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Mightiest Electric: 1924

Mightiest Electric: 1924

June 1924. Washington, D.C. "Largest and most powerful electric locomotive in the world being exhibited by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway and the General Electric Co." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

1953 Rebuild

During the rebuild of 1953 the Milwaukee bought 12 EF-4 and EP-4 replacements from GE. The 12 were part of an original order of 20 ordered by Stalin and bound for the Soviet Union but with the Cold War increasing the sale was blocked. The Milwaukee offered to buy all 20 from GE but it's BOT refused to go along but ultimately the Korean War and a coal strike led the BOT to approve the purchase. The irony was that Milwaukee first offered $1M for all 20 locomotives and spare parts but when finally allowed to buy the units only 12 still remained but the price remained the same.

Steamless in Seattle

Yes, the "Milwaukee Road" ran electrics to the Pacific Northwest from the early 1920s up to the early 1970s.

"...When these sections were placed in full electrical operation (Harlowton [MT] to Avery [ID] in 1917 and Othello [WA] to Tacoma [WA] in 1920) they represented the first long-distance electrification in North America and were the longest electrified lines in the world. "

Unfortunately, they never completed the gap between the two electrified routes (Avery to Othello). The electric locomotives were phased out and supporting infrastructure removed--just before the 1973-74 oil crisis (!)

See this article.

Bipolar locomotives

These locomotives used an unusual transmission system, which is to say, none whatsoever. The rotor and the wheels were mounted on the same axle, so that the whole thing moved up and down together. The arrangement was very quiet and avoided wear on driving gears or rods; the drawback was that there could only be two stator poles, so each motor was relatively low powered compared to what was achieved with more conventional motors. Every axle you see is driven except for the ones on either end directly behind the pilots. They were articulated seven ways from Sunday, with four trucks supporting three body sections.

One survives, in St. Louis.

Proud to be "Bipolar"

The five Milwaukee Road Class EP2 bipolar electric locomotives ran from 1919 to 1961, with a major rebuild in 1953. One has survived and is on display in St Louis. Amazing beasts.

Monarch of the Rails

Washington Post, June 25, 1924.

Free Exhibit
Giant Electric Locomotive

Don’t fail to see this Monarch of the Rails—the pride of the “Milwaukee” road at New York and Florida Avenues, Washington, Wednesday June 25 and Thursday June 26.

These mighty electric locomotives, made by the General Electric Co., haul the Olympian and Columbian, famous Trans-Continental trains, silently, smoothly and speedily for 649 miles over the Rocky, Bitter Root and Cascade mountain ranges. Steps and platforms will be erected to enable visitors to go through the interior and a staff of well informed representatives of the C. M. & St. P. Ry. and General Electric Co will be in attendance to explain details. Admission Free. To Puget Sound—Electrified.

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