Posts Tagged ‘early Amtrak locomotives’

Back to 1978 on the Northeast Corridor

November 9, 2022

The wayback machine has taken us to the first decade of Amtrak operations in the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak GG-1 Nos. 910 and 905 are leading an Amtrak train through Morrisville, Pennsylvania on Aug. 23, 1978.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Saturday Memory: Grungy April Day in Joliet

March 19, 2022

It is a grungy April 20, 1973, day in Joliet, Illinois. The southbound Abraham Lincoln has just departed Union Station en route to St. Louis.

At the time, the Chicago-St. Louis trains originated in Milwaukee and ran through Chicago Union Station.

The train will use a former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio route and GM&O motive power was common in the early Amtrak years.

On the point today, though, is former Penn Central E8A No. 4061 — built for the New York Central in April 1952 — and ex-GM&O E7A 101.

The Amtrak train is about to pass an ex-GM&O Alco RS-1, which is by the signal bridge south of the station.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Saturday Memory: This is What Pulled Amtrak’s Abraham Lincoln in the early 1970s

March 12, 2022

It is October 1972 in Joliet, Illinois. Amtrak’s St. Louis-bound Abraham Lincoln has completed its station work and it headed out of town. On Oct. 13, the power included Milwaukee Road 35C and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 103A. Two days later, the 103A is on the point. This was was one of the few E7A locomotives leased by Amtrak.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Saturday Memory: It Still Looked Like the Santa Fe Era in Joliet in 1973

February 19, 2022

With passenger trains of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific; Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe; and the Gulf Mobile & Ohio, Joliet Union Station was a great place to watch passenger trains. Of those three carriers the Santa Fe has the most and, arguably, the best passenger service in the years before Amtrak.

The coming of Amtrak reduced the Santa Fe passenger parade through Joliet to just two trains, the Chicago-Los Angeles Super Chief/El Capitan and the Chicago-Houston Texas Chief.

For a while these trains continued to operate with Santa Fe equipment pulled by Santa Fe F units.

This series of images above was made in Joliet in October 1973. By now the ex-Santa Fe motive power is living on borrowed time and, in fact, Amtrak has already begun assigning news SD40F locomotives to its trains operating on the Santa Fe.

Hence what we have here is the waning days of an era. The Santa Fe warbonnets still look proud and flashy although faded.

Likewise friction between Amtrak and Santa Fe has developed and in less than a year the railroad will revoke Amtrak’s permisson to use the Chief names.

The Texas Chief would become the Lone Star and be discontinued in 1979. The Super Chief would become the Southwest Limited and, later, the Southwest Chief. Trains 3 and 4 no longer operate on their daily trek to and from Los Angeles via Joliet.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Saturday Memory: Amtrak’s Super Chief in Joliet

January 29, 2022

Amtrak only used the names Super Chief and El Capitan for about three years. The Santa Fe revoked permission to use the names because officials at that railroad were displeased with the quality or lack thereof of service Amtrak provided on its Chicago-Los Angeles train.

Nos. 3 and 4 became the Southwest Limited and, later, the Southwest Chief, a name still in use today.

All of that was in the future on Aug. 12, 1972, as the Super Chief/El Capitan arrived at Joliet Union Station. Historically, the Super Chief name applied to the first class section of the train while El Capitan was a name given to the coach section.

Under Santa Fe operation, each section had its own dining and lounge cars with the Super Chief known for its Turquoise Room.

Until the arrival of new SDP40F locomotives in June 1973, the motive power on the Chicago-Los Angeles route was Santa Fe passenger units. Shown on this day are ATSF 314C, 312B, 312C, 320A, and 303B.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Working for Amtrak Now

January 15, 2022

In its early months of operation in 1971 Amtrak leased equipment from its host railroads, which also maintained that equipment and provided operating and on-board crews for the trains.

In the case of the Illinois Central, which hosted Amtrak trains on the Chicago-New Orleans route, the leases extended into 1972.

The image above was made at IC’s Markham Yard in suburban Chicago on Oct. 15, 1972, and shows a combination of IC and Union Pacific passenger motive power.

Amtrak would eventually buy one IC E unit, an E8A that carried roster numbers 4029 and 2021. On the Amtrak roster it would be No. 436.

Amtrak would buy numerous former UP locomotives.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Waiting to Board in Joliet

November 23, 2021

It is early in the Amtrak era and the wayback machine has landed us in Joliet, Illinois, at the Union Station. This was a good place to watch passenger trains in the early 1970s as it hosted Amtrak trains to St. Louis, Houston and Los Angeles, as well as Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific trains to Peoria and Rock Island. And that is not to mention commuter trains to and from Chicago.

A large crowd of passengers has gathered on the platform to board the Abraham Lincoln to St. Louis. The train is still operating with Gulf, Mobile & Ohio E7 passenger locomotives. No. 101 had been built by EMD in March 1945 for The Alton Road and has passed this station countless times over the years.

It was being leased by Amtrak and never joined the national passenger carrier’s permanent motive power roster.

If you look back in the consist you’ll see that there is a dome car.

The dispatcher must be planning to take the “Abe” out of town via the Santa Fe because it has come in on a Santa Fe track.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

One Day at Joliet in August 1972

November 4, 2021

Sometimes it is the full scene that explains a photo. The late Mike Ondecker and I were in Joliet, Illinois, on Aug. 12, 1972.

My eyes were first drawn to Rock Island 630, which was the last operating EMD E6A, and its train. Next my eyes looked at the station plus the train.

Then on the left I noticed the Santa Fe Warbonnet F-units just pulling into the station with an Amtrak train. 

As I said, it is sometimes the scene that tells a story.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Abe Calls in Joliet

July 9, 2021

Passengers are waiting on the platform at Joliet Union Station as Amtrak’s St. Louis-bound Abraham Lincoln arrives for its station stop.

The date is Aug. 12, 1972, and the Abe is operating between Milwaukee and St. Louis as part of a short-lived move to route some trains through Chicago Union Station.

On the point today is Gulf, Mobile & Ohio E7A No. 101. The track between Chicago and St. Louis was mostly a GM&O route and the Abraham Lincoln had been a GM&O passenger train.

As a point of interest, this image was made two days after the GM&O and Illinois Central merged to form the Illinois Central Gulf.

The tracks in the foreground belong to the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, which at the time of this photograph operated commuter trains to Joliet and a pair of intercity passenger trains running Chicago-Rock Island, Illinois, and Chicago-Peoria, Illinois.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Very Early Amtrak Motive Power

March 14, 2021

It took a couple of years before the locomotives that pulled early Amtrak trains could be repainted into the new passenger carrier’s livery and colors.

Therefore the motive power at Amtrak continued to wear whatever scheme it had when the passenger carrier commenced on May 1, 1971.

In the photograph above, the scene is in Milwaukee in April 1973. At the time, the trains between Chicago and St. Louis continued through to Milwaukee, alternating motive from host railroads Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, and The Milwaukee Road.

In a bit of an anomaly, the photographer caught two locomotives of the two railroads both carrying roster number 103A.

The two GM&O units are E7A units that were leased by Amtrak but never owned by it.

MKE No. 103A is an FP7A that also never was on the Amtrak roster. It was known for pulling the “Cannon Ball,” a Milwaukee Road commuter train between Milwaukee and Watertown, Wisconsin.

Photograph by Robert Farkas