These locomotives are diesel-electrics, built by the Electro-Motive Division, or EMD, of General Motors, in September of 1955. They were the last of a series of “carbody”, or “covered wagon” style engines, as this body style is known, built by EMD. The “F”-series locos, usually used for hauling freight, were sometimes equipped for passenger service through re-gearing of the traction motors and axles, and installation of steam generators for train heating. Number 5762, the B, or “Booster” unit – the engine lacking a cab – contains a steam generator: Its air intake can be seen as the little, silver cap on the roof near the end coupled to the A, or cab unit.
These 1750-horsepower locomotives were used to power the California Zephyr, and, later, the Rio Grande Zephyr, between Denver and Salt Lake City -- Trains that ran from Chicago to Oakland, and were run by the Burlington between Chicago and Denver, the Rio Grande from Denver to Salt Lake City, and the Western Pacific from Salt Lake City to the west coast.
After AmTrak took over US passenger service in 1971, these units were used on ballast trains. They were retired in 1984, and sat deteriorating for 12 years in the Burnham yards in Denver.
Phil Anschutz, owner of the Rio Grande, bought the Southern Pacific in 1988, and put the D&RGW under the SP flag, as that railroad name was better known, so the diesels became the property of the Southern Pacific. During the 12 years of neglect, the Colorado Railroad Museum tried, unsuccessfully, to acquire the engines.
In 1996, the Southern Pacific merged with the Union Pacific, and the day before the merger, the SP “sold” the F9s to the museum for one dollar each. The engines were transferred from Denver to the Coors Brewing Company yard in Golden by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, where they then sat for over two years as the museum had no place to put them. Finally, when track here had been laid for the engines, the Museum paid Cass Trucking $10, 000 each to have the engines, de-trucked, moved by flatbed from the brewery yard to the museum, retrucked and rerailed. So, the next time you feel gouged by “P and H” fees, remember the diesels at the CRRM that were purchased for a buck apiece, with a cost of $10,000 each for shipping and handling!
Crane Plumbing’s O’Fallon family, unsolicited, volunteered $35,000 to cosmetically restore the F9s. With these funds, the engines were overhauled and returned to their original as-delivered livery, with four black stripes and black trucks. We have a poster in our gift shop showing the diesels in their later, single-stripe paint job, pulling the “Ski Train” which runs between Denver’s Union Station and Winter Park.
These locomotives are prime examples of the types of engines that caused the demise steam locomotives in mainline service in the United States during the 1950s and early ‘60s.