N&W No. 1218 at Brocton, OH on August 6, 1988.

(Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, railfan 44, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Lima Locomotive Works logo.
N&W logo.


In the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotive wheel arrangement, a 2-6-6-4 is a locomotive with a two-wheel leading truck, two sets of six driving wheels, and a four-wheel trailing truck. All 2-6-6-4s are simple articulated locomotives.

Other equivalent classifications are:

  • UIC classification: (1'C)C2' (also known as German classification and Italian classification)
  • French classification: 130+032
  • Turkish classification: 34+35
  • Swiss classification: 3/4+3/5
  • The UIC classification is refined to (1'C)C2' for simple articulated locomotives.


The 2-6-6-4 Wheel Arrangement. Front of locomotive is on left.

(Gwernol, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



The 2-6-6-4 was a fairly late development, a product of the superpower steam concept, introduced by the Lima Locomotive Works, which encouraged the use of large fireboxes supported by four-wheel trailing trucks. Such a firebox could sustain a rate of steam generation to meet any demands of the locomotive's cylinders, even at high speed. High speeds were certainly among the design goals for the 2-6-6-4; most of the type were intended for use on fast freight trains.

The first 2-6-6-4s built in the United States were for the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railroad, and these were not high speed locomotives but rather mountain luggers. They received three in 1934 and four more in 1937 and operated the 2-6-6-4s until 1953.

The next of the type were a class of ten ordered by the Seaboard Air Line in 1935 and 1937. These were high speed freight engines and were successful. Upon dieselization the road sold the locomotives to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1947, who operated them until 1953.

The final class of 2-6-6-4s was the Norfolk and Western Railway's class A, built starting in 1936. 43 were built until 1950 but were operated until 1959 to prepare the ending of steam power. The powerful 2-6-6-4s were capable of more than 5,000 drawbar horsepower at 45 mph (72 km/h) and could reach 70 mph (110 km/h), and could lug heavy coal trains. They were used until dieselization in 1959.

In all, sixty 2-6-6-4s were constructed in North America. Only one survives: Norfolk and Western 1218 was preserved and in 1987 was fully, restored, running on excursions until 1991. Today it is on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.


Norfolk & Western Class A No. 1206 displayed at the New York World's Fair in 1939.

(Morven at English Wikipedia., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


1218 After Dark by Donnie Nunley.

Norfolk and Western Class A Steam Locomotive No. 1218 after being moved from the Virginia Museum of Transportation to the

O. Winston Link Museum for their 10th anniversary celebration. This engine entered service on June 2, 1943 and pulled coal

trains between Roanoke and Norfolk until 1959.  Other Class A type engines were used to move troops and equipment for the military during WWII.

(Donnie Nunley, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)