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Missabe Iron

Last steam locomotive in normal service in the USA?

NOT railfan or tourist service. I.E. regular commercial revenue earning service. What I want to know is what year it was and if possible what railroad and where. Of couse it is quite likely that the last one of all was in industrial use at a factory or similar - it would be nice to know where and when this was too.
I appreciate this is rather a grey area. In Britain, technically, the Vale of Rheidol Railway, Snowdon Mountain Railway and Isle of Man Railway have just carried on running and never dieselised - (fully at least) but these lines are run for tourists and steam is part of the 'attraction'. So I think that rules out the Pikes Peak railroad as one example.
Thank you in advance.

These types of questions are often difficult, primarily because "the last day of the last steam engine" as a strict matter of fact is probably lost to history, but there are accurate accounts of the last services of different road names and classes of steam engines. It is true the last "regular" service was in rock quarries and the like, and I know that at at least one US Naval Depot ran steam until as late as 1964. But I'm thinking you're more interested in the Class 1 railroads. In that category there were four "die hards" of steam.

The die hards were found east of the Mississippi with but one exception. Those eastern railroads were the Nickle Plate Road, Norfolk Western and the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. By the end of 1958, the last of these were classified as "stored ready for use".

The Nickle Plate Railroad used the 2-8-4 Berkshires until the end, between Ft. Wayne, Indiana and Chicago. On Sunday evening, June 15th, 1958, the last Berkshire delivered the last load of goods to Chicago, sent to the roundhouse, where the fire was dropped, unceremoniously.

Most railroads only used the newest, biggest, most advanced steam engines until the end, where they were not only worked, but worked hard. The steam rebels of the Norfolk and Western, the Y-6b 2-8-8-2s and class A 2-6-6-4s worked the coal trains of Kentucky and West Virginia north and east to ocean and lake ports, regularly handling 175 car, 13,000 ton trains. These too were silenced before the end of 1958, with the notable exception of the J class 4-8-4s, which made it as far as the mibble of 1959.

The behemoths of the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range made it a little further, but the last of their laborious barking was heard in early 1960, in regular service. There were two kept on "standby" status, but they never saw the main line again.

The last of steam, in regular service for a class 1 railroad, was found at home on the property of the Denver and Rio Grande Western's 3 foot gage, which operated in regular revenue freight service until 1961. Of course it seemlessly moved into the realm of tourist railroad with the spectacular scenery and more than a couple of the old "mud hens" survive to this day, operating both in Colorado and southern California.

This is all I can find on the subject, so I would say the last of regular steam operations occurred in 1961.

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Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Railroad ore car no number Bachmann Silver 18644
Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Railroad ore car no number Bachmann Silver 18644
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SILVER SERIES DMIR DULUTH MISSABE IRON RANGE ORE CAR HO Scale TrainNEW
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RCR MDC 22ft ORE CAR DULUTH MISSABE IRON RANGE 23987
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Bachmann Silver Series Duluth Missabe Iron Range Ore Car in Box
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Missabe HO Decals Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Flat Car Or Gondola White GON 1
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Missabe HO Decals Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Diesel Locomotive DMIR 3
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Champ HO Decals White Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Roadname Set HN 98
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HO Duluth Missabe Iron Range Diesels Decals 2 Sheets Microscale 87 131 b
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RCR MDC 22ft ORE CAR DULUTH MISSABE  IRON RANGE 23985
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