Northern VS other names

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NP2626

Active Member
#1
The first Railroad to use the 4-8-4 wheel arrangement was the Northern Pacific. I think I've read that the Northern Pacific Railway had something to do with the design of the 4-8-4 wheel arraignment, either by actually helping with the design, working hand and hand with the Alco, the manufacturer; or, by simply requesting that Alco develop the 4-8-4 design in 1926. At any rate, the Northern Pacific was the first railroad to use the 4-8-4 wheel arrangement. Therefore, the Northern Pacific had the right to name this wheel arrangement, which of course they did, calling it a "Northern". However, this name over all the other steam engine wheel arrangement types, seems to have been very contentious! Some of the other names given it are: Big Apple, Confederation, Dixie, Golden State, GS (General Service) Greenbrier, Niagara, Pocono, Potomac, Western and Wyoming and this list of names is not the complete list!

I wonder why the Northern type has so many different names? I guess I could understand Southern railroads not liking the name "Northern" and preferring "Dixie" instead; but, why all the other names? Just wondering aloud. I also find that all the various names attract me to this locomotive, hence my handle of "NP2626".
 

tootnkumin

Active Member
Staff member
#2
Even the 4-8-4's of New Zealand's K, Ka, Kb classes were referred to as Northern. For most of my life till joining here, I thought it referred to being built in NZ'ds north island. But seems NZ can only lay claim to the Pacific 4-6-2.
 

Espeefan

Active Member
#3
Easy. Because railroads were all very independent and had their own ways of doing things. They didn't much care about standardization of terminology. The only time they actively collaborated was during the USRA years. After that they went back to their old ways
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
#4
That was a beautiful locomotive.

np2626.jpg Four Aces.jpg

It is one of the few brass models that I have also. Has to be around 30 years old but I couldn't pass it up at the price I found it at.

NPA1-Coal.jpg Mine is safely put away in its box and may see daylight once or twice a year. This is not mine, but it is identical. Fantastic details and with a can motor it runs like a dream. The 2626 spent most of its time in Washington from what I understand. It wouldn't have been around in the period I model and not in Montana.

Again, Beautiful locomotive.
 

NP2626

Active Member
#5
Easy. Because railroads were all very independent and had their own ways of doing things. They didn't much care about standardization of terminology. The only time they actively collaborated was during the USRA years. After that they went back to their old ways
O.K.; However, what about Ten Wheelers, Pacifics, Mikados, Challengers, Mountains, etc... They all pretty much stayed with the original names! So, it's not EASY.
 
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#6
In point of fact, I doubt most railroads outside the marketing department (if they did) as to what they called their steam locomotives. They generally referred to them by some classification designations. For example, the C.B&Q. called their Northerns, Class O-5. Union Pacific classified theirs as "FEF-x". Now what would FEF stand for if not 4-8-4? This business of equipment names can also apply to other pieces of rolling stock. The "Q" and several other roads refer to their cabooses as "waycars" (Burlington Route), "cabin cars", "crummies", etc.
 
#7
IMHO By the time the 4-8-4 wheel arrangement came along, the railroads had become more competitive and image conscious. Like the southern railroads and railways, the Southern Pacific would not want to call anything "northern" and would use it's own terminology for marketing and public relations as the Golden State/General Service classes of locomotives. General Service was used to get by the WW II Production Board that frowned on new passenger locomotives.
 

NP2626

Active Member
#9
In point of fact, I doubt most railroads outside the marketing department (if they did) as to what they called their steam locomotives. They generally referred to them by some classification designations. For example, the C.B&Q. called their Northerns, Class O-5. Union Pacific classified theirs as "FEF-x". Now what would FEF stand for if not 4-8-4? This business of equipment names can also apply to other pieces of rolling stock. The "Q" and several other roads refer to their cabooses as "waycars" (Burlington Route), "cabin cars", "crummies", etc.
Yes, and Northerns on the N.P. where class A locos.

Why the splitting of hairs that always seems to take place in these discussions? Are we trying to prove that we are smarter than everyone else? You can take any question to what ever degree of argument you want to take it. It was a simple question.
 
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NP2626

Active Member
#12
Not smarter, MARK, just prettier! LOL

View attachment 61675
I agree Sherrel, They where pretty locomotives, high steppers and symmetrical. My favorite "Northern" of course is NP2626. This was a Northern Pacific A-1 locomotive built by Alco. It was built for the Timken Bearing Company as a demonstrator for their roller bearings. Timken gave it the numbers 1111 and called it the "Four Aces" It was sent out in the world to demonstrate how roller bearings would improve both performance and maintenance. The loco was used on many lines before coming to the Northern Pacific in 1930. On the N.P., the locomotive was very well received, the N.P. doing many tests on the loco, checking out it's performance. Finally, after receiving damage to the crown sheet the Northern Pacific pulled the trigger and purchased the loco and repaired the damage then renumbered it 2626. Sadly, of all the locomotives that probably should have been kept and put on display, the 2626 was scrapped. The Northern Pacific's "Northerns" where divided into six classes A Through A-5. All of the A class and the single A-1 2626, where built by Alco. The A-2 through A-5s where all built by Baldwin.
 
#13
O.K.; However, what about Ten Wheelers, Pacifics, Mikados, Challengers, Mountains, etc... They all pretty much stayed with the original names! So, it's not EASY.
Sure it is. Hudson vs Baltic. The railroads tended to do what they wanted on an individual basis with a few exceptions such as the Harriman roads under common ownership. All you have to do is study railroad history. It's full of similar examples. If a railroad wanted to name a specific type something different they did it. Not doing it every time does not invalidate the concept. Here are some more. American or eight wheeler, mikado, mike, or MacArthur, Berkshire or Kanawha. Mountain or Mohawk. Need more?
 
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Selector

Active Member
#14
O.K.; However, what about Ten Wheelers, Pacifics, Mikados, Challengers, Mountains, etc... They all pretty much stayed with the original names! So, it's not EASY.
We should not forget that sometimes these names were assigned by the suppliers like Lima, ALCO, Rogers, and Baldwin. Also, most roads only used the generic name like Mallet for any articulated type, regardless of whether or not it was compound design or simple steam. Even then, most roads simply used their own classification numbers. The Santa Fe didn't call their Texas Type 2-10-4 a Texas, but a 5010. The N&W called their Northerns Class J.

Last factor...in-house or out-sourced. If the order came to Lima, Lima might have an interest in using their class name, like Northern. N&W and Santa Fe both made many of their own designs, and were not obliged to refer to the generic name in any correspondence with outside suppliers.
 
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NP2626

Active Member
#15
We keep going back to the known, that some locomotives had a couple/few different names. These facts are known by me! However, the Northern type had far more than most. Since the first 4-8-4s the Northern Pacific had a hand in the design and were the first to purchase, I doubt that other than calling them A-class locomotives, the N.P. gave them any other name than "NORTHERN". I only asked why this wheel arrangement had so many different names. Not what the names of all the other wheel arrangements were! I guess there is no such thing as a simple question, followed by a simple answer, here on the Model Railroad Forums.
 
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Selector

Active Member
#16
Well, the Berkshires after the Berkshires, Niagara after the eponymous River, Greenbrier after the vine growing in the trackside vistas, Kanawha after the eponymous River, etc. These were both the Berkshires and the Northerns, all super-power developed after 1930, and all heading varnish or second tier trains. People liked the names given to aircraft (Constellation, Viking, Electra, etc), and the railroads had to compete. So, they came up with spiffy names for their fastest and most modern locomotives. Well, some did. The Pennsy didn't. Same for the Santa Fe.

That's my story an' I'm stickin' to it.
 
#17
I agree Crandell. I think this became more prevalent when marketing departments got involved,and maybe the engineering department if the railroad did something to a design to "make it their own".
 

NP2626

Active Member
#18
Opinions, Opinions, OPINIONS! I don't care who came up with the names, I'm asking why the "Northern" had so many? I've realized that it is unlikely that my question can be answered. Everyone involved in the process is likely dead; or, older than dirt and probably spends very little time looking through model railroad forums. Actual answers to these types of questions get foggy, as people allow their opinions to displace reality.
 
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Selector

Active Member
#20
Opinions, Opinions, OPINIONS! I don't care who came up with the names, I'm asking why the "Northern" had so many? I've realized that it is unlikely that my question can be answered. Everyone involved in the process is likely dead; or, older than dirt and probably spends very little time looking through model railroad forums. Actual answers to these types of questions get foggy, as people allow their opinions to displace reality.
I provided you with an answer. To repeat, the Northern Class name came from ALCO, who named it after the first order place by the NP. When other roads began to place orders, or to design and build their own, The Great Depression was in full effect and the rails were attempting to encourage wider use of their passenger services. Paint jobs like the warbonnet and SP's Daylight on 4449, and so on were but manifestations of attempts to drum up both business and loyalty. Streamliner cars became the new rage, and Lowrey and Dreyfus were asked to design new streamlining cowling for steamers. It ended up with the Dreyfus Hudson, as an example. The variety of the naming of the Northern class was to keep loyal customers, to renew interest in waning passenger service, to develop regional pride in roads that serviced the localities in one state or another, and generally to show that their parent companies were keeping up and interested in patronage. What good was calling an eastern and more recent version of a 4-8-4 a Northern in advertising in deference to a first distant order years earlier when the people needing tickets were along one's right-of-way in W. Virginia?
 



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