Railroads & Locomotives History Diesel locomotive delight

Diesel locomotive delight

By David Lustig | May 25, 2010

| Last updated on November 23, 2020

Four cool diesels you can see in museums today

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In Historic Trains Today, David Lustig tells of seven cool diesels you can visit in museums today. Here are four more examples of neat historic locomotives you can see, and in some cases, ride behind.
Wisconsin Central GP30 No. 713 rests between assignments at Waukesha, Wis., on May 3, 1989. The ex-Soo Line unit rides on Alco trucks.
TRAINS: J. David Ingles
Soo 700 poses for a photo outside the ex-Soo Line depot in Superior, Wis., in 2006. Canadian National donated the ex-Wisconsin Central/Soo Line unit to Lake Superior Railroad Museum.
TRAINS: Andy Cummings

Electro-Motive GP30
The first of the second-generation diesels, EMD’s GP30 brought Detroit styling to road-switchers, employing a top-heavy hump and lots of curved sheet metal. Electro-Motive constructed 950 of them, including 40 cabless units for the Union Pacific.

At 2,250 hp, the model was planned as the GP22, continuing EMD’s practice of numbering road-switchers close to their horsepower. When General Electric introduced the competing 2,500 hp U25B, EMD quickly changed the GP22 to the GP30 designation.

Most major railroads purchased at least some GP30s, and found them to be satisfactory, if sometimes slippery, performers. A few units are still operating in their original configuration, while others were later rebuilt with more modern technology.

Fourteen have been preserved, with a few being operational.

• Union Pacific 849 is at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, Calif.
• UP 844 is in use at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City, Nev.
• The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad in Cumberland, Md., rosters two GP30s, one a former Pennsylvania Railroad unit, a second from the Reading.
• Southern Railway 2601 resides at the North Carolina Transportation Musem at Spencer, N.C.
• The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Pa., has a former Pennsylvania unit painted in Conrail’s blue paint scheme.
• The Reading Co. Technical & Historical Society in Hamburg, Pa., owns the first production GP30, originally a Reading unit.
• Cotton Belt 5006 is at the Arkansas Railroad Museum in Pine Bluff.
• Southern 2594 is at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, Ga.
• Soo Line 700 is at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth, Minn.
• Soo Line 703 is located at the Colfax Railroad Museum in Colfax, Wis.
• Soo Line 715 is preserved at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis.
• New Hope & Ivyland 2198, originally a Pennsylvania unit and later rostered on Conrail, is at New Hope, Pa.
• Branson Scenic Railway uses a GP30 on tourist trains.

Baltimore & Ohio LS1200 9393 suns at Cincinnati on Nov. 13, 1966.
J. David Ingles
Whitewater Valley LS750 No. 25 pulls a photo freight on home rails.
TRAINS: Jim Wrinn

Lima LS-series switchers
Lima attempted to transition from an established steam locomotive builder to a successful diesel manufacturer, but it never enjoyed the success its owners hoped for. The company and successor Lima-Hamilton met with limited success in the diesel market, building only 174 switchers, road-switchers, and transfer units for a handful of railroads.

There are at least four Lima switchers in existence today.

• An LS1200 (1,200 hp) unit that last worked at an ARMCO Steel plant is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum at Union, Ill. It is inoperable.

• Three more switchers are at the Whitewater Valley Railroad in Connersville, Ind., including another LS1200, a former Baltimore & Ohio 1,000-hp LS1000, and a former Cincinnati Union Terminal 750-hp LS750. Only the Cincinnati unit is operable.

Union Pacific’s Aerotrain makes its first run as the City of Las Vegas over Santa Fe’s Cajon Pass main line at Summit, Calif., on Dec. 18, 1956.
Chard Walker
Electro-Motive built a scale model of its Aerotrain. The model is now displayed at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis.
National Railroad Museum: Bob Lettenberger
Rock Island No. 2 resides at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis.
National Railroad Museum: Bob Lettenberger

Electro-Motive LWT12
The EMD LWT12 was a locomotive design to power a late-1950s experiment in lightweight Talgo high speed passenger equipment known as the Aerotrain. The unusual look, created to match the aerodynamic shape of the low-slung passenger equipment, was complimented by an equally unusual wheel arrangement; B-1, meaning the front two-axle truck was powered and the rear was simply an unpowered single-axle.

Three were built, and after a cross-country demonstration tour, one train wound up with a short stint on the Rock Island, the other on the Union Pacific. Two of the three locomotives still exist, and they can be found at the National Railway Museum in Green Bay, Wis., and the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis.

Electro-Motive-built Heber Valley MRS-1 No. 1813 pulls tourists at Charleston, Utah, on June 6, 2009.
James Belmont
U.S. Air Force MRS-1 No. 204 pulls flatcars at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Maria, Calif., in 1984. The unit is preserved at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo, Calif.
David Lustig

Alco and EMD MRS-1 road-switcher
After World War II, the U.S. military needed a powerful diesel locomotive design capable of being used overseas in the case of war. Of the many models, two, both known today as the six-axle MRS-1, emerged. Alco built 86 and EMD constructed 13.

Both designs, built in the early 1950s, produced 1,600 hp and could be equipped with steam generators. They rode atop multi-gauge trucks so they could be set up in the field for standard or broad gauge routes. A primary spotting feature is that the EMDs have a V-shaped top to their long hoods. The units were phased out of military by the 1970s, and began finding their way as power on military bases and the Alaska Railroad. Some have since been purchased by short lines.

Alco MRS-1s can be found at:
• Bluegrass Railroad Museum in Versailles, Ky.: two units
• Western Pacific Railroad Museum at Portola, Calif.
• Hagerstown Railroad Museum at Hagerstown, Md.: two units
• Nevada Northern Railroad Museum at Ely, Nev.: two units
• Pacific Southwest Railway Museum at Campo, Calif.
• Railtown 1897 at Jamestown, Calif.: two units
• Museum of Transportation at St. Louis, Mo.
• California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, Calif.: two units
• Western Railway Museum, Suisun City, Calif.

EMD MRS-1s can be seen at:
• Museum of Transportation & Industry, Anchorage, Alaska
• Heber Valley Museum, Heber, Utah; in service
• San Diego Railway Museum, Campo, Calif.: two units
• U.S. Army Transportation Museum, Fort Eustis, Va.

Pick up a copy of Historic Trains Today to find out where to see the some other strange diesels. Here’s a preview of this special issue of Trains!

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