B&O at the Century of Progress Fair

Since the B&O had held a great centennial expo in 1927, it was ready to have a large exhibit at the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition in 1933. Inside the fair’s Travel & Transport Building, the railroad had large dioramas of Washington, Baltimore, and historic events in the B&O’s past. Outside, it displayed the Lord Baltimore along with six fully air-conditioned passenger cars, underscoring the fact that it was the first to put an air-conditioned car and later an entire air-conditioned train into service. B&O also contributed several very old locomotives and cars to the expo’s Pageant of Transportation.

Click image to download an 8.7-MB PDF of this 32-page booklet.

While the B&O was deservedly proud of its air-conditioned train, it’s display of the Lord Baltimore was questionable. In a very real sense, the 4-8-2 locomotive was already obsolete in 1925, the year it was built, for that was also the year that Lima built the first Superpower locomotive with a four-wheel trailing truck. The four wheels were needed to carry the weight of the extra large fireboxes that produced huge amounts of steam. By 1926, Northern Pacific ordered the first 4-8-4 locomotive, whose four-wheel lead truck, like Lord Baltimore’s, allowed for high passenger speeds while the four-wheel trailing truck, like the Lima locomotives, allowed for greatly boosted steam capacity. Although B&O continued to build 4-8-2 locomotives, in 1935 it applied the name Lord Baltimore to another locomotive: a 4-6-4.

I’m not sure what makes this particular booklet “preliminary,” but we’ve already seen the booklet the B&O distributed at the 1934 continuation of the Century of Progress expo. The two booklets contain similar material, but the 1934 edition has a color cover. B&O also displayed a different, slightly newer locomotive at the 1934 fair, a President-class engine built in 1927. This was still only a 4-6-2 and so lacked the characteristics of the then-state-of-the-art Superpower locomotives.


B&O at the Century of Progress Fair — 1 Comment

  1. The B&O was a firm believer in the value of the watertube boiler. They put the “Lord Baltimore” on display as an example of the watertube boilered locomotive. The B&O’s mechanical department believed the watertube boiler provided as much or more steam than the larger fireboxes used in the 4-8-4 types. I don’t know if they were correct but the 4-8-2 watertube locomotives must have proved satisfactory since they did keep building them for a number of years after Exposition. Also, as a point of comparison, the SP’s GS-4 4-8-4 class put out about 500 pounds less tractive effort than the T-1 class.
    Regards, Jim

Leave a Reply