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Wabash Railroad No. 132 locomotive


Wabash Railroad 132
Norfolk and Western Railway 3132

Whyte System Type: 0-4-4-0
A.A.R. Type: B-B
Class: D-8 Model SW-8

Builder: Electro-Motive Division, General Motors Corporation, La Grange, Ill.
Date Built: February 1953
Builder's Number: 17593

Cylinders (diameter x stroke in inches): 8-1/2 x 10 (eight)

Boiler Pressure (in lbs. per square inch): Not applicable

Diameter of Drive Wheels (in inches): 40

Tractive Effort (in lbs.): Horsepower: 800

Tender Capacity:

Coal (in tons): Not applicable
Oil (in gallons): 600
Water (in gallons):

Weight on Drivers (in lbs.): 232,100

Remarks: This SW-8, 800-horsepower diesel-electric locomotive featured a Model 8-567B 45 degree "V"-form engine.

Wabash Railroad SW-8 B-B Switching Locomotive No. 132

History: The Wabash Railroad after World War II consisted of an Ohio company incorporated September 2, 1937, to reorganize a bankrupt Wabash Railway; on March 15, 1941, it completed a reorganization plan for the purpose, and soon the booming World War II traffic helped the company back to solvency.

The oldest antecedent of the Wabash was the Northern Cross Railroad, chartered about 1837 to run from Quincy, Ohio, to the Indiana state line. This grew into the Toledo, Wabash & Western Railway, whose 678 miles of track its management reorganized in 1877 as the Wabash Railway Company. Two years later it merged with the St. Louis, Kansas City & Northern Railway that added 778 miles west of the Mississippi to the new firm, now named the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway. By 1889, the railroad had grown to about 3,518 miles of track, at which time it reorganized yet again, this time emerging as the Wabash Railroad Company.

Bankruptcy of this company about 1915 resulted in sale under foreclosure on July 21 of that year and its reorganization on October 22, 1915, as the Wabash Railway Company. It was this company that went into bankruptcy during the Depression.

After World War II, the Wabash Railroad Company commenced, in 1949, its program of fully replacing steam with diesel-electric locomotives. At that time it owned two diesel passenger locomotives and 40 diesel switchers. The Wabash retired its last steam locomotive from service on August 11, 1955, completing conversion to diesel motive power. By December 31, 1961, the company had 322 diesel units, including 22 passenger, 141 freight, 53 road switchers, and 106 switchers, representing an investment of $47,000,000. At that time the railroad operated in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa a total of 1,995.11 miles of main line, with trackage rights over 424 more. The east-west main line extended from Buffalo, New York, westward north of Lake Erie to St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, with other main lines to Chicago, Toledo, Des Moines, and Omaha. By 1961 a Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary owned a controlling 62 percent of Wabash stock.

Among the 106 diesel switchers the Wabash had acquired, nine were EMD Model SW-8 800- horsepower diesel-electrics that the Wabash classed as D-6 type. Numbered among the series 120 through 132, along with some locomotives from another builder, the first two of these came out of the Electro-Motive Division Shop in October 1950, two in September 1951, and the last five in February 1953. One of the last group, possibly No. 132, photographed in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 27, 1965, is believed to be the locomotive now at Steamtown. Rated at 800 horsepower at 800 revolutions per minute, this was a standard "BB" or two four-wheeled-truck switching locomotive.

On October 15, 1964, the Wabash Railroad merged with the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (the "Nickel Plate Road") and the Norfolk and Western Railway under the name of the latter. In the reorganized motive power roster of the Norfolk and Western, No. 132 is believed to have become No. 3132.

Like the Wabash, the Nickel Plate Road had a long history in the 19th century, and also like the Wabash, had been in and out of reorganizations symbolized, as often was the case, by the change in the last word of the railway's name from "railroad' to "railway" and vice versa through the years. The New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railway of the 19th century went into bankruptcy in the depression of the 1880s, and on May 19, 1887 was sold to investors who on September 17, 1887, incorporated the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. The New York Central owned a controlling block of stock for many years, until on July 6, 1916, the New York Central sold the Nickel Plate to interests represented by the brothers O. P. and M. J. Van Sweringen. The Van Sweringens reorganized the company as the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, resurrecting the pre-1887 name, in April 1923 in order to swallow a number of subsidiary railroads. The Nickel Plate Road operated trains from Buffalo, New York, to St. Louis, Missouri, touching at Wheeling, West Virginia; Chicago and Peoria, Illinois; Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Muncie, Indiana; and Canton, Cleveland, Toledo, and Zanesville, Ohio.

Under an Interstate Commerce Commission plan for nationwide railroad consolidation, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad obtained control of the New York, Chicago & St. Louis, but disposed of that control in 1947. For a while, in connection with the Erie-Lackawanna, the Nickel Plate offered the shortest rail route from Buffalo to St. Louis.

Similarly, the Norfolk and Western Railway had played corporate musical chairs with its name, though not as many times as the Nickel Plate. The old railroad had gone under during the depression of the Gay Nineties, a Norfolk and Western Railway having emerged on September 24, 1896. It operated 2,747.56 miles of track from Norfolk, Virginia, west through the soft coal fields of West Virginia on to Columbus, Ohio, with branches to Hagerstown, Maryland; Norton, Virginia; Winston-Salem and Durham, North Carolina; Bristol, Tennessee; and Cincinnati, Ohio. During the late 1950s, the N&W dieselized faster than any other Class 1 railroad in the United States, and in a mere five years dropped the fires forever on one of the most modern fleets of steam locomotives in the United States.

The Interstate Commerce Commission consolidation plan assigned the Norfolk and Western Railway to the Pennsylvania Railroad group, under whose control the N&W fell for a number of years. On May 14, 1959, the N&W merged the proud old Virginian Railway into its system, and another famed railway name vanished from the pages of the Official Guide.

By the end of 1961, the company had 576 diesel-electric locomotives (and 19 electric from the old Virginian). On March 17 of that year, the Norfolk and Western Railway filed an application with the Interstate Commerce Commission, asking sanction for a merger of the N&W and the Nickel Plate Road. What emerged on October 16, 1964, was the merger of the Norfolk & Western not only with the New York, Chicago & St. Louis, but also with the Wabash and the Pittsburgh and West Virginia, the enlarged company to operate under the Norfolk and Western Railway name. Thus, more names of major railroads faded from the pages of American industrial history.

The history of the little SW-8 switching locomotive built in February 1953 has not been researched, but its character limited it pretty much to the role of yard switcher. In 1983, the N&W renumbered it 3732 to avoid numbers conflicting with those of an SD-45. Whether the merged company used it much, or moved it to serve elsewhere than St. Louis, if in fact that was its home station, is unknown. Nor does the record indicate its later disposition until in 1987 it came to Steamtown, where the Steamtown Foundation repainted it in Lackawanna colors and gave it the number 500, a fictional number and color scheme for a locomotive that had no historic connection with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad.

Condition: This locomotive is repairable for use in switching.Recommendation: When required, this diesel-electric switcher will prove useful around the Scranton railroad yard, for a diesel can be started much more easily than a cold steam switcher can be steamed up. It should be repainted in its original Wabash color and lettering scheme.

Wabash Railroad locomotive diagram
A Wabash Railroad locomotive diagram provided the statistics on Class D8 EMD SW-8 diesels in 1963.


Dover, Don. "All About SW's." Extra 2200 South: The Locomotive Newsmagazine, Vol. 9, No. 12, (July-Aug. 1973): 20-25.

_______, and George Berghoff. "Wabash Railroad: All Time Diesel Roster." Extra 2200 South: The Locomotive Newsmagazine, Vol. 14, No. 1 (April-May-June 1990): 17-29.

Dressler, Thomas D. "Norfolk & Western Diesels." Railroad Model Craftsman, Part 1, Vol. 38, No. 11 (Apr. 1970): 19-24; Part II, Vol. 38, No. 12 (May 1970): 21-24.

Heimburger, Donald J. Wabash. River Forest: Heimburger House Publishing Company, 1984: 119, 120, 260.

Moody's Transportation Manual, 1962. New York: Moody's Investors' Services, Inc., 1962: 65-68, 841-856, 1135-1147.

Poor's Manual of Railroads, 1920. New York: Poor's Publishing Company, 1920: 908-910, 1427-1432.

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Last Updated: 14-Feb-2002