Detroit Edison SD40s and U30Cs

"Scattered in the Winds"

Both photos by: R. Craig

New: 1 November 2020
Detroit Edison (DEEX) was one of four major utility companies to purchase its own locomotive fleet to haul unit coal trains during the 1970s and 1980s. The six-axle SD40s and U30Cs, which were a common sight in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, predominantly shined the rails of Penn Central and Conrail. The strategy to acquire a dedicated fleet was precipitated by the host roads' inability to provide consistently reliable service and locomotive power as required.

DEEX's high-horsepower fleet consisted of 12 SD40s #001-006 delivered during 1970 and #012- 017 which followed two years later. Interestingly, the final group of Edison 40s were built in 1972, well after EMD had been delivering SD40-2s. During that same year, General Electric delivered ten U30Cs (#007-011 and 018-022) to the Detroit-based electric company. All 22 units, at the time, sported EMD's popular blue & silver demonstrator color scheme.

The EMD/GE fleet served the utility company for more than 20 years. On more than one occasion, the private sector energy company leased three or four locomotives to power-starved Rock Island, during 1972/73 and 1984. When retirement arrived, the entire fleet was "scattered to the four winds." The second-hand locomotive market gobbled up several units, with Helm Leasing (HLCX), Guilford, and Lake Superior & Ishpeming acquiring multiple units. The LS&I, purchased three of the six-axle GEs to serve as part sources for the railroad's existing U30Cs. Shortly afterwards however, the recent arrivals were quickly leased to other Upper Peninsula railways, which were experiencing a power shortage. Lastly, Helm's ex-DEEX SD40s worked in lease service on numerous railroads for many years. The last occurence took place during May of 2009 on short-line Nebraska Kansas and Colorado.

Reportedly, the last surviving DEEX U30C was acquired by a private owner and stored in Tennessee at the SARM.

SD40 and U30C Dispositions

MEC (Guilford) SD40 at Binghamton, New York on 1 January 1984. (Sam J. Botts photo)

Maine Central (Guilford) SD40 #604 at Ridgefield Park, NJ in August 1991. (Overniteman photo)

B&M (Guilford) #640 at Binghamton, NY on 1 August 1987 (Kevin Quinn photo)

Boston & Maine (Guilford) #663 at South Portland, Me on 1 July 1991. John C. Benson photo

DEEX U30C #011 at Denver, Colorado while leased to Rock Island rails in August 1973. (John Tudek photo / Deane Motis collection)

Helm SD40 #5001 at historic Birmingham (MI) station on GTW iron in September 1984. (R. Craig photo)

LS&I #3013 on lease to Wisc. Central at Trout Lake, MI in Sept. 1995. (Chuck Schwesinger photo)

LS&I U30C #3015 after retirement at Eagle Mills, MI in April 1996. (Chuck Schwesinger photo)

LTEX U30C #1207 (ex-DE 008) -- the place and date unknown. (CSXfan1 photo)

Ohio Central U30C #009 at Morgan Run, Ohio in September 2018. (Steven Rath photo)

VLIX U30C #9009 (ex-DE 009) at the SARM near Knoxville, Tennessee in September 2018. (R.Craig photo)

  • VLIX = Vintage Locomotives Inc
  • SARM = Southern Appalachia Railway Museum in Oak Ridge, Tn

Photo Gallery
DE Road No. 2nd Owner 3rd Owner Notes Status
001-002 HLCX 5001 & 5002 -- Equipped for mid-train operation (leader) Unknown
003, 004 & 006 Guilford/MEC 600-602 HLCX 5055-5057 -- Unknown
005 HLCX 5003 -- Re-#d to HLCX 6071 unknown
007 -- -- Equipped for mid-train operation (leader Scrapped in 2011
008 -- - Equipped for mid-train operation (leader) Scrapped in 2011
009 Ohio Central 9009 VLIX* 9009 -- Stored at SARM
010 Ohio Central 9010 -- -- Scrapped in 2010
011 Ohio Central 9011 -- -- Unknown
012 Guilford/B&M 640 -- Re-#d Guilford 663 Scrapped in 2010
013 HLCX 5004 -- Equipped for mid-train operation (leader) Scrapped in 2010
014 Guilford/MEC 603 HLCX 5058 -- Unknown
015 & 016 HLCX 5005 & 5006 -- -- Unknown
017 Guilford/MEC 604 HLCX 5059 -- Unknown
018-022 LS&I 3012-3016 -- #018, 019 & 020 were equippped for mid-train operation (leader) Unknown
Contributors: Ken Borg, R. Craig and Ray Sabo

Original upload: 1 November 2020

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