Old C&NW Diesels

Discussion relating to The Chicago & North Western, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road), including mergers, acquisitions, and abandonments.

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Old C&NW Diesels

Postby PZ 1 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:58 pm

I posted this on the American Rails forum C&NW category also, but seeing that neither that location nor this one sees a lot of traffic, decided to post it on both.

I grew up near the C&NW line between Fond du lac and Wisconsin Rapids-Marshfield Wisconsin. When I was young, and too young to remember a lot of details, there were some interesting locomotives on the line.

I don't remember the steam engines on the line, I believe their use ended in 1957. The first diesels I remember, and likely the first ones used on the line, were what I now know to have been GP models with the high hoods that had several large green chevrons painted on the ends from bottom to top. As time went on, there were units with a lesser number of stripes and on later units they disappeared completely. Does anyone know the rhyme or reason for the changes and possibly the timeline?

There were the seemingly large locomotives with the fans in the roof and the big rounded roofs over the cab that I have come to know by pictures were Fairbanks-Morse units. I do not know what model they would have been. They were not as cleanly styled or good looking as the EMD's, but they were visually striking and commanded attention.

One of the locomotives that was seen infrequently was an all green unit. I think it was something different than an EMD. Alco? Fairbanks-Morse (but no fans in the roof)? Baldwin? It had an appearance of being old, even in the early 60's. The engine had a distinctive sound and it didn't seem to run too smoothly. I am thinking that because it was not seen often, it may have been a back up unit or yard switcher that was only used on the road when necessary. Would it be that some of C&NW's early diesels were green? Or possibly it was obtained with the purchase of another railroad?

I think it was in the late 60's when they started using the low hood models, I think they may have been something like GP30's? I did not realize that there was a size difference until there was one coupled with one of the older high hood models. The newer ones were quite a bit smaller. I never liked them as well.

How I wish that I would have used a camera to record the sights and to preserve all the things I have forgotten now! It would be so interesting to look at the photos now and do things like compare the locomotive numbers with the information that is now available on line. The way it is though, is that when one is young, it is thought that things are always going to be the way they are at the time.
It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has recollections of the line, which was abandoned in 1982.
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Re: Old C&NW Diesels

Postby westr » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:19 pm

Those are some great memories you have of the C&NW. I don't have any firsthand information about that area or time, but I do know some general C&NW information that might help you.

As far as the end striping, it diminished in the 1950s and when the first low-nose diesels came it was eliminated all together. I think the last C&NW engines to come with any kind of end striping were the GP18s of 1960. The first low-nose diesels like the GP30s and some Alcos came in 62-63, without end striping, though it might have been a few years before you saw any in your area. Of course, older locomotives could be seen in older paint with stripes for years after that, into the 1970s. I imagine the striping ended because it was expensive to mask and paint, and didn't fit well on the low-nose diesels. When diesels were brand new technology replacing steam, railroads liked to use flashy paint schemes to show them off, but as the novelty wore off, paint jobs were simplified in the name of economy.

C&NW's largest F-M units were the H16-66, which I am guessing is what you remember. There are a number of pictures of them in the TrainMaster book by Withers Publishing, and they had three different body styles; the later ones (built 1954-56) were physically the largest. C&NW also had H10-44 and H12-44 end-cab switchers and a few Erie-built passenger units.

C&NW briefly experimented with a solid green paint scheme. There is a black & white picture of an all-green H16-66 in the TrainMaster book, dated 1962. There were apparently a couple Alcos painted solid green as well, and a Baldwin might have been possible. The solid green was probably an idea for a new simple paint scheme developed about the time the stripes were disappearing (late 50s to 1960), but management must not have liked it, as it wasn't widely used.

I know what you mean about regretting not taking more pictures. I wish I'd taken more pictures of far more recent things that were once common but are hard to find or gone completely.
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Re: Old C&NW Diesels

Postby PZ 1 » Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:30 am

Thanks for the reply westr. And thanks for clearing up the mystery of the green diesel. Hopefully someday I can identify which one it was that I was seeing.

Came across this picture of a Fairbanks Morse with the end stripes. It is located at Milton Wisconsin.
http://www.fuzzyworld3.com/pictures3/ra ... 03/be.html
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Re: Old C&NW Diesels

Postby kevin.brackney » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:47 pm

CNW locomotives were painted in a flourescent "day-glow" yellow that faded from sunlight into a bacterial, yellow-white. I believe that this was referred to as "Zito Yellow." About the time I hired out at Proviso in '93 the company had already started ordering new, and/or repainting units using the traditional yellow scheme. I remember seeing older units, like Geep 9's with new paint jobs lined up together presumeably to be hauled away to new owners. This was about the time the Dash 9's began arriving.
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