The Milwaukee Road's Little Joe is an amazing collection of enormous castings. The shear amount of metal that encompasses the running gear and supports the carbody is something to behold. The design and manufacture dates back to a time when American foundry work was second to none, the country manufacturing base healthy, and the infrastructure of the country alive and growing. General Electric clearly built these locomotives to last in a harsh environment that saw frequent extremes in weather, loading, and speeds. In their lives as front line Western power, they encountered all of these.
In the details of an old machine like this Joe, much is learned about old processes and standards, previous ways of thinking, previous ways of problem solving and, just as important, the problems that were solved. The details are a history lesson in themselves. In amongst all of the details of Milwaukee's only existing Little Joe is a detail that harkens back to the days of a Cold War and a growing Soviet Empire.
The detail in question is located on the "b" end of the Joe, the end where the cab was removed and windows plated over. There, an obvious outcropping exists from the massive casting that supports the rear half of the locomotive and drivetrain. It can be seen in the above photo, supporting a nicely painted grab iron. It's original purpose, however, would seem to be related to the locomotive's original destination. While the Americanized railroads never had much use for bumpers between equipment, the European and related lines used them extensively. The Soviets had specified bumpers for their fleet of GE electric locomotives and indeed, the mounting platform was in place -- and still is.
Montana became the home for Milwaukee's Little Joe, but it was never the original destination. The European elements of these fantastic locomotives still show through in a few of the details and are a good reminder of the importance of details.