Passenger Cars | Southern
Pacific 786 | Alco Diesel 442 | Rail
When the Austin Steam Train Association found
itself without a serviceable 786 in July of 1999 we were forced
to use diesel-electric locomotives to continue uninterrupted
service. At first, borrowed engines from the local freight carrier
sufficed, but a decision was made in 2000 to purchase our own
diesel. That process culminated in the acquisition of engine
Built by the same company that built 786 in
1916, the American Locomotive Company constructed a series of
these six-axle RSD-15 road-switchers in 1960 for the Atchison,
Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. Our 442 was built as Santa Fe
842, and was later renumbered 9842. The RSD-15s saw service
in all parts of the Santa Fe system, and were gradually retired
in the '70s as the Santa Fe modernized its motive power fleet.
The 9842 was purchased secondhand by the Squaw
Creek Coal Company of Indiana and was used to haul heavy coal
trains. Our engine later wound up under the care of the Indiana
Hi-Rail Corp., where it was again renumbered 442. We purchased
the 442 from Indiana Hi-Rail in early 2000. ASTA staff and volunteers
rebuilt the 442 for regular service and painted the engine in
a modified Southern Pacific "Black Widow" paint scheme.
The 2,400-horsepower locomotive is the last known operating example
of its class.
The Alco RSD-15s are more commonly known
to railroad enthusiasts as "alligators" in reference
to the locomotives' long, low noses. So don't be surprised if
you hear that your train is being pulled by a 'gator!