A steam locomotive
of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad
, the Greenbrier was used in heavy passenger service from 1935 to 1957. The Greenbrier had a 4-8-4
wheel arrangement. Usually locomotives of this type were called Northern
s, but the C & O chose to name them after the Greenbrier Hotel
and Greenbrier River
The first Greenbriers were locomotives #600-604, which were delivered from Lima Locomotive Works in 1935. They belonged to class J3, had 74-inch driving wheels, and produced 66,000 pounds of tractive effort (80,000 pounds with booster).
The first five locomotives were also given names, after famous Virginians. #600 was named Thomas Jefferson, #601 Patrick Henry, #602 Benjamin Harrison, #603 James Madison, and #604 Edward Randolph. A J3 Greenbrier was capable of handling 14 heavyweight passenger cars unassisted.
In anticipation of heavier traffic during World War II, the C & O ordered two more Greenbriers in 1942. #605 was named Thomas Nelson Jr., and #606 was named James Monroe.
Heavy postwar traffic necessitated the order of five more locomotives in 1948, #610-614. These were classified as J3a due to minor mechanical differences from the other locomotives.
The C & O began dieselization in 1951, and the older J3 locomotives were retired, while #610-614 were moved into fast freight service. By 1956, the C & O had ordered enough diesel locmotives to retire its steam fleet, and the J3a's saw no more active service. Engine #614 was the only one to survive, displayed outdoors in Russell, Kentucky, for many years.
In the early 1980's, Ross Rowland's ex-Reading Railroad Northern #2101 was severely damaged in a roundhouse fire while on the property of C & O successor Chessie System. Rowland exchanged the 2101 for #614, which was restored to an operational condition. #2101, meanwhile, was cosmetically restored and donated to the Smithsonian Institute.
In the mid-1980's, #614 was used as the test locomotive for the ACE 3000 project, an ultimately failed attempt to design a modern steam locomotive. #614 also became the only steam locomotive to ever haul an Amtrak train in revenue service, when it came to the aid of a broken-down passenger train during the ACE 3000 tests.
#614 saw frequent excursion service through the 1990's, frequently operating out of Hoboken, New Jersey, up Metro North's Port Jervis Branch. This was, to date, the last high-speed steam excursion in the Eastern United States, as #614 was allowed 79 mph on Metro North track, but was reported to have briefly attained a speed of 92 mph on one of the trips.
#614 last ran in 1998, as Ross Rowland was operating it at a loss. It was removed to the New Jersey Transit shops in Hoboken, and several attempts were made to sell it at auction, which have been unsuccessful.
Rowland is believed to be asking for at least a half million dollars for the locomotive.