While the C&O's "Yellowbelly" Hudsons were not the most numerous, most famous, or even the most beautiful streamlined Hudsons, they arguably got the last laugh. Chesapeake & Ohio Yellowbelly No. 490 is the only surviving Hudson from the golden age of Art Deco streamlined steam engines, and resides comfortably today at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
The C&O's four L1 Hudsons started life in 1926 as ALCO-built Pacifics. In 1946-47 the railroad's Huntington shops used their boilers and fireboxes to build streamlined steamers to haul connecting sections of The Chessie, the C&O's new daytime domeliner planned for the Washington to Cincinnati route. The Hudsons' tenders were shaped to blend in with the new Budd streamliners, and the steamers' orange and fluted stainless steel finish matched the sides and letterboards of the new train.
Unfortunately, by the time Budd delivered the 46 spectacular Chessie cars in 1948, the railroad's fortunes had turned. The Chessie was quietly canceled without ever turning a wheel, and its cars scattered to other railroads and lesser C&O assignments. The streamlined Hudsons were repainted in yellow, acquired the nickname "Yellowbellies" from their crews, and assigned to other passenger trains. By 1950 three of the engines were out of service, but No. 490 soldiered on until Saturday, June 7, 1953, when it led a National Railway Historical Society excursion to Charlottesville, Va. that turned out to be the last C&O steam run into or out of Washington, D.C. Preserved in the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Collection, No. 490 came to the B&O Museum in 1971.
Returning to the M.T.H. RailKing lineup for the first time since 2006, the C&O Yellowbelly for 2015 comes fully equipped with Proto-Sound 3.0, including synchronized puffing smoke timed to four chuffs and puffs per driver revolution - a standard M.T.H. feature for the past six years. Available in authentic Chesapeake & Ohio livery, the model will also be produced in three other schemes for the Santa Fe, Southern, and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy.