Monday, July 4, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- Courtesey the Red White & Blue

Prior to the nation's 1976 bicentennial, a number of American railways decided to mark the occasion by introducing one-of-a-kind bicentennial paint schemes. The paint scheme was usually limited to one or two engines- some of which were renumbered 1776 or 1976 for the occasion.

A number of these locomotives have since been repainted, sold, retired or scrapped since then, but there were a number of holdouts. The Alaska Railroad had a pair of F7As that remained in the bicentenial scheme well into the 1980s. Belt Railway of Chicago had one of their then-new MP15AC's delivered in a red, white & blue scheme which didn't get repainted until the late 1990s. Pennsylvania's Pittsburgh and Shawmut was apparently so taken with their bicentinial scheme that they repainted the remainder of their small fleet of SW9s in red white & blue until their 1999 takeover by Genesee & Wyoming. ALCo holdout Delaware & Hudson had a chop-nose RS3u renumbered 1976 that was stored serviceable by the time then-parent company Guilford divested themselves of the D&H. The locomotive never saw service again with the D&H, but it found a home along Pennsylvania's Northern Tier hauling freight and excursion trains for the Tioga Central- where it still remains in its bicentennial colors.

With that in mind, today's star spangled train of thought takes us to the deep south and features some red white and blue engines hard at work.

A solid set of rent-a-wreck SD40-2s- with red, white and blue Helm Leasing #6204 and #6206 leading the way- trundle across the Chattahoochee River Bridge between Phenix City, AL and Columbus, GA with Norfolk Southern stone train 67G in October 2007. Interestingly, contributor Casey Thomason was watching the train approach from another Time Zone as the Georgia-Alabama state line marks the boundary between the Eastern and Central Time Zones.

As all-American as this scene might look, the leading pair of locomotives started out life in Canada, built at EMD's London, ON shops for BC Rail. Not too long after the SD40-2s were delivered, the BC Rail went from a two-tone green paint scheme to red white and blue up right up until their 2003 takeover by Canadian National. The CN deemed the units surplus and they were acquired by Helm Financial and subleased to railroads like Norfolk Southern, Pan Am Railways or Kansas City Southern.

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