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Boucher-Lewis Precision Models, Inc.  Search this
Physical Description:
wood (part material)
brass (part material)
steel (part material)
paint (part material)
overall, with base: 8 in x 8 1/2 in x 60 1/4 in; 20.32 cm x 21.59 cm x 153.035 cm
overall: 11 in x 7 3/4 in x 60 in; 27.94 cm x 19.685 cm x 152.4 cm
Object Name:
Model, Locomotive
Place made:
United States: New York, New York City
Associated Place:
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
United States: New York
United States: Pennsylvania
Date made:
Used date:
This is a model of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s No. 4801, an electric locomotive built in 1935. This model is part of the collection displayed in the museum’s Railroad Hall exhibit of 1964-2002 to illustrate the technological development of the locomotive.
In the early twentieth century, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s mainline from New York City to Washington, DC, was becoming increasingly congested. Initially, the railroad attempted to solve the problem by adding additional tracks and improving the performance of its steam locomotives. Years earlier, however, the Pennsylvania had successfully reduced crowding on suburban lines surrounding Philadelphia by switching from steam to electric traction. Electric engines could accelerate faster than steam locomotives, and electrically powered trains could therefore travel faster than those pulled by steam over the same segment of track. Swifter movement meant that more trains could be operated over the route. In this way, electrification would allow the Pennsylvania Railroad to ease congestion without building additional track.
The Pennsylvania Railroad began to electrify the route in 1928, and the first electrically powered train ran from New York to Philadelphia in January of 1933. When funds became scarce during the depths of the Great Depression, the railroad received a $77 million dollar loan from the Public Works Administration in 1933 to continue electrification toward Washington. Beginning on February 10, 1935, electrically powered trains traveled the 225 mile-long mainline from New York City to Washington.
The no. 4801 was one of 139 GG1 class locomotives built to haul high-speed passenger trains over this heavily travelled line. These engines could pull trains of fifteen to twenty cars at 80 miles per hour. The Pennsylvania Railroad hired industrial designer Raymond Loewy to enhance the GG-1’s appearance. Keeping the engine’s overall shape the same, Loewy substituted a sleek, all-welded shell for the riveted body of the prototype. He also devised the paint scheme: Brunswick green with five gold pinstripes. A few GG1s operated into the early 1980s. As of 2011, fifteen GG1s survive in various museums.
Currently on loan
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See more items in:
Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad
America on the Move
Data Source:
National Museum of American History