History Question

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Just a quick question. What became of the tens of thousands of steam locomotives that populated the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s? Were they all melted down and recycled? Sent to scrap yards and desert graveyards like planes? Just curious and I couldn't find anything on Google.

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Zimply speaking, most steam engines in the US were scrapped after they wore out, or replaced by more modern steam engines, or quit being used altogether when railroads converted from steam to diesel power in the 40's and 50's. The locos were worth too much money as scrap metal to just sit in desert graveyards like airplanes. Some were donated by railroads to museums and municipalities that put them on display. Some of these have been restored and are operating.

One exception was the Union Pacific Railroad, which never retired #844. The UP also kept several steam engines stored in roundhouses for many years before finally donating them to museums and parks.

I'll try to find my issue of Trains listed and discussed US steam engines which have/had been restored and are/were in excursion service.
Last edited:

RailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com