 33.
"Railnews," Railfan and Railroad. Vol. 6, No. 13 (Nov. 1987): 38-39.
Steam Passenger Service Directory, 1989. Richmond, Vermont: Locomotive & Railway Preservation, 1989: 17.
Last Updated: 14-Feb-2002