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Northern Pacific Railway locomotives

By | May 24, 2021

The Northern Pacific Railway is Classic Trains Railroad of the Month for May 2021.

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4-6-2 steam locomotive

4-6-2 steam locomotive No. 2256


Northern Pacific adopted the 4-6-2 wheel arrangement as its main passenger engine early, receiving 20 class Q Pacifics from Alco in 1903. Six other classes followed, culminating in the Q-6 of 1923, exemplified by No. 2256.

H. F. Harvey collection
4-6-2 steam locomotive
4-8-4 steam locomotive

4-8-4 steam locomotive No. 2606


When heavier train weights began to tax the Q-6 Pacifics, Northern Pacific sought an engine with more power — and a large firebox to burn cheap, low-grade Rosebud coal. The result was the class A of 1926, an engine with eight drivers for power and a four-wheel trailing truck to carry a big firebox. NP 2600–2612 were the first 4-8-4s.

Robert F. Collins, Louis A. Marre collection
4-8-4 steam locomotive
Three road-switcher diesel locomotives

U25C diesel locomotives


Northern Pacific had the largest fleet of General Electric U25C diesels, owning 30 of the 113 units GE produced between September 1963 and December ’65.

General Electric
Three road-switcher diesel locomotives
Three streamlined diesel locomotives

F3 diesel locomotives


A brand-new A-B-B set of EMD F3 diesels is at St. Paul, Minn., in the late 1940s. The units were painted in Northern Pacific’s original passenger-service livery of two-tone green with a yellow nose.

R. V. Nixon
Three streamlined diesel locomotives
2-8-8-4 steam locomotive

2-8-8-4 steam locomotive No. 5006


Northern Pacific’s 12 Z-5 freight locomotives were the first 2-8-8-4 Yellowstone types and, at the time of their construction in 1928 and ’30, the largest engines in the world. Their immense fireboxes, sized for low-grade Rosebud coal, were eventually found to be too big for efficient operation.

Harold K. Vollrath collection
2-8-8-4 steam locomotive
Artist’s rendering of four streamlined diesel locomotives.

FT diesel locomotives


Northern Pacific had 22 FTA units and 22 FTBs, which it operated initially as 11 four-unit sets. Built in 1944–45, some of them were the last FTs to operate in the United States.

EMD
Artist’s rendering of four streamlined diesel locomotives.
4-6-6-4 steam locomotive

4-6-6-4 steam locomotive No. 5107


Northern Pacific 5107 was from the road’s first order of Challengers, built by Alco in 1936–37. Eleven more followed in 1941, and a further 20 in 1943–44, for a total of 47 4-6-6-4s.

Alco
4-6-6-4 steam locomotive
Two streamlined diesel locomotives.

F9 diesel locomotives


Northern Pacific acquired seven F9A units and two F9Bs in 1954–56 for transcontinental passenger service. They were painted in the new paint scheme of two-tone green with white accent designed by Raymond Loewy Associates for the North Coast Limited.

EMD
Two streamlined diesel locomotives.
Four road-switcher diesel locomotives

SD45 diesel locomotives


Brand-new SD45s 3600–3603 — the first of 30 such 3,600 h.p. units EMD delivered to Northern Pacific in 1966–68 — pose for a publicity photo.

NP
Four road-switcher diesel locomotives
4-8-4 steam locomotive

4-8-4 steam locomotive No. 2677


Northern Pacific gave the 4-8-4 type its “Northern” name when the road received the first ones in 1926. NP amassed a fleet of 49 4-8-4s in six classes. A-4 2677 was from the next-to-last class, built in 1941.

William J. Pontin
4-8-4 steam locomotive

 

All through May 2021, Classic Trains editors are celebrating the style, glamour and grit of the Northern Pacific Railway. Please enjoy this NP locomotive photo gallery sourced from the archives of the David P. Morgan Library at Kalmbach Media.

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