The 2-6-0 wheel arrangement, known as Moguls were another of the early steam locomotive designs similar to
the 4-6-0 Ten-wheeler and 2-8-0 Consolidation. Also like the 2-8-0 and
4-6-0, the Mogul was developed to replace the ubiquitous American 4-4-0
Type, which saw use all across the country on everything from freight
to passenger trains through most of the 19th century. The Mogul proved
to be a quite successful steam locomotive with thousands once in
service around the country. As technological advances continued the
2-6-0 was replaced with larger designs, most notably the Consolidation
which was used by many railroads as standard main line power from the
late 19th century through the 1920s (many lines continues to use them
through the end of the steam era). Today, there are several 2-6-0s
preserved and a number of those are operational.
Southern Pacific Class M-6 2-6-0 #1744 pulls the "Monte Vista Special" across a small creek near Alamosa, Colorado along the San Luis & Rio Grande on July 27, 2007. This Mogul was built by Baldwin in 1901 and resides at the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.
The 2-6-0 wheel arrangement was developed from the 0-6-0 design but was
initially rather unsuccessful due to its rigid front pilot truck that
could not freely swivel to better negotiate curves and poor track
conditions quite common during the mid-19th century. Due to this
problem, from the time the Mogul was developed (as early as 1852 by
Baldwin) through the early 1860s few sold (only about 30).
Additionally, railroads found them to offer few added advantages over
the common American. The 4-4-0 can be given overwhelming credit, more
than any other steam locomotive design before or since its development,
for helping the United States flourish beginning in the latter half of
the 19th century.
The success of the 2-6-0 wheel arrangement came with the
addition of the free swiveling “bogie” front truck originally patented
by Levi Bissell in 1857. After this pilot truck was attached on the
Mogul it greatly increased the locomotive’s abilities to negotiate
curves and the rough track conditions of the day. With this featured
added, the Louisville & Nashville was one of the first to operate
what we now recognize as the common Mogul in 1864. Also, due to the
Moguls greater adhesion over an American Type and lower cost compared to
a Ten-wheeler, with its design flaw corrected it sold quite well,
particularly on short lines where money was not only tighter but also
because the 2-6-0 could travel on light track due to its lightweight.
Another view of Espee #1744 as it departs Alamosa with an excursion about to cross the La Veta Pass on July 21, 2007.
While the Mogul performed about every task imaginable on short lines,
its use on Class I railroads was a bit more specialized. Here, the
railroads realized that the 2-6-0’s best advantage was its ability to
haul medium-sized trains over relatively even track saving the heavier
movements for trains like the Ten-wheeler and Consolidations.
The Consolidation Type, which had bumped Ten-wheelers from main line
freight trains on most Class I systems of the day, was a highly
successful steam locomotive design of the latter half of the 19th
century that would eventually replace the American Type, 4-4-0 wheel
arrangement. The new Consolidation, a 2-8-0 wheel arrangement, allowed
for more tractive effort with two additional driving axles and thus
could haul much heavier trains than the American design.
In many ways the Mogul (whose name is said to have derived from a
2-6-0 built for the Central Railroad of New Jersey in 1866 by the
Taunton Locomotive Manufacturing Company that was called Mogul).
found itself trying to find its own niche between the two very popular
designs of that era; at first the 4-4-0 and then later the 2-8-0.
Despite this, as previously mentioned it seemed to fit in quite well
with well over 11,000 constructed by the time production had ended in
1910. Just like the American and Consolidation
most railroads went on to roster at least one Mogul. Also, due to
their size, 2-6-0s became popular not only shortlines mentioned above
but also logging lines and in some narrow-gauge operations. Naturally,
not needing so much power these operations found the Mogul useful
through the end of the steam era.
In this dated view of #1744 the Mogul shows a bit of wear when she was owned by the Heber Valley Railroad. The locomotive is pulling an excursion near Heber City, Utah along the Deer Creek Reservoir during August of 1982.
However, interestingly even some large, Class Is rostered at
least a few Moguls until nearly the end as well for light duty and yard
work. Today, like Consolidations and Ten-wheelers, numerous Moguls have
been preserved across the country with some still in operating
condition such as famed #89 on the Strasburg Railroad, an ex-Canadian National 2-6-0 built in 1910. The little steam locomotive
is used in regular service throughout the operating season so you have
plenty of opportunities to see it in action or ride behind it! Other
Moguls still in service can be found at the Middletown & Hummelstown
in Pennsylvania, Midwest Central Railroad in Iowa, and the Reader
Railroad in Arkansas.