Last Glory for the SDP40F in the West

desert-wind-las-vegas-october-29-1981

Based on photographs that I’ve seen, my own experience riding Amtrak, and various news reports from the early 1980s, one last blaze of glory for Amtrak’s SDP40F locomotives in the West pulling the Desert Wind between Los Angeles and Ogden, Utah.

The six-axle cowl units were part of motive power consists assigned to that train in the early 1980s. In fact, my last trip ever behind an SDP40F and the last time that I saw one in revenue service occurred on Oct. 29, 1981, when I rode the Desert Wind to Los Angeles.

By then the train had Superliner equipment so an F40PH was always the trailing unit to provide head-end power.

Shown is SDP40F No. 526 during a service stop in Las Vegas. No. 526 was part of the original order of SDP40Fs and, hence, received the Phase II livery.

All 150 SDP40F locomotives arrived from EMD in the Phase I livery and many never wore anything else.

No. 526 was built in July 1973, about a month after the first SDP40Fs went into service. It is one of just two of the first order of 40 SDP40Fs that were not traded into EMD for an F40PH locomotive.

No. 526 along with No. 511 were sold to the Santa Fe in 1985 where they became Nos. 5255 and 5251 respectively.

On this day, No. 526 could count itself a survivor and one of the longest-serving SDP40Fs in the Amtrak motive power fleet.

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