Engine # 576 was built by the American Locomotive Company in August
1942, a class J-3, builder #69786. Designed by C.M. Darden, the
NC's Chief Mechanical Officer, The J3's were a technological marvel
of their day.
The one piece cast frame and sealed roller bearings on the engine
were revolutionary in reducing maintenance costs for the road.
the lateral motion devices on the lead driver set allowed a much
larger, and more powerful, engine to be used on the NC's tight
The Whyte system classification for steam engines calls #576 a
4-8-4. Four wheels on the leading trucks, eight drivers, and four
wheels on the trailing truck. Most railroads called their 4-8-4s
"Northerns" after the Northern Pacific Railroad, who first
adopted the design. However, the NC&StL went to and from Dixieland,
so no "Northerns" would be welcome on the line. Instead,
the 4-8-4s were called "Dixies." In practice, the crews
called the engines "Yellow Jackets" or "Stripes."
As delivered, the 576 had a streamlined nose and wide skirts. However,
during the Second World War, shop crews cut off the streamlining to make
servicing the engine faster and easier
When the engines were streamlined, the crews called them "Yellow
Jackets" for the broad yellow stripe on their sides. When the wide
stripe was removed after the skirts were gone, they were called "Stripes"
for the thin line of paint that replaced the wide stripe.
After the traffic surge died down from the Second World War, and traffic
died down, the J3's were bumped from prime service spots to lesser passenger
and freight trains. Eventually, by September 2 1952, all of the J3's were
withdrawn from service. All of them except #576 were scrapped. The only
surviving example of mainline NC&StL steam, J3-57 class locomotive
#576 has been on static display in Centennial Park,