The Lost Engines: Three N&W Class M-2 and M-2C Steam Locomotives

The steam locomotives in the Roanoke scrap yard are the  last surviving examples of two classes of Norfolk & Western heavy freight locomotives, the M2 and M2c classes. The Classes serve as an important example in the development of heavy freight locomotive technology in the pre-World War I era. Originally intended for heavy freight service, the Class M2s were soon displaced by larger engines and reassigned to local freight and switching duties. By 1950, they were among the oldest engines on the N&W roster and were designated as surplus to operations. All were sold for scrap, the last in 1957.

Norfolk & Western Class M2c # 1151 steam locomotive: to the Virginia Museum of Transportation

This M2c engine was built in Roanoke by N&W in June of 1911, one of 11 built to the Norfolk & Western’s own M2 design. It included a number of advancements for its time, including the Baker valve gear and mechanical stokers. The locomotive’s Baker valve gear gives it a signature ‘Roanoke’ look. N&W used the Baker more than any other valve arrangement and was still using it on the last steam engine built in the East End Shops 41 years later. The #1151 arrived at the Roanoke scrap yard in 1950 and is the last survivor of its class.

Norfolk & Western Class M2 steam locomotives:  #1134: to the Railroad Museum of Virginia and# 1118 to Will Harris/North Fork Lumber Co.

Fifty Class M2 engines were built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia in 1910. Engine #1118 was delivered to the Norfolk & Western in September of that year, and fellow survivor #1134 arrived in October. Both were sent to the Roanoke scrap yard in 1950 after 40 years of service. Today, engines #1118 and #1134 are the last of the original M2s  still surviving.

Two Baldwin diesel locomotives: one to the Virginia Museum of Transportation

Two “first generation” diesel locomotives are in the scrap yard. Built by Baldwin in Eddystone, PA in 1946, these diesels represent an historic step in the development of the technology that displaced steam from America’s railroads in the 1940s and 1950s. These two locomotives are the Chesapeake Western #662 and #663, 660 horsepower locomotives which transitioned the Chesapeake Western from steam to diesel. The surviving Chesapeake Western blue paint with gold stripes is distinctive. The short-line railroad ran from the Norfolk & Western connection at Elkton, VA to Harrisonburg, Bridgewater and Staunton, giving these engines an important Virginia connection. The engine in the best condition will go to the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The other will provide parts or be scrapped to defray expenses.

Two Norfolk & Western steam locomotive tenders: one to the Virginia Museum of Transportation, one to the Railroad Museum of Virginia

While not the tenders originally associated with the steam locomotives in the scrap yard, two other tenders, similar in design but modified to serve as water canteens, are there. The first tender is N&W 150006, a 15,000-gallon tender. Its Pilcher trucks were designed by a N&W employee in Roanoke, fabricated at the East End Shops, and are rare. No car number is visible on the second tender, which is a 16,000-gallon tender.

Norfolk & Western Maintenance of Way Flat Car: to Will Harris/North Fork Lumber Co.

Built in 1916, flat car 516605 was first used in revenue service, then placed in maintenance of way service, and later sold to the Chesapeake Western. The car may be the last class FE flat car remaining.

Home to two of the most powerful steam locomotives in existence today—the Class A #1218 and the Class J #611—the Virginia Museum of Transportation regularly attracts visitors of all ages from across the U.S. and 45 foreign countries.

Visit for more information.

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