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Grand Trunk Railway 1542
Canadian National Railways 47

Whyte System Type: 4-6-4T "Baltic tank"
Class: X-10-a Series of six, Nos. 45-50

Builder: Montreal Locomotive Works
Date Built: September 1914
Builder's Number: 54896

Cylinders (diameter x stroke in inches): 21 x 26
Boiler Pressure (in lbs. per square inch): 210
Diameter of Drive Wheels (in inches): 63
Tractive Effort (in lbs.): 32,487

Tender Capacity:
    Coal (in tons): 5
    Oil (in gallons): Not applicable
    Water (in gallons): 2,900

Weight on Drivers (in lbs.): 146,000

Remarks: Used in Montreal suburban (commuter) service.

Canadian National Railways 4-6-4T Locomotive No. 47

History: Canada's Grand Trunk Railway had been incorporated in 1853, financed by investors in Great Britain, and became for many years the largest and longest privately owned railway in Canada, operating principally in eastern Canada and controlling the Grand Trunk Western Railroad in Michigan and the Central Vermont in New England. The Canadian government, meanwhile, had become involved in financing railways by making loans in exchange for stock and had inherited other railroads as early as during the creation of the Dominion in 1867. These operated in eastern Canada under the name Canadian Government Railways. Subsequently the government acquired control of the Canadian Northern Railway, and on December 20, 1918, consolidated the two operations as Canadian National Railways, a government-owned Crown corporation. Later the government acquired and added to this corporation the Grand Trunk Railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, thus establishing by 1923 a transcontinental railway system in competition in many areas with the privately owned transcontinental, the Canadian Pacific Railway.

While the Grand Trunk Railway still rested in private hands, in 1914 the company purchased for Montreal suburban service six 4-6-4T (or 4-6-4FT) "Baltic tank" locomotives from the Montreal Locomotive Works. "Suburban" meant that this class of locomotives had been designed for and employed in the service of hauling commuters between the suburbs and a major Canadian city, in this case, Montreal, and "tank" meant that it was an engine with its tender carrying coal and water integral with the main frame of the locomotive, rather than in the form of a separate "tender" car semipermanently coupled to the locomotive; in other words, the locomotive had no tender, but instead had a tank for water and bin for coal built right onto the extended locomotive frame behind the cab where normally a tender would be coupled. For reasons unknown, this class received the type name of "Baltic tank," though the wheel arrangement, ignoring the tank aspect, was that of a Hudson type.

The suburban tank locomotive had a long history of development and use in the United States as well as in Canada, particularly around Boston, Chicago, and, more important, New York City. The New York Central operated 2-4-4Ts, the Boston and Albany and the Chicago and Northern Pacific each operated 2-6-6Ts, and even the Illinois Central operated tank locomotives in suburban service. Canada, however, and the Montreal Locomotive Works specifically, seems to have been first to develop the 4-6-4T type.

In the United States, however, the Central Railroad of New Jersey, which operated a large volume of commuter service around New York City using four-coupled locomotives, began around the turn of the century seeking heavier motive power for its suburban trains, and in 1902 and 1903 purchased from the Baldwin Locomotive Works a number of 2-6-4T locomotives that proved quite successful, but with time the need for power exceeded even their capacity, and in 1923 the Central of New Jersey had the Baldwin Locomotive Works design and build six 4-6-6T Baltic tank-type locomotives. In an article published three years later in Baldwin Locomotives, the quarterly house organ of the Baltimore Locomotive Works, Paul Warner described the characteristics of these first American 4-6-4T locomotives:


Grand Trunk Railway Locomotive No. 1542, later Canadian National Railways No. 47, served as a suburban 4-6-4T engine on commuter trains operating in the vicinity of Montreal. Today, it is the only engine of its type surviving in the United States. This series of CNR suburban engines probably inspired the design of a very similar class of 4-6-4T suburban engines purchased by the Central Railroad of New Jersey for commuter service around New York. Unfortunately, none of the American copies of this Baltic tank type of locomotive were preserved, and only this single Canadian specimen is left in the United States to represent the type.
Top, collection of Gerald Best, California State Railroad Museum Library.
Bottom, Colorado Railroad Museum Library

These locomotives were designed to traverse curves of 20 degrees, and had flanged tires on all the wheels. Both trucks were of the swing bolster pattern with three-point suspension links, the front truck being center bearing and the rear truck side bearing. The latter was placed under the tank, which was of the water-bottom type. The rear frame, on which the tank was carried, was of steel, cast in one piece with the truck center plate, draft gear housing, rear bumper and tank supports.

These locomotives used superheated steam, and the distribution was controlled by piston valves 11 inches in diameter. The Walschaerts valve gear was used in conjunction with a power reverse mechanism. . . .

The boiler was of the wagon-top type, with a wide firebox placed above the main and rear drivers. The fuel used was a mixture of anthracite and bituminous coal, and the grates were of the rocking pattern, arranged to shake in four sections. Feedwater heating equipment was applied, with a heater of the closed type placed above the smokebox in front of the stack. The smokebox shell was depressed on top, in order to keep the drum and piping within the limit of height. The feed-water pump, and also the air pump, were placed on the left side. The saving in water consumption effected by the feed-water heater has proved of special benefit to these locomotives, on account of their limited tank capacity.

While the greater part of the suburban traffic on the New Jersey Central [sic] is now being worked by locomotives with separate tenders, the double-ender tank locomotives have proved practically indispensable on certain short runs where facilities for turning the engines are lacking. The locomotives operate in either direction with equal facility, and are well liked by the enginemen.

Similar qualities characterized the earlier Canadian 4-6-4T locomotives.

In fact, the Central Railroad of New Jersey 4-6-4Ts were quite similar in appearance and some vital statistics to the earlier Grand Trunk Railway Baltic tank engines. Both types had 63-inch drive wheels and cylinders 21 inches in diameter with a 26-inch stroke. The Canadian engines carried 210 pounds per square inch of steam pressure in the boiler, compared with 200 for the Central of New Jersey engines. In appearance the locomotives were sufficiently similar that a layman might not notice subtle differences: The steps between the pilot deck and the running boards were much closer to the cylinders on the American than on the Canadian engines, and the American engine had a two-segment running board most of which was higher, over the air pumps rather than beneath them; a curved skirt beneath the cab connected with the cab steps on the Canadian locomotive that the American engines lacked; the cab window arrangement differed on the locomotives, as did the size and shape of the tender tank and coal bin; the third pair of drive wheels was spaced the same distance from the second as the second from the first on the American engine, but on the Canadian locomotive was spaced much further back; the pilot wheels of the Canadian engine were spoked, but on the American engine had solid centers; and there were many other minor differences.

Remarkably similar in appearance to the Canadian National 4-6-4T Baltic tank-type locomotives whose design they had inspired, a Central Railroad Company of New Jersey suburban tank locomotive, No. 225, hurried along with a local train outbound from Jersey City on October 4, 1936. As not a single locomotive of this type was preserved in the United States, only a Canadian stepchild of this American 4-6-4T, Canadian National Railways No. 47, exists in the United States to represent this type.
Bruce D. Fales photo, Steamtown National Historic Site

Interestingly, a year earlier than Baldwin built these well-known American Baltic tanks, in 1922, the American Locomotive Company built a single Baltic tank locomotive for singularly obscure service. The Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company was an outgrowth of a firm dating from 1860 in Tennessee that operated an extensive network of coal mines, iron ore mines, quarries, coke ovens, and blast furnaces, originally in Tennessee and later in Alabama. Most of its blast furnaces, foundries, rolling mills, and eventually steel works lay in the district around Birmingham, Alabama, in Jefferson County, though some facilities were in Tuscaloosa, Walker, Blount, and Shelby counties, Alabama, and other plants were in Franklin and Marion counties, Tennessee. The firm employed principally 0-6-0 and 0-4-0T switchers.

With the main thrust of its business moved to the western area around Birmingham, Alabama, the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company needed to provide transportation for its workers between the city and the mines. In 1922 the firm ordered from the Richmond Locomotive Works of the American Locomotive Company a single 4-6-4T locomotive to be numbered 450. The Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company placed it in service hauling a company commuter passenger tram connecting downtown Birmingham, at a depot at 14th Street and 1st Avenue, North, with company mines at Hamilton, Edgewater, Docena, Wenonah, Ishkoda, and Muscoda, Alabama, and possibly others. The Depression killed this traffic about 1932, after which the company used Locomotive No. 450 as a hostler's switcher. The Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company finally retired the locomotive and cut it up for scrap in 1945.

The Grand Trunk Railway 4-6-4T locomotives, meanwhile, continued routinely to haul commuters in and out of Montreal and to and from its suburbs. The same year that the Central Railroad of New Jersey ordered six similar locomotives, the Canadian National Railways absorbed into its roster the Grand Trunk Railway 4-6-4T locomotives, numbered 1540-1545, renumbered as 45 through 50, and in the process No 1542 became No. 47, a number it retained for the rest of its service.

Canadian National Railways Locomotive No. 47 never operated historically in the United States, until in June 1959, after the company had retired it, the Canadian National sold the locomotive for $2,000 f.o.b. Montreal to Nelson Blount's Edaville Railroad for exhibit in the United States. Blount subsequently transferred the locomotive to North Walpole, New Hampshire, and then briefly operated it on the Clarement and Concord Railroad. However, the locomotive's official records had been destroyed in a roundhouse fire on the Canadian National, and Blount could not document the condition of its flues, so the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered the locomotive retired until it could either be documented or be reflued.

This Canadian National Railways Baltic tank locomotive, built in September 1914, is the only one of its type in the United States, none of the American locomotives of this type having survived. Furthermore, as this locomotive and sisters of her class predate by the better part of a decade the one American 4-6-4T built in 1922 and the six built in 1923, it seems likely that they influenced the design of the American locomotives.

Two sister 4-6-4T locomotives of the same class survive in Canada, No. 46 at Longueuil, Quebec, and No. 49 in the Canadian Railway Museum at Delson, Quebec.

Canadian National Railways locomotive diagram

Condition: Canadian National Railways Locomotive No. 47 reportedly is in fairly good condition and could be made operable with an overhaul, probably involving reflueing of the boiler.

Recommendation: This locomotive is the only 4-6-4T Baltic tank locomotive in the United States and a rare surviving example of a suburban locomotive of which no American-made examples exist. The NPS should commission a report on the subject of this locomotive; the report should be exhaustively researched in the Montreal region to ascertain what changes in appearance and fabric may have taken place over the career of this locomotive. The report should then recommend whether to restore this as a Canadian National locomotive or a Grand Trunk Railway locomotive. At the minimum, it should be restored cosmetically for exhibit purposes indoors, and, if feasible, it should be restored mechanically to operable condition, and operated occasionally for interpretive purposes.

Canadian National Railways Condensed Schedule, from a November 5, 1951 timetable.


Canadian National Railway Form CNR-41 11/11-58, Sales Order No. S-19802 & 3, Montreal, Quebec, June 17, 1959.

A Catalogue . . . Descriptive of Simple and Compound Locomotives Built by the Brooks Locomotive Works, Dunkirk, N.Y., U.S.A. Dunkirk: Brooks Locomotive Works, 1899: 214, 215.

Clegg, Anthony, and Ray Corley. Canadian National Steam Power. Montreal: Trains and Trolleys, 1969: 24-26, 66-67.

Dorin, Patrick C. Commuter Railroads: A Pictorial Review of the Most Travelled Railroads. New York: Bonanza Books, 1967: 67.

Kerr, O.M. Illustrated Treasury of the American Locomotive Company. n.p.: A Delta Publication, n.d.

Lawson, Thomas. Letter to author, Nov. 9, 1988.

Locomotive Cyclopedia of American Practice, 1925. New York: Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corp., 1925: 193.

Official Steamtown Locomotive Guide, Vol. 1 -- 1970 . Bellows Falls. Vt.: Steamtown Foundation for the Preservation of Steam and Railroad Americana, Inc., 1970, n.p.: page on CNR No. 47.

Staufer, Alvin F. Steam Power of the New York Central System. n.p.: Alvin F. Staufer, 1961: 178-179.

Warner, Paul. "Locomotive Development on the Central Railroad of New Jersey." Baldwin Locomotives, Vol. 8, No. 1 (July 1926): 11-13.

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Last Updated: 14-Feb-2002