Union Pacific MP&M Men, Biographical Information

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This page was last updated on January 30, 2024.

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The changes in Union Pacific's steam, diesel and gas turbine locomotive fleet would have never taken place without the personalities of the men who were the leaders of the railroad's Motive Power & Machinery department. Below are just some of the names, as revealed by recent research.

The following is presented to illustrate the changing job title in the early years for the head of Union Pacific's motive power department.

It is not known when the title General Superintendent MP&M was first used

During some of the early years, there also was an Assistant Superintendent MP&M (usually located in Cheyenne because of the large size of the shops)

There may have been a title of Superintendent, Motive Power & Car

According to a 1917 biography, William R. McKeen was the person E. H. Harriman trusted most for mechanical concerns. McKeen was on the Mechanical Committee for all of Harriman's Associated companies. Other biographies give McKeen credit for UP's purchase of compound locomotives. To put that statement into perspective, the first two from Schenectady were delivered to UP in December 1898, the same month McKeen began his career with UP as a district foreman at North Platte. The remaining compound locomotives for UP (a total of 256 locomotives) were delivered to UP beginning in 1900 through 1906. McKeen was Superintendent of MP&M from 1902 to 1908, when he left UP to start his McKeen Motor Car Co., with the support of Harriman himself. E. H. Harriman died in September 1909, and McKeen sold his interest in McKeen Motor Car Co. to UP in March 1920.

The people at the top of the MP&M department were instrumental in the 1920s and 1930s in producing locomotive designs that fulfilled UP's operational needs. It's a clear pattern. Following the end of the Common Standard era, and its cookie-cutter "locomotives by the thousands" concept, and after the stagnation of World War I, Union Pacific started looking to their own designs. 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. Mention must be made here of the brief attempt in the mid-1940s for UP to buy "off the shelf", Baldwin's massive 5000 hp 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" thinking that resulted in the 51-75 series turbines.

When David S. 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). 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 that GM could not ignore UP. During the early 1980s Union Pacific was pushing GM into improving the SD40-2, then 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 50 series.

(Listed chronologically; with years at Union Pacific)

John Mckenzie

1876 -- September 1882

John Mckenzie was superintendent of motive power for Union Pacific from 1876 to 1882. Before that he was foreman of Roger Locomotive Works (1870-1874) and superintendent of motive power for the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad (1874-1876). After his time at Union Pacific ended in 1883, Mackenzie became superintendent of motive power for New York Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, with his office in Cleveland, Ohio. (Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America, 1893 edition, page 242) Mckenzie remained with NYC&StL until 1902. (Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America, 1913 edition, page 355)

Isaac H. Congdon

September 1882 -- December 1885

Isaac H. Congdon was Union Pacific's superintendent of motive power and car departments from September 1882 to December 1885. He started with Union Pacific as general master mechanic in March 1866, and was promoted to superintendent of motive power and car departments in September 1882.

Isaac H. Congdon patented the locomotive front extension in 1864 (U. S. Patent 43,898, dated August 23, 1864), while he was Master Mechanic of the Great Western Railroad (later Wabash). In 1866 Congdon was appointed as Union Pacific's first General Master Mechanic. The extension front was installed to several Union Pacific locomotives in 1867, 1868, and 1869. They were in service until 1870. When C. G. Hammond became Union Pacific's General Superintendent, all of the Congdon front extensions were removed and replaced by diamond smokestacks of the style used by CB&Q. (Locomotive Engineering, Volume 9, 1896, page 496, Google Books)

(View the Google page for U. S. Patent 43898)

(C. G. Hammond was Union Pacific Superintendent until October 1870 when he was replaced by E. Sickles; by September 1874 Hammond was the Assistant President of The Pullman Company; see New York Times, October 7, 1870 and Official Railway Guide, September 1874, page xxxiii)

(Congdon was replaced as UP's superintendent of motive power and car department in late 1885 by Charles Adams, UP's newly appointed president. After hiring Charles Blackwell, an experienced engineer, to review the mechanical department, Adams felt that UP's locomotive fleet and facilities had been allowed to become obsolete. He replaced Congdon with Clement Hackney, who immediately set about modernizing and reorganizing UP's mechanical department.)

Maury Klein, Union Pacific, The Birth of a Railroad, page 498:

The Union Pacific shops, Blackwell concluded, lacked adequate facilities, machinery, and tools, had no standards, and were incompetently managed. Stocking parts for seventy-four different designs of locomotives meant costly and wasteful inventories. Some of the power was exhausted; the rest was driven so hard that neither running nor general repairs were made on schedule. Shop machinery was obsolete, and too much work was done by hand that could be better done by machine. Water quality was so poor on some sections that fireboxes and tubes were corroded and clogged with scale. Coal facilities for engine service were primitive and expensive to operate. Small wonder that the cost figures for shop work on the Union Pacific far exceeded that of other western roads. Blackwell suggested concentrating general repairs at a few well-equipped points and confining running repairs to outlying terminals. Standard designs and practices should be adopted, water and coal facilities improved, machinery upgraded, and the management overhauled . Superintendent I. H. Congdon had served the company well since construction days and had devised both a new type of smokestack and an improved brake shoe; Adams retired him with a testimonial and a bonus of $2,500 before replacing him with Clem Hackney. The shops in Eagle Rock and Shoshone were moved to Pocatello, and in 1889 work started on new shops in Cheyenne.

(The June 1885 system-side renumbering was possibly Congdon's attempt to answer the complaints from the board of directors and railroad top-level management concerning the increasing costs of fleet management and maintenance.)

Isaac H. Congdon died at his home In Omaha, Nebraska on August 21, 1899 at the age of sixty-six years. He was born at Granville, Massachusetts on June 1, 1833, and entered railway service on July 11, 1851, as machinist with the Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati. He was afterward for one year machinist with Springfield Hartford & New Haven, but on August 1, 1853, returned to the Cleveland Columbus & Cincinnati as foreman of machine shops, which position he held until December 31, 1859. From January 1, 1860 to March 1866, he was master mechanic of the Great Western Railway at Springfield, Illinois, and in March 1866, went to the Union Pacific as general master mechanic. After holding the latter position for sixteen years, he was promoted to the position of superintendent of the motive power and car departments of the Union Pacific on September 1, 1882, which he resigned on December 1, 1885. (Railway Age, August 25, 1899)

Clement Hackney

December 1885 -- June 1890

Clement Hackney was Union Pacific superintendent of motive power and car department in 1887. (Poor's Directory of Railway Officials, 1887, page 169)

Harvey Middleton

June 1890 -- December 1890

Harvey Middleton was superintendent of motive power and machinery for Union Pacific for the last six months of 1890, June to December. Before that he was superintendent of machinery at AT&SF, and after his time at Union Pacific, he became superintendent of construction for Pullman Palace Car Co. A review of Middleton's overall career shows that he was a "boomer", moving around to several positions after starting in railroad service in 1876, and not staying any any one position for more than 18 months. (Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America, 1893 edition, page 255)

Samuel Higgins

April 1901 -- July 1902

Samuel Higgins was Union Pacific's superintendent of motive power and machinery from April 1901 to July 1902. Before coming to Union Pacific, Higgins was superintendent of motive power at Lehigh Valley Railroad (1894-1901), and after his service with Union Pacific, he was superintendent of motive power with Southern Railway (1902-1904), then held the same position with New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad (1904-1911). (Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America, 1913 edition, page 253)

James F. Dunn

(OSL) March 1897 -- (1913)

James F. Dunn was superintendent of motive power and machinery for Oregon Short Line Railroad from March 1897 through to at least 1913. He started his railroad career in 1870 as a machinist apprentice in Central Pacific's shops in Sacramento, California. He moved to Union Pacific as a machinist in 1875, rising to become a division foreman by 1890, when he moved to Oregon Short Line as a master mechanic on the Idaho Division. He remained with OSL through the reorganization of 1897 and on September 11, 1911, his position as OSL's superintendent of motive power and machinery was changed to become OSL's assistant general manager, mechanical. (Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America, 1913 edition, page 161)

(Dunn was head of motive power for Oregon Short Line during the time OSL rebuilt and modernized so many of the older 4-4-0 locomotives on its roster, and throughout the years of Harriman's Common Standard designs.)

F. N. Hibbits

(F. N. Hibbits was mechanical engineer in UP's motive power department from May 1901 to March 1903; then assistant superintendent motive power and machinery from March 1903 to March 1904. He left Union Pacific in 1904 to become consulting mechanical engineer with Southern Railway.)

William Riley McKeen, Jr.

July 1902 -- July 1908

William R. McKeen, Jr. was Union Pacific's superintendent of motive power and machinery from July 1902 to July 1908, succeeding Samuel Higgins.

William R. McKeen started his railroad career in 1893 as a master car builder at the Terra Haute car shops of the Vandalia Railroad, of which his father was president, after succeeding his own father as president of the Vandalia. William McKeen received a degree as a Mechanical Engineer from Johns Hopkins in 1897, and started with Union Pacific in December 1898.

McKeen, William R., Consulting Engineer of Motor Cars, Union Pacific Railroad. Office: Omaha, Nebraska. Born October 2, 1869, at Terre Haute, Indiana. Graduated from Rose Polytechnic Institute, Terre Haute, June 1889; June 1890, completed two years post-graduate electrical course Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; 1890 to 1891, took postgraduate course in electrical and mechanical engineering, Charlottenburg Polytechnikum, Berlin, Germany. Entered railway service 1891 as special apprentice Pittsburgh Cincinnati Chicago & St. Louis Railway at Columbus, Ohio, since which he has been consecutively master car builder, general foreman locomotive and car shops and general foreman of all shops Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad, Terre Haute, Indiana; December 1898 to May 1901, district foreman Union Pacific Railroad at North Platte, Nebraska; (April 1901, master mechanic at North Platte); May 1901 to June 1902, master mechanic at Cheyenne, Wyoming; June 1902 to July 1908, superintendent motive power and machinery same road; July 1908 to date, consulting engineer motor cars same road and president and general manager McKeen Motor Car Co. (Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America, 1922 edition, page 197)

During April 1901, McKeen was master mechanic at Union Pacific's North Platte shops. (Indianapolis Journal, April 13, 1901, research by Madison Kirkman)

(Being Master Mechanic would have been a promotion from being District Forman. More research is needed to refine the dates of McKeen's job changes.)

There was a connection between William R. McKeen, Jr., and Horace G. Burt, the president of Union Pacific at the time McKeen was hired in December 1898. Horace G. Burt had been elected president of Union Pacific in January 1898, remaining in the job until January 1904. Horace Burt's sister, Ellen Burt, was married to McKeen's uncle Samuel McKeen. (research from various genealogy sites, including Ancestry.com)

McKeen's father, William R. McKeen Sr., was a banker in Terra Haute, Indiana. At the time of his 80th birthday in 1909, the senior McKeen was noted as having been president of the Vandalia Railroad for 28 years. The younger McKeen's brother Benjamin was general manager of Lines West of Pennsylvania Railroad. His father died in 1913.

Union Pacific purchased full control and interest of the McKeen Motor Car Company in March 1920. (Associated Press, Kingsport Times, September 5, 1922)

William R. McKeen and his wife were divorced on December 21, 1921. (The Nebraska State Journal [Lincoln], December 22, 1921)

After resigning as president of McKeen Motor Car Company, William McKeen moved to Santa Barbara, California, where he is shown in the 1923 city directory for Montecito, Santa Barbara County. He is not listed in either the directories for 1920-1922.

In December 1928, McKeen was noted as growing avocado pears in Santa Barbara. (Terra Haute Saturday Spectator, December 8, 1928) (Having been born in 1869, he was not yet 60 years of age at this time.)

The 1930 U. S. Census shows William R. McKeen as a resident of Santa Barbara, California, age 60, occupation inventor in the railroad industry; living alone with a live-in housekeeper.

By 1931, McKeen's estate in Santa Barbara, California, was being used as a convalescent home under the name of "Mansas Olas", [Spanish: Gentle Waves], also known as the "Garden of the Gods". (The Malvern Leader [Malvern, Iowa], October 8, 1931)

William R. McKeen is shown living alone in the 1932 and 1933 city directories for Montecito, Santa Barbara County. The 1934 Montecito directory shows him and his new wife, Carmen. At the time, based on their birth years from other sources, he was 65 and she was 36. Later directories, as late as 1945, show William R. McKeen and his wife Carmen living on their Mansas Olas estate at 1809 Pacific Coast Highway.

According to the California Death Index, William Riley McKeen was born on October 2, 1869, and died on October 19, 1946, in Santa Barbara, California. He is buried in the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Carmen was McKeen's third wife, and she died in 1987, four days short of her 90th birthday. She is also buried in Santa Barbara.

Brian Norden wrote on the Railway Preservation News forum, on October 25, 2015:

My understanding is that after the UP bankruptcy in the early 1890s the engineering staff of the railroad was drastically reduced. Not much was done about locomotive design until after Harriman took control. Most of the "Associated Lines" locomotive designs had origins with the Southern Pacific staff.

But, I'm not all that familiar with locomotive improvements of the era.

McKeen seemed to be pushing a number of technologies forward, including:

  • During his tenure the first steel box cars on the UP appeared. The body of one of these was retrieved from Wyoming and is now at Illinois Railway Museum at Union, Illinois.
  • Gasoline powered rail cars.
  • Steel passenger cars. The one that McKeen designed was one based upon the motor car design. This coach had rounded ends and a center entrance. According to a Railway Age write-up the car had each bolster and draftgear as a single steel casting.
  • The Omaha shops also built a prototype RPO car in the "Harriman" style.

But the actual development of the "Harriman" style passenger cars seems to have started by the SP staff as an advancement of its already standard wooden car designs. Two evolving coach prototypes and its own RPO being constructed in Sacramento prior to the orders from Pullman.

Charles E. Fuller

July 1908 -- 1910

1914 -- 1922

Charles E. Fuller succeeding McKeen as superintendent of motive power and machinery in 1908, until 1910. He returned to the position in 1914, and held it until after 1922.

Charles E. Fuller was Union Pacific's superintendent of motive power and machinery from July 1908 to July 1910, when he was promoted to assistant general manager. He came to Union Pacific in February 1908 as assistant superintendent of motive power and machinery. Before coming to UP in 1908, Fuller was superintendent of motive power at Chicago & Alton Railway, from August 1903 through December 1907, when he became special assistant to the president of Erie Railroad, in January and February 1908. (Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America, 1913 edition, page 200)

(This was during the years that E. H. Harriman controlled both Chicago & Alton and Erie. Fuller's move to Union Pacific in 1908, filling the position vacated by McKeen, likely is an illustration of Harriman's habit of finding and promoting the best people within his organization, regardless of the company they worked for.)

Fuller was assistant general manager from July 1, 1910 to January 1, 1914. After January 1914, until at least 1922, he returned to his position as superintendent of motive power and machinery. (Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America, 1922 edition, page 226)

In June 1918, in an article about UP's new 2-10-2 steam locomotives, A. H. Fetters, as mechanical engineer, and C. E. Fuller, as superintendent of motive power and machinery, were mentioned as being responsible for the design. (Railway Age, June 28, 1918, page 1573)

In an article about UP's new 7000-class locomotive in June 1922, C. E. Fuller is mentioned as Union Pacific's superintendent of motive power. Fuller in mentioned in connection with the invention of a low water alarm. (Railway Review, June 10, 1922, page 418)

O. S. Jackson


"Mr. O. S. Jackson, general superintendent of motive power and machinery of the Union Pacific System, died September 26 at Omaha, Nebraska, after an illness of several months. Mr. Jackson joined the Union Pacific System in 1921 as assistant superintendent of Motive Power and Machinery, was promoted to superintendent of Motive Power and Machinery in 1923, and was made general superintendent of that department in 1928. He was also the chairman of the American Railway Association, mechanical division. Our sympathy is extended to the bereaved." (Ax-I-Dent-Ax, employee magazine of Utah Railway parent company USSR&M, November 1931, page 20)

O. S. Jackson was replaced as general superintendent of motive power and machinery of the Union Pacific System by J. W. Highleyman, who visited the Provo Joint Shops of LA&SL and Utah Railway on October 14, 1931. (Ax-I-Dent-Ax, employee magazine of Utah Railway parent company USSR&M, November 1931, page 21)

Arthur H. Fetters

General Design Engineer and Mechanical Engineer

A. H. Fetters: Mechanical Engineer, Union Pacific Railroad. Office: Omaha, Nebraska. Born July 14, 1871 [sic 1870], at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Educated at Lehigh University 1888-1892. Entered railway service 1899, since which he has been consecutively to April 1901, chief draftsman Erie Railroad; April to August 1901, with Baldwin Locomotive Works; August 1901 to date, with Union Pacific Railroad successively as chief draftsman, assistant mechanical engineer and mechanical engineer. Previous to entering railway service was for six years in the service of the Baldwin Locomotive Works. (Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America, 1906 edition, page 197)

A. H. Fetters: General Mechanical Engineer, Union Pacific System. Office: Union Pacific Building, Omaha, Nebraska. Born: Chester County, Pennsylvania, July 14, 1870. Son of Leir and Mary Fetters. Married: Harlean B. Curtis, 1903. Children: Holly and Jack. Education: Lehigh University (1892). Career: Connected with Baldwin Locomotive works (1892-99); chief draftsman, Erie Railroad (1899-1901); connected with Baldwin Locomotive Works (1901); chief draftsman, Union Pacific Railroad (1901-04); assistant mechanical engineer, same road (1904-1929); present position since 1929. Mason. Member University Club (Omaha). Republican. Home address: 301 So. 57th St., Omaha, Nebraska. (Who's Who In Railroading, 1930 edition, published by Simmons-Boardman, courtesy of Jim Ehernberger)

In August 1903, A. H. Fetters was promoted from draftsman at Union Pacific, to assistant mechanical engineer at Union Pacific. He had been a draftsman for a number of years. (Railway and Locomotive Engineering, August 1903, page 372)

A. H. Fetters was also involved in the design and manufacture of the McKeen car, ca. 1904-1905.

In June 1918, in an article about UP's new 2-10-2 steam locomotives, A. H. Fetters, as mechanical engineer, and C. E. Fuller, as superintendent of motive power and machinery, were mentioned as being responsible for the design. (Railway Age, June 28, 1918, page 1573)

A. H. Fetters later had the title of General Design Engineer.

"A. H. Fetters, a Union Pacific engineer who had worked with McKeen, had continued research into petroleum fuels in an effort to develop a better engines, and in 1926 Union Pacific sent him to Europe to learn about diesel developments. His work greatly influenced Union Pacific's pioneering development of the Streamliner trains." (The American Diesel Locomotive, by Brian Solomon, page 44)

In January 1929, Fetters was named as General Mechanical Engineer for the entire Union Pacific Railroad. "He will have charge of design and maintenance engineering of motive power and other equipment on all of the system lines." (The Montana Standard [Butte], January 12, 1929)

Arthur Haldeman Fetters died on February 24, 1946, at age 75, and is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in San Diego, California. In 1945, he and his wife were living in San Diego at 4435 Conde Place. She was born on September 23, 1879, and died on July 10, 1963.

Otto Jabelmann

Assistant Superintendent Motive Power and Machinery

Vice President Research and Mechanical Design

The following comes from the 1940 edition of Who's Who In Railroading:

OTTO JABELMANN: Vice-President, Union Pacific Railroad. Office: 1416 Dodge St., Omaha, Nebraska. Born: Cheyenne, Wyoming, July 24, 1891. Son of Louis and Anna Jabelmann. Married: Teresa M. Jabelmann, 1927. Education: Grade schools, Cheyenne, Wyoming; high schools, Seattle, Washington, and Ann Arbor, Michigan; Engineering Departments, Leland Stanford Junior University, and University of Michigan. Entered Railroad Service: With Union Pacific, serving successively as crew caller, machinist apprentice, machinist, roundhouse foreman, division foreman, superintendent of shops, assistant general superintendent motive power and machinery, assistant to president, and vice president. Member: General Committee, Mechanical Division, American Association of Railroads; A.S.M.E. Home address 4918 Webster St., Omaha, Nebraska. (Who's Who In Railroading, Volume 10, 1940 edition, published by Simmons-Boardman, courtesy of Jim Ehernberger)

Otto Jabelmann was shop superintendent at Cheyenne about 1930.

In July 1936, UP's vice president, William Jeffers, named Otto Jabelmann as his Assistant General Superintendent of Motive Power, with his responsibilities being the head of the newly organized Bureau of Research. Jabelmann was to head the design of both a new freight locomotive, which became the 4-6-6-4 Challenger, and a new passenger locomotive, which became the 4-8-4 Northern.

The first Challenger, UP 3900, was delivered in September 1936 and still used the older lettering and numbering scheme. The first Northern, UP 800, was delivered in August 1937, and was the first use of the new lettering and numbering scheme on new motive power.

William Jeffers became president of the railroad in October 1937, and Otto Jabelmann became Vice President of Research and Mechanical Design in May 1939, and continued to influence the design of UP's locomotives, passenger cars and freight cars.

Jabelmann's untimely death in January 1943 while on a consulting trip to Europe brought an end to what many have called the Jabelmann era of UP motive power design. Jeffers continued as Union Pacific's president until his mandatory retirement in January 1946 at age 70. By that time, the team of Jabelmann and Jeffers had completely changed the railroad's mechanical department, putting in place a culture that would keep Union Pacific on the cutting edge of railroad technology throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

Jabelmann's death, at age 51 of a heart attack, happened in London, at Victoria station. He had been in London since November 1942 assisting W. A. Harriman in the distribution of lend-lease materials during World War Two.

David S. Neuhart

April 1, 1949 -- October 1, 1971 (22-1/2 years)

David S. Neuhart started with Union Pacific as a coach cleaner in Salt Lake City in June 1918, working in that position for eight years. He then transferred to the Mechanical Department in Salt Lake City, and began studying engineering courses in his off-time. He later moved to Cheyenne, Kansas City, and Pocatello. In 1942 he became Master Mechanic at Los Angeles, and was named as Assistant General Superintendent at Omaha in 1945. On April 1, 1949, he replaced the retiring John Gogerty as General Superintendent of Motive Power & Machinery. (Railroad magazine , April 1974, page 28-34)

January 27, 1931
D. S. Neuhart, with the reported job title of production engineer for the Union Pacific System, Lines West of Pocatello, with his office in Pocatello, was reported as visiting the Provo Joint Shops January 27. (Ax-I-Dent-Ax, April 1931, page 19; Utah Railway parent company USSR&M employee magazine)

Other positions held by D. S. Neuhart:

"In their constant search for improvement and economy, D.S. Neuhart, Gen. Supt. MP&M, and Frank Fahland, the Chief Mechanical Officer, have continually upgraded older power, have instituted a program of turbo-charging GP-7 and 9's, and have been largely responsible for the recent purchase of 75 EMC 2400 hp diesel giants. "Helper" is an obsolete term on most of the U.P. and the fleet of 100-120 car symbol manifests thundering along at passenger train speeds is a direct result and tribute to the dynamic efforts of these progressive officials." (William Kratville and Harold Ranks, Motive Power of the Union Pacific, page 233)

The Centennial locomotives were the crowning achievement of UP's top mechanical officer, David S. Neuhart, Superintendent of Motive Power and Machinery. Neuhart had begun his career at Union Pacific as a coach cleaner at Salt Lake City in June 1918. Transferring to the Mechanical Department, he rose through the ranks working at UP shops in Salt Lake City, Cheyenne, Kansas City, Pocatello and Los Angeles. During the course of his career, Neuhart grew up around the work of the legendary Otto Jabelmann, who had brought Union Pacific forward in its quest for ever larger power with the Challengers, the huge Northerns and the 4-8-8-4 Big Boys. (Don Strack, The Streamliner, Volume 21, Number 1, Winter 2007)

On April 1, 1949, Neuhart was appointed Superintendent of Motive Power and Machinery, and over the next 20 years he distinguished himself as he continued the UP tradition of ever larger, and unique power into the diesel era. On Neuhart's watch, Union Pacific was at the forefront of motive power development and often led the industry into new avenues of design. Beginning with the gas-turbines of the early 1950s, and the early 1960s upgrdae of the 8500-horsepower GTE locomotives to 10,000 horsepower, Neuhart applied the philosophy seeking the highest possible horsepower in the least number of units. UP was the first to buy what was then the world's most powerful road switcher, the 2000-horsepower Fairbanks-Morse H-20-44. Under Neuhart's leadership, UP is credited with much of the success of General Electric's initial entry into the domestic road locomotive field. It was UP's own turbocharger program in the 1955-1956 period which led EMD to produce and sell the GP20 and SD24 models, paving the way for the "second generation" revolution. It was the quest for ever higher horsepower which brought about the UP giants of the 1950s and 1960s.

At Neuhart's urging, EMD offered the 5,000 horsepower DD35 cabless booster unit on two unique 4-axle trucks in September 1963, and the DDA35 in the spring of 1965. Similarly, ALCo produced three 5,500 horsepower Century 855s for UP in June 1964. At the same time, General Electric produced the 5,000 horsepower UP-inspired U50, and went on to build the UP-designed U50C in 1969. While Southern Pacific experimented with several of these models, it was Union Pacific which embraced all of these double-engine designs and, with the exception of the ALCo C-855, ordered them in quantity.

In March 1968, as Neuhart was nearing retirement, UP tried the EMD SD45 as a high-horsepower, high-speed locomotive, but with limited success. By this time, Neuhart, still on the quest for the ultimate locomotive, had a better picture in mind of what was needed and was still looking for more big power. At the same time, EMD was itself looking to integrate some new reliability features into a new locomotive design. Within 13 months of an initial March 1968 communication between Union Pacific and the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors Corporation, the railroad and the builder had worked out a definitive design. The DDA40X Centennials, the first unit of which was delivered in late April 1969, were the result of this collaboration and the culmination of Neuhart's career - his "Big Boy" of a later era.

"It was common for Neuhart to work with locomotive builders on projects that would possibly improve locomotive designs and operations. In some cases it would be just general ideas between Neuhart and builder's design engineers. If the idea had merit, modifications or prototype construction would begin. If the idea had no merit, the project would end. In the 1958-1960 era, locomotive power on the UP saw steam engines being replaced by diesel and more turbine designed locomotives. In 1958 the railroad had 132 steam locomotives and 1,207 diesel & turbine units; and in that year bought five of the GE 85,000 HP turbines and rebuilt 65 F-3 units to F-9 units. In 1959 the railroad retired 46 steam locomotives and added 105 diesels (including six more 85,000 turbines, 75 SD-24 units and 19 F-3 rebuilt to F-9 units). In 1960 the railroad had retired most steam locomotives and added 42 diesels (including twelve 85,000 HP turbines and 30 GP-20 units)." (David Seidel, writing in June 2009, in reference to UP's involvement with GM's free-piston gasifier design, to be delivered in a car body similar to EMD's FL-9 locomotive)

(Read more about UP's plans for a gasifier locomotives, known as an FG-9)

In September 1971, D. S. Neuhart retired, after serving as the head of UP's Motive Power & Machinery Department for 22 years, since 1949. Neuhart was responsible for many of UP's trademark locomotives, notably the gas turbines and all of the double-diesels of both 1963-1965 and 1969-1971. Studies of the road's motive power requirements commissioned by Neuhart had shown that per-unit costs remained the same, no matter that unit's horsepower. So his solution to UP's power needs was large, high-horsepower, single-unit locomotives.

David Sanborn Neuhart passed away on November 6, 1973. He died in an Omaha hospital, due to a heart ailment. His funeral was held in Omaha and he was buried in Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park in Salt Lake City, Utah. His wife Ellen Lucille Mickel Neuhart (1900 - 1978) is buried beside him. They were married in 1924.

Harold Rees

Harold Rees was a design engineer for Union Pacific, and was a major design force in the development of the gas turbines and many other improvements during the 1950s and 1960s for UP's Motive Power and Machinery Department. His name is on a proposal drawing for a 5000 hp locomotive, dated December 4, 1962, with the initials H. R. on it. This is what resulted in the EMD DD35, GE U50, and Alco C855 locomotives.

Mr. Rees had a patent for a "Grapple" to lift and install a coupler into a locomotive or car.


Mr. Rees wrote an article in 1966 for UP public relations concerning the "new" 900081 rotary snow plow. He served as mentor for many young design engineers, and was in charge of many projects, including UP's GP9 turbocharging program in the 1955-1960 time period. This program got EMD's attention about turbochargers and the company offered the SD24 and GP20 locomotives as a result.

Frank D. Acord

October 1, 1971 -- June 30, 1980

October 1, 1971
"Frank D. Acord has been appointed chief mechanical officer, effective October 1. Acord, a 35-year veteran, joined the UP at Cheyenne, Wyoming as machinist apprentice in 1936. After being promoted to machinist in 1940, he became enginehouse foreman at Ogden in 1944. Serving as general foreman at Provo, Utah; district foreman at North Platte, Nebraska. and master mechanic at Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Cheyenne, Acord was named mechanical superintendent of the eastern district in 1962. Becoming assistant general superintendent of motive power and machinery in 1966, he was appointed general superintendent, motive power and machinery in Omaha, June 1, 1970." (UP Info magazine, November 1971)

From Diesels of the Union Pacific, 1934-1982, The Classic Era, Volume I, by Don Strack:

Neuhart's successor was F. D. Accord, who felt that UP should completely modernize its diesel fleet with a few standard models. The timing of the change at the top matched well with EMD's new offering of the SD40-2 (along with continued availability of GE's U30C). Purchases of the new SD40-2 began, and over the next eight years, a total of 686 were delivered, including 65 units with modifications for high speed service. The standard SD40-2s were delivered between January 1972 and November 1980, numbered from 3123-3808, and the high speed units were delivered between July 1976 and August 1979. During the same eight year time span, UP also received 150 U30Cs (April 1972-October 1976) and 140 C30-7s (the replacement for the U30C, July 1977-October 1980).

In October 1971, Frank D. Acord was appointed as Union Pacific's chief mechanical officer, effective October 1. Acord, a 35-year veteran, joined the UP at Cheyenne, Wyoming as machinist apprentice in 1936. After being promoted to machinist in 1940, he became enginehouse foreman at Ogden in 1944. Serving as general foreman at Provo, Utah; district foreman at North Platte, Nebraska. and master mechanic at Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Cheyenne, Acord was named mechanical superintendent of the eastern district in 1962. Becoming assistant general superintendent of motive power and machinery in 1966, he was appointed general superintendent, motive power and machinery in Omaha, June 1, 1970. (Info magazine, Volume 3, Number 12, November 1971, page 15)

"The general direction and manner of achievement was established in the early 1970's, when Mr. Acord was appointed the Chief Mechanical Officer by Mr. Kenefick. The previous CMO, Mr. D. S. Neuhart, had been an advocate of super power to conquer the west. Some of his behemoths worked, and some didn't fare so well. His idea to mount double engines on a single chassis resulted in the successful DDA40X "Centennial," and the not-so-successful General Electric U50 versions plus the ALCo C855 set...all in the high horsepower range. He had a continuing interest in the gas electric turbine locomotives and experimented with the coal burning electric turbine. He tinkered with the lower horsepower units by turbocharging them to higher performance. He was willing to try any proposition to increase motive power performance. Because of this position, the locomotive roster was swollen with 10 of this and 10 of that model purchased to test their capabilities. The experimentation program of Mr. Neuhart is legion, but we only want to introduce the notion that the locomotive roster of the early 1970's was replete with many models and variants. It was this variety of power that challenged Mr. Acord's management abilities upon his appointment as Chief Mechanical Officer in October 1971. While "pool power" had been in effect during the late 1960's, greater emphasis was placed on "run-throughs" and the implementation of a highly-monitored maintenance schedule to reduce failures or missed schedules. These were initial steps in making maximum use of the wide variety of power. That many of the units were not compatible with other railroads which Union Pacific had "run-through" agreements with became increasingly clear." (George Cockle, Union Pacific...1977-1980, page 3)

From The Diesel Revolution, by Maury Klein:

Steam: five minutes to find a problem, five hours to fix it. Diesel: five hours to find it, five minutes to fix it. Shopmen reacted more vehemently. "I felt like I was a steam-engine expert," said Frank Acord, who was a master mechanic when the diesels first arrived. "I knew my business, but I get up one morning and ... I have to learn from scratch." Acord spoke of Charlie Spicka, a shop superintendent for the Union Pacific Railroad who was "the greatest steam engine man that ever walked the earth." The day Spicka saw the first diesels invade his domain, said Acord, "it was like they shot him." Spicka glared at the alien creature and roared, "You're not bringing those streetcars in my shop." When some of the shopmen refused to touch the diesels, officers like Acord had to tell them, "Either you're gonna or you're not going to be here." It was not a happy task. Men who regarded themselves as craftsmen found their skills obsolete. Whereas the shops had built everything for steam power, they merely bought parts for diesels. (The Diesel Revolution, by Maury Klein, Invention & Technology magazine, Volume 6, Number 3, Winter 1991)

During the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Union Pacific spent its resources designing its own non-steam motive power, or at a minimum, making large efforts to improve on what the individual builder's offered to their nationwide market. Wanting to have motive power that was more useful for what it saw as its unique railroad, Union Pacific's MP&M department had several successes. But it was the failure of the UP-only U50C from General Electric that turned UP against any additional designs. When Frank Acord came to the top spot in 1971, he focused on the standard models being offered by the builders, and from then on it was the SD40-2 from GM-EMD and the U30C/C-30-7 from GE that dominated UP's locomotive fleet.

F. D. Acord retired as UP's Chief Mechanical Officer on June 30, 1980. He was replaced by John F. McDonough, who had been Accord's assistant since coming from Penn Central's Collingwood (Ohio) shops in the early 1970s. (Pacific News, June 1980, page 15)

After Frank Acord retired, he and his wife, Faun, moved back to Provo, Utah. They later served a mission for their church. Frank and Faun had married on December 23, 1937.

Frank Donald Acord, age 71, died on March 29, 1988, at Provo, Utah. Former Chief Mechanical Officer, retired in 1980 after 44 years of service, started as a machinist apprentice. (The Mixed Train, February 1988, page 15) (Frank Acord was born on April 1, 1916.)

Frank Bruner

In October 1971, Frank D. Bruner was appointed assistant chief mechanical officer, effective October 1. Bruner joined the UP in 1949 as electrician at Ogden. He was appointed general foreman at North Platte, Nebraska. in 1954. Four years later he was named supervisor of turbine power in Omaha followed by his appointment as mechanical superintendent of eastern district. In 1968 he was named mechanical superintendent of the UP system. He was then appointed assistant general superintendent of motive power and machinery in 1970. (UP INFO magazine, December 1971)

John McDonough

In October 1971, John F. McDonough (also known as Jack McDonough), a 22-year railroad veteran, was named mechanical superintendent of shops in Omaha, effective October 1. Coming from the Penn-Central Railroad, McDonough had been general shop superintendent at their locomotive shop in Cleveland, Ohio since 1969. Previously he worked in various positions for the New York Central Railroad, starting in the road's mechanical department and later being appointed general shop superintendent in 1967 in East Rochester, New York. (UP INFO magazine, November 1971)

In the fall of 1985, John McDonough became Chief Mechanical Officer of the combined UP-MP railroad. John German of the MP had retired in 1983. McDonough had been CMO of UP since 1980. (Maury Klein, Union Pacific, The Reconfiguration, page 150)

More Information

Union Pacific After 1936 -- A brief review of changes in Union Pacific's organization that took effect on January 1, 1936.