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Central Pacific 173

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Title: Central Pacific 173  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Central Pacific Railroad
Collection: 4-4-0 Locomotives, Railway Locomotives Introduced in 1873, Scrapped Locomotives, Southern Pacific Railroad Locomotives, Standard Gauge Railway Locomotives
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Central Pacific 173

Central Pacific locomotive 173
Central Pacific #173 as the locomotive appeared in 1883, 11 years after being rebuilt.
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Designer Andrew Jackson Stevens
Builder Norris-Lancaster
Serial number 13
Build date 1863
Total produced 1 (prototype for first 12 CP-built engines)
Rebuilder Central Pacific's Sacramento Shops
Rebuild date 1872
Configuration 4-4-0
UIC classification 2'Bn
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Driver diameter 54 in (1.372 m)
Fuel type Coal
Cylinders Two, outside
Cylinder size 17 in × 24 in (432 mm × 610 mm)
Operator(s) Western Pacific Railroad, Central Pacific Railroad, Southern Pacific Railroad
Number(s) WP "H", CP #173
Official name Sonoma
First run 1863, Nov 1872(rebuild)
Retired 1909
Disposition scrapped

The Central Pacific Railroad number 173 was a 4-4-0 steam locomotive that was an example of a modern steam locomotive of the time. It was the prototype used for the Central Pacific's Sacramento Shops when the railroad began constructing locomotives. The engine was successful, and more engines were subsequently built to 173's design.


  • History 1
    • Carolwood Pacific 173 1.1
  • References 2
  • External links 3


While later Central Pacific's records listed this number 173 as a CP built engine, the engine was in fact built in 1864 by Norris-Lancaster for the Western Pacific Railroad who had it designated "H"(the Western Pacific had its engines lettered rather than numbered), naming it the "Sonoma." The engine became Central Pacific's #173 after railroad acquired the Western Pacific in 1869. A train wreck involving CP 173 and 177 occurred at Alameda Junction on November 14, 1869, and both engines were brought to the railroad's extensive shops in Sacramento two years later. Here, master mechanic Andrew Jackson "A.J." Stevens was given the task of rebuilding the 173. Though extensive damage was sustained from the wreck, Stevens found many of the engine's parts to be reusable, and had decided to use the 173 as a test bed for the railroad's entry into the locomotive manufacturing business. The rebuild was extensive enough that the Central Pacific listed itself as the builder in subsequent records. The rebuilt 173, finished in November of 1872, was well received by the railroad, and soon the shops produced twelve engines based on its design. Three of these were sold to other roads, among which was Virginia and Truckee Railroad's "Dayton," which is the only preserved example of 173's design. As a side note, smaller engine 177 was even more extensively rebuilt in 1873, apparently with very little if any of the original engine reused, and was also listed as built by Central Pacific in the records. CP 173 was finally scrapped in 1909, while 177 was sold to an unknown buyer in 1886. (It appears that CP 177 did not become SP 72 as many modern rosters show. SP 72 was built in the CP Sacramento Shops, and was sold to SP in 1883, per the 1883 SPRR Annual Report - 3 years before CP 177 was sold.)

Carolwood Pacific 173

Disney's model of #173, named "Lilly Belle," after his wife.

In 1950, Walt Disney began to build the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, a miniature railroad in his backyard. Walt saw a photo of 173 and decided to build a model of it for his railroad. Southern Pacific draftsman David L Joslyn located the specifications of 173 in a warehouse of SP's old records, and recreated the 173's drawings scaled down to two inches to one foot. This engine operated for a few years in Walt's backyard railroad, and when it was shut down, the 173 model was displayed in Disneyland's Main Street station for nearly fifty years, before moving to a new museum dedicated to Disney's legacy.


  • Best, Gerald M (1969). Iron Horses to Promontory. New York: Golden West. 
  • Central Pacific 1868 Roster of Locomotives
  • Central Pacific 1875 Roster of Equipment.
  • Central Pacific 1878 Roster of Equipment.
  • Central Pacific early 1870s record of locomotive shop work.
  • 1883 Southern Pacific Railroad Annual Report

External links

  • Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum
  • The Carolwood Pacific Historical Society
  • Walt Disney Exhibition, Walt's engine in the California State Railroad Museum as part of a traveling exhibit of Walt's railfan legacy.
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