Canadian National 4-6-0 No. 1551

Builder:Montreal Locomotive Works – Montreal, Quebec
Built:April 1912
Serial Number:#50778
Wheel Arrangement:4-6-0 Ten-Wheeler
Driver Diameter:63″
Cylinder Bore x Stroke:22″ x 26″
Boiler Pressure:180 psi
Pulling Power:30,560 lbs. tractive effort
Engine Weight:86.5 tons
Length:63′ 6″
Capacity:Coal – 10 tons; Water – 5,000 gallons

Constructed the same month as the sinking of the Titanic, 4-6-0 No. 1551 rolled out of the Montreal Locomotive Works as Canadian Northern Railway No. 1354 in April of 1912. In 1923, it became the property of the unified Canadian National Railway system after Canadian Northern and a number of other railroads were consolidated into the CN. Number 1354 and its sisters were lightweight locomotives designed to haul both passenger and freight trains, and No. 1354 spent years assigned to the Montreal commuter engine pool. In 1956 this 4-6-0 was renumbered 1551, and ran out its last miles on a branch line in Barrie, Ontario before being retired in 1958.

F. Nelson Blount acquired No. 1551 for his fledgling Steamtown U.S.A. Museum, and after his 1967 death the extensive collection of steamers was moved from Vermont to the museum’s new home in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In 1986, Jerry Jacobson acquired No. 1551 in trade for his Jackson Iron & Steel 0-6-0 No. 3, which originally had been the shop switcher at the Baldwin Locomotive Works (it now operates at Steamtown in Scranton lettered and numbered as BLW No. 26).

Jerry and a small crew set to work on repairing the No. 1551 in Austintown, Ohio, and it first steamed in 1988. At nearly the same time, Jerry closed on the purchase of a 70-mile long, former N&W line between Harmon and Zanesville, which he renamed the Ohio Central Railroad. Almost immediately, Jerry began operating steam tourist passenger trains on the seven-mile trek between Sugar Creek and Baltic. Hundreds of thousands of visitors rode behind No. 1551, and the engine set the stage for Jerry’s steam collection to grow over the following years.

After logging many miles on the OC, No. 1551 was parked in 2003 in need of a number of repairs. Today the “engine that started it all” rests in the Age of Steam Roundhouse, awaiting a trip to the backshop for another overhaul and return to operation.