EMD Open Houses: Part 1 - 1966 & 1972

A Chessie System GP40-2 wears #1977 to mark the 150th year of the B&O railroad which was chartered in 1827. (R. Craig photo)


The banner strung along the fence adjacent to the plant admimistration office builing read, "Welcome Employee Open House." Although I was not an EMD employee, my father-in-law worked for General Motors, so I naturally construed that to be my invitation. However, I was certain someone would stop and challenge me, because I was not wearing a badge nor name tag. Also. I figured the camera draped over my shoulder would surely set-off the sirens and security would come running. Quite the contrary, it had been raining off-and-on most of the day and the guy at the front gate was not concerned about my presence. He gave me a quick glance and authoritatively advised, "You're gone have to hurry because we are closing in ten or 15 minutes." In the time allotted, I managed to photograph a few locomotives that were not likely to be found running in my neck of the woods.

Electro-Motive Division, the leading manufacturer of diesel locomotives during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, held several such open house events for employees and the general public. The first one I attended was held on a dreary-looking day in May 1966. It was followed six years later by the 50th Anniversary celebration in September. With the help of Marty Bernard and Bill Howes, we'll revisit the first two of the four events here in part 1 of "EMD Open Houses." Part 2 of the photo profile (next month) will focus on the open house celebrations of 1978 and 1989, which is more commonly referred to as EMD's 75th Anniversary.

Revised and expanded: 2 May 2019


1966 Employee Open House

Built in April of 1966, the #1703 was one of twenty SD40s delivered to the Atcheson Topeka & Santa Fe. The six-axle freight hauler was upgraded in 1981 to an SD40u; 17 years later, the 3000-hp roadswitcher was conveyed to the BNSF and re-numbered 6303. (R. Craig photo)

EMD delivered 89 SD40s to the Southern Pacific, including the #8468 in April 1966. The six- axle loco was rebuilt as part of the railroad's capital revitalization program and renumbered SD40R #7366. Conveyed to the Union Pacific in 1996, it was retired in 1999. (R. Craig photo)

Don't bother looking for a description of this six-axle EMD in your copy of the "Diesel Spotters Guide"; it is not listed. Built in early 1966, the locomotive is one of six SDP28s constructed for the Korean National Railroad (#6301-6306). Driven by a V16-567 engine, the locomotive was rated at 2000-hp. The SDP28s were later renumbered to 6101-6106. (R. Craig photo)

Built originally for the Chicago St.Paul Minneapolis & Omaha railroad (#6501A) in December 1949, the F7A was acquired by C&NW; it was retired and used as trade-in fodder in early 1959. The loco was re-incarnated by EMD as an F9A in the Spring of 1960 and used as a test bed; it was known to host early components of EMD's new 645 prime mover. (R. Craig photo)

1972 - EMD's 50th Anniversary

For decades, the Marquee on the front lawn at EMD stood for wonderment and excitement, but on September 21 1972, it also meant "welcome." (Bill Howes photo)

B&O #50 was the first diesel locomotive built specifically to haul non-articulated passenger trains. The 1800-hp model AA was delivered by Electro-Motive Corporation in August 1935. (Bill Howes photo)

Each EMD Open House seemed to have had one locomotive exhibit that stood out more than all the others on display. At the 1972 Open House, the gold-painted GP40-2, which honored EMD's half century as a locomotive builder, was the one. GM50 retained the one-of-a-kind paint scheme until 1984, when it became Chessie #4164. The 3000-hp loco joined the CSX family as #6063. (Bill Howes photo)

Southern Railway #6100 was one of several notable diesels on hand to mark the Golden anniversary and evolution of the Electro-Motive Division. The 1350-hp cab-unit was built in 1939 and toured the U.S. as EMC #103A. Designated a historic landmark in the 1980s, the locomotive was on loan from the National Museum of Transportation of St. Louis for the EMD birthday event. (Bill Howes photo)

This freshly painted GP40-2 is headed back in to the shop for some important finish work, including the missing letter "i" from the word Chessie. (R. Craig photo)

Kentucky & Indiana Terminal SW1500 #78 ready for shipment waits behind the plant, while sister #77 stands in the exhibit area showing-off new silver flexicoil trucks. ( R. Craig photo)

EMD's SW1500 & SW1000 models were the first switchers to be powered by the builder's new V12-645E engine. SW1500 #114 pictured here is one of nine such units (#106-114) to wear a variant of the company's standard blue & white demonstrator attire. Built mid-way through 1971, the locomotive was used primarily as an in-plant switcher and had very few opportunities to showcase it's strengths to potential buyers. (R. Craig photo)

The year was 1925, when a three-year-old Electro-Motive Corp. in Cleveland, Ohio built this gas-electric rail motor car. The purchaser of the 32-ton machine was the Great Northern which assigned road number 2313. Driven by a Winton gasoline engine, the rail car worked for the GN until 1939, when it was acquired by the Montana Western as their #31. The oldest surviving EMC transportation product was borrowed from the Mid-Continent Railway Museum for the 50th Anniversity Open House. (Gordon Schmidt photo)

RF&P's last new locomotive order was for six GP40-2s (#141-146). One of the four-axle road units was pulled temporarily from the shop prior to receiving lettering, logo and number-boards. (Bill Howes photo)

Jefferson Warrior Railroad SW1500 #52 features a standard cab, along with conventional four-wheel switcher trucks. The model SW1500 was a notable departure from prior switcher designs. (Bill Howes photo)

It's pretty evident that EMD's six-axle SD40-2 model was well liked by managers at the Nacional de Mexico; the railroad purchased 103 of the 3000-hp locomotives between 1972 and 1986. They were numbered 8700-8798 and 13001-13004. (Bill Howes photo)

Built in 1949, #1518 was ex-EMD Demonstrator #100 and the first GP7; it was sold to C&NW. Days after the above picture was taken, the geep was rebuilt as GP7R #4311. The loco has been restored to its as-delivered condition at the Illinois Railway Museum. (R. Craig photo)

Chessie System, the new holding company (B&O + C&O + WM) formed in 1972, made its presence known quickly. Fresh from the paint shop in flashy attire, two new Chessie GP40-2s stand ready for shipment to owner Baltimore & Ohio. The pair of 3000-hp road units were parked in back of the EMD plant near the IHB-interchange track. (R. Craig photo)

The 50th Aanniversary celebration also provided a rare opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at the builder's paint department. It's that special place where skilled craftsman transform large, steel and sheet-metal forms into bright, colorful machines that draw us trackside and gain our favor. (Bill Howes photo)

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