2-10-4, Texas Type

To identify locomotives, American railroads use the “Whyte Notation” system. Steam locomotives classified as 2-10-4 under “Whyte” have two pilot wheels, ten driving wheels, and four trailing wheels. A 2-10-4 is traditionally known as the “Texas Type”.

You can visualize a 2-10-4 Texas Type as having this wheel arrangement:

An AT&SF Texas type leads a freight train in New Mexico.
An AT&SF Texas type leads a freight train in New Mexico.

History of the 2-10-4 Type

The first 2-10-4 locomotive was built by Baldwin in 1919 for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe. The new locomotive type was seen as an improvement to the railroad’s 2-10-2 Santa Fe type locomotives. Though the company continued to order and receive more of the Santa Fe type, some locomotives were retrofitted with a new truck to provide four trailing wheels. However the AT&SF did not move forward with the 2-10-4 design until 1930, engine #5000, “The Madame Queen”. 

Texas & Pacific #610, on display in Palestine, Texas, is one of the few remaining Texas type steam locomotives.
Texas & Pacific #610 on display in Palestine, Texas. (Photo: Renelibrary via CC by 4.0)

The 2-10-4 made its official debut in 1925 when Lima Locomotive Works delivered these locomotives to the Texas and Pacific Railroad. As was customary, the first official delivery provided the locomotive’s nickname, so “Texas Type”. On a few other railroads, a 2-10-4 was given other names. For instance, it was a “Colorado Type” on the Burlington Route and a “Selkirk Type” in Canada. 

Several other railroad companies rostered these Texas locomotives, including the Pennsylvania Railroad which had more than 125 of these locomotives, the most of any railroad. A total of 430 Texas type locomotives saw service on North American railroads; Almost all were scrapped throughout the 1950s.

Where to See a 2-10-4 Texas Type

Fortunately for railfans, there are several of these locomotives that have been preserved and restored. A few of the museums in the United States that currently have Texas Type locomotives on display include: 

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