Southern Pacific 1744

The "Valley Malley" is coming home!

The Pacific Locomotive Association (PLA) is proud to announce that we have purchased and are returning a native Bay Area steam locomotive, the Southern Pacific #1744 to be rebuilt for operation on the Niles Canyon Railway. The 2-6-0 Mogul built by Baldwin in 1901 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. The locomotive was made famous in later years by operating on several of the last steam railfan excursions on the Southern Pacific. After many years of operating around the United States, the #1744 is returning home to once again operate through Niles Canyon on the last leg of the transcontinental railroad.

After retirement from service on the SP in 1958, the locomotive was operated at the Heber Valley Railroad, moved to Texas and restored for a brief period of operation in New Orleans.  Iowa Pacific bought the locomotive and ran it on the San Luis & Rio Grande over Colorado’s La Veta Pass in tourist service during 2007 until it was sidelined with boiler issues. The locomotive was disassembled, boiler work started and then stopped. The locomotive has sat disassembled since 2008 with the boiler moving from Alabama to Texas and then back to Colorado during this time.

The Pacific Locomotive Association is currently in the process of gathering the pieces together in Colorado for shipment. The boiler will be sent to a contract shop for repairs while the rest of the locomotive will be shipped home to Niles Canyon. The PLA plan to return the #1744 to service will not be a quick or inexpensive proposition but we are looking forward to the future when she will once again steam on the Niles Canyon Railway. The non-profit all volunteer heritage railway encourages donations to help return this classic Southern Pacific Locomotive to service. Please visit our Steam Website at to donate towards the restoration and see more information and progress updates as the rebuild begins.  Or, use the button below.

Following are a few photos of the 1744 in service on the SL&RG in 2007, courtesy of Jim Wrinn.

And here is a preview of the Valley Mallet's return.

The following information is from Don Strack's web site and is used with permission.
  • 2-6-0 (SP Class M-6)
  • Built by Baldwin in November 1901 (Baldwin 19671)
  • Built as Vauclain Compound, converted to simple in 1912
  • Retired by SP on September 24, 1956, at Sacramento
  • Used by SP for several railfan excursions in 1957
  • Last operated by SP on Knights Landing excursion trip on May 4, 1958
  • Donated to Sons of Utah Pioneers on April 18, 1959, delivered to SUP at Corinne on May 9, 1959
  • Displayed at Corinne, Utah, from 1959 to 1980
  • Sold to New London Railroad and Village, Inc., at Heber, Utah, under a long term progressive sales agreement
  • Moved by truck to Heber, Utah on April 22, 1980 (The tenders from SP 1744 and from UP 6264, and UP 6264's boiler/cab assembly were moved on April 20th) (Pacific News, Number 234, February 1981, page 4-11)
  • Returned to service in September 1980 for the Labor Day weekend. (Pacific News, June 1980, page 21; published in November 1980)
  • Sold to Tarantula Corporation in December 1989, lettered for Fort Worth & Western Railroad (sale included possible final cash settlement between Sons of Utah Pioneers and New London)
  • Moved to Texas in November 1990, by truck from Heber to Ogden, then by railcar from Ogden to Fort Worth (Privately-owned Heber Creeper operations formally ended on January 31, 1991; replaced by state-owned Heber Valley Railroad on July 1, 1992)
  • Stored at Fort Worth until 1999; sold to Rio Grande Pacific Corp.; moved to New Orleans
  • Complete rebuild completed in September 2000; cost of purchase and rebuild shown as $1.3 million; rebuild overseen by J. D. Morris
  • Lettered for New Orleans & Gulf Coast Railway as "The Big Easy Steam Train"; operated from December 2000 to May 2001
  • Stored at New Orleans until 2007 (not damaged by Hurricane Katrina)
  • Sold to Iowa Pacific Holdings on March 21, 2007; 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; used daily on Alamosa-to-La Veta on "San Luis Express", and round-trip weekend service from Alamosa-to-Antonito on the "Toltec Gorge Limited"; removed from service due to needed boiler repairs.
  • Boiler separated from the frame and shipped to Historic Machinery Services Corp., in Springville, Alabama, for repairs; upon retirement of HMS Corp's owner, the unfinished boiler was moved to Rusk, Palestine & Pacific Railroad (since August 2012, contract operator of state-owned Texas State Railroad) at Rusk, Texas, which has a complete steam shop capable of full repairs. Some parts for boiler repairs were, as of late 2012, being fabricated by Strasburg Rail Road at Strasburg, Pennsylvania. (as of late 2015, the boiler was still at Rusk, and the running gear, cab and tender were still at Alamosa)
SP 1744 was purchased by Rio Grande Pacific Corporation from Fort Worth and Western Railroad on May 21, 1999, for service on their subsidiary New Orleans and Gulf Coast Railway. A full and thorough restoration and rebuilding of the locomotive was begun in January 2000. The locomotive was fired up on August 29, 2000, and approved by the FRA for service on September 19, 2000. It was moved on a flat car from Fort Worth to New Orleans, for service pulling the "Big Easy Steam Strain." (SP Trainline, Winter 2001, page 4, "The Mail Bag"

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