The locomotive was designed to haul heavy gravel and freight trains for raising the Don Pedro Melones and O'Shaughnessy dams.
After the dams' completion in the mid-1920's No. 28 hauled the most freight traffic on the railroad's lower division.
After completion of the project, #28 returned to hauling freight.
It was derailed on an excursion in 1963 and later retired from service with damaged air brakes.
In 1971 the engine was restored, and in steam at Railtown 1897.
Today the engine is still at Railtown but the engine presently rests in the roundhouse awaiting an overhaul.
The locomotive appeared in several movies, including Go West, Young Dog, Bound for Glory, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Bonanza, the Return, Overland Trail, Nichols, Little House on the Prairie, and The World's Greatest Lover.
In 1999 it moved to Old Sacramento to participate in Raifair ’99.
The engine's first period in active preservation lasted for 3 years until the a fire destroyed the cab's woodwork and damaged the controls.
As of 2016, #28 is finally under Restoration to operating condition.
On October 19, 1963 the locomotive derailed backing through a switch in Jamestown, effectively ending all excursion trains on the railroad until the opening of Railtown 1897.