As with most other North American railroads, dieselization overtook the New York Central so quickly after the 1940s that the System's latest steam designs — the S-1 and S-2 Niagaras and the P&LE A-2 Berkshires — hardly had time to prove themselves, not to mention the L-4 Mohawks that were only six to eight years old by 1950.

What if it had been otherwise? What if EMD had somehow stumbled and failed to introduce its GP-7? What if Lima Locomotive Works' confident ads in the trade press had encouraged some motive power superintendents to stick with steam? What if labor costs had not skyrocketed, driving labor-intensive industries like railroads to severe cost-cutting measures? What if the price of oil had risen, through international conflict or other factors, making coal more attractive as a locomotive fuel?

Would steam locomotive development have continued for a few more years in North America as it did in Britain, South Africa, China or other parts of the world? One can always indulge the fantasy! Here are several images of imaginary New York Central steam power of the 1940s and 1950s. Click on the selections below to bring up the full size image, with imaginary commentary. For additional images of NYC steam power that never existed, visit our general Fantasy Steam Page.