Tag Archives: Railroads

The Soo Line’s Sleek General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division F3 Streamlined Diesel Locomotive

The Soo Line's Sleek General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division F3 Streamlined Diesel Locomotive

Builder’s portrait of a Soo Line EMD F3 diesel locomotive. The EMD F3 was a 1,500-hp freight- and passenger-hauling diesel locomotive produced between July 1945 and February 1949 by General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division. Final assembly was at GM-EMD’s La Grange, Illinois plant. A total of 1,111 cab-equipped lead A units and 696 cabless booster B units were built. The F3 was the third model in GM-EMD’s highly successful F-unit series of cab unit diesel locomotives, and it was the second most produced of the series. The F3 essentially differed from the EMD F2 in that it used the “new” D12 generator to produce more power. As built, the only way to distinguish between the F2 and F3 was the nose number panels on the A units, which were small on the F2 and large on the F3. The Soo Line acquired 10 of the A units, numbered 200A, B – 204A, B.

“New York Central System’s GM Aerotrain: The Road to the Future”

A postcard depicting a General Motor’s Aerotrain. From the back of the card: The New York Central System “The Road to the Future.” A General Motors “Aerotrain” is shown on display here at Buffalo, New York in Feb. of 1956. The train failed in regular operation and was in service on the Central less than a year. It was part of a futile effort to upgrade passenger service. Similar units were used briefly on the Pennsylvania and the Union Pacific Railroads. By 1969 the Road to the Future had proved to be the Road to Ruin. The card was distributed in 1970 by Owen Davies, Bookseller.

“The City of Los Angeles: Union Pacific’s Top-of-the-Line Streamlined Passenger Train”

Postcard photo of the streamliner City of Los Angeles near Sterling, Illinois and traveling along the Rock River. The train is pulled by a EMC E2 locomotive. The City of Los Angeles was a streamlined passenger train between Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California via Omaha, Nebraska, and Ogden, Utah. Between Omaha and Los Angeles it ran on the Union Pacific Railroad; east of Omaha it ran on the Chicago and North Western Railway until October 1955 and on the Milwaukee Road thereafter. This train was the top-of-the-line for the Union Pacific, which marketed it as a competitor to the Super Chief, a streamlined passenger train on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, and the Golden State, a streamlined passenger train jointly operated by the Rock Island and Southern Pacific railroads. As with the City of Los Angeles, many of the train’s cars bore the names of locales in and around its namesake city. Circa late 1940s.


THE FLORIDA SUNBEAM was operated by the New York Central System, the Southern Railway System, and the Seaboard Airline Railroad. On Jan. 1, 1936 the Florida Sunbeam was inaugurated as a winter-only train between Cincinnati and both coasts of Florida with through cars from Great Lakes cities. In 1949 it was replaced with the much faster, streamlined NEW ROYAL PALM on a changed routing. This linen postcard depicts an ALCO DL-109 diesel locomotive pulling the train. It was advertised as being diesel powered between Cincinnati, Ohio and Valdosta, Georgia.

“The Cincinnatian, The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s De Luxe All-Coach Passenger Streamliner”

The Cincinnatian was a named passenger train operated by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). The B&O inaugurated service on January 19, 1947, with service between Baltimore, Maryland and Cincinnati, Ohio, essentially a truncated route of the B&O’s National Limited, which operated between Jersey City, New Jersey and St. Louis, Missouri. The Cincinnatian is most famed for its original dedicated equipment, rebuilt in the B&O Mount Clare Shops. The design work was done by Olive Dennis, a pioneering civil engineer employed by the railroad and appointed by Daniel Willard to special position in charge of such work for passenger service. The livery used the blue and gray scheme designed by Otto Kuhler, which Dennis laid on the engine and tender in a pattern of horizontal stripes and angled lines. In 1950, its route was changed to travel between Detroit and Cincinnati; the train kept this route until 1971, when Amtrak assumed passenger rail service.

“The Flying Yankee: An Early Streamlined Articulated Trainset”

The Flying Yankee was a diesel-powered streamliner built in 1935 for the Maine Central Railroad and the Boston and Maine Railroad by Budd Company and with mechanical and electrical equipment from Electro-Motive Corporation. It was also the name of a passenger train, the third streamliner train in North America after the Union Pacific Railroad’s M-10000 and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad’s Pioneer Zephyr; the Flying Yankee was, in fact, a virtual clone of the latter, except that it dispensed with the baggage/mail space to seat 142 in three articulated cars.

“Rio Grande Southern Railroad’s Galloping Geese”

A famed aspect of the Rio Grande Southern was its fleet of Galloping Geese. During the Great Depression, increasing operational costs made it expensive to operate trains over the mountainous railroad. The railroad devised a rail car from Buick and Pierce-Arrow automobiles or bus front ends and a box car rear end. Seven Geese were built for the line, and all but one survive today. The Goose at Knott’s Berry Farm still operates in the function it was designed for—to run a cost-effective rail service on days when demand does not require full-size trains (mostly weekdays during Fall, Winter and Spring in this year-round theme park). All six original Geese and a reproduction of No. 1 are operational. Goose, No. 4 was restored to operation in 2011 by the volunteers of the Ridgway Railroad Museum and the Telluride fire department. See more at http://www.classicstreamliners.com.

The Nickel Plates New “Bluebirds”

In 1947, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway ended its control of the Nickel Plate Railroad, selling off its remaining shares. That same year, the Nickel Plate ordered 11 new ALCO PA diesel-electric locomotives, and named them the “Bluebirds.” These locomotives were the first for the Nickel Plate that had non-black livery since the early 1900s. The Nickel Plate received its last Berkshire in 1949, numbered 779, which was also the very last steam locomotive built by the Lima Locomotive Works. Later in 1949 on December the 1st, the Nickel Plate leased the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway. The Nickel Plate began operating its own dining cars in 1949. Before this, all meal service had been handled by the Pullman Company. By 1950, even though passenger revenues only contributed 1.2% of the Nickel Plate’s total revenues, all passenger cars were modern, postwar, streamlined equipment. In fact, passenger miles had increased by 3.2% compared with 1949, a trend unlike other U.S. railroads. The Nickel Plate retired the last steam locomotive from service in 1960, officially ending the steam era and achieving complete dieselization.

“Conrail: The Consolidated Rail Corporation”

The United States government formed Conrail to salvage the profitable lines of several bankrupt railroads, including the Penn Central and the Erie Lackawanna Railway. After regulatory changes, Conrail was able to turn a profit in the 80s and by 1987 was turned over to private investors. In 1997, the last two remaining Class I railroads in the Eastern U.S., the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) and CSX Transportation, agreed to split the system equally, which essentially brought back rail freight competition in the Northeast by undoing the 1968 merger of the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad that formed Penn Central.

Rails Around Missouri

Rails Around Missouri

“Rails Around Missouri”, the new book from Michael C Kelly, is a history of the railroads of the Show-Me state from the 1850’s to the 1980’s. Complete with a geographic pictorial, this book contains over 500 all-color photos from every corner of the state, with some going back as far as 1946. Railroads covered include: the Bevier and Southern; the Chicago,Burlington and Quincy/the Burlington Northern; the Chicago and North Western; the Cotton Belt; the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio; the Kansas City Southern; the Milwaukee Road; the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (the Katy); the Missouri Pacific; the Rock Island; the St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco); the Wabash/the Norfolk and Western; and Amtrak.