Richmond Locomotive Works

Richmond Locomotive Works was a steam locomotive manufacturing firm located in Richmond, Virginia.

It began operation in 1887, and produced upward of 4,500 engines during its 40 years of operation.[1] The Richmond Locomotive Works was the largest and most significant manufacturer of locomotives in Virginia during its years of production.[2] Its only contemporary in Virginia was the Roanoke Shops, which produced locomotives exclusively for Norfolk & Western. In 1901 the works merged with several others to form the American Locomotive Company, which continued production at the Richmond works until 1927.

Among the locomotives Richmond produced was #H2-293 (in Russian) for the Finnish State Railways, the locomotive that pulled Lenin's train into Petrograd on the last leg of his return from exile during the Russian Revolution of 1917, and Southern Railway 1401, which pulled President D. Franklin Roosevelt's Funeral Train.


The Richmond Locomotive Works grew out of Tredegar Iron Works to become a nationally known manufacturer of steam locomotive engines and an integral part of the industrial landscape of the city of Richmond.[3] The engines it produced were shipped across America, as well as several countries in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific.[4]

Most Richmond Locomotive engines were sold to Southern carriers.[5] Many were sold to Virginia lines, including Richmond City Railway, as well as the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, the Richmond and Danville Railroad and the Seaboard Air Line. Other buyers included the Louisville and Nashville Railroad; the Louisville Southern Railway; the Wilmington, Onslow and East Carolina Railroad; the Raleigh and Cape Fear Railway; the Nashville and Tellico Railroad; the Atlanta and Florida Railroad; the Georgia Pacific Railway; the Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad; the Savannah, Americus and Montgomery Railway; the Southern Railroad; the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad; the Mississippi River and Bonne Terre Railway; the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroad; and the Little Rock and Hot Spring Western Railroad. Richmond locomotives were delivered as far away as the Southwestern Arkansas and Indian Territory Railroad and the Alameda and San Joaquin Railroad.[6]

Richmond locomotives also had a significant market in the Midwest and West as well. Midwestern purchasers included the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway; the Cincinnati, Richmond and Muncie Railroad; the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; the Wabash Railroad; the Chicago Great Western Railway; the Brainerd and Northern Minnesota Railway; the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway; and the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad. The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad purchased several trains, including two specifically constructed for carrying passengers to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Trains from the Richmond works reached even further west, as locomotives were sold to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe; the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway; the Rio Grande and Western Railroad; the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad; and the California and Northeastern Railway.[7]

One 4-6-0 locomotive was shipped to New Zealand in 1901 as a sample for the New Zealand Railways to try. It was classed in the 'Ub' family (along with a fellow ALCO product - a Brooks 4-6-0) and given the road number of #371. It was considered too light for mainline running, steaming poorly on New Zealand's ungraded coals but found a home on a local Canterbury Plains branchline serving it for 30 years. It was dumped in 1933 but has been rediscovered for possible restoration.

Sale and merger

In 1901, the Richmond Locomotive Works was purchased by Joseph Leiter for $3 million.[8] At the time, the company employed about 1,600 workers and was producing two locomotives a day.[9]

Later that year, Richmond and seven other manufacturing companies merged to form American Locomotive Company (ALCO). Locomotive production at Richmond Locomotive Works ceased in September 1927.

Preserved Richmond locomotives

The following locomotives (in serial number order) built by Richmond before the ALCO merger have been preserved. All locations are in the United States unless otherwise noted.

Serial number Wheel arrangement
(Whyte notation)
Build date Operational owner(s) Disposition
2957 2-8-0 1900 Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway #769 Old Coal Mine Museum, Madrid, New Mexico
2991 4-6-0 1900 Suomen Valtion Rautatiet (Finnish Railways) #293 Finland Station, St-Petersburg, Russia

The following preserved Richmond locomotives were built post-merger:

Serial number Wheel arrangement
(Whyte notation)
Build date Operational owner(s) Disposition
28446 2-8-0 1904 Southern Railway #630 Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Chattanooga, Tennessee
46831 4-6-2 1910 Norfolk and Western Railway #578 Ohio Railway Museum, Worthington, Ohio
64070 2-8-8-2 1923 Norfolk and Western Railway #2050 Illinois Railway Museum, Union, Illinois
66888 4-6-2 1926 Southern Railway 1401 Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
2-6-4T 1907 China Railway DB1-28 Shenyang Railway Museum, Shenyang, China[10]



  1. ^ Sunshine Software, Steam Locomotive Information. Retrieved October 4, 2005.
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