Harold K. Vollrath's Photo Collection

Actually just a tiny portion thereof
Harold Vollrath has been photographing steam (and diesel) locomotives since the 1930's, and has an immense collection, covering nearly all the mainline and short line roads, fallen flags, you name it. Some of the photos in his collection were not actually taken by him, nevertheless they are part of his collection. I have purchased but a few of his classic shots, and here they are.
NEWS FLASH, July 18, 2013---Mr. Vollrath has put his entire collection up for auction, and I have purchased the New York Central Collection in its entirety. As it turns out, only about 20% of the collection. I have noticed in the process of digitizing these files, Mr. Vollrath did better in the darkroom. Some are repeated and you can see the difference.

Info: I am slowly rescanning these, after being caught in the "72dpi" fallacy. I'm sure you will notice a difference in some vs. the old ones.


Arguably the most beautiful steam engines ever built. Certainly the most imitated by toy train makers, Lionel and American Flyer, in my childhood years.
Here is the first of Mr. Vollrath's that I purchased, the first Hudson, 5200. Late in her life, as compared to the builder's photo below, look at the changes.

100 Hudsons later, here is J-1d 5300. Compare to Mr. Vollrath's darkroom version below.

And another 100 later, J-1e 5400.

J-1b 5248.

J-1d 5367, originally Michigan Central 8222.

610, A J-2 B&A Hudson built by Lima, builders photo. From George Elwood's collection, courtesy Gary Stuebben.

5200, The first Hudson, builders photo, at ALCO Schenectady plant, 1927

5200, J-1a, on a test run in the Mohawk Valley, May 1927

5229, J-1b, at Buffalo, September 1929

8204, J-1b, at Chicago, July 1933. Short tender indicates Michigan Central. Later renumbered 5349.

8213, J-1c, at Chicago, July 1934. Baker valve gear. Later 5358.

5261, J-1c, at Dunlap, IN. Bob Schell photo, Bob Spaugh collection.

5300, J-1d, at Mattoon, October 1952 with some real mileage on her.

6611, J-1d, at St. Louis, February 1933. Built for the "Big Four," later 5387.

5370, J-1d, nee 8225, taking water on the fly at Waterford, June 1950.

5319 Rolling the Commodore Vanderbilt at Chicago, November 1945

5320, J-1e, at Elkhart, IN, March 1941. Bob Schell photo, Bob Spaugh collection.

5344, J-1e, most modified and famous of the Hudsons, builders photo, 1931

5344 in one of her many configurations, this one for the Commodore Vanderbilt, Chicago, May 1936.

5461, J-2b originally built for the Boston and Albany as 606. B & A had 75 inch drivers in lieu of 79 inch, and ugly "sand box" in lieu of sand dome. Chatam, June 1952.

5407, J-3a, hauling the 20th Century Limited Through Inglewood, June 1948. As built, Worthington feedwater heater, no class lights, Baker valve gear. One of my favorites.

5409, J-3a, at Chicago, September 1941. Elesco fw heater

Three of the famous Dreyfuss streamlined Hudsons, J-3a's 5445, 5447, and 5448 at W. Albany, fresh out of ALCO plant, 1938. Boxpok drivers.

5445, J-3a, at Syracuse, June 1946 with the Mercury

5446, J-3a, at Chicago, August 1947. All the streamlining is gone. They look better this way.

By the way, if you have come this far into the NYCS mystique, you may wonder why I am so interested in Hudsons. The answer is, Hudson 5315 was destroyed in a terrible wreck at my home town of Little Falls, NY, in April 1940. The only Hudson ever written off. To see her in better days, in a photo by Bob Schell from the Bob Spaugh collection, Click here. If you would like to see her sorry state following the wreck, Click Here Photo by Bucklin Studios, courtesy Richard J. Barrett.

Most railroads referred to their 4-8-2's as Mountains. The New York Central called theirs Mohawks. The top photo above is property of, and used with permission of the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis. It features one of two surviving Mohawks, L-2 2933. The second is of 3001's front end, courtesy of Ron Morse.
Here are some from the purchased collection of Mr. Vollrath. Start with L-2d 2980.

Then L-4 3145, built by Lima.

And the last L-4 from Lima, 3149.


All four taken by Bob Schell in Elkhart, IN

3001, L-3a, ALCO

3011, L-3a, ALCO

3100, L-4a, LIMA

3117, L-4a, LIMA

6205, L-2d, at E. St. Louis, May 1934--Big Four version. Elesco heater, Baker gear.

2971, L-2d, at Hammond, November 1952. With cast pilot, looks like a Hudson.

3001, L-3a, ALCO, at Wabash, April 1956. She is one of two remaining today, at Elkhart, IN.

3038, L-3b, LIMA, at Indianapolis, October 1955.

3056, L-3c, ALCO, at Buffalo, February 1950.

3115, L-4a, LIMA, at Wabash, February 1956, Selkirk front end and Worthington heater.

3103, L-4a, at Englewood, June 1943.

3062, L-3c, at Selkirk, July 1950.

3044, L-3b, in action at Oscowanna, June 1950.


Again, the New York Central disagreed with conventional nomenclature, naming their 4-8-4's Niagaras, after yet another river on the "Water Level Route." Other railroads called them Northerns.
Here are some of the new ones from my purchase of Mr. Vollrath's collection. Some will be duplicated below. First, 6004.

Here is 6006.




And 6017


5500, Lamar Kelly Photo, Englewood.

6015, Bob Schell Photo, Elkhart.

6024, Bob Schell Photo, Elkhart.

6020 Taking water on the fly, Lydic, IN, Bob Schell Photo.

6000, S-1, Builder's photo at Alco, Schenectady, 1945. The first Niagara, with 75 inch drivers. Everything faired on top due to tunnel clearances on the system. Baker gear, Pedestal tender.

6004, S-1b, at Lancaster, NY, March 1950. 79 inch drivers and 70 MPH with 10 cars.

6011, S-1b, at Cleveland, November 1953.

6017, S-1b, at Syracuse, August 1946.

6025, S-1b, at Chicago, April 1953. Near the end of steam.

5500, S-2a, the only Niagara built with poppet valves. At Chicago, December 1946. Appears to have a Worthington heater and air pump on the right side, which 6000's did not.


Named for the mountain range on the Boston & Albany branch, 2-8-4 Berks were tough freight engines.
1452, A-1c, Boston & Albany, at Boston, June 1935, a Lima product.

1454, A-1c, B & A, at Selkirk, July 1945, Lima.

9400, A-2a, Pittsburgh & Lake Erie, at McKee's Rocks, May 1954. Looks like Lima, but she's Alco.


Forerunners of the Hudsons, these 4-6-2's were the backbone of NYC passenger service.
9253, K-6h, P & LE, at Youngstown, January 1940

New York Central System Historical Society

New York Central Forum

George Elwood's GREAT Railroad site

GO DIRECT to George Elwood's NYCS files. This is the largest collection of NYCS steam locomotives to be found on the net!



303, L-2 Hudson, at Cincinnati, September 1949. This one is from the C & O Historical Society, by Joe Schmitz. C & O Hudsons were much bigger and heavier than NYC's.

305, L-2 Hudson, at Cincinnati, October 1949, Mr. Vollrath's collection. Baldwin built.

2764, K-4 Kanawha, at Clifton Forge, Photo by B.F. Cutler, C & O Historical Society Collection


Four Photographs from the collection of STAN KISTLER, used with permission.


3751 at Los Angeles, May 1950, Mr. Vollrath's collection.

3751 at Los Angeles, August 1955, Photo by Stan Kistler.

A.T. & S.F. 3751 has been restored to full operational condition by the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society and has operated since 1991. See the link to their site on my first page.

2912 at Clovis, November 1958. Photo by Henry Bender, Stan Kistler Collection.

The 2900's were newer, bigger and heavier than the 3700's. 2912 is being restored to display condition by the Pueblo Locomotive and Rail Historical Society. Link to their site on my first page.

2921 at Argentine, April 1948. Photo by Ken Casford, Stan Kistler Collection.

2921 at Kansas City, April 1948. Mr. Vollrath's collection.

Those two photos are almost identical! The 2921 is currently on display at Beardbrook Park in Modesto, CA. She is being negotiated for by several groups, one which intends to restore her to operational condition.


3450 at Chicago, October 1949, Photo by J. Sallaba, Stan Kistler Collection.

3450 left side at Richmond, February 1948, Mr. Vollrath's collection.

3450 right side at Richmond, February 1948, Mr. Vollrath's collection.

3450 is currently on display at the Pomona Fairgrounds, Pomona, CA, and a more recent photo can by accessed from my first page. Santa Fe locomotives are well preserved, unlike the New York Central's.

3462 at Kansas City, December 1947, Mr. Vollrath's collection.


These photographs are all courtesy of Mary McGovern, whose father John was a long time employee of the Union Pacific. I believe these are UP official photos. Thank you, Mary.
Laramie yard. 3659 (2-8-8-0), 9056 (4-12-2), Unidentified and 3958 (4-6-6-4s)This is a great photo!

Big Boy 4002 in immaculate condition.

844 as the 8444 sometime in her career.

815 with early experimental smoke fairing--looks like an SP GS.

Mountain 7002 with new roller bearing gear.

Now 7002 is Streamlined!

0-6-0 switcher 4442.

Mikado 2238.


As with the other pages, this one isLast Update 9/3/13

Planned for the future: Probably create a whole new page concerning the wreck at Little Falls in 1940 and the subsequent track rerouting.