In 1977, the Southern Railroad was looking for a larger locomotive to supplement their small home-town steamers to take the then-growing steam program to the next level. They found an answer in the Texas and Pacific #610, a "Texas" type 2-10-4 that had been restored to operating condition several years prior and had hauled the Freedom Train through the State of Texas.
The Southern shops gave the big steamer a tune-up and added the bronze eagle above the headlight (off of a Southern PS2 passenger loco) and the Southern logos on the two air pump shields up front.
The big mauler certainly had the power the Southern was looking for, and it hauled huge excursion trains of 18 to 20 cars single-handed. But she turned out to be troublesome, often suffering mechanical problems, including on the Alexandria-Monroe VA trip pictured here, when her pilot truck overheated resulting in a very late arrival back in Alexandria behind relief diesels. Here she is seen earlier in the day, smoking it up on a photo runby on the way south.
At the end of the two year lease, the railroad returned the 610 and went looking elsewhere for steam power. Today the 610 resides at the Texas State Railroad, out of service but in good shape and under cover.
SouthernFuture TPOTDTP 610