Southern Pacific 1744

Life Before Niles Canyon

The 2-6-0 Mogul was built by Baldwin in 1901 and operated for many years out of Oakland on the SP Western Division and in California’s Central Valley where the Moguls were fondly called “Valley Mallets” by their crews.  Following  is a small collection of in-service photos.  Each photo is credited within the photo itself.  We want to thank the contributors for these wonderful glimpses of the past. Thanks also goes out to for all of the historical data.

We have been given access to this wonderful collection of early 1744 photos by the Pacific Northwest Rail Archives.  Of most interest is the first photo which is the only one that has turned up so far of the locomotive in its original compound as-built form. In addition to the compound cylinders, note the acetylene genenerator on the running board in front of the cab and its mating headlight mounted on top of the smoke box.  As usual, captions are included with each enlarged photo.

The 1744 was made famous in later years by operating on several of the last steam railfan excursions on the Southern Pacific.   These photos were taken on such an outing on the Knights Landing Branch in May of 1958.  

We have been given permission to reproduce the brochure that was printed for the Knights Landing excursion.  Photo #3 is an enlargement of the portion describing the 1744 and the train.  Brochure through the courtesy of the Western Railway Museum.

In 1959, our locomotive joined the ranks of Southern Pacific movie stars.  The 1744 was featured in the opening credits and several other scenes of "This Earth Is Mine".  The move starred Rock Hudson, Jean Simmons and Claude Rains in a story placed in the Napa Valley.  The scenes below were all filmed on the SP's Napa Valley branch at what we believe to be the Saint Helena station.  Filming took place during September and early November of  1958 after which the 1744 was stored pending scrapping which fortunately, did not take place.

Donated to Sons of Utah Pioneers on April 18, 1959, it was delivered to SUP at Corinne, Utah on May 9, 1959 and displayed there until 1980.

Sold to New London Railroad and Village, Inc., it was moved by truck to Heber, Utah on April 22, 1980.   The 1744 was returned to service in September 1980.  It operated under several different names but the most famous was the "Heber Creeper".

Sold to the Tarantula Corporation in December 1989, it was lettered "Fort Worth & Western Railroad".  In November 1990, it was moved to Texas, by truck from Heber to Ogden, then by rail car from Ogden to Fort Worth.  Stored at Fort Worth until 1999, it was sold to the  Rio Grande Pacific Corp. and moved to New Orleans where a complete rebuild was completed in September 2000.  The cost of the purchase and rebuild was shown as $1.3 million. Now lettered "New Orleans & Gulf Coast Railway" it operated as the "The Big Easy Steam Train" from December 2000 to May 2001.  After the operation ceased, It was stored at New Orleans until 2007.  

1744 was sold to Iowa Pacific Holdings on March 21, 2007 and moved to San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad at Alamosa, Colorado on May 9, 2007.  Operated through 2007 season, beginning with Memorial Day weekend in 2007, it was used daily  (Alamosa-to-La Veta) on the "San Luis Express", and round-trip weekend service from Alamosa-to-Antonito on the "Toltec Gorge Limited". It was removed from service at the end of the 2007 season due to needed boiler repairs.  The boiler was removed from the frame and sent to a shop in Alabama where new boiler sections were fabricated but never installed.

Robert Black visited the locomotive in Alamosa when the disassembly was taking place and shot these images which he graciously allowed us to publish.  Keeping the 1744 company was the #18 which was still in service.

The locomotive has sat disassembled since 2008 with the boiler and its parts moving from Alabama to Texas and then back to Colorado during this time.  This easily could have been the end for this fan favorite.  Fortunately, the Pacific Locomotive Assoc.  was watching the disposition of Iowa Pacific holdings and bought the 1744 in the "kit" form shown in these photos.

Please help us with restoration of the SP1744.

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