HO Collector Extra Board

A Gaggle of Geese: Santa Fe’s “Blue Goose” in HO

A Gaggle of Geese: Santa Fe’s “Blue Goose” in HO

HOC 2023-01by Tony Cook/photos by the author except as noted

Santa Fe’s 3460 “Blue Goose” steam locomotive is a unique roster member in the railroad’s history. This Baldwin-built 4-6-4 was part of an order for three types of wheel arrangements (4-8-4 and 2-10-4 were the other two), with a goal of having economy among these late 1930s steam locomotives thanks to a degree of interchangeable components. With respect to 4-6-4s, Santa Fe’s order for six saw construction during the last three months of 1937, with 3460–3464 delivering first and possessing a type of steam locomotive appearance. The streamlined, shrouded 3460 (Baldwin builder number 62083, completed in December 1937) arrived on the railroad in January 1938.

Though Santa Fe’s Blue Goose was the only streamlined example in this 1937 Baldwin order, it did have several similar cousins in the East. New Haven bought a streamlined design from Baldwin for its 10 1400-series 4-6-4s, assembled in early 1937 ahead of Santa Fe’s 3460 class. The reported expense to dress a Baldwin 4-6-4 steam locomotive in this streamlined Blue Goose exterior was slightly more than $15,000 above the price tag of the rest of this order’s locomotives. The shrouding or skirting above the pilot trucks and drivers was cut back for ease of maintenance. An extender for the exhaust stack was another noteworthy revision. This change somewhat spoiled the sleek lines of the upper area on the fireman’s side of the locomotive near the boiler face. You can see this angled box protrusion in the prototype view below (this box housed the apparatus to raise and lower the smokestack extension and sat ahead of the number board on this side only).

Santa Fe Blue Goose

ABOVE: Santa Fe 3460 sits in storage at the road’s Argentine Yard in the Kansas City, Mo., area. This one-of-a-kind 4-6-4 came as the final delivery in a 1937 Baldwin order. After a decade of service, Santa Fe’s Blue Goose awaits scrapping in the early 1950s. — Kevin EuDaly collection 

As with any roster member, Santa Fe’s 3460 did not go through its career without some alterations. The locomo-tive’s road number originally appeared over the drivers in the aluminum band separating the two shades of blue; later, the tender received 3460 in the darkerblue section below Santa Fe’s name. This beauty has a jealous sibling in the class: Santa Fe 3461. Though 3461 shared the common appearance of the rest of the 4-6-4s delivered by Baldwin, it was treated to a skyline casing (to attempt to ward off smoke from the cab area) which gave this locomotive a somewhat streamlined appearance. This same roster member received two large square Santa Fe heralds on its tender as an experiment in more flashy decoration. The standard look moved to a large white Santa Fe name over the road number on the tender, but those twin large heralds would seem to have been an effort by 3461 to glamorize herself to compete with stunning sister 3460.

In his excellent reference series on the railroad’s pre-diesel motive power, Santa Fe Steam Compendium, Vol. Two: Modern Locomotives (2020, Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society), author Joseph A. Strapac states the streamlined Blue Goose was, according to his research, originally assigned to be a “traveling protection engine” to help first class passenger services east of La Junta, Colo. For the modeler, the Blue Goose’s ability to roam some in the wilds of Santa Fe’s many passenger trains is a plus. In reality, the lack of a permanent home may have worked against it; Joseph Strapac postulates in his notes on this locomotive that 3460 “did not age gracefully.”

Santa Fe Blue Goose

ABOVE: This is a 1979 production run example of Pacific Fast Mail’s Santa Fe Blue Goose steam locomotive. All PFM Blue Goose offerings came from Japanese builder Tenshodo. The replicas were assembled and included factory paint and lettering, which was not overly common for the era.

Santa Fe’s early diesel locomotives share birthdays near that of the 3460-class steam locomotives. Red and silver Warbonnet livery diesels soon won the premium passenger assignments and the Blue Goose continued to serve but on lesser services (like the all-heavyweight Antelope) by the conclusion of the 1940s and just into the 1950s. While E- and F-units were delivering and collecting people and priority packages at nearby Kansas City Union Station in the early 1950s, the 3460-class began calling the storage line at Argentine Yard home. Reference information finds the Blue Goose was awakened from its sleep briefly, for one final time, in early 1954 for use in a railroad publicity film promoting the completion of dieselization on the roster. Records show a sale to a scrap dealer in June 1956 sent the majority of the 3460-class away for good. Santa Fe 3463 was spared and went west to Topeka, Kan., as a donation and display. Sadly, the Blue Goose was not preserved…

HOC 2023-01Read the rest of this article in the 1st Quarter 2023 issue of HO Collector

This article was posted on: January 16, 2023