In this rare color view by Cedric Prusia, from the Richard R. Wallin collection, the freshly shopped 4-6-2 No. 5296 leaves Brighton, Illinois with a southbound local in March 1947. The image was scanned from Don Ball, Jr.'s America's Colorful Railroads, published by Bonanza Books in 1978 and now out of print. This also appears to be the image on the cover of the GM&O Historical Society Magazine No. 17 (1978). No. 5296 is shown here during the brief time after 1947 when she operated with GM&O lettering on the tender. Originally the C&A's No. 656, she was apparently the last of the P-16s to be scrapped, surviving till December 1951.
Under Baltimore & Ohio ownership the Chicago & Alton's I-6 class of Pacifics were renumbered to 5290-5298 and reclassified to P-16. By 1939 six of these engines, including No. 5296, had been rebuilt with Standard stokers, longer tenders and increased boiler pressure and reclassified P-16B. In 1943-44, when the Alton was unable to buy new steam or diesel locomotives due to wartime restrictions, they were further modernized with thermic siphons, new superheaters, Worthington feedwater heaters and disc main drivers. With a grate area of 70 square feet, these engines had an evaporative heating surface of 3975 square feet and 785 square feet of superheating surace.
Mr. Wallin, who at one time owned this image, comments: "The Bloomington shop guys had a warm spot in their heart for the 5290s; even at this late stage of the game, it was as shiny as a new pin. A veteran of years hauling the Alton Limited and other C&A/Alton varnish, here it is entrusted with a lowly all-stops local. Within a very short time, freight service will beckon as the final call before the graveyard."