The 4-8-4 series of locomotives were unquestionably the finest
steam locomotives on "The Dixie Line." Throughout
the U.S., 4-8-4s were traditionally classed as "Northerns,"
as this wheel arrangement was first conceived by the Northern Pacific.
Running as it did through the very heart of Dixieland, the NC&StL
officially classed their first 4-8-4 series of locomotives, the
J2 series delivered by Alco in 1930, as "Dixies," road
numbers 565 - 569. Their story largely unheralded during the depression
and later lost in the limelight of the wartime J3's, these 5 nonetheless
paved the way.
Highly advanced for the time, they came equipped with such innovative
features as lateral motion journal boxes for the forward-most
two driving axles, cast one piece steel frame cast integral with
both cylinders, 70 inch drivers, and a vastly improved steaming
capacity when compared with just about anything then available (over
4,000 square feet of heating area at 250 P.S.I.). These features
made them uniquely suited to the needs of the NC&StL's curves
and grades, and in both the passenger and freight role.
While these 5 actually coined the "Dixie" classification
name, they were referred to by their crews as "Gliders"
for their ability to seemingly glide in and out of curves. They
were the smallest U.S. 4-8-4s ever built, and were beloved by the
road crews who operated them as well as by the maintainers who kept
them running. Because of their wonderful ability to handle the tightest
curves, they served the mainline from Atlanta to Memphis.
Also note the unique lateral (or outside) journals of the leading