Delivering with Pride Early Diesel-Electric Locomotives of the DW&P
Originally Published June 2015
The 167-mile-long Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway (DW&P) was chartered on March 19, 1909, by parent Canadian National Railway (CN); it functioned as an extension of the CN to move bridge traffic between Canada and Duluth until it was assimilated by CN on January 1, 1996. It maintained freight yards and roundhouses in Virginia, Minnesota, and in West Duluth. While its motive power fleet was considered small compared to other area railroads, the DW&P’s locomotives were specifically designed to handle the unique needs of the DW&P and the territory it operated over within Duluth-Superior and to points north. This month we’ll look at the locomotives themselves to help us remember some of the colorful paint schemes that once plied the rails across our community. Next month we’ll see the locomotives in action hauling freight in and around Duluth and Superior.
Post-World War II freight steam power on the DW&P consisted of a mix of locomotives inherited from predecessor lines, transfers from CN subsidiaries, and locomotives bought new for the purpose. 1905-built DW&P 1982 is one of four 2-8-0 consolidation type engines that came over from the Central Vermont Railway in 1928. They were numbered 1981-1984 and weighed in at 195,360 pounds each. The DW&P also had 10 larger 2-8-0s built in 1916 and 1917 that were the backbone of the line’s mainline freight movements. These engines were initially numbered 2900-2909 but were quickly renumbered 2455-2464. These bigger consolidations weighed in at 240,000 lbs. and exerted 50,000 lbs. of tractive effort. When the new diesel-electric locomotives arrived on the property in late 1956, the fireboxes of the steam fleet went cold almost immediately. Some of the steamers were cut up for scrap in 1957 while a few others avoided the scrapper’s torch until 1959. This photo was taken May 5, 1954, at the north end of Rice’s Point in Duluth. (Image: Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
The 15 diesel-electric locomotives that replaced the steamers were numbered 3600-3614 and designated with the common builder model of RS-11. They were designed to run long hood forward. Having the long hood in front of the operator’s cab provided extra protection to the crew in the event of a grade-crossing collision. The front of this unit is actually the end nearest the right side of the picture with the operator’s cab near the opposite end. In North America, when standing inside the cab and facing forward the engineer’s side of the locomotive is always the right side of the locomotive. This photo of DW&P 3601 was taken on July 9, 1966, at West Duluth. (Image: Karl Henkels)
The DW&P’s RS-11s had several features unique to this road. The left or fireman’s side of the operator’s cab had three-pane side windows while the right or engineer’s side had two-pane windows. The large open space under the frame was normally occupied by a much larger fuel tank. But given that the entire railroad was only 167 miles long these units were built with small 1,200-gallon tanks that could be refilled at either end of a trip. This photo of DW&P 3613 was taken on February 7, 1964, at West Duluth. (Image: Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
DW&P 3603 is resplendent in CN inspired green and duluxe gold paint. This is the scheme applied to these locomotives when they were first delivered to the road in 1956. The short-hood end of these locomotives was actually the rear of the unit. The many side louvers on the short hood were for air flow to the dynamic brake grids housed inside of the short hood—yet another feature unique to these units. This photo of DW&P 3603 was taken on July 7, 1966, at West Duluth. (Image: Karl Henkels)
Although these units were built in the United States, the trucks that supported the 250,000 lb. weight of these locomotives were actually built by Canadian firm Dofasco. They were special lightweight trucks. Instead of having the regular brake cylinders mounted outboard on each end of the truck, these Dofasco trucks had a large brake cylinder hidden inside the truck frame. The open space in the middle of the truck side frame was usually filled by a large set of elliptical springs but absent on the Dofasco equipped DW&P units. This photo of DW&P 3600 was taken on July 7, 1966, at West Duluth. (Image: Karl Henkels)