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 Post subject: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:00 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:30 am
Posts: 142
A Facebook friend from the UK asked: "just out of interest how many steam loco's are in operation in the US?"

This is complicated to answer, of course (depends on what must first be done to actually steam up), but I have seen crude estimates in the past. Does anyone have a current estimate? How about for the UK and other countries?

Here is a chart with some different, but interesting info comparing US and British steam in the past:
Steam and diesels in service in US and UK

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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:34 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 2:07 pm
Posts: 456
I recall seeing the number 625 as a count of steam in the UK, but I'm fairly sure that included a lot of narrow gauge teakettles and such. It might have also included some engines that had their ticket expired and were demoted to display status.

To get a fair comparision the count should be restricted to LEGALLY OPERABLE STANDARD GAUGE steam. "Operable" doesn't necessarily imply "operating," but as long as it can be fired up and run, it should count.


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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:23 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 21, 2004 12:32 pm
Posts: 108
David,

Why wouldn't you include narrow gauge locomotives in the count? There are a lot of vintage two and three foot gauge steamers operating in the United States. Standard gauge only seems a bit of an odd parameter.

Taylor


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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:42 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:30 am
Posts: 142
I would also hope to include narrow gauge although to designate ng/sg is a good idea if possible.

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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:16 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
Posts: 6737
Location: Baltimore, MD
David H. Hamley wrote:
I recall seeing the number 625 as a count of steam in the UK, but I'm fairly sure that included a lot of narrow gauge teakettles and such. It might have also included some engines that had their ticket expired and were demoted to display status.

To get a fair comparison the count should be restricted to LEGALLY OPERABLE STANDARD GAUGE steam. "Operable" doesn't necessarily imply "operating," but as long as it can be fired up and run, it should count.


I would suggest, without actually looking up the numbers in my reference books and counting on multiple hands, that the 625 number would be far closer to the number of surviving UK steamers in ANY condition, from derelict ex-Barry parts sources to ready-to-run. My one reference book lists slightly over 400 ex-BR steamers in any condition; add to that a number of preserved locos that never even say the Grouping let alone BR (from the remains of "Rocket" to Midland Compound 1000), and a bunch of industrials, add the narrow-gaugers, and you'd be at 600-650, of which not all run by any stretch of the imagination. I'd guess that if we count operable right away as opposed to awaiting work or certification, you'd have some 200+/- in the UK.

Jeff Terry did/does an annual survey of steamers using those exact parameters (i.e. running, or fully expected to run in that calendar year, narrow or standard gauge) for Railfan & Railroad Magazine, and somehow I recall the number in question for the US and Canada hovering at around 170, maybe a hair less recently.


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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:51 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 8:42 pm
Posts: 1811
I started here:

http://www.steamlocomotive.com/lists/se ... ountry=USA

I then took the data and filtered out anything under 24" gauge.

The result was just under 300 locos, 297 to be exact.

So, let's subtract another 50 to account for some of the 2' and 3' stuff being park trains and the like. You still get about 250 active locomotives.

I'm certain some on the list are no longer active. On the other hand, new locos are returned to service and that info may be missing as well.

I feel that this info is a pretty good indicator of how many operational locos there are.


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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 12:24 am
Posts: 44
Location: Michigan
Out of curiosity, I took it to another level. I copied the data from steamlocomotive.com for all individual states to a spreadsheet. Tedious- yes, but it didn't take too painfully long. Then I proceeded to sort the data in ways more complex that the website allows; what I've found:
Code:
  120 "operational" locomotives with a gauge of 4'-8½"
    3 "operational" locomotives with a gauge of 42"
   79 "operational" locomotives with a gauge of 36"
    5 "operational" locomotives with a gauge of 30"
   44 "operational" locomotives with a gauge of 24"
    5 "operational" locomotives with a gauge of 600mm
   12 "operational" locomotives with a gauge of "ng"


If anyone is curious about any other combinations, just ask! I'll check back later.
(FWIW, This doesn't count the cog locomotives at Mt. Washington.)


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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:24 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:06 pm
Posts: 73
Bobharbison wrote:
I started here:

So, let's subtract another 50 to account for some of the 2' and 3' stuff being park trains and the like. You still get about 250 active locomotives.


Right. "Park trains" like D&RG and RGS C-19s and rebuilt Baldwins from 1894 or 1902 aren't "steam locomotives."

Please.

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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
Posts: 6737
Location: Baltimore, MD
Steve DeGaetano wrote:
Bobharbison wrote:
I started here:

So, let's subtract another 50 to account for some of the 2' and 3' stuff being park trains and the like. You still get about 250 active locomotives.

Right. "Park trains" like D&RG and RGS C-19s and rebuilt Baldwins from 1894 or 1902 aren't "steam locomotives."


The stuff I referred to in MY remark was stuff like 19" live steamers, and stuff made by Crown Metal Products.

Without even sitting down to count, I'll wager that amounts to about 30-40 of the aforementioned tally, leaving you with the Disney World locos, Knott's Berry Farm, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
Posts: 6737
Location: Baltimore, MD
While tidying up here, I found a copy of Kalmbach/Trains' special "Steam Today" issue from 2008, with a "complete listing of more than 190 operating U.S. steam locomotives" blurb on the cover.

A quick and cursory glance reveals pretty much what I called: no "park" trains built for amusement parks, and pretty careful listing (as one example, four East Broad Top locos have run since 1960, but only one was listed in 2008, #15). I suspect a few drop out currently, with 1-2 more added in. I know of a few "private" locos 2-foot-gauge or so built for revenue (as opposed to "plaything") use that run but aren't listed. The list includes the two 1969 replicas at Promontory, Utah.

Call it a hair under 200?


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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:27 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 2:25 am
Posts: 932
In England, they have the Romney Hyde and Dimchurch (not sure about spelling), which runs point-to-point (as opposed to theme park loop) on 15" gauge track. I would count any steam locomotive that runs on 15" or wider track. As long as it has an approved boiler and steam cylinders, and runs either regularly or on occasion, it should be counted. Here in Southern California, anyone wanting a steam experience in the 60s and 70s had to visit Disneyland or Knotts, or be at Orange Empire when one of the locos there was fired up. I remember seeing the engine crew of a Disneyland RR train making some "field repairs" at Tomorrowland Station with a Crescent wrench and a pair of Channellock pliers, a sure sign that this was a real steam engine.

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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:49 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
Bob Davis wrote:
In England, they have the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway


Fixed that for ye........

RH&DL has always been a true anomaly and a taxing example of how you can't "pigeonhole" every operation out there. It was built to actually transport people in a tourist area; it later hauled (may still haul) school children to school on a contract basis..... the stuff is "miniature" but antique in its own right now.....


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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:07 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 2:25 am
Posts: 932
Thanks for the correction. It is indeed difficult to make "iron clad" rules regarding almost any aspect of railroading--those of us who are mostly into electric railways have a field day differentiating between "heavy" and "light" rail, and I don't think the term "heavy rail" became widely used until San Diego made the term "light rail" popular in the US. Getting back to steam, my first experience with getting "up close and personal" with steam operation was the Venice Miniature Railway train that had been transplanted to El Monte (30 or 40 miles inland from Venice CA). It was probably 15" gauge (plus or minus an inch or two), but it had the "oily water vapor" aura of live steam, especially when it went through the "tunnel".

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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:24 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 3:02 pm
Posts: 756
Location: Back in NE Ohio
I can understand not counting purpose-built amusement locomotives, like the Crowns, but a number of amusement park railroads use industrial/plantation locomotives built in the steam era, like Cedar Point. BTW, the Cedar Point & Lake Erie RR celebrates 50 years of operation this season (kind of makes it historic). My understanding is that the park is going to have some kind of official celebration the weekend of June 22-23.


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 Post subject: Re: How many steam loco's are in operation in the US?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:55 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
Posts: 6737
Location: Baltimore, MD
The "purists" can tie themselves up in knots defining the "authenticity" of "preserved steam." I think most railfans will agree that a locomotive originally built by an industrial supplier (Baldwin, Porter, Davenport, Glover, etc.) for a commercial revenue operation qualifies (this covers Disney World, Huckleberry, Knott's Berry Farm, Clark's Trading Post, etc.), but a locomotive purpose-built for entertainment or novelty (miniatures, Crown Metal Products amusement park locos, Riverside & Great Northern in Wisconsin) doesn't.

Even with this, there are anomalies. The replicas at Golden Spike NHS certainly were built only for entertainment in modern times, but few would object to including them in the list. The Cagney miniatures at Strasburg are now historic in their own right, but I doubt anyone wants to count them towards this desired total number.

And some of this is like the antique car or motorcycle in the garage where the guy says "well, the license is expired, the battery's dead, no insurance, and I need to drain the old gas and put some fresh gas in the tank and clean the nest out of the carburetor, but I assure you, she'll start right up!"


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