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 construed that to be my invitation. I was certain someone would stop and challenge me, because I was not wearing a badge nor a "big name" button. 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's and Bill Howes' camera work, we'll revisit those two events here in part 1 of "EMD Open Houses."

Part 2 of this photo profile (next month) will focus on the open house celebrations of 1978 and 1989 - 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 - 50th Anniversary

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 and placed in service in August 1935. (R. Craig 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)

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. (R. Craig)

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, which were parked in back of the EMD plant near the IHB-interchange track, drew a lot of attention. (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 1960s and 1970s might be viewed as the high-water mark for locomotive manufacturer's deployment of demonstrators. Alco, EMD, GE and Montreal Locomotive Works all had new models that the builders were anxious to showcase on North American Railways. EMD dispatched scores of demonstrators during the two-decade period; including SD45X #5740. The 4200-hp loco was built in June 1970. (R. Craig 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 sits behind the plant waiting to be delivered, while sister unit #77 shows-off her new silver flexicoil trucks to plant visitors. (R. Craig photo)

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