I was very blessed in my younger days. My family would make bi-yearly treks from our home in Southern California to visit my uncle in Texas. One trip in the summer, and then another at Thanksgiving. As a young person who was very much in love with railroading, I considered each of these trips as my own personal train watching odyssey.
We would venture from our home in Whittier, where the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific tracks merged to go into Orange County, out past the huge SP yard in Colton, to Cajon Pass, then across the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, where the Santa Fe ran free, then on to the plains of eastern New Mexico and western Texas, where the Rock Island had a seldom traveled line, finally arriving in northern Texas where the Burlington Northern paraded freight after freight in front of my eyes.
Amazingly, these all are the very same railroads that I model today.
While spending all those hours with my eyes pressed against the window of my family's Buick, I took in a lot of scenery, and a countless number of Santa Fe freight trains. Over the years I developed a love for the SF, and all of their varied forms of motive power. Though I truly loved them all, one locomotive really stood out above the rest, in my opinion, the F45 'cowl' unit.
I don't know exactly why that particular locomotive has always fascinated me. I suppose that I always thought that it looked powerful, yet somewhat streamlined. I don't know, I just love the things.
As a matter of coincidence, at the very same time that I was brought into this world, December of 1967, the Santa Fe, despite plummeting passenger numbers, ordered nine brand new diesel locomotives to head their signature trains, The Super Chief and the El Capitan. These new FP45 locomotives, the sisters to my beloved freight F45s, were to replace the Santa Fe's aging fleet of F7 passenger power.
The locomotives shot down the rails like bullets fired from a gun, each geared to exceed the road's 90-mph passenger-train speed limit. Truly the were a sight to behold as they rocketed down the Santa Fe's transcontinental express-way between Chicago and Los Angeles on the head end of passenger trains and the line's Super C premium intermodal freights.
Throughout the 30+ year service record of the FP45, it has been a locomotive of many colors, and for that fact, many numbers. Originally painted in Santa Fe's signature red and silver "warbonnet" paint scheme for passenger service in the late 1960', the locomotives would soon find themselves in the road's blue and yellow, pinstripe, "bookend" freight colors when Amtrak came into service in 1971. It was at this time that the SF renumbered the units, moving from the 100-series to the 5940-series.
A year later the units would yet again be repainted in a blue and yellow variant of the 'warbonnet' along with all of the locomotives in the Santa Fe's fleet. In these colors the FP45's would remain, until the mid-80s, when in a premature move, they were painted in the red and yellow, 'kodachrome', scheme for the proposed merger of the Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific.
When that merger fell through, the FP45's returned to their freight 'warbonnet' colors.
In 1989, when Mike Haverty was named the president of Santa Fe, the line was in a very bad state of decline. There was the failed merger with the SP, several takeover attempts, a late start in stack train service, and a lack of capital for infrastructure improvements, all of which had taken a toll on the railroad.
Inspired by a railfan's suggestion, Haverty made a executive decision to return the Santa Fe to it's famous red and silver colors, a move that immediately improved company moral and garnished the type of public attention that the company desperately needed.
The first of Santa Fe's locomotives to receive the new paint, the FP45's, which were also renumbered back to the 100-series.
For a short period of time the FP45's were once again at the head end of the Santa Fe's premiere trains, but the days of the locomotives service were numbered.
As the Santa Fe began to build it's 'Super Fleet' of fast running intermodal trains between Chicago and the west, the Fp45's were soon pushed aside by the smaller, and more fuel efficient, GP60M and then by the larger, and more powerful, Dash-8 and Dash-9 series locomotives.
The FP45's were also renumbered into the 90-series.
When the Santa Fe finally merged with the Burlington Northern in the mid-90s the aging FP45's had been reduced to 'helpers' on intermittent freights. In 1999 all six surviving units were retired and donated to museums across the country.
Now as a matter of luck, two of these FP45's are within driving distance of my home. Number 98 is at the The Orange Empire Railroad Museum in Perris, Ca, and number 95 is at the Western America Railroad Museum in Barstow, Ca. Perris is about an hours drive from me and Barstow is a mere 30-minutes down the I-15.
As you can imagine, I have visited both locomotives frequently and have taken dozens of photos of each of them.
I just wanted to share a few of them with you today, in hopes that they would be use to railroad history buffs and modelers.
Here a few shots of FP45 #95 and #98 as they are today, a bit worn, but still looking fast and powerful. Hey, they look better at 42 than I do.
Other Railroad History Articles: * The History Of Burlington Northern Steam Power?* Railroading On DVD! - Southern Pacific Cab Forward Collection* Why Is The CSX Intermodel Yard In Atlanta Named 'Hulsey'?......And Does Anybody Know?* The Diesel Railroad Locomotive - From Box Cabs And The SD40 To The SD70 And Gensets* Railroad History - Fun Facts - The Modern Era (1980-Present)* Railroad History - Fun Facts - The Post-War Era (1945-1980)
See Also: Tickets Now On Sale For The Return Of Santa Fe Locomotive 3751 To San Diego / The Cajon Pass Railroad Museum - The Birth Of A Dream / Santa Fe Locomotive 3751 To Return To San Diego In May 2010!
See HO Scale FP45 Locomotives: Athearn HO Scale FP45 Locomotive - Santa Fe (Red & Silver Warbonnet) /Athearn HO Scale FP45 Locomotive - Milwaukee Road
See Other HO Scale Santa Fe Items: Athearn HO Scale F45 Locomotive - Santa Fe (Blue & Yellow Warbonnet) / Athearn HO Scale F7A/F7B Locomotives - Santa Fe / MTH HO Scale 2-10-0 Russian Decapod Locomotive - Santa Fe / Bachmann HO Scale Rail King Electric Train Set - Santa Fe / Athearn HO Scale EMD GP38-2 Locomotive - Santa Fe / Athearn HO Scale PS-2 Covered Hopper - Santa Fe / Athearn 50ft Ice Reefer Box Car - Santa Fe (Scout) / Athearn HO Scale Cupola Caboose - Santa Fe / Athearn HO Scale GP60M Locomotive - Santa Fe / Athearn Genesis F45 HO Scale Locomotive - Santa Fe / Bachmann 2-10-4 Texas HO Scale Locomotive - Santa Fe / Bachmann 4-8-4 Northern Locomotive - HO Scale - Santa Fe / Proto 2000 Diesel EMD F7A-B Set Powered - HO Scale - Santa Fe / Bachmann HO Scale FT Locomotive - Santa Fe / Walthers HO Scale F7 Locomotive - Santa Fe