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Tracks in the Snow: 1942

Tracks in the Snow: 1942

December 1942. Three West Coast streamliners in the Chicago & North Western yards at Chicago. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano.


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The Gulf Mobile and Ohio was the first Class 1 railroad in the country to completely dieselize. One of the major weekly magazines (Look, Life or something similar) did a photo essay showing the last steam run on the GM&O and one sad photo I remember was of a diesel switcher pulling down a water tank within sight of our house. GM&O used ALCO equipment almost exclusively on the Southern Division while they used EMDs above Bloomington Illinois. We did have a Baldwyn cab unit or two and a real abortion (we called it "The Catfish") that was a road switcher made by the Ingalls Ship Building company right after WWII. I think it was the only one they built and since the GM&O did a lot of traffic with Ingalls, they bought the funny looking critter as a good will gesture.

1953 stats

Dave, thanks for posting that. David P. Morgan wrote in TRAINS magazine that diesels were responsible for 90% of traffic in 1954, which comports well with the clipping.

snow clearance

Interesting to see that in the right foreground, snow has been cleared from around the switchpoints to prevent it from impeding their movement.

1942 C&NW

From left to right the first set of passenger cars is for the C&NW Twin City 400 service. These cars arrived between 1939 and 1941. The second train is the City of Denver, the noise heard is for C&NW & Union Pacific railroads and the headlight does not have a hood over it, which means the train did not go to the west coast. The hood had to be used by any train or locomotives which came within 200 miles of the coast as to help it not be spotted by enemy boomers. Next is a single EMD E3/E6 (1939-1941). And on the last track is a C&NW E3/E6 with a City of San Francisco EMD E2 (1939).

Rail Dieselization Nears Completion (1953)

New York Times, August 9, 1953.

Transition from Steam

Dave, I don't know what surprises me most; Tom Kelley (who claims to be an old railroad man) believing that Diesel Locomotives didn't arrive until 1958, or you for stating that "Diesel-electric locomotives had largely replaced steam power by the end of the 1940s."

[See clipping above for numbers. I think "largely replaced" is a fair characterization of the situation. - Dave]

For the record the first diesels appeared the early 1930s and the first streamlined non-steam trainsets (a matched locomotive and cars) was probably the UP's City of Salinas with the famous M-10000 locomotive, which if I'm not mistaken (and I probably am) was first exhibited at the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago (love to see some photos of that btw). Dieselization proceeded at different rates depending on location. Western roads such as the UP, the Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe were quick to acquire diesels because of the dry conditions of the southwest in particular. Railroads with a lot of coal available made the transition more slowly - they had a cheap and ready source of fuel from the mines they serviced. Conversion did take place first on passenger trains and then on freight trains but of course there were exceptions to the "rule" as well. Suffice it to say that while they were being phased out, there were still plenty of steam engines running for much of the 1950s. The last steam locomotive to operate on a regular basis on a class 1 US railway was on the Norfolk and Western (a big coal hauler), which was about the time that the last steam engines on the Canadian National made their final runs.

1942 ?????

Are these units not diesels, which didn't arrive until 1958?

[Where did you get the idea the first diesels came out in 1958 ????? - Dave]

Streamlimers in 1942 ???? Don't think so!!!

Sorry to be a skeptic, but being an old railroad worker, i have to question this one since the 'Streamliners' pictured here appear to be diesels which didn't come about until 1958.

[The streamliner on the left with the grille is the City of Denver, built in 1936. Wikipedia article. The heyday of the streamliner was in the 1940s and early 1950s. Diesel-electric locomotives had largely replaced steam power by the end of the 1940s. - Dave]


Would anyone know from just the picture which streamliners are in the photo? I believe the one on the left with the front grill work might be the City of Portland, the other 2 would be going to Calif by way of the UP. Also there's a E6 A or B unit? facing towards the streamliner on the right.

[See comments in the detail view of this photo for a discussion of the streamliners. The one on the left is the City of Denver. - Dave]

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