Locomotives / Train Sets

4-8-4 (Northern) Steam Locomotive

Steam Locomotive

Series: "Northern"

Entry Last Edited: 01/17/2024 | Content ©www.RailRoadJunction.net
Born in the United States in 1926, the 4-8-4 Northern saw use throughout the world including Australia, Europe, and South America.
The 4-8-4 was an American steam locomotive wheel arrangement succeeding both the 4-8-2 ("Mountain") and 4-6-4 ("Baltic" / "Hudson") types. Both arrangements served as the predecessor for the new design which was first used in its tender engine form in 1926 by Northern Pacific Railway - one of the key benefits being its deeper firebox. Its design is attributed to American Locomotive Company (ALCO). For its time, the 4-8-4 proved an excellent solution for both passenger and freight-hauling services, though limited to moderate loads.

In the 4-8-4 wheel arrangement, the locomotive was given four small lead wheels (two per side) ahead of eight large drive wheels (four per side) trailed by an additional four smaller wheels (two per side).

Due to its Northern Pacific Railway roots, the type came to be generically known as the "Northern Pacific", since shortened to simply "Northern".

The design of the locomotive continued established traditions including seating the driving cab at the rear and mounting lighting hardware, the smoke funnel, and cow-catcher at the front. The mass of the system was taken up by the cylindrical boiler unit seated over center and fed from a tender supply car directly aft of the locomotive. The increased strength of the frame and larger firebox led to a more powerful locomotive with greater stability at speed (upwards of 100 miles-per-hour in some cases).

Like many steam-based locomotive engine units of the preceding and current period, the Northern was used extensively the world over, from Australia and Brazil to North America (accounting for about 1,200 units built) and Europe. Operators also appeared in New Zealand and South Africa as well as the Soviet Union. Rather surprisingly, the design was not featured on British railways of the time.

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Specifications [ 4-8-4 (Northern) ]

American Locomotive Company (ALCO) / Baldwin Locomotive Works - USA; CKD - Czechoslovakia

United States
1926 - 1955
Production Run

2,500 units
Production Total
Train driver seating position graphic

Driver Position
33.0m | 108.2 ft
NOTE: May include length of entire train set
450,000 kg
(992,250 lb | 496 US Tons)
Locomotive power source graphical icon
Power Source
1 x Coal-fired steam engine.
Engine / Drive Source
160.0 kph
(99.4 mph)
Max Speed
Wheel Arrangement
(Loco Facing Left)

Series Variants
4-8-4 "Northern" - Base Series Name.
"Northern Pacific" - Original name.
06-class - German market version for Deutsche Reichsbahn.
H-class - Australian market version for Victorian Railways.
242A1 - French market version.
477-class - Czech market version.
Operating Countries
Australia; Brazil; Canada; Chile; China; Czechoslovakia; France; Germany; Mexico; New Zealand; South Africa; Soviet Union; Spain; United Kingdom; United States

National flag of Australia National flag of Brazil National flag of Canada National flag of Chile National flag of China National flag of Czechia National flag of France National flag of modern Germany National flag of Mexico National flag of New Zealand National flag of South Africa National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Spain National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States
Customers / Operators:
Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe (ATSF); Canadian National Railway; Central of Georgia Railway; Chesapeake and Ohio Railway; Czechoslovak State Railways; Delaware, Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad; Lackawanna and Western Railroad; Deutsche Reichsbahn; Nashville, Chattanooga and St Louis Railway; Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico; Lehigh Valley Railroad; New York Central Railroad; Norfolk and Western Railway; Northern Pacific Railway; Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad; Southern Pacific Railroad; Union Pacific Railroad; Victorian Railways; Western Maryland Railway; Western Pacific
NOTE: Includes both past and present
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