Union Pacific Alco, Baldwin and Fairbanks-Morse Switchers

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on June 26, 2013.

(Return To UP Switchers Index Page)

Between the time of its first Diesel switcher locomotives in 1939 and the 1982 merger with Western Pacific and Missouri Pacific, Union Pacific owned 118 non-EMD yard switchers. Included were 54 Alco S-2s, 45 Alco S-4s, six Baldwin VO 1000s, five Baldwin DS-4-4-10s, five Fairbanks-Morse H10-44s, one single Alco S-3 and a single Alco HH-1000, both of which came to UP with the purchase of the Mount Hood Railway in 1968, and finally, a single General Electric 44-ton center-cab switcher.

Alco S-2s and S-4s

Union Pacific enjoyed a long relationship with the American Locomotive Company (Alco), which in the closing years of steam power had supplied the carrier with a modern fleet of 105 4-6-6-4 Challengers, 25 4-8-8-4 Big Boys, and 45 4-8-4 Northerns, all mainline engines built between 1936 and 1944. But when it came to the diesel era, Alco's most numerous contribution was a fleet of end-cab switchers. While EMD supplied 171 switchers to UP between 1940 and 1953, Schenectady placed a respectable second, building 99 S-2s and S-4s between 1943 and 1956. (Paul Withers)

The fleet of 99 Alco switchers compares with UP's 171-unit fleet of EMD NW2s, SW7s, SW9s and TR5s and were purchased concurrently. The S-2s came to the railroad between 1943 and 1946. The S-4s were delivered between June 1955 and March 1956, well after UP had received their last EMD switcher, SW9 number 1866 in November 1953.

UP's first diesel switchers were 15 1,000-horsepower EMD NW2s delivered in 1940, but restrictions on railroad use of EMD's 567-model diesel engine because of its role in supporting the war effort caused the carrier to look elsewhere for sorely needed switchers. Although 21 additional NW2s were acquired by UP in 1941 and 1942, the next diesel switchers came from Alco. (Paul Withers)

At the time, Alco offered two end-cab switcher models - a 660 horsepower S-1 model and a 1,000-horsepower S-2. (Paul Withers)

These two models were an advancement in switching locomotive design over Alco's previous HH-660 and HH-1000, both of which were equipped with McIntosh Seymour 531 engine. The 531 engine was replaced by the 539 engine in 1939, and the HH-series switchers themselves were replaced in Alco's catalog by the S-series units in 1940.

Union Pacific's first S-2s, with road numbers D.S.1036-1054, were delivered in September 1943 through February 1944, under Alco order number S-1883. Union Pacific had wanted more EMD switchers but was unable to get them due to restrictions by the War Production Board on EMD's 567-model Diesel engine, needed to support the war effort. As with all of the other examples of early UP diesel-electric switching locomotives, the "D.S." prefix to the road number denoted "Diesel Switch". This first group of Alco 1,000 horsepower switchers entered service numbered after UP's first 36 EMD NW2s, numbered from D.S.1000 to D.S. 1035, and were delivered in the first UP switcher paint scheme of black body paint, with yellow stripes and Union Pacific spelled out in yellow. The cab-side slogan read "Road of the Challengers" in red script lettering on the engineer's side, and "Serves All The West" in yellow Gothic lettering on the fireman's side. In May and June 1945, soon after their delivery, this same first 19-unit group of Alco switchers were renumbered to UP 1100-1118 to make room in the 1000-series numbers for additional EMD NW2s. Along with other locomotives in UP's switching fleet, the Alco switchers were repainted to UP's new standard yellow and gray paint with red lettering in mid 1947.

By early 1945 UP still needed additional yard switchers, and with War Production Board restrictions still in place against EMD switchers, UP was forced to accept more Alco S-2s. The need for more switchers was filled with 35 additional S-2s, delivered in the new 1100-series road numbers (road numbers 1119-1153), beginning in June 1945 and continuing through January 1946. With the end of the war, more EMD NW2s began arriving in May 1946, making these 54 Alco switchers the only examples of S-2s on the railroad. UP 1126 and 1128 were later equipped for multiple-unit operation.

UP continued to purchase EMD switchers from the mid 1940s through to the early 1950s, buying 60 more NW2s through 1948, 24 SW7s in 1950, eight TR5s in 1951, and finally 42 SW9s in 1953. Still more Diesel switchers were needed in 1954. When in late 1953 UP's Motive Power Department ordered the first of what would be a total fleet of 219 GP9As and 125 GP9Bs, the department was taken to task by the Board of Directors for choosing EMD over other builders, namely American Locomotive Company. (The president of Alco had contacted one of directors asking for an explanation the decision.) The purchase was defended by statistics showing the lack of reliability of Alco's McIntosh-Seymour prime mover design, along with the significant cost savings and low maintenance figures that supported the decision in favor of EMD locomotives. However, the Motive Power Department saw an opportunity to appease the powers that be within the Board, and fill the continuing need for yard switchers at the same time. The Alco design yard switchers did not incorporate the troublesome design features found on the costly Alco FA and FB cab road units, and yard switching service was much less demanding than was cross-country road service, so any lowering of the reliability and increase in maintenance costs would not be so apparent. With these factors to consider, an order was placed with Alco for 45 of its 1,000 horsepower model S-4 yard switcher, all of which were delivered for multiple-unit operation. The S-4s, delivered with road numbers 1154 to 1198, began arriving in June 1955 and continued delivery through March 1956, and were the last yard switchers delivered new to UP. The arrival of these units forced the renumbering of UP's 11 Alco RSC-2s in the 1180-1190 series, and five RS-2s in the 1191-1195 series to the 1280-1290 series for the RSC-2s and 1291-1295 for the RS-2s. The S-4s as delivered weighed in at 248,000 pounds in operating order, compared to the S-2s with 230,000 pounds, and the EMD NW2s at 251,000 pounds. Both the S-2s and the S-4s had GE electrical gear and traction motors, and were both equipped with 75:16 gear ratios.

The assignments for the Alco switchers found them almost exclusively assigned to the Eastern District, which included the Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming Divisions. A locomotive assignment sheet (Form 2481-C) for the Oregon Division in July 1957 shows only EMD switchers assigned to that division. Photographic research also shows that the Alco switchers were usually found working on the eastern end of the railroad, with a few, in black paint, working in the Ogden terminal. A system-wide assignment sheet for February 1964 shows 19 S-2s and 14 S-4s assigned to the Wyoming Division, along with 35 S-2s and 31 S-4s assigned to the Kansas Division, accounting for the entire 99-unit fleet. In addition to their as-built MU feature, many of the Alco switchers were equipped with pilots, number boards, and end ladders for branch line service.

Retirements of the Alco switchers began in January through June 1968 when 16 S-2s were traded to EMD on UP's new order of 50 SD45s; the first to go were 1103, 1118, and 1136 in January. As was the case with hundreds of other roads' trade-in locomotives, these pioneering UP switchers were scrapped for EMD by Pielet Brothers in nearby McCook, Illinois All of the remaining 38 S-2s were traded to EMD in 1969 through 1971 on the DDA40X Centennial locomotives, and the 1971-built SD40s. The last two S-2s to leave the roster were 1112 and 1143 in November 1971. During 1970 and 1971, 42 S-4s left the roster, also traded to EMD. They too were used as trade-in credit for the DDA40Xs and SD40s. Another five S-4s went to EMD in January to May 1972 on the first group of SD40-2s, with 1190 being the last S-4 on the railroad. The first S-4 to leave the roster was 1196 in January 1970.

Three S-4s did not make the trip to EMD, and subsequent scrap. In March 1972 1166, 1171, and 1172 were sold to Chrome Crankshaft, a locomotive parts dealer located in South Chicago that was getting started in the used locomotive market. In May 1972 Chrome re-sold the 1166 to Stauffer Chemical in Silver Bow, Mont. Prior to its delivery, Chrome had UP repaint the 1166 into a solid green paint scheme. The 1166 remained at Stauffer's Silver Bow facility until it was sold to Scoular Grain Company, also located in Silver Bow (actually the only other rail-served industry in town). In July 1972, Chrome sold the 1171 and 1172 to the Yreka Western, a northern California short line running out of Yreka. Both locomotives retained their UP-assigned numbers while in service on the YW. The Yreka Western later sold the 1172 to Pend Oreille Valley Railroad in November 1979 as their 101.

Baldwin VO-1000s and DS-4-4-1000s

The 11 Baldwin switchers owned by Union Pacific were part of a total Baldwin fleet of just 18 locomotives, including six AS-616s, one DRS-6-4-1500, along with the switchers: six VO-1000s and five DS-4-4-1000s. The six VO-1000s, the first Baldwin diesel locomotives on the railroad, came in October 1943 and February 1944. Like the Alco S-2s purchased at the same time, the VO-1000s were part of War Production Board restrictions in effect between April 1942 and January 1945 that limited non-military use of EMD's 567 diesel engine. For reasons unknown, Union Pacific's Baldwin VOs were delivered with road numbers (D.S.1055-1060) in reverse of their builder assigned construction serial numbers. These six road numbers were in sequence with 36 EMD NW2s (D.S.1000-1035)and 19 Alco S-2s (D.S.1036-1054). The newest locomotive, number D.S.1055, was delivered last, but had the lowest road number in the group. The first delivered came with road number D.S.1060. These six units were renumbered to the 1200-1205 series, in their original builder serial number sequence, in May 1945, and were repainted to yellow and gray in mid 1947 at the same time as UP's other switching locomotives.

The VO-1000 was replaced in Baldwin's catalog in 1946 by the DS-4-4-1000. The first DS-4-4-1000 was completed in July 1947, and UP received its first unit in September 1948. The five units were delivered with road numbers D.S.1206-1210, in UP's new standard yellow and gray paint scheme. The road numbers were in sequence with the new road numbers for the VO-1000s, D.S.1200-1205. The D.S. prefix on both the VO-1000s and the DS-4-4-1000s was removed during 1953.

There is scant information about the work assignments of UP's Baldwin locomotives. A June 1960 record from the builder shows the VO-1000s and the DS-4-4-1000s as working in the Omaha, Nebraska, area. In February 1964 the VOs had been retired, but all five of the DS-4-4-1000 group were assigned to the Wyoming Division. All six VO-1000s were retired in October 1962, but their disposition after retirement is not known. The DS-4-4-1000s were retired in February 1965 and traded to ALCO Products on new C630s in July 1966. They were scrapped for ALCO by Industrial Maintenance Service at Hammond, Ind., in September 1966.

Although they were not designed as switching locomotives, with a switcher's traditional end-cab configuration, UP's Baldwin fleet also included seven road-switchers in the form of a single DRS-6-4-1500 and six AS-616s. The DRS-6-4-1500 was numbered as UP 1250. This unit was originally built as Baldwin demonstrator 1500 in November 1946 and was sold to UP 14 months later in January 1948. It apparently ran out its days between delivery in 1948 and retirement in 1962 operating in the Spokane, Washington. area. UP's six AS-616 (road numbers 1260-1265) were delivered in December 1951 and January 1952 and were purchased solely for work as heavy switchers in the Ogden, Utah, terminal and the retarder (hump) yards in Pocatello, Idaho, and North Platte, Nebraska. UP 1250 was retired in 1962 and sold, turning up in 1971 in EMD's scrap line. The AS-616s were retired in 1968 and 1969, and were traded to EMD on new SD45s and DDA40Xs.

Fairbanks-Morse H10-44s

Union Pacific's experience with Fairbanks-Morse began with the delivery of an H10-44 switcher delivered in mid 1945 and an F-M Erie-built A-B-A 6,000 horsepower locomotive set delivered in December 1945.

The 6,000 horsepower road locomotive (3 units at 2,000 horsepower a piece) was purchased as a dual-purpose locomotive that could directly replace, and continue the tradition of, UP's big steam. (UP continued to pursue its ideal of a 6,000 horsepower, multiple-unit locomotive into the late 1940s and early 1950s with the delivery of EMD F3s, F7s, and Alco FA and FB road locomotive sets.) The F-M set was a failure in freight service but performed well in passenger service, with subsequent Erie-builts delivered in 1947 and 1948 being assigned solely to passenger service on the South-Central District between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

The purchase of the Erie-built locomotives was based on the earlier operation of an F-M 1,000 horsepower H10-44 switcher built specifically for service on UP as D.S.1300. The unit was built in May 1945 and was delivered in UP's then current black switcher paint scheme. Of a total of 37 Fairbanks-Morse locomotives owned by Union Pacific, only five were switchers. H10-44 D.S.1300 was the third F-M switcher built, in May 1945, as a demonstrator assigned solely to Union Pacific. The later four H10-44 units came in January and February 1947, and were the 25th to 28th switchers built by F-M, of a total of 197 H10-44s built.

In a listing of units assigned to the Northwest District as of July 31, 1957, four of the five F-M H10-44s were assigned to Spokane Yard, with the fifth unit, UP 1302, working at Walla Walla. The locomotive assignments for April 1964 shows all five F-M H10-44s working on the Wyoming Division, which at that time extended between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Ogden Utah. With few large switch yards on the division, the units' actual location in 1964 would be in Cheyenne yard, since Ogden yard was switched by the jointly owned Ogden Union Railway & Depot Company.

Ex-Mount Hood Units

The single Alco S-3 and Alco HH-1000 both came to UP as part of the purchase of the 22 mile long Mount Hood Railway on October 15, 1968. The railroad became UP's Mount Hood Branch, and furnished much lumber and agricultural traffic until its sale to a newly independent Mount Hood company in 1985. The S-3, UP 1250, had been the Mount Hood's number 50, purchased new by the short line in September 1950, and was fully painted and lettered for Union Pacific in February 1969. The HH-1000, UP 1251, was the Mount Hood's number 51, while the HH-1000 only received a black patch on the cab side for the road number, and a black patch on the hood side for the Union Pacific name. Both units were retired in August 1970.