The Great Northern took delivery of its first fifteen Mountain (4-8-2) type locomotives from the Lima Locomotive Works in 1914 (#1750-#1764). Designated Class P-1 and originally intended to haul passenger trains, they proved too slow on the railroad's 2.2% grades over the Cascades and were soon transferred to freight service. In 1928, they were rebuilt as 2-10-2 Santa Fe types.
The GN took delivery of another twenty-eight Mountain type locomotives from Baldwin in 1923 (#2500-#2527). Designated Class P-2, they were considerably larger and heavier than the P-1s. Designed to haul the crack Minneapolis, MN-Seattle, WA, Oriental Limited, ten were coal burners, including #2523, and handled the Oriental east of Cut Bank, MT. The other eighteen were oil burners and operated further west.
The locomotives could haul ten to twelve heavyweight passenger cars at 18 mph on the 1.8% ruling grade eastbound up Walton Hill just before Marais Pass, MT, and their success led to the inauguration of the GN's Chicago, IL-Seattle, WA, Empire Builder service in 1929, although the P-2s were soon replaced by the heavier and more powerful Northern (4-8-4) type S-2s.
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In 1946, #2523 was converted to an oil burner.
Left, the locomotive's Vanderbilt type tender weighs 305,950 lbs
light and has a capacity of 5,800 gallons of oil and 15,000 gallons of water. Overall length (tender and engine) is 94' 6¼".
The last ten P-2s had 89 sq ft of thermic syphons in place of arch tubes, increasing the direct heating surface to 447 sq ft and evaporative surface to 5,018 sq ft.
#2523 operated a boiler pressure of 210 psi.
Right, a view of the backhead.
The GN continued to tinker with the P-2s. The central thermic syphon was later replaced with arch tubes and the boiler tube count cut to 217, reducing the evaporative surface to 4,850 sq ft.
Taking account of these various changes, at the end of its operating life, #2523 weighed 388,700 lbs,
265,600 lbs on its 73" drivers. It has 29" x 28" cylinders, a driver wheelbase of 19' and total engine wheelbase of 41' 7".
Below, the Delta trailing truck was built by Commonwealth Steel.
Left, #2523 is
equipped with a Worthington Feedwater heater, below, front mounted air pumps and, bottom, Walschaert valve gear.
The cylinder heads, now painted white, were originally chrome plated steel.
#2523 was retired in 1958 and was placed on permanent display at the Kandiyohi County Historical Society in Willmar, MN, on 17th October 1965.
One other Great Northern P-2 has survived. You can see it on the GN #2507 page of this website.