California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996

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Model Train Help EBook

Cotton Belt

'Golden State'/
/'General Service'

SSW Class L1

SP Class GS-8


10 units built

Pine Bluff built for SSW
Orig.# 810 811 812 813 814 815 816 817 818 819
Final # 4488 4485 4486 4487

see text below

A local shot from San Jose, California in 1954. The ex-Cotton Belt GS #4486 was sprinting out of the San Jose passenger station past the Lenzen Avenue Engine Terminal - Photo from the collection of Gene Deimling

Five 4-8-4's (#810-814) were built by Cotton Belt in their Pine Bluff Shops in 1937. These were an improvement on the previous Baldwin built L1's. Cotton Belt supplied the labor and included roller bearings on all axles, Boxpok main drivers and multiple bearing crosheads, (the GS-7's had alligator type). Standard black paint was applied instead of the dark Nile green, although they had the chrome-plated parts of the GS-7's.

Another five (#815-819) were built by Cotton Belt in 1942, these were a copy of the 1937 builds, except for the chrome-plating.

Late in 1952, SP leased seven early L1's [GS-7's] (#801, 802, 404, 805, 807, 808, 809), three late L1's [GS-8's] (#815, 817, 818), while T&NO leased three late L1's [GS-8's] (#812, 813, 819) and operated them on the Rio Grande and San Antonio Divisions out of El Paso. These were fitted with train number indicators, Barco speed recorders and silver smokebox doors.

After steam operations finished out of El Paso, the seven early L1's leased by SP were sent back to California, renumbered, reclassed GS-7, and used on the peninsular commute service. The later three L1's were classed GS-8. The three leased by T&NO were sent to storage in Tyler, TX.

While on the SP proper only small physical changes were made; see Cotton Belt Locomotives - by Joseph Strapac for details.

All retired and scrapped by 1959, except #819, which was on display for many years in Pine Bluff, Arkansas until 19?? when it was restored to operating condition by the Cotton Belt Historical Society.

see: Wayne Beck's Cotton Belt #819 page for further info.


  • A Century of SP Steam Locomotives - Guy L. Dunscomb.
  • 4-8-4's Daylight The Complete Story of the Southern Pacific GS Class 4400 Series Locomotives - by Robert J. Church.
  • Mainline Modeler June 1995 - Southern Pacific GS-1 History and Plans - by Robert J. Church.
  • Cotton Belt Locomotives - by Joseph Strapac.

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This document © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008. Richard.A.Percy

Monday, March 01, 1999 9:24:45 PM