"Last Run" of Southern locomotive number 1401

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Kirk Louis Linton (1914-1987)

railroad engineer for the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad

"Last Run" of Southern locomotive number 1401


Terry Louis Linton © 2008

 Linton Research Fund Inc., Publication © 2008

All Rights Reserved

LINTON & BIRD Chronicles Volume III, Issue 3, Fall © 2008


"Last Run"

On November 26,1961, Kirk Louis Linton (1914-1987) was the Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad engineer who made the "last run" of Southern locomotive number 1401, as it was driven to it's final resting place inside of, the under construction, Smithsonian's Museum of American History, in Washington, District of Columbia.

Kirk drove the 1926, Pacific Type Steam Locomotive from Potomac Yards to a rail spur in Washington, D.C., Then two 250-ton-capacity railway steam cranes, of the Southern Railroad, lifted 1401 from the rail spur located about two miles from downtown. The two cranes set the engine on a special, 200-ton-capacity, multi tire trailer. Late on the night of November 25, and early on the morning of November 26, 1961, the engine and its tender were moved, part of the way on Constitution Avene, to its new home. Another eleven days were required to place the engine and tender in the museum. The east end of the new Smithsonian's Museum of American History was completed around the installed 1401. In January 1964, the Smithsonian's Museum of American History opened to the public.

Southern Railway Number 1401 is a steam locomotive that is the sole survivor of Southern Railway's Ps-4 class. Many railroad experts regard this type as the most handsome steam locomotives ever built. Today it is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.. It has a Pacific-type or 4-6-2 (Whyte notation) wheel arrangement. The American Locomotive Company built it in 1926 at its Richmond Works. It pulled Southern's highest-level passenger trains from 1926 until Dieselization in the early 1950s, mostly on Southern's Charlotte Division. Its most famous and historic use was as one of the locomotives that pulled President Franklin Roosevelt's funeral train from Warm Springs, Georgia, to Washington in April 1945.

Kirk's father, Charles Edward Linton (1890-1958). "Charlie", early in January 1918, went to work for the Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. on April 15, 1918, he joined the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. Charlie was a Brakeman for the R F & P Railroad for over 38 years. Charles worked at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Virginia. According to the R F & P Railroad's The Quarter Century Club (Officers and employess who have attained a service record of twenty-five years or longer as of January 1 1948), Charles Edward Linton is listed as Linton, C. E., Brakeman, 30 years 0 months. Charlie is listed on page 22 in the Potomac Yard Transportation Department. Charlie retired in 1956, at the age of sixty-six.

Kirk's younger brother, Theodore Francis Linton (1917-1970) "Ted", in 1937, got a part-time-job at Potomac Yard, in Alexandria, Virginia for the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. On April 28, 1939, Ted started working full-time in the Operating Department Transportation Section, of Potomac Yard. Ted worked as a clerk there for 33 years, until his death on December 5, 1970.

Kirk Louis Linton, early in 1940, went to work for the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad as a fireman. On, January 13, 1944, Kirk was promoted to Railroad Engineer. Kirk, first worked on the "road," taking freight trains from Potomac Yards, in Alexandria, down to Richmond, Virginia. Then with more time in, Kirk was able to stay closer to Potomac Yard and finely working the "Hump" making up the north and south bound freight trains moving all up and down the Atlantic Coast. Kirk retired from the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad, on April 1, 1979 after 39 years of service.

View Southern Railway Number 1401 in the Smithsonian's Museum of American History


R F & P Railroad Engineer Kirk Louis Linton's Southern 1401 as is displayed for all future generations to see.

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Bottom Photo: 

Engineer, Kirk Louis Linton (1914-1987), on board Engine No. 8, at the "North Bound Hump" at Potomac Yard, for the Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad. (Photo taken by Kenneth Edward Linton in 1970.)