Shay locomotives have always fascinated me with their unique look, sound, and heritage. Invented by the talented Michigan lumberman by the name of Ephriam Shay and exclusively manufactured by the Lima Locomotive Works of Lima, OH. The Shays were what put Lima on the track to becoming one the most innovative locomotive builders in the world. A Shay locomotive differs from a regular steam locomotive in many ways. Unlike a conventional “rod” type steam locomotive with a rigid wheelbase and horizontal pistons and running gear on each side, a Shay has a flexible wheelbase, horizontal pistons, and a geared drivetrain to turn the wheels. This gives the Shay the flexibility of a boxcar to traverse tight curves and lightly laid rail typical of logging operations. As every wheel is powered it has more torque and tractive effort to run up and down steep grades. The appearance of a Shay is asymmetrical since the pistons are only on the engineer’s side causing the boiler to be offset. Photographers prefer the right side of the locomotive as the machinery is more visually interesting than the fireman’s side which is plain by comparison.
The Cass Scenic Railroad of Cass, WV boasts more Shay locomotives than any other railroad in the world. Cass began as your typical logging railroad in 1901 and successfully turned itself into a leading preserved railroad operation in 1963.
I hope you enjoy these photos from the 2018 Cass Rail Heritage Weekend which took place the weekend of May 18-20.