Spotlight on Second-Hand SD9 Owners

Columbia River Basin 171 and five stablemates lead a freight consist at Shano, Washington on 6 May 2019. (James House photo)

EMD's production of the GP7/9 far out-distanced that of the larger six-axle SD7/9 by a 9 to 1 margin during the 1950s . Yet, the builder's six-motor veteran has been often the preferred choice by buyers shopping in the second-hand locomotive market, rather than the geep. The vintage six-axle's relatively competitive purchase price has certainly been a consideration, but not the only determinant. The durability of the V16-567 power-plant has also played into the decision, along with the six-motor's 40 percent greater tractive force.

Additionally, most class one railroads have sidelined their first generation SDs in favor of 645-driven second-generation six-motor units, thus creating a surplus of older SD9s. The ability of these aging six-axles to still handle a wide range of assignments has endeared the model to many regional, short line and industrial users. In fact, the large number of re-purposed SD9s dictates that this month's photo essay focuses on a few Class 1 owners and a geographical cross-section of several lesser known owners.


Second-hand Owners

Black River & Western

#9581 (nee Central of Georgia 202) works a Virginia coal terminal.

John Leopard photo, 2 August 2020

Bessemer & Lake Erie

B&LE power paused in Kansas city while leased to the Union Pacific.

Deane Motis photo at Kansas City, Missouri, on 29 May 1978

Burlington Northern

A Chinese red/white garb signals #6186's prior owner, at Pacific Jct. Iowa

Jim Jeffrey photo in February 1975 / Ralph Back collection

Burlington Northern Santa Fe

#6125 (nee CB&Q 323) worked InterBay Yard in Seattle for many years.

Deane Motis photo on 2 June 2002

Canon City & Royal Gorge

#5305 (nee D&RGW 5305) worked Royal Gorge trains for more than 12 years.

Ben Helsel photo, 1 October 2003


First-gen, six-axle power was not commonplace in Toledo Ohio until Conrail.

C.R. Faris photo on 20 May 1980 / Willie Brown collection

Dakota Southern

SD9E #4427 (ex-Espee 4427) once work rock trains at Chamberlain South Dakota.

Jeff Terry photo, 4 July 2021

DeBruce Companies

DeBruce Grain #1723 (nee DM&IR) at Joice Iowa waits for a busier season.

Jeff Streiff photo, 18 May 2016

Elgin Joliet & Eastern

Prior to donning EJ&E banner and colors, #610 toiled for DM&IR as #154, Gray, IN.

Jim Jeffery photo in 1971 (Ralph Back collection)
Elgin Joliet & Eastern

#610 returned to Proctor, MN and the DM&IR two decades later still in EJ&E garb.

Deane Motis, 15 May 1993

East Carbon Development Co.

#4355 (ex-SP 4355/5474) was one of two SD9s used by the environmental company.

Bill Kalkman photo, June 1996

Escanaba & Lake Superior

#E&LS 1221 (ex-Reserve Mining) was one of the road's few active SD9s.

Dave Schauer photo, 5 July 2014

J.D. Heiskel Company

JD Heiskell's loco fleet are all numbered "1886," the year company started.

Bob Hanggie photo at Pixley California in March 2012

Helm Leasing

First-gen SDs were a rarity on Helm roster; #504 was ex-ASAB (same number).

Duane Hall photo in January 1988 / Marty Benard collection

Modoc Northern

Three years after railroad's demise remnants remain at Tulelake California.

Susan Stienstra photo on 1 April 2012

Montana Rail Link

The #608 (ex-Missabe 121) guides a train thru Quebec Montana.

Dave Schauer on 2 April 2005

OmniTrax Switching

#1750 handles Trans Canada Switching in Roberts Banks British Columbia

Deane Motis collection 3 July 1997 photo

Port of Tillamook

A classy looking POTB #4406 (ex-SP #4406) stands alone at Banks Oregon.

John Barget photo, 19 August 1995

Tacoma Eastern

The #439 (ex-Southern Pacific 4439) idles at Albany Eastern.

John Bargert photo, 27 May 2000

Texas & Oklahoma Railroad

The #6183 was one of two ex-Burlington SD9s working in Sweetwater Texas.

CN Southwell photo, 24 August 2015

Tri-City Railway

The #25 delivers interchange traffic to the Union Pacific in Richland Washington.

Mark Herren photo, 21 January 2010

Trona Railway

A very clean Trona 2001 waits outside the shop area in Trona California.

Alan Miller photo, 17 January 1996

Winchester & Western

W&W's lone SD9 (nee NKP 352) rolls local towards Millville New Jersey.

Henry Dell photo 20 January 2020

SD7/9 Locomotive Links

Additions/corrections provided by: Ralph Back

Back to Main Menu