The demand for longer and heavier trains to run at high speeds in the early 1920s necessitated larger steam engines. The resulting locomotive type built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO), Baldwin and Lima Locomotive Works with a 4-6-4 wheel arrangement came to be known as a Hudson. These locomotives were initially ordered by the New York Central railroad and named after the Hudson river.
The 773 was the first postwar steamer introduced by Lionel in 1950 with a 4-6-4 wheel arrangement. It was built to the coveted 1:48 scale and the 773 is the engine known to collectors simply as The Hudson. The initial 773 from 1950 was only available for that one year but was reintroduced in 1964 and had Magnetraction, smoke and an operating headlight plus a 2426W "Lionel Lines" deluxe semi-scale, 12-wheel whistling tender which sported railings, grab rails, metal steps and rear ladders. The 773 was reintroduced in 1964 with a smaller 736W tender which strangely carried the “Pennsylvania” roadname. Lastly (and thankfully), Lionel made one final change and introduced the 773W tender which appropriately carried the New York Central roadname.
Lionel also introduced the 2046 in 1950 followed by the 2056 in 1952 and subsequently the 685 and 2055 in 1953 and finally the 646, 665 and 2065 in 1954. Those 4-6-4 steamers are smaller than the 773 and are commonly referred to as “baby” Hudsons. Lionel's baby Hudson locomotive quickly became the backbone of many middle-of-the-line outfits from 1950 through the 1960's. Additionally, the baby Hudson's are among of the best running locomotives of the entire postwar era.