Chesapeake Western Baldwin DS-4-4-660 #662

Donated by the Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal Co.
Restored by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society

About The Chesapeake Western Railway

While the Chesapeake Western’s origin dates back to 1871, the railway was first incorporated as the Chesapeake Western beginning in 1892. By the mid-1940s, the Chesapeake Western operated a total of 53.5 miles in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with branches connecting Harrisonburg with Bridgewater, Elkton, and Staunton, and interchanges with the C&O, N&W, and Southern Railways.

Known by locals as the “Crooked and Weedy,” the Chesapeake Western has also been known as “General Robert E. Lee’s Railroad.” After the Civil War, Lee was convinced of the economic necessity of a rail line connecting the Shenandoah Valley with the port of Baltimore. He became the first president of the Valley Railroad of Virginia which was merged into the Chesapeake Western in 1942.

The Chesapeake Western is reported to have been the first railroad in the US to offer free pick-up-and-delivery for less-than-carload freight shipments. The line was purchased by N&W in 1954 and its tracks are still used by Norfolk Southern today.

While the railway originally hauled primarily forest products, it now serves the region’s poultry industry, delivering supplies of poultry feed with trains passing through the campus of James Madison University several times a day.

ABOUT THE BALDWIN DS 4-4-660 UNIT 662

The 662 was built by Baldwin in Eddystone, PA in 1946. The engine was one of three diesel-electrics (along with the 661 and 663) placed in service on December 2, 1946. These three first-generation diesel locomotives completely transitioned the Chesapeake Western from steam to diesel power. The diesels’ projected cost per mile of $.25 compared very favorably to the line’s steam locomotives which operated at $.96 per mile (both exclusive of wages).

Diesel locomotive Baldwin 662

The three Baldwin DS 4-4-660 locomotives were retired in 1964, replaced by Alco T-6s. The 662 and 663 wound up in the Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal Co. scrap yard in Roanoke, VA, where they endured a number of floods and sat rusting for over forty years. Along with three N&W Class M2 steam locomotives, these became known as the “Lost Engines of Roanoke.”

Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal Co. donated the engines to the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The Museum, in turn, established a series of partnerships which saved all five engines and additional rail stock from destruction.  The Baldwin diesels represent a historic step in the development of the technology that displaced steam from America’s railroads in the 1940s and 1950s, a story that deserves to be preserved.

The Museum donated the 663 to the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. In exchange, the Chapter committed to performing a cosmetic restoration of the Museum’s 662. Both locomotives will eventually be restored to their striking blue and gold Chesapeake Western paint scheme.

Class Specifications

  • Production Dates: June, 1946 to May, 1949
  • Quantity Built: 139 
  • Baldwin Serial Number: 15
  • Baldwin Construction Number: 7335
  • Total Length 46′-00"
  • Height to Top Cab Hood 14′-03"
  • Weight: 240,000 lbs
  • Engine: 4-cycle Model 606 NA
  • Main Generator: Westinghouse – WE480
  • Horsepower: 660
  • Gear Ratio: 68:14 
  • Speed: 60 mph 
  • Trucks: 4-Wheel
  • Traction Motors: Westinghouse – WE362 (four) 
  • Tractive Effort: 49,625 lbs @ 25%
  • Air Brake: Westinghouse Model: 6S
  • Wheel Diameter: 40"
  • Minimum Turning Radius: 30 degrees

For More Information

Samuel T. Elswick, June 1997 and Tony Madson, March 1998. Chesapeake Western Railway Company. Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

Charles Grattan Price, Jr. "Robert E. Lee’s Railroad Goes Diesel." Baldwin Quarterly Magazine, First/Second Quarter, 1948

The Baldwin Diesel 4-4-660

Bachand, Jean-Denis. Baldwin DS 4-4-660 Data Sheet, February 18, 2006.

CW 662