Union Pacific Diesel Locomotives
Index For This Page
This page was last updated on September 22, 2022.
Here is a PDF of the entire company rosters from 1968 to 1980.
(UP Diesel Company Rosters, 1968-1980) (PDF; 19 pages; 22MB)
Diesel Helpers for Turbines
Mark Amfahr wrote on May 21 2020, summarizing the use of diesels with turbines:
- Until the mid-1950s, turbines operated alone, without diesels.
- Starting around 1957 or 1958 UP really began to increase the average size of its trains and at the same time required faster schedules. To accomplish both objectives required much more power. That need for power exceeded the capabilities of the "standard" locomotive of that time and the solution was additional units in locomotive consists. That meant that the "standard" locomotive horsepower needed to grow from roughly 4500 to 6000 horsepower (in the form of three- unit sets of diesels, single small turbine, Challenger, Big Boy, etc.), up to 7000 to 10000 horsepower to meet the needs of the operating department.
- Another reason to add diesels to the small turbines was to improve reliability in case the turbine had problems, which they often did (see my article in the Spring 2020 (Vol. 34, No. 2) issue of The Streamliner for data on this).
- This is why the "big" turbines (first arriving in 1958) were designed for 8500 horsepower, and that was sufficient for a few years. However, horsepower needs kept increasing so they eventually started operating diesels together with large turbines so that they could provide the desired horsepower. By the mid 1960s, the operating department was desiring 12000 to 15000 horsepower on the Overland Route priority trains.
- The use of GP9s was mentioned. They were the most common diesel running with turbines in the 1950s. However, during the 1960s you would see almost any type of road diesel being used along with the big turbines, including SD24s, GP30s and GP30Bs, runthrough SP locomotives, both types of DD35, etc.
- My article about motive power management in the Autumn 2019 (Vol. 33, No. 4) issue of The Streamliner covers power utilization, power pools, etc. Diagrams and tables in that article show the types of locomotives in service at various times and where and how they were used.
Terry Kolenc added that not all turbines were equipped with diesel m.u. (multiple-unit) capability. For example, among the 8500 GTELs, five (UP 1, 2, 3, 5 and 15) were not equipped.
Diesel Locomotive Assignments
By the mid-1950s, freight traffic on the UP west of Green River was essentially dieselized. The Northwestern District was worked by F7s and F3s (and after their rebuilding, F9s). Until about 1957, FM road switchers and Erie builts worked the main line and branches between Hinkle and Spokane, known as "The Washy." Switchers appeared to be mostly EMD, with a few Fairbanks Morse units holding down some assignments.
With the arrival of large numbers of GP9s in the early 1950s south and west of Salt Lake City, the EMD F3 and F7 cab units were sent to the Northwestern District, which also sent the remaining Alco FA cab units to the Eastern District and the Fairbanks Morse units to the NWD. Switchers were predominantly, if not exclusively, EMD. The Eastern district was the realm of the Alco and Baldwin switchers and road switchers.
On the Eastern District (Kansas and Nebraska divisions) after the mid 1950s, there was a good representation of Alco power, including PA and FA cab units, and RSC2 road switchers, along with EMD F3/F7 and E-units. The Omaha Shops were part of the reason that older power seemed to gravitate to the Eastern District. They were the "ALCo shop," then later, home to the last EMD 567- engines like the GP9s, GP30s and GP35s as well as the DD35s. In the later years, one UP official is reported to have said that GP30s were kept in "the triangle," the mainlines between the three main points of North Platte-Omaha- Kansas City.
By the end of the steam era in 1958 and 1959, the gas turbines, Standard, Veranda and three-unit, along with GP9s and F-units, handled traffic west of Green River. The delivery of SD24s in 1959 bumped the GP9s on the South-Central District to a more secondary role. Though SD24s ruled the S-CD, they were seen across the rest of the system. Into the 1960s, the SD24s remained in control on the S-CD, but photographic evidence suggests that the GP30 was the locomotive of choice on the Northwestern District, replacing the F-units and reducing the role of GP9s to largely local and secondary service.
The arrival of the double diesels in 1963-1965, and the SD40s in 1966 and SD45s in 1968, seemed to diminish apparent areas of assignment across the system. The Radio Control-equipped SD45s in 1968 were popular on the NWD. SD45s were also assigned to the Kaiser pool, also in 1968, and were confined west of Salt Lake City. But U50Cs and DD35s roamed the whole railroad. There were small pockets remaining where oddballs or small groups of locomotives called home. The 3040-series SD40Xs, for example, on the iron ore trains through Salt Lake City, and SDP35s in their last few years serving as leading units between Council Bluffs and North Platte on C&NW run-through trains.
Major changes came in 1969 with the implementation of a "System-wide Pool" of mainline power. This strategy did away with the previous district and divisional assignments, and resulted in less regional assignment and usage of power.
The following comes from Union Pacific Motive Power Review 1968-77:
One step to improve motive power utilization was taken in 1969. According to the UP Bulletin on the subject, effective July 4, "... the pooling of power system-wide is in effect. All power other than that assigned on locals will be pooled immediately and will move on trains to destination, regardless of district to which previously assigned." The bulletin went on to say that units should be closely watched and that, when possible, units should not be fueled in Iowa or Utah where a fuel tax would have to be paid. Further, units, especially at Pocatello, Idaho, should be operated on a first in, first out basis, giving preference to SD40s and SD45s in returning power to the Eastern District. This system-wide pooling did a great deal to improve utilization of power, but it also meant that parts for all models had to be stocked at all servicing points. (Union Pacific Motive Power Review 1968-77, page 59; Motive Power Services, 1978)
In the mid 1980s, the last of the GP30s seemed to be in small scattered batches outside of the Eastern District in their final years of service. A few cycled in and out of the Los Angeles Basin on locals. Two units, UP 800 and 802 were among the last on the Northwestern District and frequently worked the Canadian Pacific run through trains between Hinkle and Eastport, as well as the Coeur d'Alene local. In the same period, three GP30s (UP 805, 856, 871) worked out of Ogden, Utah, on the Park City Local.
Mark Amfahr wrote the following in an email to the UP Modelers Yahoo group on March 26, 2004:
- 1975-77 era, generally speaking...
-- SDP35s were most often found leading on North Platte-Fremont-Council Bluffs manifest run through trains (not only CNW but any participating railroad; MILW, RI, etc).
-- DDA35s and DD35s were most often running in the North Platte-Salt Lake City-Los Angeles corridor.
-- U30Cs and later C30s used in manifest service were most often kept east of North Platte, often on the run through trains. In coal service they ran as far west as the southern Wyoming mines, then east to the train's destination, usually in run through service.
-- U50Cs, when they were running, were kept on the Denver-North Platte-Council Bluffs-Kansas City routes, generally avoiding the heavier grades of the Wyoming division and west, likely to keep the tractive and braking amps to a minimum.
-- DDA40X / 8000s were most often found on the various "Van" trains operating between North Platte and the Pacific Northwest, and Los Angeles. Since those units weren't considered acceptable as run through power, they weren't seen as often east of North Platte, or on the trains to/from Western Pacific and Southern Pacific. The main exception was due to the fact that there was an imbalance in the "Van" train's traffic (heavier westbound), so those "fast" units could often be seen operating eastbound on manifest trains, such as working the HL back east from Hinkle or the CN from LA.
-- SD45s were nearly always west of North Platte, usually to/from the Pacific Northwest and on the KUE/KUW Kaiser coal trains in cooperation with the DRGW.
Diesels On the Kansas Division
The following comes from the diary of Hiram Lee Scarff of Topeka, Kansas.
(Notes taken at Omaha, May 1995)
- Streamliner tryout Kansas City to Salina, January 16, 1935
- First diesel switchers at Kansas City were UP 1202-1204, June 13, 1945
- By November 1945, there were eight diesel switchers working around the clock
- Freight diesels were first used between Kansas City and Omaha on April 30, 1952
- 59 men were laid off at Kansas City due to diesel operations, March 8, 1954
- GP9s 154 and 155 were the first freight diesels assigned to local service at Kansas City, March 8, 1954; both units were delivered new in February 1954
- New 18th Street yard was opened on June 1, 1954
- Motor car service between Topeka and Marysville ended on February 14, 1955
- Regular use of steam locomotives on the Kansas Division, out of Kansas City, ended on March 1, 1955
- UP 4-8-4 #807 was the last steam locomotive to operate on the Kansas Division, December 15, 1955
EMD Main Generator, 57-G-51
Applied new to UP GP9 no. 314
June 1960 -- Removed at Omaha
July 1960 -- Applied to UP GP9 no. 336 at Omaha
September 1961 -- Removed at Salt Lake City, rebuilt and re-installed to no. 336
July 1963 -- Removed at Omaha
(from a brass plate attached to generator, no entry after July 1963)
Union Pacific Equipment Trusts -- Read more about Union Pacific's equipment trusts.
GTE Air Filters
It appears that (once again) UP pushed EMD into offering a feature that is still being used today. In this case, the inertial air filter. In the 1957-1959 time period, UP pushed EMD into adding a turbocharger to its 567 diesel engine. In 1968-1969, UP pushed EMD into the micro-electronics age with the DDA40X and what later became the Dash 2 series. In the 1960-1962 time period, it was proving the value of the inertial air filter, as a better primary air filter compared to oil-bath filters. After UP developed the use of inertial air filters on its gas turbines, it likely approached EMD about a better air filter for turbocharged locomotives. EMD first offered inertial air filters on its GP30 locomotive in 1962. This paper (excerpts below) suggests that in 1960-1962 UP pushed American Air Filter and GE into sharing the costs of research and development of using inertial air filters on railroad locomotives. Then EMD benefited from the development. UP bought a total of 152 GP30s, including GP30Bs. The timeline appears that the delivery of the GP30s in 1962 and 1963, together with increasing fuel costs and increased maintenance, as well as increased specialized labor costs, was what killed the gas turbines on UP. Then the DD35s and GP35s came in 1964-1965, and the SD40s in 1966, and the SD45s in 1968, and the turbines were retired. The gas turbines were simply too expensive compared to new EMD "off-the-shelf" locomotives.
The following excerpts come from ASME paper 63-AHGT-39. "Interim Report on Dust Louvre Inertial Separator Application on 8500-hp U. P. R. R. Gas-Turbine Locomotive"
Contributed by the Gas Turbine Power Division for presentation at the Aviation and Space, Hydraulic, and Gas Turbine Conference and Products Show, Los Angeles, Calif., March 3-7, 1963, of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Manuscript received at ASME Headquarters, January 3, 1963.
By F. D. Bruner, UPRR; J. K. Sparrow, American Air Filter; W. B. Moyer, Gas Turbine Department, General Electric.
Overhaul records show that on the earlier 4500-hp gas-turbine locomotives, reduced turbine output resulting from compressor-blading erosion made it necessary to reblade the axialflow compressor at approximately 15,000 hr. This experience covers approximately 10 years of operation. When these first locomotives were put into service an attempt was made to utilize carbody mounted panel-type filters which proved unsatisfactory for several reasons. Among these were excessive maintenance to insure air-filtering efficiency and the disadvantage of drawing the flow of compressor-inlet air past hot turbine casings which raises the inlet-air temperature and is detrimental to both turbine output and efficiency.
Subsequently, changes were made to the 4500-hp locomotives putting the air intake on top of the locomotive with no air filtration. It was thought the higher elevation of the inlet from the roadbed would tend to minimize the ingestion of both high dust quantities and large-particle sizes.
Subsequent experience, however, indicated that there was no significant change in erosion rate from the carbody-filter concept.
From 1956 during the initial 8500-hp gas-turbine locomotive design phase until 1958 when the first 8500-hp gas-turbine locomotives, went into heavy-duty main line freight service, it was increasingly recognized that compressor-blading erosion was becoming a major maintenance problem.
A survey of types of air filters available was made at this time. The survey indicated that a very severe space problem existed in applying any commercially available type except possibly a new development, the inertial separator. Application at the time did not seem feasible owing to the required development cycle to install these units prior to shipment. However, the first 2 years of operation (1958-1960) of the 8500-hp gas turbines indicated that a more severe compressor blading erosion maintenance problem, existed on these new locomotives than on the earlier 4500-hp gas turbine locomotives. The 8500-hp gas-turbine-locomotive compressor blading life proved to be approximately 10,000 to 12,000 hr. Compressor pulsation was encountered during starting due to the erosion occurring during this period. The erosion of the blades was sufficient in this time to change the blade efficiency significantly, moving the operating line into the stall region of the compressor. This cannot be tolerated and consequently reblading is required.
As a result of this more severe maintenance situation on these 8500-hp locomotives, it was recognized early in 1960 that application of some type of effective air filtration was very desirable and arrangements were made for installation of an air filter on one of the last locomotives shipped so as to obtain field evaluation as soon as possible. At this time, the inertial-type separator had just been applied to other types of locomotive power plants for severe desert-type environmental conditions.
The inertial separator device was the only type of air filter that appeared to satisfy the application requirements of (a) minimum space and weight, (b) low pressure drop, (c) relatively high efficiency, and (d) self-cleaning at all dust loadings. A design feasibility study was then initiated in mid 1960 with the dust louver inertial separator being selected for reasons just cited.
Application of an air filter to the 8500-hp gas-turbine locomotive within existing road clearance and previous silencer-space allotment is practical. Operation (18 months) with the dust louver has demonstrated that adequate air filtration will reduce compressor-blading erosion substantially and the associated high maintenance and operating costs. The substantial effects of inlet-air filtration on gas-turbine locomotives just beginning to be observed on compressor blading, turbine buckets and shrouds, indicate that as time goes on the results will be more useful than now appears. The beneficial effects of air filtration on other parts such as fuel nozzles could well become as important or more important in future analysis of maintenance and fuel costs than the effect on the blading which provided the stimulus for the installation of this air filter on locomotive No. 30.
(This information was first published in the UtahRails.net blog on May 13, 2014)
I was recently asked about a mid-1960s proposal for a Union Pacific 18,000 HP 3-unit 16-motor FT-4 turbine locomotive.
The only reference I can find is in Tom Lee's "Turbines Westward", page 48:
"At one time the Union Pacific had given consideration to ordering a third generation of turbines, but the road was unable to find a builder interested in providing a locomotive built to U.P.'s fuel specifications. Proposals were submitted by Pratt & Whitney for an aircraft type gas turbine power plant that could be installed in a locomotive car body, proposed to be built at the Omaha shops, but the project was never seriously considered."
One can only speculate that this proposed FT-4 turbine would have looked like, if UP had been able to get a vendor interested. It might have looked like the 1-30 series GTELs but with a two-unit, 18000 hp power plant furnishing 16 motors spread across three units, much like the 1-30 series was 8500 hp furnishing 12 motors spread across two units.
(This information was first published in the UtahRails.net blog on May 13, 2014)
One thing that became obvious as an all-time roster of UP's steam locomotives was compiled and presented: the ever-changing improvements in locomotive design either from the builders or by Union Pacific itself. Like almost all large railroads, no matter the era or its corporate structure, Union Pacific has always looked to improving locomotive design, and lowering the cost of operating its fleet of locomotives, whether they were steam locomotives, diesel locomotive, or turbine locomotives.
A study of the personalities can be fascinating. Identifying the people at the top of the MP&M department who were instrumental in the 1920s and 1930s in producing locomotive designs that fulfilled UP's operational needs. It's a clear pattern. After UP locomotive design was released from the clutches of the Common Standard era, and its cookie-cutter "locomotives by the thousands" concept, they started down their own path. The 5000-class 2-10-2s of the post WWI era were the start, then the 7000-class 4-8-2s of 1922 came next, then the 9000-class 4-12-2s of the mid- and late-1920s.
As UP recovered from the Depression of the early 1930s, they focused on the Streamliners for passenger service, and the new 4-6-6-4s for freight service. The Challengers were the brainchild of A. H. Fetters and Otto Jabelmann, and their concepts culminated in the 4000-class of the early 1940s.
The diesel era brought the brief attempt in the mid-1940s for UP to buy Baldwin's "off the shelf" massive 5000 horsepower beast, which today's railfans know as the Centipede. It appears that Baldwin, for whatever reason, did not take UP's needs and timeline very seriously because the order was canceled 18 months after being placed, after UP discovered that Baldwin had not even started construction. This may have been the start of UP's "we'll go it alone" research and development that resulted in the 51-75 series gas turbines.
When David Neuhart came to the head of the MP&M department in 1949, he continued the culture he had been part of for over 20 years. It is well known that on his watch UP put into service the Gas Turbines, but Neuhart also pushed GE into producing its own line of diesel locomotives (the U25B), and pushed EMD into designing a turbocharger for their 567 diesel engine (the GP20 and SD24). In the late 1950s, Neuhart adopted inertial air filters for UP's gas turbine fleet, and pushed EMD to improve its own offerings for primary air filters on turbocharged engines. The result was that EMD's GP30 in 1962 was the first to include inertial air filters instead of oil-bath air filters. He then pushed EMD into greatly improving their electrical designs, with the DDA40X being the vastly successful test beds for all of the improvements. EMD's offering of its Dash 2 line of locomotives in 1972 was the result. Thirty-five years later, the SD40-2 and the GP38-2 are still the standard for reliable locomotive design.
Union Pacific was such an important customer for General Motors' Electro-Motive Division that EMD could not ignore UP. During the early 1980s Union Pacific was pushing EMD into improving the SD40-2, until UP got sidetracked with the MP merger. Leadership at UP changed and without the pressure from UP, General Motors ended up producing the less-than-successful SD50 and GP50 series.
Log Book, UP GP9 no. 341
Taken from its log book on July 16, 1978, from an original note completed on November 8, 1980.
|new to Jan. 1959||(unknown, no log entries)|
|Feb. 1959 to Jan. 1960||road service on UP|
|Jan. 24-30, 1960||Class A repairs at Salt Lake City|
|Feb. 1960 to May 1960||road service on UP|
|May 10-19, 1960||in Omaha Shops for truck, and engine change and painting|
|Jun. 1960 to Aug. 1963||road service on UP with one trip to L. A.|
|Aug. 19-23, 1963||in Omaha Shops for new engine, generator, and #1 truck and painting inside and out|
|Sep. 1963 to Feb. 1964||road service on UP|
|Feb. 1964 to Jun. 1969||road service on OSL and OWR&N|
|Jun. 1969 to Jul 1970||local service out of The Dalles, Oregon|
|Jul. 1970 to Jul. 1972||road service on OWR&N|
|Jul. 1972 to Nov. 1973||local service out of Spokane, Washington|
|Dec. 1973 to present||local service out of Salt Lake City, Utah|
December 19, 1946
The following comes from the December 20, 1946 issue of the New York Times:
OMAHA, Dec. 19 (AP) — The Union Pacific Railroad announced today that it has ordered 64 Diesel-electric passenger, freight and switching locomotives at a cost of $22,000,000 — the largest Diesel order in railroad history.
Delivery of the locomotives will allow Union Pacific to have all-Diesel operations south of Salt Lake City, Utah, by next fall, President G. F. Ashby of the railroad said.
The new equipment consists of 7 passenger locomotives, 28 freight locomotives and 29 switchers. This will bring the railroad's Diesel equipment to 66 units for passenger use, 112 for freight and 141 for switching use.
"When all of this equipment is received the Union Pacific will have, including its present 45 single Diesel units now in use on passenger trains and its present 112 Diesel switch engines, a total of 421,500 horsepower in Diesel-electric locomotives," Mr. Ashby said. "In addition we are now operating 600 oil-burning steam locomotives of all classes."
The $22,000,000 order includes two 6,000-horsepower passenger locomotives from American Locomotive Company for delivery in May; five 4,500-horsepower passenger locomotives from the Electro Motive Division of General Motors Corporation at La Grange, Ill., for delivery in June; ten 6,000-horsepower freight locomotives from American Locomotive Company for delivery in April; 18 6,000-horsepower freight locomotives from Electro Motive Division of General Motors for September delivery; 25 switchers from Electro Motive Division and four switchers from Fairbanks-Morse Company at Chicago.
May 2, 1951
The following comes from the May 2, 1951 issue of the New York Times:
59 LOCOMOTIVES ORDERED -- Union Pacific to Spend $10,260,000 on Diesel Electric Units -- The Union Pacific Railroad has ordered fifty-nine Diesel electric freight locomotive units and switchers at a cost of $10,280,000, A. E. Stoddard, president, announced yesterday. The order includes fifteen units already delivered. Thirty of the units are the new F-7, 1,500 h.p. locomotives from Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, the same as the fifteen units currently in service on the road. Cost of the forty-five units is $7,500,000. Eight 2,400 h.p. Diesel electric yard switchers have also been ordered from Electro-Motive, at a cost of $1,760.000.
(From an email to The Winged Shield group, dated May 20, 2000)
Q: Where is the radio antenna (firecracker) on an RCS SD45? I think it's aft of the radiator fans, but need to confirm this. (Gary Binder)
Q: What are the dimensions of the RCS antenna ground plane? It appears to have four support legs, am I correct? (Gary Binder)
A: Yes, it's at the rear of the radiator hatch, just behind the curved grab iron, but still on the hatch itself.
I measured an SD45 RCS ground plane back 25 years ago. The four support legs and roof mounting pieces were standard 1-1/2 angle iron. At Salt Lake, we had to cut the platform off to lift the units with the 250-ton crane because the platform interfered with the cross piece of the crane. If you look at photos of some units up close, you can see a weld line on the legs, about three to four inches above the roof.
On the platform itself, the outside edge that faced to the side of the unit was tapered from a 2-inch thickness at the center part where the support legs attached, out to 1-1/2 inches at the front and rear edges. If you can find a down-on shot, you can probably guesstimate the size of the platform by comparing it with the width of the cab roof. I think the platform is square. (Don Strack, May 20, 2000)
Two-Window Windshields vs. Three-Window Windshields on SD60s
(From an email to the Streamliner group at YahooGroups, September 14 and 15, 2000)
Q: Does anyone know why UP has 2 different front window types on their SD60Ms? Some versions have the 2 piece North American style while others have the 3 piece Canadian style. Is there a reason UP has done this? (Spence Watson, September 14, 2000)
A: When we did the first SD60M's, we still had 3 and sometimes 4 man crews, as did the Canadians, where the 3-piece windshield (and sometimes a 4-piece windshield) was common. The reason was that with a 4-man crew and with everyone on the head end, the guy sitting in the middle seat can see ahead with the 3-piece windshield. With a two-piece design, he's staring at the center post. After the first couple of orders, we got new crew consist agreements that reduced the number of crew personnel to 2 or 3. With that, the center seat is usually unoccupied. No worry about the guy in the center seat being unable to see ahead. That was part of the reason for the change. The SD90MACII has a two-piece windshield that uses the same glass as the GE's. This does not apply to any SD60M's. (Steve Lee, September 15, 2000)
SD24s and Big Boys
Were UP's SD24s delivered in time in 1959 to operate with UP's steam Big Boys?
(From a series of emails posted to The Streamliner group at YahooGroups in May 2001)
Q: Is it just possible that the first SD24's - low noses, "Dependable Transportation" and all - actually made their early road trips through Cheyenne while Challengers and Big Boys were in their final days of service? Or were the steamers immediately retired in Cheyenne just prior to or on delivery of the first SD24's to Omaha/Council Bluffs? (David Garon, May 12, 2001)
A: I have never seen a photo of UP steam and SD24s side by side. We have all seen that magic date of July 1959 as being the end of steam on UP. But steam on UP really ended with the delivery in 1957 of the 50 GP9 cab units and 50 GP9B booster units in the 300-class. Sure, there was some last gasp runs during the peak periods over the next two years, but the end really was in 1957. West of Green River, and on the Kansas Division, the end came in 1954 with the delivery of the 75 GP9 cab units and 75 GP9B booster units in the 130-class. Steam only stayed on across the Wyoming Division east of Green River because fuel was cheap (as in free) and maintenance facilities were readily available. I worked with many shop mechanics who were laid off from Cheyenne in 1955-1956, coinciding with the opening of the Salt Lake shops in 1955. They were told that steam was dead on UP, and that if they wanted a job, there was work in the new Turbine and Diesel facility in Salt Lake City.
One piece of paper I'd like to see are the train sheets for Cheyenne during 1957-1959. I wonder how many steam locomotives were actually in regular operation during that time, and how many trains they operated on.
One of the projects I'd like to do someday is a locomotive directory for UP in 1955, showing steam and diesel, and turbine. 1954 was the pivotal year for motive power on UP. At the beginning of 1954, there were 879 steam locomotives and 758 diesel and turbine locomotives. At the beginning of 1955, the totals were 621 steam and 1,032 diesel and turbine locomotives. So a 1955 locomotive directory would show the year of change, 1954, very well. (Don Strack, May 13, 2001)
A: By that standard, we'd also have to change the "end of" dates for a host of other railroads, and we'd also have to apply it to diesels. For example, the "end" of the DDA40X's would have to be changed to 1980, the use of 25 of the units in 1984-1985 being just "last gasp runs."
You might be surprised to learn how much UP steam was in operation in eastern Wyoming, Western Nebraska and northern Colorado in 1957-1959. The number of fans who kept track of such things was much smaller back then than it is today, and they didn't have the ability to broadcast the news like we do now, so a huge amount of stuff went relatively unnoticed except for the remaining UP records.
Cheyenne was still doing classified repairs on steam into 1956-1957, just at a much lower level of activity than previously.
The last formal retirements didn't take place until 1962. Formal retirement defined as retired from the roster per ICC requirements and written off as an asset after disposal, which usually meant sales for scrap or sale of the scrap if the company cut the engine up itself.
The July 1959 date is very well documented. It was the date the last 4-6-6-4 came into Cheyenne on a freight from North Platte, and the only UP steam that ran after that time was 844(4) and 3985.
UP used steam on the eastern end of the Wyoming Division into July of 1959 and used it in Colorado and Nebraska in 1957-1959, as well. The last months of operation of the 4000-series are documented in Ehernberger's books Sherman Hill and Big Boy Portraits, wherein he lists the train sheet information for all Big Boy moves in June and July 1959 including the names of the engineers and firemen.
Like many railroads, UP expected and planned to operate steam sporadically into the early 1960's, and as such, they overhauled and maintained in "stored serviceable" status a number of locomotives. In the event, many of these locomotives were used only during grain rushes and other traffic peaks (some were never used at all), as there were several economic factors that got in the way, such as recessions and the steel strike.
Also, railroads figured out how to better utilize their diesel fleets. One of the fears of many railroad managements at the time was that they would end up buying too many diesels, resulting in some expensive and relatively new motive power being stored during low-traffic periods, and they wanted to avoid that at all costs (the payments go on whether the units are stored or not). If you go back and read the trade press in the mid-to-late 1950's you will note a number of railroad CEO's predicting that at least some steam would remain on their respective railroads, at least in stand-by service, into the mid-1960's. In UP's case, by 1962 they understood that diesels and turbines could handle the load, so all of the stored steam was retired, except for 844.
It is true that in all senses, UP never fully dieselized, as 844(4) was and is still active as far as the FRA and it's predecessor, the ICC are and were concerned. People can quibble about that if they wish but it's true, and the reports and paperwork remain on file in both Washington DC and Omaha to back it up.
Most people know that 844 was used as a snow melter in Council Bluffs in late 1959 and early 1960. The 3710 was used as a source of steam for a separate snow melting machine in the North Platte yards occasionally until 1967 or so. However, it was no longer a locomotive; it was classified as a piece of Roadway machinery and was numbered 900079. When it was no longer needed for this job, it was donated to the City of North Platte, which renumbered it 3977 (it's original number) and put it on display in Cody Park, where it remains today. I do not know if it moved itself and/or the melting machine in this service or not, but even if it did, it might have looked and sounded like a locomotive but for ICC and accounting purposes it was not. (Steve Lee, May 13, 2001)
A: Lloyd Stagner states that in 1959, "...eight 3700's [oil fired Challengers] worked between Cheyenne and North Platte between July 2 and July 23..." and this was the last "regular" use of steam. Some 4000's had been readied for service as well, but remained in storage during most of July. This was because traffic was hurt by a labor dispute in the steel industry, and the SD24's arrived as well. Management apparently expected traffic to recover sufficiently by September to warrant returning the big steam power to work, but the steel dispute persisted into November and by that time new diesel deliveries had obviated the need for steam. Approximately 30 serviceable steam locomotives were held in reserve during 1960, but the arrival of the GP20 fleet removed any need for their use. Do we know if any of the new SD24's in service North Platte-Cheyenne between July 2 and July 23, 1959?. (David Garon, May 14, 2001)
A: I have some engineer's time books from that period. The first record of a 400 is on August 4th (UP 403, 400B, 410B), Laramie to Rawlins on NWF. This engineer did not make any steam runs during this time or any time during 1959. He worked between Rawlins and Cheyenne. The vast majority of trains he ran were diesel or turbine during this period. There was some steam recorded. He seemed to have been high enough on the seniority list to get all road jobs including some passenger runs. I think he had some east bound runs with SD24's as well. Of course he was only one guy. I don't know about the rest. (Steve Solombrino, May 15, 2001)
A: I remember lines of steam engines waiting to be scrapped in Pocatello in the late 50's (ca. 1958-1959). Dad was a fireman then and I remember going with him on high nose GP and cab unit four-axle units. I don't remember SD's around here until the early 60's but I was too young at that time to understand or care about the details of what they were. I do recall Dad telling me that Idaho had a tax penalty for UP if they brought new power into the state so they didn't bring units here until they were some number of years old. (Randy Norton, May 15, 2001)
UP Turbines in Passenger Service
Mark Amfahr wrote on October 28, 2021.
When discussing UP's turbines, the issue of passenger service often comes up. Many have said they never operated on passenger trains, the reason being that they were "too loud", etc. While they certainly weren't designed for passenger service, I've realized over the years you never want to say never on a topic like that.
Tonight I was looking through some old UP books and found a photo of a turbine heading up UP's Idahoan (Train 3) at Borie, just west of Cheyenne. It's a UP photo that appeared in the book "UPRR Passenger Cars" by G.B. Davies. Turbine 50 is on the point of the train, with an 800-class steam engine trailing. I suppose the turbine was operating as a helper up to Sherman, possibly testing its performance in that service (50 was essentially a test bed for the later turbines). The month/year of the photo isn't mentioned, but it was likely during the early 50s.
So I still haven't seen evidence of a turbine handling a passenger train solo, but there's an example of one double heading, for what it's worth.
Don Strack added.
The same photo is in Tom Lee's Turbines Westward book, on page 17. Other photos in the book (page 14, 16, 59, 60) show UP 50 coupled directly to a set of six passenger cars, which were used to house GE test equipment and personnel. UP 50 was in service on UP from July 1949 to April 1951, and was truly a landmark locomotive. It was a radical shift in locomotive design and both UP and GE were interested in its performance in all kinds of service. I have not seen any photo of UP turbines in regular revenue passenger service, other than this one photo of UP 50 on Train 3, The Idahoan.
UP's U50 Fuel Tender
(From an email to The Winged Shield group, dated May 11, 2000)
Q: You mentioned in your book about the proposal of fuel tenders from U-50s and you said this idea never made it past the drawing board. Do you know if it made the drawing board? and is there any proof of this drawing around as I would be interested in seeing what they would of came up with. (Jim Booth, Jr.)
A: I saw an engineering sketch that Greg Davies had when I was in Omaha in June 1978. About three weeks before, I had talked to Frank Acord in his business car here in Salt Lake and told him of my interest in a complete roster of UP's diesel locomotives. We spent an hour or so talking during which he told me about his experience in his early years as a mechanic working on UP's Shays at both Provo and Lynndyl. Then he invited me to see him in Omaha. I took him up on his invitation, and after a brief discussion in his office, he took me out into the open office area on the 9th floor and announced to all the people there that they were to help me in any way that I asked. He turned me loose in the Mechanical Department files. I copied lots of stuff off microfilm, and made a full legal tablet full of notes.
I also talked to Greg Davies in his office, and he invited me to his place that evening. While there, he showed me all of the stuff he was working on at the time, including files, photos, and drawings (I have a copy of the steam roster he was working on). One of the drawings was the one of a basic side view of the lower part of a U50 carbody, on the regular B+B trucks. The unit was cut off at the walkway level and there were two round fuel tanks mounted above that. I think the two tanks were 4,000 gallons each, likely being about the width of the former carbody. I don't remember a date on the drawing, but there was a note that the fuel tender was to be operated between two U28Cs, each upgraded to 3,000 horsepower. The traction motors on the fuel tender were all powered from the U28Cs. Since the U28Cs were still in favor, or at least not yet out of favor, I'm guessing that time period would have been about 1970-1971. Remember, it was only a proposal, and the drawing was likely meant to merely illustrate that proposal.
I was in Omaha two nights. On the second night, I spent about two hours with Lloyd Edson, who I had talked to several times in Salt Lake. Lloyd was my majority source of information for the research I did on the turbocharged GP9s, along with a lot of other information about UP's early diesel years, since he was first on the mechanical engineering staff in 1953. That night, he pulled out all his personal notes about the turbocharger projects, and my articles on the subject are based mostly on what he shared with me that night. A couple hours after meeting with Lloyd, I climbed aboard the westbound Amtrak SFZ. I was still with UP at the time, so the Amtrak trip was at no-cost (or maybe very low cost, I don't exactly remember). (Don Strack, May 11, 2000)
UP's 1962 Proposed 5000HP Loco
Posted to Trainorders.com, February 7, 2014
Back in 1978, I spent an evening with Harold Rees, UP's Mechanical Engineer in the Motive Power & Machinery Department. It was at the invitation of Lloyd Edson, who had been field engineer in 1955-1960 for UP's turbocharged GP9 project. I had met Lloyd while I was working for UP in the Salt Lake diesel shop, and asked what he knew about the turbocharged GP9 project. I was quite surprised when he said, "I made it happen." He invited me to Omaha, and six months later, I was there in his office.
Lloyd was the field engineer for the turbocharging effort in 1955-1960, which came to an end when UP got EMD's attention about turbochargers and offered the SD24 and GP20s. Lloyd introduced me around, including a quick visit with Frank Acord, the top man in UP's MP&M Dept. Lloyd invited me for an evening at his home, and mentioned that he would also invite Harold Rees, who Lloyd said had been his mentor.
Harold Rees had retired a couple years before, but had been Lloyd's boss back in Omaha during the GP9 turbocharging project. They were both mechanical engineers. Harold brought several items with him that evening, including a file covering his work designing and building UP's two diesel-electric snow plows (9000080, built in 1959, and 9000081, built in 1966). There were several other items from his days as a design engineer with UP, including his work designing UP 80, the coal turbine, and his work throughout the 1950s as D. S. Neuhart's design engineer for UP's locomotives and cars.
At the end of the evening, Mr. Rees simply gave me the whole thing, "Here, you take this." In among those items was this drawing of UP's specification for a 5000 horsepower locomotive, dated December 4, 1962. This is what resulted in the GE U50 (delivered in 1963), the EMD DD35 (delivered in 1964), and the Alco C855 (also delivered in 1964).
This is where it gets embarrassing. This drawing was in the file for the snow plows (my current project back in 2014), and I discovered it as I was working on the snowplow project, 35 years later. I sure wish I had it at hand when I did the article in Diesel Era magazine back in 2001 ("Union Pacific DD35s" Diesel Era, Volume 12, Number 1, January/February 2001). Oh well, yet another missed opportunity.
Here is the drawing, in all its high-resolution glory: