The locomotive was built by the American Locomotive Company in March 1918. This 2-10-0 Decapod was built for the Russian State Railroad, but never delivered due to the Revolution of 1917. Before the locomotive could be used in the U.S, wider tires had to be installed since the Russian Railroads used 5-foot gauge, instead of 4 feet 8 ½ inches. It then became the property of the United States Railroad Administration, begun in 1917 to control the shipment of vital war supplies during World War I. Decapods were employed on branch lines throughout the Seaboard system, being based in North Carolina at Hamlet and Raleigh. During the 1950s these decapods were transferred to the Gainesville Midland, a Seaboard subsidiary in Georgia. The 544 was placed on display in Atlanta in 1965 and later sold to the North Carolina Railroad Company in 1980, which donated the locomotive to the State of North Carolina. The 544 was cosmetically restored in 1996 for display in the Robert Julian Roundhouse.
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