Thursday, June 12, 2014

Those Magnificent Quads ... in Iowa


Those Magnificent Quads were a distinctive feature of Milwaukee electric locomotives.  Even now, the remaining Little Joe in Deer Lodge sports a lighted quad as part of the static display of Milwaukee Road motive power.  The Joe rests north - south, 180 degrees (and a few city blocks) out of place from the mainline it ruled.  The headlight shines only on low power, and the dimly lit scene before it never changes.  It is a far cry from the glories of times past when high power lumens cut through miles of dark tunnels or charged up the formidable grades of the Rocky mountains.  But the Quad exists still today, and even in static form, is something quite special.

1100 miles to the east, another set of quads yet roams.  The Iowa Traction Railroad runs the quad arrangement on its own electric locomotive, #54.  54 was built in 1923 by Baldwin Locomotive for the Southern Iowa Railway [1].  Interurban lines once criss-crossed the Midwest, Iowa Traction is essentially the last and runs switching services around Mason City.  The full roster of electrics includes various small motors from a variety of original lines, all collected here in the heart of corn country.  Not all have been so nicely equipped with a set of magnificent quads, but 54 proudly sports them just like her larger orange sisters that once called the Rocky Mountains home.

1)  "Iowa Traction" www.trianweb.org, http://www.trainweb.org/twerhs/iowatraction.html, visited 2014

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