Perhaps the finest locomotive paint scheme ever devised?

The first use of railroads in the United States, may have preceded the United States.  Some contend the first railroad in what would become the United States was in 1762 when British military engineers constructed a gravity railroad at the Niagara Portage in Lewiston, NY.  Beginning in the early 1800s, rail became an important part of the transportation scene in America.  Over the years, many methods have been used to create corporate identities.  Since the mid-1950s, railroads have commonly deployed colorful paint schemes on locomotives and rolling stock to foster a brand.

ATSF 2349 in San Bernardino CA on February 14, 1987.  ©photo by Greg Sommers. http://www.locophotos.com/PhotoDetails.php?PhotoID=132150

ATSF 2349 in San Bernardino CA on February 14, 1987. ©photo by Greg Sommers. http://www.locophotos.com/PhotoDetails.php?PhotoID=132150

There have been many classic, attractive schemes employed, such as Santa Fe’s warbonnets (both red and silver and blue and yellow) and Union Pacific’s.

UPY 719 in Rochelle IL July 11 2006. ©photo by Collin Reinhart. Courtesy of RR picture Archives --http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=441139

UPY 719 in Rochelle IL July 11 2006. ©photo by Collin Reinhart. Courtesy of RR picture Archives –http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=441139

The competition is tight, but perhaps my favorite all-time locomotive paint scheme was the one used by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad beginning about 1969.  The DRGW must have liked it too–it was the principal scheme from 1969 to the date it merged into the Union Pacific in 1996, by way of its merger with the Southern Pacific in 1988.  As a result, it was the principal paint scheme for almost 30 years.

Rio Grande 3096 Backman's Crossing,Provo,UT Early Spring 1994. --photo by Quinn Clegg.

Rio Grande 3096 at Backman’s Crossing near Provo,UT in Early Spring 1994. –photo by Quinn Clegg.

Back in the early to mid 1990’s well into the SP era, it was still possible to catch pure sets of Rio Grande power on Southern Pacific trains.  The DRGW continued to use this scheme pretty much throughout the SP era.

DRGW 3095 at Desert, UT on Apr 1 1988. ©photo by Mike Woodruff courtesy of RR Picture Archives.

DRGW 3095 at Desert, UT on Apr 1 1988. ©photo by Mike Woodruff courtesy of RR Picture Archives.

What a great scheme.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that the DRGW operated in some of the most beautiful parts of the United States.

Here the scheme was applied to a GP-30.  Rio Grande train north of Provo,UT in 1994.  --photo by Quinn Clegg

Here the scheme was applied to a GP-30. Rio Grande train north of Provo, UT in 1994. –photo by Quinn Clegg

I really like the above picture.  In a sense, Quinn Clegg has captured the essence of the DRGW–attractive trains passing through often lonely but beautiful scenery.

The DRGW also had great schemes applied to their rolling stock, but that may be the subject of a future post.

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ATSF (and Burlington Northern) Heritage, Part II (Are there more?)

Yes.  There are more.

BNSF #480654 between Matfield and Aikman KS on Sep 21 2014. ©photo by Dan Rohrback.

BNSF #480654 between Matfield and Aikman KS on Sep 21 2014. ©photo by Dan Rohrback.

Here is at least a partial list of the 26 Heritage Cars of the BNSF.  (There were 27, but sadly one was wrecked.)
477432, Great Northern Heritage
477433, Great Northern Heritage
480539, Frisco Heritage
480654 SP&S Heritage
482111, SP&S Heritage
482554, SP&S Heritage
482825, Colorado and Southern Heritage
483110, Frisco Heritage
484002, Santa Fe Heritage
485059, Burlington Northern Heritage
485171, Santa Fe Heritage
485233, The Denver Road Heritage
485609, Northern Pacific Heritage
485704, Burlington Northern Heritage
485980, Colorado and Southern Heritage
486114, Burlington Route Heritage
486742, Frisco Heritage
486868, Colorado and Southern Heritage—-Destroyed 4/14. Unknown if will be replaced.
487379, The Denver Road Heritage
489368, Great Northern Heritage*
*This information is courtesy of — http://twincitiesrailfan.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2154
BNSF #483110 in Aberdeen, SD on Feb 27 2013.

BNSF #483110 in Aberdeen, SD on Feb 27 2013.  Photo by Nick Smith, courtesy of www.rrpicturearchives.net.

Interestingly, Overland Hobbies announced today that Athearn will produce HO cars in the Colorado and Southern, the Denver Road and Santa Fe heritage schemes.  See —

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=4015dc2e-4540-4e7b-bf6f-bbbd709b115d&c=f62f7350-526b-11e3-b371-d4ae52710c75&ch=f6fcae60-526b-11e3-b3fe-d4ae52710c75
These three cars were featured in part I of this series.
Keep an eye out for these interesting cars!

ATSF (and Burlington Northern) Heritage

A number of railroads are commemorating their heritage through special locomotive paint schemes.  The BNSF, created when the ATSF and Burlington Northern merged in 1996, chose a different method.

BNSF has painted a number of covered hoppers in commemorative schemes.  Unlike the normal boxcar red of most BNSF covered hoppers…

BNSF #   in Brady, Texas    2008.  photo by C. Hunt

BNSF #486489 in Brady, Texas June 20, 2008. –photo by C. Hunt

…these cars are light gray so they really stand out in BNSF consists.

BNSF  485171 Kansas City_MO_John_Rus_2014-09-03_82209

BNSF #485171 in Kansas City, MO September 3, 2014. ©photo by John Rus, courtesy of http://www.railcarphotos.com/ (Opening photo is also a portion of this nice photo by John Rus.)

BNSF 477433 in Fort Worth TX May 8, 2013.  ©photo by Roberto Alaniz, courtesy www.rrpicturearchives.net/

BNSF #477433 in Fort Worth TX May 8, 2013. ©photo by Roberto Alaniz, courtesy http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/

This car honors the Great Northern.  The GN became part of the BN in 1970.

BNSF 485609 Old Monroe MO May 13 2014 Shane Gillam copyright rrpa

BNSF #485609 in Old Monroe, MO on May 13 2014 ©photo Shane Gillam, courtesy http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/

The Northern Pacific became part of the BN at the same time.

What is also great is that the BNSF has chosen to honor its lesser known heritage roads.

BNSF 486868 in Barr Lake,  CO on Dec 30 2013.  http://www.railpictures.net/

BNSF #486868 in Barr Lake, CO on Dec 30 2013. ©photo by John Shine, courtesy of http://www.railpictures.net/

Though formally part of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy for decades, the Colorado and Southern was absorbed into the BN in 1981.

BNSF 485233 in Fort Worth, TX on Dec 6 2013. Roberto Alaniz rrpa not copy

BNSF #485233 in Fort Worth, TX on Dec 6 2013. ©photo by Roberto Alaniz, courtesy of http://www.railpictures.net

Though long affiliated with the Colorado and Southern Railway, the Fort Worth and Denver, “The Denver Road,” became part of the BN in 1982.

Thankfully, each of these great photographers captured these cars before any tagging (graffiti) occurred.

I hope this effort on the part of railroads to honor their heritage continues!