GM&O Notables

Gulf Mobile & Ohio was the first North American railroad to fully dieselize operations; the date was October 1949. The railroad's earliest diesel switchers and freight cabs had been built by the American Locomotive Company (Alco). The relationship between the two transportation companies had stemmed from the railroad's purchase of steam-driven locomotives, during the 1920s and 1930s. However, the last order for Alco-built diesel road power (RS3s) occurred in 1952. The long relationship had not precluded the 2900-mile Class One from also purchasing sizable numbers of Electro-Motive built passenger and freight cabs.

By the mid-1960s, GM&O road power was driven almost exclusively by either an EMD V16-567 or V16-645 power-plant. Additionally, there was the purchase of a substantial number of high- horsepower SD40s, assigned to coal service.

Tne following section identifies a few noteworthy diesel locomotives that made the Gulf Mobile and Ohio an enjoyable pass-time for many followers.

Ex-Alco FA (DL204) Demonstrator

Alco Historic Photos (R. Craig collection)

GM&O 700 (R.R. Wallin photo)

Alco FA #1500 was one of two DL-204s that were built late in 1946 for the GM&O. Prior to being shipped to the new owner, the pair of four-axle freight cabs were mated to a cabless booster (DL-205) to form an A-B-A demonstrator set. The trio wore a solid dark gray with silver and red accent stripes. Delivered to the GM&O in early 1947, they were painted in the owner's standard corporate attire of maroon and red. Subsequent FA1s (DL208s) and FA2s (DL212s) lacked the curved rain-water gutters, the distinctive headlight grille positioned lower on the nose, and fuel tank skirting.
Ex-American Freedom Train PA1

Spirit of 1776 (Photo courtesy of American Freedom Train Organization)

GM&O 292 (Photo courtesy of American Freedom Train Organization)

Clearly, the most celebrated locomotive on the GM&O roster was ex-American Freedom Train's "Spirit of 1776." The 2000-hp PA1 was built specifically in 1947 to haul the Freedom Train, during its visit to all 48-states that existed at the time; the six-axle passenger hauler wore a patriotic red / while / blue attire. The much photographed Alco was sold to GM&O, as their #292, after the tour was completed.
A Rare Baldwin Pair

GM&O 281 at Jackson. TN. (R.R. Wallin collection)

GM&O #280 at Mobile AL in 1951. (J.P. Lamb photo courtesy of Mississippi Rails website)

GM&O DR64-2000s #280 & 281 were rare beasts; only 29 of the ten-axle DR64-2000 passenger locomotives were produced by Baldwin. Delivered in 1947, the "Baby-faced" locomotives were built by the manufacturing center at Eddystone.
New Color Schemes

GM&O GP30 #512 at xxxxxxxxx (RR Wallin photo)

GM&O GP38-2 #742(Paul Hunnell photo)

Ever since the early days of streamlining, GM&O diesels wore some combination of maroon and red with gold pin-stripping. The arrival of new GP30s/GP35s in black & white colors caught everyone's attention in 1963/64; but not to the same degree as GM&O's red/white scheme worn by new SD40s in 1966 and GP38-2s in 1972.
An EMD SD40X Test Bed

EMD 434 at Chicago, Illinois (Karl Henkels photo)

GM&O 950 at Joliet, Ilinois, 29 December 1971 (Gil Ford photo)

The railfan community was a buzz as locomotive builders' introduced new high-horsepower models; and put demonstrators in the field during the mid-1960s. EMD was at the forefront of this type of activity; EMD SD40X #434 was one of the demonstrators /testbeds placed in- service by the LaGrange builder. Built on a SD35 frame, the 3000-hp road-switcher spent 18-months working on the Santa Fe and Chicago Great Western prior to returning to EMD. The six-axle testbed was sold to GM&O as #950; it now resides on the CN/IC as #6071.
Ex-Ingalls Shipbuilding 4-S Test Bed

Ingalls 1900 at (xxxxxxx photo)

Rarest of the rare! GM&O #1900 is a one-of-a-kind 4-S switcher build by Ingalls Shipbuilding in 1946. The experimental locomotive was powered by a V8 marine engine, rated at 1650-horsepower. The locomotive featured a turret cab and was sold to the Gulf Mobile & Ohio where it remained until retirement in 1966.
* * * Notes & Credits * * *


  • American Freedom
  • Diesels Builders: Volume 1-Baldwin by John Kirkland
  • Diesels Builders: Volume 2-Alco by John Kirkland
  • Extra 2200 South Newsletter (February / March 1970)
  • Train

Original upload: 1 February 2022

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