July debut for ‘world’s biggest’ steam locomotive


WHAT is claimed to be the world’s largest steam locomotive is set to make its heritage-era debut hauling passenger trains on July 1.

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad has set the official roll-out date for restored Chesapeake & Ohio Railway H6 class 2-6-6-2 No. 1309.

Sister H6 2-6-6-2 No. 1308, the second but last one to be built, is preserved on static display in Memorial Boulevard in Huntington, West Virginia. Also built in 1949 by Baldwin, the locomotive is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

The Fourth of July week will feature a variety of regular trains, special moves, celebratory events, and railroad activities.

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Turned out in September 1949, No. 1309 was the last Class 1 main line engine built by Baldwin, ending a century of production in which the firm turned out more than 70,000 locomotives.

The advantage of the 2-6-6-2 design was that it could be used on the relatively light, tightly curved, branch lines in West Virginia and Kentucky coal country.

The class was unusual for the time in that they were true Mallets, since their steam was expanded once in their smaller rear cylinders and then a second time in their larger front cylinders. The C&O had a long history with Mallets and found them ideal for slow-speed work in West Virginia.

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