Delivering with Pride

Early Diesel-Electric Locomotives of the DW&P

It wasn’t unusual to spot DW&P diesels running about town wearing a variety of different paint jobs. This set shows the 3605 and 3609 on June 21, 1977, in the yard at West Duluth. (Image: Gordon Lloyd)
It wasn’t unusual to spot DW&P diesels running about town wearing a variety of different paint jobs. This set shows the 3605 and 3609 on June 21, 1977, in the yard at West Duluth. (Image: Gordon Lloyd)
The United States bicentennial celebration of 1976 inspired most railroads in the United States to paint at least one of their locomotives into a red, white, and blue paint scheme to show support. DW&P chose RS-11 3605 to wear the colors. Each railroad designed its own unique paint job, so no two were exactly alike. This shot shows the DW&P’s “Spirit of ’76” in early June 1976 at West Duluth. It was a paint job that would be short-lived. (Image: Tom Baldner)
The United States bicentennial celebration of 1976 inspired most railroads in the United States to paint at least one of their locomotives into a red, white, and blue paint scheme to show support. DW&P chose RS-11 3605 to wear the colors. Each railroad designed its own unique paint job, so no two were exactly alike. This shot shows the DW&P’s “Spirit of ’76” in early June 1976 at West Duluth. It was a paint job that would be short-lived. (Image: Tom Baldner)
A few weeks later on June 29, 1977, the former bicentennial locomotive sports the new DW&P orange paint job—with a twist. This one has the brand new “Delivered With Pride” logo that would become standard on all DW&P Alco diesels. (Image: Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
A few weeks later on June 29, 1977, the former bicentennial locomotive sports the new DW&P orange paint job—with a twist. This one has the brand new “Delivered With Pride” logo that would become standard on all DW&P Alco diesels. (Image: Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
The final paint job to adorn DW&P diesels was the “Burdakin Blue” and red scheme that included the Delivered With Pride logo. John Burdakin was VP of Operations for CN rail holdings in the United States. He came up with the color change to help differentiate CN-controlled lines operating in the United States. The blue paint was dubbed in his honor. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, many North American railroads were looking for ways to extend the life of their diesel-electric locomotive purchases from the 1950s. DW&P 3608 was re-built into this low nose configuration in 1979 at the road’s diesel shop in Virginia, Minnesota. The lowered nose and extra windows increased visibility for the crew. The short hood end of this unit became the front, making it unique in its own right. This photo of 3608 was taken September 4, 1981, at West Duluth. (Image: John C. Benson)
The final paint job to adorn DW&P diesels was the “Burdakin Blue” and red scheme that included the Delivered With Pride logo. John Burdakin was VP of Operations for CN rail holdings in the United States. He came up with the color change to help differentiate CN-controlled lines operating in the United States. The blue paint was dubbed in his honor. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, many North American railroads were looking for ways to extend the life of their diesel-electric locomotive purchases from the 1950s. DW&P 3608 was re-built into this low nose configuration in 1979 at the road’s diesel shop in Virginia, Minnesota. The lowered nose and extra windows increased visibility for the crew. The short hood end of this unit became the front, making it unique in its own right. This photo of 3608 was taken September 4, 1981, at West Duluth. (Image: John C. Benson)
The last noteworthy difference between regular Alco RS-11s and the DW&P’s version is the single conical exhaust stack. The 1,800-horsepower diesel power plant used in the Alco design was a true turbo engine. When starting out extra fuel was injected to get things going, but until the turbo kicked in that extra fuel created a lot of thick black smoke. Rail photographers who were in the know about this Alco idiosyncrasy focused their cameras on still trains and then waited for the engineer to release the brakes and open the throttle. Such is the case here as DW&P 3608 is beginning to pull its train in August 1980. In spite of the smoke from the turbo lag, these locomotives produced about 60,000 lbs. of tractive effort when starting a train. That was 10,000 lbs. more tractive effort than the steam locomotives they replaced in 1956. But the last stand in Duluth for the DW&P’s Alco RS-11s came relatively quickly. By March 1983 the last five units were sent off to work on the Central Vermont Railway after being replaced with more modern diesel-electric locomotives transferred by the CN from the Grand Trunk Railroad. (Image: Eric Hirsimaki)
The last noteworthy difference between regular Alco RS-11s and the DW&P’s version is the single conical exhaust stack. The 1,800-horsepower diesel power plant used in the Alco design was a true turbo engine. When starting out extra fuel was injected to get things going, but until the turbo kicked in that extra fuel created a lot of thick black smoke. Rail photographers who were in the know about this Alco idiosyncrasy focused their cameras on still trains and then waited for the engineer to release the brakes and open the throttle. Such is the case here as DW&P 3608 is beginning to pull its train in August 1980. In spite of the smoke from the turbo lag, these locomotives produced about 60,000 lbs. of tractive effort when starting a train. That was 10,000 lbs. more tractive effort than the steam locomotives they replaced in 1956. But the last stand in Duluth for the DW&P’s Alco RS-11s came relatively quickly. By March 1983 the last five units were sent off to work on the Central Vermont Railway after being replaced with more modern diesel-electric locomotives transferred by the CN from the Grand Trunk Railroad. (Image: Eric Hirsimaki)

Early Diesel-Electric Locomotives of the DW&P

5 Responses to Delivering with Pride

  1. Hi Paul and Kent, and thanks for the extra information and question.

    The route from Canada to Duluth was primarily north-south along the length of the DW&P’s main line. Trains came off of the Canadian National (CN) at Duluth Junction near Ft. Frances and then rolled into Ranier where they began their trip south on the DW&P. Trains arrived at the DW&P yard in West Duluth, then made the final leg of the trip from West Duluth to Bridge Yard in downtown Duluth either as a complete train or as a transfer running between these last two points. In railroad jargon this kind of operation was called a “Bridge Route”. It refers to any railroad that has more “bridge” or through traffic operating over its tracks than it has traffic that originates or terminates along its line. This bridge traffic is also known as overhead traffic. Simply put, it is freight traffic (car loads or empties) received from one railroad, then dished off to a second railroad, for delivery to a third railroad. The one in the middle is the bridge, and in this case, it’s the DW&P.

    Freight cars on the CN in Canada destined for the interchange at Duluth used the DW&P as the bridge line to deliver those cars (often in full trains) to Northern Pacific, and later BN, BNSF, etc. NP did the vast majority of interchange and industry work in Duluth. So NP would break down those trains received from DW&P so that those cars could continue their journey to other railroads via interchange or to local industries served by the NP or other area railroads. The bridge line is the one that doesn’t have industries to serve within Duluth (DW&P) while the NP had hundreds of industries to serve here. Those industries were the sources of both the originating and terminating traffic in Duluth-Superior. DW&P on the other hand, evolved from the consolidation of several timber hauling railroad lines and turned itself into an efficient and effective bridge route that sped entire trains back and forth between Canada and Duluth at a relatively high speed. That was, and still is, its modern purpose.

    Cheers!

  2. Canadian Northern was the original “parent company” until it became part of the newly formed Canadian National in 1919 or the early ’20s.

  3. to move bridge traffic between Canada and Duluth until it was assimilated by CN on January 1, 199

    Question…what is ‘bridge traffic’, and
    what route between Canada and Duluth, Up the north shore or where? is that route gone now?

  4. Hi Bob –
    Thanks for that extra detail about that image. It’s always nice to know who took a particular picture. Take care. Cheers!

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