Awhile back, I read that Canadian Pacific so far had two diesels on the roster painted for two of the railroads CP has purchased over the years: the Delaware & Hudson and the Toronto, Hamilton, and Buffalo. It seems they already have one for the Milwaukee Road, MP15 number 1538. However, the 1538’s paint job is quite by chance and not by design!
The reason stems from the Soo Line’s purchase of the Chicago, Milwaukee, Saint Paul, and Pacific in 1985 and its subsequent merger a year later. As the Soo needed to assume about 383 million dollars in Milwaukee Road debt as part of the deal, repainting the Milwaukee’s diesel fleet into the Soo’s red and white paint scheme was hardly affordable. However, power identification problems soon plagued the Soo due to duplicate road numbers on their engines and ex-Milwaukee ones. The answer was to put black paint over the “Milwaukee Road” lettering on the engines long hoods and remove the Milwaukee Emblems from beneath the cab windows and paint that area black as well. Add a new number and the process of turning a pristine Milwaukee Road engine into a Soo Line “bandit” was complete. Eventually, many of these units wound up on the roster of the Canadian Pacific after it bought the Soo Line in 1990. Some of these have now been painted in full CP colors. A few, however, remain in “bandit” colors to this day; one such unit being the 1538.
The 1538’s black patches, however, have not withstood the test of time well. And by an incredible stroke of luck, the “Milwaukee Road” lettering on one side of its long hood is seeing the light of day again looking slightly faded by still %100 legible.
So that is how the Canadian Pacific has an accidental “heritage unit” on its roster. Hopefully it will one day wind up in a museum or with the Milwaukee Road Historical Association and get a fresh coat of Milwaukee Road paint.
On a cold day in early March of this year, I visited the remains of the main line of the Chicago Great Western railroad in Dodge Center, Minnesota. The line, which once ran north to south through this little burg, was used by CGW successor Chicago and North Western to haul grain to Kansas City until the early 1980s. Then the line was torn up in favor of the recently acquired north-south Twin Cities-Kansas City “Spine Line” of the defunct Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific.
Much of the CGW main north and south of Dodge Center has either fallen victim to the farmers plow, become completly overgrown, or exsist as access roads to residental property and the like. Lo and behold: while the CGW grade north of County Road 34 is heavily overgrown with spindly little trees and other brush, the line south of County 34 to the lines former crossing of the east-west rail line through town (now run by Canadian Pacific-owned and operated Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern; also former CNW track) was clear of such detritus until right down by the site of the crossing itself. And post-abandonment development encroaching on the line had been confined to a small duplex. The remainder of the grade was not only undistrubed save for green grass, but I found much remaining track ballast still extant and visible since the rails went up long ago. It also had something more substantial left over: the concrete whistle post pictured below.
I do believe the CGW used these to denote when the crossing of another railroad line was imminent.
I love it when extant railroad artifacts remain standing along abandoned lines; they stand like monuments to past glories.