B&O No. 4500
Name: B&O No. 4500
Railroad of Record: Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
Type of Locomotive: 2-8-2 A (light), Mikado
Other Number: B&O No. 300
Date Built: July 1918
Manufactured By: Baldwin Locomotive Works
Locomotive Weight: 292,000 lbs
Driver Diameter: 64 inches
Cylinders: 26 x 30 inches
Tractive Effort: 53,800 lbs
By 1897, a new 2-8-2 wheel arrangement was introduced to the railroad industry. The new locomotive type placed the firebox behind the driving wheels, therefore requiring a trailing truck to support the redistribution of weight. The Baldwin Locomotive Works built the first 2-8-2s for shipment to Japan. Americans called the 2-8-2 locomotive "Mikado," referring to the Japanese emperor and a popular Gilbert & Sullivan opera at the time. During World War II, the B&O changed the name of this locomotive to the "MacArthur," however many crews ignored the official name change and continued to call the 2-8-2s "Mikados" or "Mikes."
During World War I, the federal government took control of the nation's railroads and formed the United States Railroad Administration (USRA) to efficiently mobilize troops and supplies. The USRA oversaw the mass production of standardized locomotives and operations of all privately owned railroads. Consisting of representatives from ALCO, Baldwin Locomotive Works, and Lima Locomotive Works, the USRA Locomotive Committee designed over 1,800 locomotives using the best of current technology. Although many railroads resented the USRA's control, the organization streamlined the railroad industry and made advances for railroad labor by increasing wages and decreasing the workday to eight hours. USRA control ended on March 1, 1920 but its durable locomotives continued to have a lasting influence on the railroad industry.
Constructed in just 20 days by Baldwin Locomotive Works, the B&O No. 4500 was the first USRA locomotive produced under federal management. The No. 4500 was equipped with the latest technology of its time, including a superheater and stoker. The weight of the versatile locomotive was considered "light" by most standards, yet it was quite powerful.
In the later years of its life, the No. 4500 operated on the B&O's Ohio, Newark, St. Louis, and Ohio River divisions. In 1957, the No. 4500 was renumbered as No. 300 to make room on the B&O roster for four-digit diesel locomotives. That same year, the No. 300 retired from service, and was sent to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum.
There it was restored to its original number. In 1990, the No. 4500 became a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
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