DM&IR 2-8-8-4 "Yellowstone" Locomotive. In the early 1940s, numerous US railroads went looking for ultra-heavy freight locomotives to assist in the war effort. As a result several classes of big, articulated engines were built, perhaps the most famous being the UP Big Boys, but they were far from alone. Up in the North Central US, the iron-haulers designed their own class of leviathans. Beginning in 1941, the Duluth Missabe & Iron Range Railway ordered 8 examples of a 2-8-8-4 locomotive from the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Officially, they were Class M-3, but they are more often known by their Whyte System name "Yellowstone." These engines had 125 square feet of firebox grate area and a boiler pressure of 240 psi. They produced 6,250 hp and could muster 140,000 lbs. of tractive effort. Their "centipede" tenders carried 26 tons of coal and 25,000 gallons of water. The engines also featured roller bearings on all axles. They proved very successful at hauling iron ore from the mines to the shipping terminals on Lake Superior, resulting in the railroad placing an additional order for 10 more (Class M-4) locomotives, the last of which was completed in 1943. These locomotives carried the numbers 220 to 227. Some of the engines were later leased to the Denver & Rio Grande Western, for use on their standard gauge lines in Colorado.
Like some of their big, articulated counterparts, the DM&IR Yellowstones worked for nearly 20 years until dieselization became inevitable. They were gradually retired between 1958 and 1963. Although most were scrapped at that time, three locomotives are preserved, not surprisingly, all of them in the Duluth, MN area. Number 227 is displayed under a shed in Two Harbors, MN, and she does have a boiler jacket, but she is tough to photograph, because she is now surrounded by fences to prevent vandalism. Number 229 is in the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth. She's in perhaps the best shape of any of the survivors, but is also difficult to photograph, due to the tight confines of the museum building. The engine you see here is #225, which is displayed outdoors, in Proctor, MN, not far from the CN Yard. Although minus her boiler jacket and slowing listing on soft ground, she has gotten a fair amount of TLC over the years and is probably the easiest survivor to photograph. Hopefully, her friends will continue to care for her as the weather in these parts can be pretty brutal.