University Campus Railroads

This 45-ton Porter was not part of the curriculum for those Notre Dame students working towards earning an engineering degree. -- George Krambles photo in April 1954 / Krambles-Peterson Archives

New: 1 March 2024
A survey of several popular on-line locomotive photo databases was conducted recently to identify universities / colleges that were known to have had a campus railroad; the objective was to develop a potential diesel locomotive roster. The tally (although preliminary) was lower than initially anticipated; there had been an assumption that many higher-educational instituions across tNorth America had at-one-time relied on rail lines for delivery of coal to campus power plants. In reality, that theory mostly applied to upper midwest campuses where large coal-fired electric plants were required to heat multi-building sites during cold winters. Photo evidence strongly supported that suspicion.

With a few exceptions, the list consists mostly of universities from the Big 10, along with Notre Dame from South Bend, Indiana. Motive power was predominantly 44 and 45-tonners that carried either a General Electric, Whitcomb or Porter builder plate; there were also a small number of Plymouth-built units. Self-propelled cranes and track-mobiles were not intended to be part of this profile.

Although the survey results were far from definitive, some interesting historic photos appeared from the files of Krambles / Peterson. A couple are included here courtesy of Art Peterson. Additionally, nearly a dozen of the locomotives cited in this profile had served with the U.S. Military during World War II. Declared as surplus after WWII, they were purchased at a Government auction.

As for a potential roster, it is on-hold until the data that has been already collected can be verified and / or additional locomotives can be identified. In the interim, here is the preliminary information If you are aware of any other university-owned / operated locomotives, please let us know. Thank you!

Photo Gallery

Carnegie-Mellon / Univer. of Pittsburgh
  • Plymouth 25-ton at Pittsburgh Jct on 10 November 1968
  • Serial number: 4417 b/d: 22 October 1942; (ex-US Navy 65-00279)
  • Photographer: Dan Walford
  • Indiana University
  • GE 45-ton at Kokomo, Indana
  • Serial number: 15861, b/d 9/1942 (ex-U.S. Navy #65-00246)
  • Photographer: Matt Peterson
  • Michigan State University
  • GE 45-ton at East Lansing, Michigan in June 1994
  • Serial number: 15155, b/d 2/1942 (ex-U.S. Army #7065)
  • Photographer: Denny Custer **

  • Michigan State also owned a 35-ton Plymouth (s/n #3932 b/d: 28 April 1938); ex-US Navy Philadelphia Shipyard
    Michigan State University
  • EMD SW14 1437 at Toledo, Ohio on 8 june 2011
  • Serial number: 16440, b/d xx/1952 (ex-NREX SW14 1437 < BN 30 < SLSF SW9 325)
  • Photographer: Michael Harding
  • Notre Dame (& Western)
  • Porter 65-ton at South Bend, Indiana in August 1986
  • Serial number: 7391, b/d: 1942 (ex-U.S. Army)
  • Photographer: Joseph Blackwell
  • Ohio State University #3
  • GE 45-ton at Columbus, Ohio
  • Serial number: 17807, b/d: February 1943 (ex-USN #3)
  • Photographer: J.W. Vigrass (5/63) / Krambles-Peterson collection

  • Ohio State also had a Plymouth CL for 2 years; it was owned by contractor F.H. Latham.
    Purdue University
  • Whitcomb 44-ton #509 at Lafayette, Indiana in 23 July 1972
  • Serial number: 60037, b/d: 10/42 (ex-Milw 1699)
  • Photographer: Bruno Berzins / Krambles-Peterson Archives
  • Purdue University
  • General Electric 45-ton at Lafayette, Indiana in 23 July 1972
  • Serial number: 15156 b/d: 2/1942 (ex-U.S. Army #7066)
  • Photographer: Bruno Berzins / Krambles-Peterson collection
  • St. Mary's College
  • General Electric 29-ton at Notre Dame, Indiana on 11 May 1986
  • Serial number: 27608, b/d: 4/1944 (ex-U.S. Army 7777)
  • Photographer: Gerry Putz
  • University of Michigan
  • General Electric 45-ton at Ann Arbor, Michigan in May 1964
  • Serial number: xxxxxx, b/d: xxxxxx xxxx
  • Photographer: Ray Sabo / R. Craig collection

  • UofM also had
  • 30-ton Plymouth: (s/n #4445, b/d 31 December 1942); ex-US Army 7577
  • 35-ton Plymouth: (s/n 4509, b/d 29 September 1943); ex US Army #7628
  • University of Minnesota
  • Work Motor
  • St. Paul Agricultural Campus, May 26, 1953
  • Photographer: George Krambles photo / Krambles-Peterson Archives

  • Reports suggest the University also owned a GE 65-tonner at one time
    University of Minnesota
  • Alco S4m at Gopher State Rwy Museum in New Prague MN in Dec. 2020
  • Serial number: 78319, b/d: September 1950 (ex-B&M 1274) --Ford Motor Company 10010
  • Photographer: Robert Ball
  • University of Tennessee
  • Alco S1 (leased from Relco) ** unconfirmed
  • Serial Number: 77482; b/d: 2/53; (ex-Louisville & Nashville 72)
  • Photographer: Rick Smearcheck photo
  • Sources:
    • Extra 2200 South Newsletter (various issues)
    • The Short Line newsletter (various issues)
    • Krambles/Peterson Archives
    • Rail Pictures.Net
    • RR Pictures. Net


    • Garreth McDonald
    • John Friedmann
    • Bob Graham
    • Jim Mischke
    • Mark Nilges
    • Art Peterson
    • Jay Reed
    • Ron Stafford,

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