Special History Study
NPS logo




Canadian Government Railways 516
Grand Trunk Railway 1516
Canadian National Railways 5288

Whyte System Type: 4-6-2 "Pacific"
Class: J-7-b

Builder: Montreal Locomotive Works
Date Built: 1918
Builder's Number: 60483

Cylinders (diameter x stroke in inches): 24 x 28
Boiler Pressure (in lbs. per square inch): 200
Diameter of Drive Wheels (in inches): 69
Tractive Effort (in lbs.): 39,735

Tender Capacity:
    Coal (in tons): 14
    Oil (in gallons): Not applicable
    Water (in gallons): 7,100

Weight on Drivers (in lbs.): 268,000 (also reported as 174,000)

Remarks: Has superheater. This engine has low mileage since last overhaul. Some "jewelry" or small parts are missing.

Canadian National Railways 4-6-2 Locomotive No. 5288

History: Canadian National Railways' medium-size 4-6-2 "Pacific"-type Class J-7 locomotive rolled out of the Montreal Locomotive Works in 1919. The rapid corporate reorganizations coupled with Canadian government acquisition of private railway companies then taking place in Canada and the creation, while this locomotive was being built, of the Canadian National Railways on December 20, 1918, left this locomotive with a particularly complicated conception. Canadian National motive power historians Anthony Clegg and Ray Corley outlined the situation:

Ownership of several orders placed by the Federal Government [of Canada] through the Canadian Government Railway for assignment to the various [rail]roads was vested in 'Canadian National Rolling Stock Limited.' Essentially similar locomotives owned by the latter company, but operated initially on different railways, were occasionally modified to suit the practice of the operating line. For example, the twenty J-7 Class locomotives constructed for the CGR's use, (later CN 5250-5279) had closed cabs in keeping with the rigors of the Canadian winter; the fifteen J-7 engines destined for Grand Trunk use [including No. 5288], however, were given open cabs, in line with GTR practice.

Thus No. 5288 originated as one of a series of locomotives ordered under the name of the Canadian Government Railway in June 1918 as Nos. 508 through 522 (No. 5288 would have been originally No. 516) nearly six months prior to the actual creation of the Canadian National Railways. Even before these engines were completed, the Canadian Government Railway earmarked this particular series of locomotives for use on the Grand Trunk Railway, also ordering modification of the cab specifications from an all-weather enclosed cab to an open cab, exposed at the rear except for cab curtains. Though it was carried on Canadian Government Railway books as No. 516, the company had the builder modify the order prior to delivery, renumbering the series 1508 through 1522, so that 516 became 1516, in order that these engines not duplicate the numbers of a series of Grand Trunk Railway 2-8-2 locomotives already numbered in the 500 series. It is unlikely that any of these locomotives ever carried their originally assigned 508 through 522 numbers; when the Montreal Locomotive Works turned them out, they were undoubtedly numbered in the 1509 through 1522 series, and although some of them, possibly even No. 516, may originally have carried lettering for Canadian Government Railways, those must have been quickly relettered "Grand Trunk."

On paper, the engines were taken over by Canadian National Railways in September 1919, although with other Canadian Government Railways motive power, and between October 1920 and March 1921 they were renumbered as Canadian National Railways 5280 through 5294, while still leased to the Grand Trunk Railway. In another paper transfer, in 1922 the Canadian National Railways sold the 15 locomotives, still carried on the books as owned by Canadian Government Railways though it no longer existed as a separate operating company, to the Grand Trunk. In March 1923 in yet another paper transfer, Canadian National again picked up the 15 locomotives in its records, although listing them as owned by the Grand Trunk.

The addition of the J-7 class locomotives, and many other new locomotives, resulted, in 1923, in the retirement of many old 4-4-0 and 2-6-0 locomotives as the newer, heavier power class took over their assignments. Grand Trunk No. 1516, subsequently Canadian National No. 5288, handled principally passenger trains in eastern Canada.

Operating for the Grand Trunk, the locomotive had "Grand Trunk" spelled out on each side of the cab and on each side of the flange of the tender near the top front, with a large number 1516 on the side of the tender, probably all in white. Later renumbered as 5288, it carried a white number on each side of the cab and the Canadian National's name spelled out in a tilted box on each side of the tender.

A detailed history of the use of this locomotive over the years awaits research in Canada. At one time the engine apparently hauled international trains into White River Junction, Vermont, so that it can be said to have operated historically within the United States, even if only in across-the-border service. By 1956 it was assigned to haul commuter trains in the vicinity of Montreal, where it operated out of the huge engine house at Turcot, Quebec. It was there that boiler inspector J.O. Carrier reported the locomotive in good condition on the Monthly Locomotive Boiler Inspection and Repair Report for July 1957, when the date for boiler tube (flue) removal was extended to September 13, 1957. When F. Nelson Blount acquired the locomotive in September 1961 and moved it to Edaville, Massachusetts, and later to Steamtown at Bellows Falls, Vermont, the engine reportedly was operable, or nearly so.

Very similar in design to the "standard" 4-6-2 design adopted by the United States Railroad Administration during World War I, this locomotive was typical of 4-6-2s that operated all over North America in the 1920s through 1950s. They served on both main lines and branch lines, and though generally considered passenger train locomotives, they occasionally pulled freight. Representing the Grand Trunk Railway as well as the Canadian National, this locomotive has New England associations, for the Grand Trunk operated in New England as well as Canada.

Out of the 186 J class and 135 K class Canadian National 4-6-2s built, a total of 321 engines, only 12 have survived, 3 of them Grand Trunk Western locomotives that historically operated entirely within the United States. No. 5288, however, is the only survivor of the 15 J-7-b class of locomotives, the variant with the GTR-style open cabs, although J-7-a No. 5270 with the CGR-style all-weather enclosed cab survives in a park in Moncton, New Brunswick. No. 5288 is one of about 57 4-6-2 locomotives preserved in the United States, six of which are Canadian Pacific engines, one--No. 5529--a Canadian National engine, and three of them the aforementioned Grand Trunk Western locomotives. No. 5288 represents a good example of mid-20th century steam motive power.

Condition: Reportedly the locomotive is in fairly good condition, with low mileage since its last major overhaul, but it also has much of its "jewelry" missing--the brass-rimmed gauges, brass valve levers, and other appurtenances in the cab and elsewhere that attract thieves of brass or railroad artifacts--though some of these items may be in Steamtown storage.

Recommendation: The locomotive type No. 5288 represents, the 4-6-2 "Pacific" type, is also represented in the Steamtown collection by Boston & Maine No. 3713. It should be noted that No. 5288 is known to have pulled international trains across the Canadian border into the United States at least as far as White River Junction, Vermont, and No. 5288 could represent that history of a Canadian National Railways locomotive actually operating in common-carrier service in the United States.

Canadian National Railways locomotive diagram

Canadian National Railways folio locomotive diagram sheet documented the vital statistics of Locomotive No. 5288.
Canadian National Railways


Clegg, Anthony, and Ray Corley. Canadian National Steam Power. Montreal: Trains & Trolleys, 1969: 29, 30, 99.

Guide to the Steamtown Collection. Bellows Falls, Vt.: Steamtown Foundation, n.d. (ca. 1973), Item No. 44 and roster entry.

Kean, Randolph. The Railfan's Guide to Museum & Park Displays. Forty Fort: Harold E. Cox, Publisher, 1973: 175.

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 14-Feb-2002