B&O Railroad Museum TV Network: No. 545 “A.J. Cromwell” (April 2016)
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B&O Railroad Museum TV Network: No. 545 “A.J. Cromwell” (April 2016)

August 14, 2019


Hi, I’m Michael Gross, host of the
B&O Railroad Museum Television Network. This is the recently restored B&O
locomotive No. 545, the “A.J. Cromwell,” the only B&O consolidation
locomotive in existence today. Alexander Mitchell designed the first
consolidation 2-8-0 freight locomotive for the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1866. From 1866 to 1916 they were built in
large numbers across the nation. By the turn of the century heavy consolidations
were universal on almost every railroad. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad adopted
its first engine of this type in 1873. By 1885, the B&O had 180 in service. Many of these late Victorian workhorses continued to
work into the 1920s, despite more modern designs. The 545 and engines similar to it represented the
maximum financial return on a locomotive of the time period. Preserved and now fully restored at
the B&O Railroad Museum, it is the only B&O consolidation
locomotive in existence. Built in 1888 at the B&O’s Mount Clare Shops, the number 545 “A.J. Cromwell” is a
fine example of the no-frills workhorse intended to replace slow and outdated freight engines
such as the distinctive camel locomotives. The 545, and engines similar to it, were the
backbone of late 19th century rail service because they were heavier, more powerful,
and extremely utilitarian. The B&O Railroad used the 545 and locomotives
like it for hauling coal trains and as its universal freight engine. They continued to purchase and
build consolidations until 1910 when the 2-8-2 Mikados and Mallets began relegating
the consolidation type engines to secondary service. The 545 served well into the 1920s until it was
retired and preserved by the B&O in 1926 for the railroad’s 100th anniversary celebration
known as the Fair of the Iron Horse. During the fair, the 545 was renamed “A.J. Cromwell”
in honor of Andrew J. Cromwell, the B&O Superintendent of Motive Power
when the locomotive was built. Following the Fair of the Iron Horse,
the engine remained in storage in the Hall of Transportation located on
the fair site in Halethorpe, Maryland. In August 1935, a major storm caused the
roof of the building to collapse, marking the first time but not the last
it would be involved in a roof collapse. It was repaired and removed to storage
to Bailey’s Roundhouse near the present-day Ravens football
stadium in Baltimore and eventually placed on display at the
B&O Railroad Museum in the early 1950s. It is the oldest locomotive in
the collection that has air brakes. As with many of the historic engines
in the museum’s collection, the 545 remained as an operational public
relations engine well into retirement. In 1955, the locomotive was featured in the film,
“The Swan” starring Sir Alec Guinness and featuring Grace Kelly. This was Grace Kelly’s last film prior to her
retirement to become the Princess of Monaco. The locomotive received several removable,
modifications to give it a European appearance. It remained on display in the historic
roundhouse and was damaged once again in the roundhouse roof collapse during the
President’s Day snowstorm of February 2003. The decision was made to return the locomotive
to its 1926 configuration for the Fair of the Iron Horse, however, prior to the application of
“A.J. Cromwell” to the side of the locomotive. The museum’s expert restoration staff used
paint sampling, early photographs, and archival discoveries made during
the project to select its final appearance. This appearance allows the museum to interpret
a unique period of railroading history that coincides with the locomotive’s
introduction at the end of the 19th century when railroads introduced powerful engines
that were both practical and utilitarian in nature. I’m Michael Gross. Thanks for watching the B&O Railroad
Museum Television Network. Interested in learning more about the
B&O Railroad Museum and Ellicott City Station? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
With daily updates on upcoming events, coupons, photographs, history, and things to do in Baltimore, you’ll never be off track.

6 Comments

  • Reply Fairland Productions April 14, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    Is it runing

  • Reply Matthew Gustafson November 17, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    How good is this engine mechanically? Is it a possible restoration to operational candidate?

  • Reply Myles Spear January 3, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Can you guys do an episode on Clinchfield 1?

  • Reply Kalvin Chester April 17, 2017 at 3:46 am

    I would love to see this steam engine operate

  • Reply steven rowe May 2, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    great video. Interesting how we British invented the railways but America wax at the cutting edge of loco design and power.
    All the loco wheel arrangements were developed in the US such as the atlantic and pacifics.
    interestingly though the first pacific loco which was indeed American never ran in the States.
    The first pacific to run was an American built loco for New Zealand.
    I think I have to come to the US to see preserved steam.
    I would love to see the UP bigboy 4004 run when it has been restored.
    i think my favourite US loco is the Pennys K4 which was the inspiration for Sir Nigel Gresley to develop his fleet of pacific super power for the LNER

  • Reply Elijah Vargas December 4, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    4-4-0 General anybody?

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