We are looking at history reinvented, for the Southern Railway never owned a 2-8-4 or Berkshire type locomotive during the days of steam operation. In 1981-82 the railway operated former Chesapeake & Ohio No. 2716 on railfan trips, reconfigured to mimic what an SR 2-8-4 might have looked like. No. 2716 was a member of the C&O's K-4 class, outshopped by the American Locomotive Company in 1944. These engines, which the C&O styled Kanawhas instead of Berkshires, were similar in design to 2-8-4s operated by several other railroads: the Nickel Plate; Pere Marquette; Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac; Wheeling & Lake Erie; and Virginian. They had a driver diameter of 69 inches, a boiler pressure of 245 pounds, and 26x34-inch cylinders. They developed a tractive effort of 69,350 pounds and weighed 460,000 pounds.

The Chesapeake & Ohio's Kanawhas had their headlights mounted on the pilot, a typical C&O practice, but the Southern moved the headlight to the center of the smokebox front and added a second tender for auxiliary water supply. This transparency, which comes from the collection of Gary Thompson, was snapped by Richard B. Shelby at Alto, Georgia in October 1981. No. 2716, now returned to its original C&O appearance, is owned by the Kentucky Railway Museum but has been leased to the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation in Ravenna, Kentucky, with a view to restoration to operation.