News & Reviews News Wire Minnesota museum to repaint Great Northern diesel

Minnesota museum to repaint Great Northern diesel

By Steve Glischinski | February 24, 2023

SDP40 to get GN orange and green colors

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Green and white diesel
The Minnesota Transportation Museum will repaint SDP40 No. 325, which operates at its Osceola & St. Croix Valley heritage railway, into Great Northern paint. MTM photo via Facebook

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Transportation Museum will repaint its former Great Northern Railway SDP40 No. 325 into GN’s simplified orange and green color scheme, the museum announced to members. A museum member has agreed to fund the over $60,000 cost to have the engine repainted. MTM also has a large collection of GN passenger cars painted in the orange and green colors.

GN No. 325 was built by EMD in 1966, one of six SDP40s purchased for passenger service. Only 20 SDP40s were built between 1966 and 1970 for GN and National Railways of Mexico. The 3,000-hp units were essentially an SD40 with a steam generator added for passenger service. Transferred to freight service upon Amtrak’s inception in 1971, No. 325 operated under various numbers for GN successor Burlington Northern and BNSF Railway until it was retired in 2008. BNSF donated the locomotive to the museum in 2009, and it has been a mainstay of MTM’s heritage railway, the Osceola & St. Croix Valley, based in Osceola, Wis., since its donation.

A few years ago an effort was made to repaint No. 325 in GN’s Big Sky Blue colors. That effort only netted $16,400. GN adopted the blue scheme in 1967 but the colors were short lived, as GN merged into Burlington Northern in March 1970, and the unit was repainted in BN green, which it still wears today.

Great Northern adopted its Omaha Orange and Pullman Green colors in the 1940s with its first order of FT diesels. The most famous application of the scheme came in 1947 when new streamlined Empire Builders went into service between Chicago and Seattle/Portland. Subsequent orders for streamlined passenger equipment by GN all wore the colors, as did its diesels. In the early 1960s GN simplified the scheme on its diesels by eliminating some striping; it is this scheme No. 325 was delivered in and will wear after repainting.

MTM said the locomotive will be repainted in time for it to pull trains on the Osceola & St. Croix Valley this summer. Trains operate from May to October. For train schedules go to

6 thoughts on “Minnesota museum to repaint Great Northern diesel

  1. One of my early assignments with Electro-Motive was the delivery of the 6 GN SDP40s along with the first eight SD45s, including “Hustle Muscle”. On my first day on the assignment, GN 400 (Hustle Muscle) was in the Minneapolis Junction shop with an electrical problem. One of the SDP40s, (I don’t remember which one, possibly 323) had a power assembly/crankshaft failure on its first trip west. The basket bolts, which are part of the connecting rod assembly that secures the piston connecting rod to the crankshaft and bearing, had not been properly tightened. I will never forget being awakened by a phone call from boss that morning to tell that the failure had occurred. Needless to say, the railroad management was not happy. The unit was returned to LaGrange for an engine replacement and was soon back in service. While I was on the assignment, another SDP40, leading the Empire Builder westbound, ran into a herd of elk that had taken shelter in Cascade Tunnel. The unit was a mess when it arrived at Interbay, but only suffered minor damage. I am glad to see that one of the unique GN SDP40s has survived and will be repainted in the colors that it wore when I delivered it almost 57 years ago!

    1. Thank you for that story Mr. Barber. That was a very interesting read. I bet you have a bunch more and I would love to hear them. You should jot them down or write a book. I would read it.

    2. I’m going to second Mr. Woodruff’s motion. It’s these first person accounts that are missing from our collective industrial memory.

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