Tag Archives: Milwaukee Road

Canadian Pacific’s Milwaukee Road Heritage Unit

Photo by the author.


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.