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Pennsylvania Railroad 4859

pennsylvania railroad 4859 s, pennsylvania railroad 4859 powderhorn
Coordinates: 40°15′45″N 76°52′40″W / 4026250°N 7687778°W / 4026250; -7687778

Pennsylvania Railroad 4859
Type and origin
Power type Electric
Builder Altoona Works
Build date December 1937
  AAR 2-C+C-2
Gauge 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in 1,435 mm
Driver dia 4 ft 9 in 1,448 mm
Length 79 ft 6 in 242 m
Width 10 ft 4 in 31 m
Height 15 ft 0 in 46 m
Loco weight 477,000 lb 216,000 kg
Electric systems 11,000 V AC, 25 Hz
Current source Overhead AC with dual pantographs
Performance figures
Maximum speed Passenger: 100 mph 160 km/h
Freight: 90 mph 140 km/h
Power output 4,620 hp 3,450 kW
Operators Pennsylvania Railroad, Penn Central, Conrail
Class GG1
First run January 15, 1938
Retired November 22, 1979
Restored August 12–November 15, 1986
Current owner

Harrisburg Chapter, National Railway Historical Society

US National Register of Historic Places
Official name Electric Locomotive No 4859
Designated August 19, 1982
Reference no 820037971
US National Register of Historic Places
Official name Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 Streamlined Electric Locomotive #4859
Designated May 5, 2004
Reference no 040003991

Pennsylvania Railroad 4859 is a GG1-class electric locomotive located in the Harrisburg Transportation Center in Harrisburg in the US state of Pennsylvania It was operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad and its successors, Penn Central and Conrail 4859 pulled the first electrically powered train from Philadelphia to Harrisburg on January 15, 1938 It was used in various freight and passenger service until November 22, 1979, when it pulled the last GG1-powered freight train on November 22, 1979 Originally located in Strasburg, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and was moved to its current location in 1986 It was designated the state electric locomotive of Pennsylvania in 1987 by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and was re-listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004


  • 1 Background
  • 2 History
    • 21 Preservation
  • 3 See also
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 References
  • 6 Sources


The GG1 was developed in 1930s by General Electric as the replacement for the Pennsylvania Railroad's then standard electric locomotive, the P5a, and was based largely on the New Haven EP32 The GG1 was capable of a top speed of 100 miles per hour 160 km/h, powered by its twelve 385 horsepower 287 kW traction motors The prototype GG1, PRR 4800, was tested against Westinghouse's submission, the R1 The Pennsylvania selected the GG1 over the R1, as the R1 was not articulated and the GG1's traction motors were similar to ones already in use3 An order for 57 GG1s was placed in November 1934 and the first locomotives were delivered in April 19354

Raymond Loewy was hired by the Pennsylvania to "enhance the GG1's aesthetics"3 Loewy had the production locomotives' bodies be welded together, instead of riveted the way 4800 was, to give the GG1 a more streamlined appearance5 Loewy also formulated the Brunswick green paint scheme and the gold pinstripes, nicknamed "cat's whiskers", which was eventually applied by the Pennsylvania to all of its locomotives for the next 20 years5


4859 was built in December 1937 at the Pennsylvania Railroad's Altoona Works in Altoona, Pennsylvania The Philadelphia–Harrisburg line was opened on January 15, 1938, with 4859 pulling the inaugural train, Train #25 The Metropolitana6 Its departure from Philadelphia was accompanied by a cacophony of various train whistles and fire sirens leading some residents, who were unaware of the event, to believe that Nazi Germany was invading7

4859 was regeared to have a top speed of 90 miles per hour 140 km/h when it was shifted to freight duty in 1964 Although used primarily for freight, 4859 coninuned to pull "clockers", or short-haul passenger trains, from New York to Philadelphia and commuter trains on the New York and Long Branch Railroad8 4859, accompanied by PRR 4887, pulled the last freight train to be powered by a GG1 from the Enola Yard in Enola, Pennsylvania to Edgemoor, Delaware, before being retired by Conrail on November 29, 1979


4859 still in the Conrail livery at the Railroad Museum in 1982

After its retirement, 4859 was purchased in for $13,000 by the Harrisburg chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society and donated to the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority910 It was sent to the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum in Strasburg in the early 1980s, where restoration of 4859 was carried by the workshops of the nearby Strasburg Rail Road The body and chassis were sandblasted, primed and repainted back to its original 1938 appearance1112 The main transformer was removed and drained of the hazardous polychlorinated biphenyl PCBs used as coolant11

4859 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 19, 1982, while still in Strasburg1 The deed to 4859 was transferred from Redevelopment Authority to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission on November 13, 198613 Two days later, the engine was moved into the Transportation Center and rededicated8 The Pennsylvania General Assembly designated 4859 the official state electric locomotive on December 18, 1987, while also designating two K4s locomotives as the state steam locomotives in the same bill14 4859 was listed on National Register of Historic Places for a second time on May 5, 20041 "Soft" materials, like insulation, were removed from the cab in 2005 on orders from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to remove residual contamination from the PCBs15 In 2010, 4859 received some cosmetic restoration of its truck assemblies which were re-painted black to eliminate a noticeable coating of rust On April 5, 2014, the locomotive and its caboose were temporarily moved west of the Transportation Center, approximately 1,000 feet 300 m, to a siding, and covered with tarpaulins16 to allow Amtrak to perform renovation work on the station's catenary, signals, switches and tracks16 By October 17, 2015, the renovations were complete enough to allow 4859 to return to the station, though the project overall remains in progress17

See alsoedit

  • National Register of Historic Places portal
  • Pennsylvania portal
  • Trains portal
  • List of Pennsylvania state symbols
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania


a ^ PRR 4863 is often credited with pulling the inaugural train due to a mislabeling of an original print18 4863 actually had pulled the first westbound train to Philadelphia, departing an hour after 4859 had arrived in Harrisburg This mistake is also repeated in Bezilla's Electric Traction on the Pennsylvania Railroad, 1895–196819


  1. ^ a b c d "NPS Focus" National Register of Historic Places National Park Service Retrieved February 2, 2013 
  2. ^ Bezilla 1980, pp 141–142
  3. ^ a b Bezilla 1980, p 145
  4. ^ Bezilla 1980, pp 145, 147
  5. ^ a b Bezilla 1980, p 146
  6. ^ Cupper 2004, sec 8, p 3
  7. ^ Blankenship, Karl January 15, 1988 "50 years ago, electric train rolled into city" The Patriot Harrisburg, Pennsylvania p B2 
  8. ^ a b Cupper, Dan November 15, 1986 Remarks at GG1 4859 Dedication Speech Harrisburg Retrieved December 15, 2009 
  9. ^ "Work to begin on locomotive" The Patriot Harrisburg, Pennsylvania August 12, 1986 p A6 
  10. ^ Blankenship, Karl August 13, 1986 "Train electrifies greeters" The Patriot Harrisburg, Pennsylvania p A18 
  11. ^ a b Cupper 2004, sec 7, p 1
  12. ^ Cupper 2004, sec 8, p 4
  13. ^ Cupper 2004, sec 8, p 4
  14. ^ Act of Dec 18, 1987, PL 421, No 89
  15. ^ Cupper 2004, sec 7, pp 1–2
  16. ^ a b Kiner, Deb March 28, 2014 "Historic locomotive at Harrisburg Transportation Center will be temporarily relocated" The Patriot-News Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Retrieved March 28, 2014 
  17. ^ Miller, Barbara October 27, 2015 "Historic GG1 locomotive to be moved today at Harrisburg Transportation Center" The Patriot-News Retrieved January 28, 2016 
  18. ^ Cupper 2004, sec 8, p 5
  19. ^ Bezilla 1980, p 159


  • Bezilla, Michael 1980 Electric Traction on the Pennsylvania Railroad, 1895–1968 University Park: Penn State University Press ISBN 978-0271002415 OCLC 5336721 
  • Cupper, Dan March 22, 2004 "Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 Streamlined Electric Locomotive #4859, Part 1" PDF National Register of Historic Places Registration Form National Park Service Retrieved August 14, 2012 
  • ———— March 22, 2004 "Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 Streamlined Electric Locomotive #4859, Part 2" PDF National Register of Historic Places Registration Form National Park Service Retrieved August 14, 2012 

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