This Norfolk & Western M Class Twelve Wheeler
(4-8-0) type locomotive #433 is on display near where the Virginia Creeper Trail joins Green Spring Rd in Abingdon, VA.
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a rail trail stretching thirty-four miles over what was once part of the Virginia-Carolina Railroad's right of way from Abingdon to Whitetop, VA, near the North Carolina state line (the track originally ran another forty-two miles to Elkland, NC). The popular name for the railroad, "Virginia Creeper", derived from the steep, winding grade and the speed of the trains, in some places, limited to only 5 mph.
In 1916, the N&W bought the VCRR and the line became its Abingdon Branch. The track from West Jefferson, VA, to Elkland was abandoned in 1933 and the last steam engine ran over the remaining line in 1956. The previous year, O. Winston Link captured the final days of steam in a series entitled "A Day on the Abingdon Branch". Diesels then worked the line until the last train from Abingdon to West Jefferson ran on 31st March 1977. Soon after, the track was removed.
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Seventy-five 4-8-0s were built for the N&W by Alco and fifty by Baldwin in 1906 (#375-#499). Another, #475, has also survived. You can see it on the Strasburg Rail Road page of this website.
In 1907, another fifty were built by Alco and fifty by Baldwin all designated M1. In 1910, fifty more came from Baldwin designated M2 (#1100-#1160). You can see one on the NW #1134 page of this website. Lastly, N&W's Roanoke shops built three M2a, two M2b and six M2c class locomotives, and you can see M2c #1151 on the Virginia Museum of Transportation page.
The M class were the heaviest Twelve Wheelers ever built, the only non-articulated steam freight locomotives in the N&W roster and its main-line freight haulers, rated at 1,000 tons eastbound from Norfolk to Petersburg and 1,050 tons westbound. Many were later fitted with superheaters and mechanical stokers and were in service well into the 1950s.
As built, #433's total length, including the tender, was 53' 7" but the engine was later fitted with a larger tender weighing 167,500 lbs with a capacity of 10,000 gallons of water and 14 tons of coal. The engine weighs 206,200 lbs, 169,800 lbs on its 56" drivers. Operating at a boiler pressure of 200 psi, it delivered 40,163 lbs tractive effort.
The cylinders are 21" x 30"
with 12" diameter piston valves.
Other features were a 45 sq ft grate, two arch tubes in the
173 sq ft firebox, which contributed 19 sq ft to the heating surface. The boiler's two hundred and fifty-eight tubes with a heating surface
of 2,778 sq ft, brought the total to 2,797 sq ft.