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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / EMD holds 100th anniversary event at Illinois Railway Museum (updated)

EMD holds 100th anniversary event at Illinois Railway Museum (updated)

By Steve Smedley | August 21, 2022

SD70ACe-T4, CP SD40-2F part of displays for event honoring locomotive builder

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Four locomotives lined up outside shop building
Four locomotives lined up outside shop building
Four EMD products are lined up at the Illinois Railway Museum on Saturday: Chicago & North Western F7A No. 411; Amtrak AEM-7 No. 945; Santa Fe FP45 No. 92; and Canadian Pacific SD40-2F No. 9023. The first three are from the IRM collection; the ex-Central Maine & Quebec CP unit is active. (Russell Sharp)

Man in blue blazer speaking into handheld microphone
Progress Rail CEO Marty Haycraft addresses Saturday’s EMD event. (Russell Sharp)

UNION, Ill. — Under leaden skies, rainwater pools on the walkway of Progress Rail EMDX SD70ACe-T4 demonstrator No. 7723. On the passenger platform at the Illinois Railway Museum, a much earlier product of Electro-Motive Division rolls to a stop with the  museum’s caboose train.

Its rain-soaked carbody shining, SD24 No. 504, built in 1959 for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, is one of several classic diesels operating as part of EMD’s 100th anniversary celebration, honoring current and past employees of Electro-Motive Division and Progress Rail.

Marty Haycraft, senior vice president of Caterpillar Inc. and president and CEO of Caterpillar’s Progress Rail, addressed those employees at Union on Saturday, Aug. 20. Beforehand, he spoke to Trains News Wire.

“We are here today celebrating the 100-year anniversary of EMD,” Haycraft said. “There are not very many chances where you get to have a celebration of 100 years in business. It is really about celebrating the employees and our customers that have allowed us to get here. EMD is known for innovation, technology, sustainability, and customer focus and we are here to celebrate that with our employees.

Green and yellow diesel and cabooses reflected in puddle of water
The first GP7, Chicago & North Western No. 1518, handles the IRM caboose train. (Steve Smedley)

“Progress Rail has 7,000 worldwide, and we are expecting 800 to a thousand here today.”

Saturday’s event included the museum’s classic Nebraska Zephyr trainset operating behind E5 9911A. The caboose train featured featured the CB&Q SD24 in the morning, followed by EMD’s first GP7, Chicago & North Western No. 1518. The GP7 had just had its nose and stripes repainted by shop forces at IRM.

Also on display was the first SD7 built, Southern Pacific No. 1518 (yes, the same number as the CNW geep), and Canadian Pacific SD40-2F “barn” unit No. 9023, a recently rebuilt former Central Maine & Quebec unit sent to IRM for the event.

Several photos from Saturday’s events are below.

— Updated at 3:15 p.m. CDT with full article, additional photos; updated at 4:20 p.m. to correct errors.Red locomotive with train of cabooses next to yellow locomotive, as seen from on walkway of yellow locomotive

Burlington SD24 No. 504 powers the Illinois Railway Museum caboose train as it passes the SD70ACe-T4 demonstrator. (Steve Smedley)

Silver passenger train passes yellow freight locomotive with older-style passenger cars
IRM’s Nebraska Zephyr trainset passes Progress Rail’s SD70ACe-T4 demonstrator. (Steve Smedley)
Yellow and white locomotive with "Progress Rail" lettering
A good look at the SD70ACe-T4 demonstrator on hand at Union on Saturday. (Russell Sharp)

12 thoughts on “EMD holds 100th anniversary event at Illinois Railway Museum (updated)

  1. My apologies as I didn’t read the last part of the article carefully. It sounds like the CP Rail SD-40-2F was there “on loan” to the IRM for this event.

    Hope the IRM dispatcher can keep their two #1518 diesels (C&NW GP-7 #1517 & SP #1518, an SD-7) straight when calling for “#1518.”

  2. I didn’t realize the Illinois Railway Museum has an (Ex) CP-Rail SD-40-2F (cowl) unit, interesting.

    Looks like a really neat event, weather notwithstanding. Wish I could have been there!!

  3. When IRM ran its Nebraska Zephyr on BNSF at track speed and serving diner in the diner, I was amazed and knew they were for real. Not many museums can do that. They had to satisfy FRA, Amtrak, UP, and BNSF. What a fantastic organization.

  4. Bring back the E unit design. Much better crew protection than most modern passenger engines, & beautiful too!

    Bobby DesPortes, Hopkins, SC

    1. That branch is never going to close. There is a huge Chrysler assembly plant in Belvidere and Amtrak will be using the line for the IDOT sponsored route to Rockford.

    2. Ms Vinson was correct about 20-25 years ago. When Chrysler was in trouble once again, there was talk that Belvidere Assembly would be demoted or shut down. Being that it is the one entity that makes whats left of the Freeport Sub worth its while for UP, no Chrysler, no railroad.

      Since then some things have changed. Both Rockford and Belvidere have purchased land and allocated funds for connecting bus routes to support a future commuter rail operation. On top of that Illinois and Amtrak are looking at running services from Chicago to Dubuque over UP as far as Rockford and CN the rest of the way. Amtrak and CN had been looking at using the CN Iowa Division before but CN wanted some pretty outrageous dough to fix up the line, way more than Amtrak was willing to pay and Amtrak broke off the talks.

      The UP end of line parallels the CN for about half a mile in West Rockford past the old J. I. Case tractor factory, so eventually CN would have to agree to something if Amtrak wants to go farther. Oddly the future CPKC will also have a line intersecting here that goes up to Madison.

      As for UP and the museum, if UP decides to let it go beyond Elgin, then I am sure there is some entity willing to service it and support IRM and maintaining its link to the national network.

      Last time I went to IRM, they were talking about purchasing the remaining parts of the former Elgin & Belvidere Electric interurban ROW they don’t own already and running a tourist service to downtown Elgin. Perhaps that millionaire hasn’t come by yet.

  5. IRM is awesome. There’s something there for everyone: steam, diesel, traction and everything else. You can make a day of it with the nearby railfan park at Rochelle and still get home to Milwaukee or Chicago.

    My own favorites are (1) the Santa Fe loco in the photo and (2) riding the CNW gallery car. IRM’s only downside is that the parallel UPRR line (ex-CNW) is a lightly traveled branch; you won’t see main line action on it.

    1. Much of the steam at IRM is displayed in a partially-scrapped state, with most side rods removed. At least IRM is honest about having done this. And why. I disagree, though.

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