USRA 4-6-2 Brass Locomotive
By Key ImportsOn April 4, 1917, the United States entered World War I, and very soon the nation's railroads proved inadequate to the task of serving the war effort. in December 1917 the ICC recommended federal control of the railroad industry to ensure efficient operation. The takeover measures were to go beyond simply easing the congestion and expediting the flow of goods; they were to bring all parties—management, labor, investors, and shippers—together in a harmonious whole working consortium on behalf of the national interest. President Wilson issued an order for nationalization on December 26, 1917 as the USRA (United States Railroad Administration).
The USRA standard locomotives and railroad cars were designed during World War I. There were 1,856 steam locomotives and over 100,000 railroad cars built to these standards during the USRA's tenure.
The locomotive designs in particular were the nearest the American railroads and locomotive builders ever got to standard locomotive types, and after the USRA was dissolved in 1920 many of the designs were duplicated in number, 3,251 copies being constructed overall. The last steam locomotive built for a Class I railroad in the United States, an 0-8-0 built by the Norfolk and Western Railway, was a USRA design. A total of 97 railroads used USRA or USRA-derived locomotives.