Monday, May 20, 2013

Before Erie


In 1953, a partnership between Alco and General Electric was ended and GE began the development of their first independent diesel locomotives.  The partnership had produced some memorable products like the Alco PA and FA as well as a number of the famous Alco road switchers.  The builder's plate on one of the first 'independent' GE products shows the build location of Erie, PA.  The U25B plate represents just one of thousands of locomotives manufactured within the Erie facility, destined for service at locations around the world.

Before these plates read "Erie," however, they read "Schenectady."  Such is the case with the last electric locomotive to operate on Milwaukee rails.  This is boxcab electric, E57B.  She rests in a small lot by US 12 on the way through Harlowton, MT.  She isn't styled like the famous GG1s that ran for years in the Northeast and she lacks the streamlining of the Milwaukee's own Little Joes.  By contrast, rivets are easy to spot in the sheet metal and the wooden framed door is clearly from a different period in manufacturing history.  Ironically, E57B served a longer career than either of those streamlined relations.  

Atop the many coats of faded paint on E57 is one more mark of its age and longevity: the builder's plate prominently displays Schenectady, NY.  The casting itself puts to shame the stickers that serve as today's builders plates.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Schenectady - the "Electric City" - once also known as the city that "Lights and Hauls the World". I mostly grew up there in the 1950s when GE and Alco faced each other at opposite ends of Erie Boulevard (originally the Erie Canal before it was filled and paved). By 1955 the years of endless retrenchment had already begun at Alco's end of the street.