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Illinois grain elevator acquires ex-C&NW GP50

By | April 5, 2022

Locomotive in Dewey, Ill., will replace former Illinois Central GP28

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Yellow and black GP50 locomotive
Yellow and black GP50 locomotive
A grain elevator in central Illinois has acquired this former Dakota & Iowa GP50, originally built for Chicago & North Western (Steve Smedley)

DEWEY, Ill. — Premier Cooperative in Dewey, in east central Illinois, has purchased a former Dakota & Iowa Railway GP50 to serve its large grain elevator.

GP50 No. 2512 was built for the Chicago & North Western as its No. 5054 in May 1980, spending most of its early life speeding “Falcon Service” piggyback trains between Chicago and Fremont, Neb., and its connection to the Union Pacific.

The GP50 was acquired from locomotive dealer Motive Power Resources, Inc., in Minooka, Ill.

It is replacing a rare former Illinois Central GP28, No. 1828, which has become “unreliable,” according to Premier’s Wes Ware, project and maintenance manager.

Canadian National brings 110- to 115-car unit grain trains for loading at the elevator, shoving them onto a branch at Rantoul, Ill. Premier’s locomotive pulls the empties west to the elevator, where they are loaded, then shoved further west as the loaded trains are assembled.

“We shipped 15 million bushels in 2021 — export corn and soybeans to the Gulf, where they are loaded directly on to ships,” Ware said.

The GP28, he said, had too many “maintenance and wiring issues; some days it would not start. That engine is attractive to a lot of people. The plan had been to scrap it, but now I am just awaiting a buyer.”

Ware added that the difference in horsepower between the ailing GP28 and the GP50 has been a game changer.

“Oh my gosh, 1828 is 1,500 hp; this one is 3,500,” he said. “We moved 78 loaded cars up the hill towards Fisher. It has been great!”

One thought on “Illinois grain elevator acquires ex-C&NW GP50

  1. This line from Rantoul to Dewey is all that is left of the original Havana, Rantoul and Eastern Railroad. Originally built in 1875 as a narrow gauge, it was built as far west as LeRoy, Illinois and as far east as West Lebanon, Indiana. It’s nickname was the “Punkin Vine” due to its narrow gauge. It never reached Havana, IL as planned.

    The Wabash took it over from its terminus in West Lebanon when it fell into receivership and eventually sold it to the Illinois Central in 1886. The IC had it re-gauged to standard and named it the Rantoul Railroad.

    The IC used it as a agricultural feeder to the main line in Rantoul until they went through their post GMO abandonments. This line to Dewey is all that remains.

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