Southern Pacific

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Four-axle Hood Diesels

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In the 1990s (when I began shooting most of my SP photos), the predominant four-axle locomotive classes were the GP40M and the GP60.  As a result, they also dominate my collection of SPL photos.  The GP40M's were older units that were rebuilt by Morrison-Knudsen, arriving on the SPL system between 1990 and 1992.  They spanned the transition between traditional SP and SSW paint schemes and the newer, "speed lettering" scheme inspired by the merger with the Rio Grande.

The GP60 series also arrived around this time, and as a result we find a mix of old and new paint schemes on those units.

On all units purchased after the merger, the headlight arrangement was simplified considerably from the usual SP practice.  The red Mars lights and other signal lights were abandoned (and removed from older units).  None of the newer units even had lights on the low nose.  Instead, amber beacons were installed over the cab.  Later, when ditch lights became the norm, beacons were not installed and were sometimes removed from existing units.

 

GP40 Series
GP40M No. 7107 is idling at Monte Vista, CO in August 1996 while the crew is at beans (actually, at Pizza Hut).  This was the first unit to be delivered in Speed Lettering.  It's the experimental, smaller size of lettering.
GP40M No. 7124 idles at Alamosa in August 1997-- not quite one year after the UP merger.  This particular unit operated out of Pueblo for most of the 1990's
GP40M No. 7129 is powering the Ski Train on 3/14/93.  The train is loading at Winter Park for the return to Denver.
GP40M No. 7129 is idling in Alamosa in May 1999.  Note that it has the smaller version of the Speed Lettering herald.
GP40M No. 7135 leads the Alamosa-Pueblo mixed freight in February 1996.
SSW No. 7286 is a GP40M, rebuilt and delivered around December 1990.  Here it's entering Antonito, CO in March 2003.  This is a lot of power for one covered hopper!

Another view of SSW No. 7286, seven years earlier leading a westbound manifest on the Royal Gorge line.  This unit was one of several that were frequently found in the vicinity of Pueblo for many years.

SSW No. 7291, rebuilt and delivered around January 1991, is in Alamosa in March 2003 along with two mates and a pair of D&RGW GP40-2's..
This shot of SSW No. 7291 was taken in Grand Junction, Colorado in August 1998.  It's paired with D&RGW No. 3126, a GP40-2.
SP No. 7297 was on the point of the Ski Train on 3/14/1993, paired with No. 7129.  This unit was delivered from MK in 1991, one of the last to come in the traditional SP paint scheme.
SP No. 7298, running second on a westbound at Cotopaxi, CO on 8/17/1996.  (Photo in the pre-dawn shadows; a detail from a larger photo.)

SP No. 7299 was working the Alamosa turn in May 2002.  Here it is seen, waiting in the downtown yard, in the company of SP GP40-2 No. 7654 and a UP four-axle motor.  Note the traditional paint scheme and the high ditch lights.  It's pretty scruffy for only a dozen or so years of use...

Below: Now patched to UP 1534, she's in Denver on 9/01/2008.  Looks like she received a good washing sometime recently.

No. 7632 is a Cotton Belt GP40-2, arrived Jan 1979.  No. 7124 is a GP40M from 1991, as is the lead unit, No. 7135.  Sandwiched between the two MK units is SP GP40-2 No. 7669, from March 1980.  The scene is taken on the west approach of La Veta Pass in Colorado, in February 1996.
Here's a GP40M, ex- No. 7110, that has survived but with a patch from Union Pacific.  Note the smaller-size herald.  She is seen in the yard at Grand Junction on June 30, 2006, now as UP 1480, and is paired with the ex- D&RGW No. 3118.  They are being used as local power.
GP60's
SP No. 9717 leads an eastbound doublestack train at Tucson on 3/12/1995.  Second in line is a GP60 from a previous order (No. 9618)-- note the slightly-different dynamic brake blisters.
No. 9721 running third, and elephant-style, on a westbound autorack train passing the Glenwood Springs depot on 6/29/1995.  Not the greatest photo in the world (actually a detail from a larger frame), it still shows the condition of the unit at age 5 (i.e. in need of a bath!).

Top: No. 9738, at Rocky Flats on the Moffat line-- powering the Ski Train on February 25, 1996.  Items of note for such a late date in history include: the horn is still over the cab, and the beacon has not been removed from  the cab.  Some units had already received these modifications by that point in time.  detail from a larger image

Bottom:  No. 9738 is running second on a westbound manifest at Cotopaxi on 8/17/1996, three weeks before the UP merger.  She's still pretty clean and shiny (compare to the flank of No. 8321 at left).  This is the second image of this unit that I shot during 1996.  detail from a larger image

SP No. 9742 leads a quartet of GP60s on a westbound Golden State Route train.  Here it's paused in downtown Alamogordo, NM, on  6/04/1994.  (A note about the beacon: it's not a strobe as such; it consists of a circular array of four lights which illuminate consecutively.)
On 12/29/2994, SP Nos. 9752 and 9755 power the Ski Train.  Here the train is waiting to board at Winter Park before heading back to Denver.  The lead unit always pulls up and stops right at the west portal of the Moffat tunnel.
SSW No. 9651 is leading a westbound manifest freight near Buena Vista, CO on  2/18/1994.  The power was a Heinz mix typical of the period: GP60, GP40M, SD45 in Kodachrome, SD40T-2.  Note that the lead unit doesn't have ditch lights yet (although No. 7124 just behind it does).
March 2001, and the Golden State Route is looking very much like a UP possession.  It was a treat, therefore, to spot SSW  No. 9657 in the mix of this westbound doublestack train at Tucumcari, NM.
SSW No. 9673 and SP No. 9738 head up the returning Ski Train at Rocky, west of Denver, on February 25, 1996.  From late 1994 through the 1996 merger, GP60's in red and gray were the usual power for this train.
SSW No. 9697 is flying past as it approaches Alamogordo just after dawn on June 25, 1997.  The relative speed was such that I led the train a bit too much when taking the photo, but it's still worth keeping.
SW1500's, MP15AC's, and others
No. 2475 assembles a string of hoppers at Grand Junction in August 1998.  This unit was stationed at the GJ yard for many years.
Nos. 2659 and 2510 switch a recently-arrived pig train at Tucson in February 1988.  These units arrived in 1972 and 1968, respectively.
One of the stranger trains I've seen was on June 30, 1995 between New Castle and Glenwood Springs, CO.  A grimy SD45 led ten units, including this cow/calf pair in shiny new Speed Lettering.  The long manifest train was punctuated by D&RGW wide-vision caboose No. 01505!  The cow might be MP15AC No. 2738; too much motion blur to be sure.
On June 24, 1997, this westbound train roars through Alamogordo, NM.  The lead unit is a SSW General Electric Dash-840B; the number isn't quite readable due to motion blur.  I had to climb a fence at the Alamogordo Zoo to get this shot, so the camera wasn't all that steady...  Since it's my only Dash-840B image, I had to include it here.
SP No. 7837, a B30-7, leads a lengthy intermodal train into Tucson from the east on February 5, 1988.  It was about 9 years old at the time.
B30-7 No. 7863 has been sold to the Wagon Wheel Gap tourist line, where we find it on 3/07/2003 in South Fork, CO.  The WWG has made a notable lack of progress in commencing operations, by the way.  Around 2006, this unit actively worked for the San Luis & Rio Grande, but since late 2008 it's been parked out in the weeds at South Fork.

 


 

 

James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.