About the Train

Passenger Cars | Southern Pacific 786 | Alco Diesel 442 | Rail Line History

442 accelerates out of Leander. >>Enlarge

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 442.

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!