Columbus & Greenville Railway

Baldwin Road Switchers

tag_quote

Because of the age of the [steam] locomotive fleet, conversion to diesel power had been discussed as early as 1938. The success of the Brill gas-electric cars had been encouraging, and clearly new locomotives would soon be required as the current roster required an increasing amount of maintenance. The acquisition of good used [steam] locomotives from 1938 to 1940 eased the immediate problems and then the war put all further acquisitions out of the question. But when the war was over, Master Mechanic W. A. Trayler again began to consider new locomotives.

Louis R. Saillard, Delta Route - A History of the C&G, 1981

The unflappable Columbus & Greenville survived the steam era on a large stable of second and third-hand steam kettles, and as such, the transition to diesel-electric power begun in 1945 represented the first time the Mississippi shortline was able to acquire first-hand motive power. Limited in production on the heels of the war, no Alco or General Motors designs suited the railroad. It turned instead to Baldwin for a locomotive of appropriate weight and power. By the end of 1946, a total of five Baldwin road switchers were in service on the railroad -- each one 1500 horsepower, and each one equipped with six axles for easing the strain on the shortline's feeble track and bridges. Five years later, an additional Baldwin of nearly identical design and power was purchased to round out the stable. Though not perfect, the Baldwins nevertheless brought a level of dependability and service previously unknown on the east-west mainline. Except for #602 -- wrecked in a 1961 derailment -- the entire Baldwin roster stayed in service on the Delta Route well into the 1970s, with the first and last units remaining in service into the 1980s.

Philadelphia Firsts

The Columbus & Greenville's first order of five units from the Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, turned out to be historic in the world of diesel-electric locomotion, in that no. 601 to 605 were the first Baldwin road switchers produced for a stateside customer and the first to be put in operation anywhere. #601 was shipped to the Delta first, unpainted and unlettered, followed by sisters #602 and #603 two months later. Shown here are builder's photos for #601 (in Columbus, after painting and lettering onsite) and #603 (at the Baldwin factory). A rare shot of an unlettered #601 from the fall of 1946 and a subsequent Baldwin publicity photo are included as well.
baldwin_plans
All Baldwin images above from our collection, with assistance from Louis Saillard
baldwin_drawing

Baldwin construction drawing / collection

#601

Columbus & Greenville #601

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • model:DRS 6-4-15
  • type:A1A-A1A road switcher
  • built:Sep 1946, Baldwin #72624
  • series:29 produced 1946-52
  • engine:Baldwin 608SC (8 cyls. 1500 hp)
  • notes:
  • Six axles, four traction motors
    on display, Columbus MS
  • builder
    HawkinsRails thanks David Powell for use of his Baldwin #601 photos

    #603

    Columbus & Greenville #603

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • model:DRS 6-4-15
  • type:A1A-A1A road switcher
  • built:Nov 1946, Baldwin #72626
  • series:29 produced 1946-52
  • engine:Baldwin 608SC (8 cyls. 1500 hp)
  • notes:
  • _________
  • builder

    #604

    Columbus & Greenville #604

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • model:DRS 6-4-15
  • type:A1A-A1A road switcher
  • built:Dec 1946, Baldwin #72627
  • series:29 produced 1946-52
  • engine:Baldwin 608SC (8 cyls. 1500 hp)
  • notes:
  • _________
  • builder

    #605

    Columbus & Greenville #605

  • builder:Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • model:DRS 6-4-15
  • type:A1A-A1A road switcher
  • built:Dec 1946, Baldwin #72628
  • series:29 produced 1946-52
  • engine:Baldwin 608SC (8 cyls. 1500 hp)
  • notes:
  • _________
  • builder

    #606

    Columbus & Greenville #606

  • builder:Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton
  • model:AS-416
  • type:A1A-A1A road switcher
  • built:Sep 1951, Baldwin #75273
  • series:21 produced 1950-54
  • engine:Baldwin 608A (8 cyls. 1600 hp)
  • notes:
  • six axles, four traction motors
    to Illinois Railway Museum for display
  • builder
    HawkinsRails thanks Michigan railfan Doug Leffler for use of his CAGY Baldwin roster shots
    See also Spotlight: Baldwin #606 in our Greenville, Mississippi collection
    journal_rwh

    In the fall of 2009, my family traveled to Chicago to visit close friends. This was my first visit to Chicagoland by car, so I set aside a day in the schedule to visit the impressive Illinois Railway Museum. For years it was a goal of mine to see their massive collection, but in truth it was two Deep South locomotives on the site that most drew me on a must-see pilgrimage: T.R. Miller Mill's diminutive kettle #101 and, of course, Columbus & Greenville #606. The IRM is a massive museum, covering acres of land, so it took me the better part of the day to find our beloved Baldwin hood unit hidden away in a series of display tracks (see below). It had been 20 years since I last laid eyes on the locomotive -- finding her in 1989 tucked in the weeds of a scrapper's siding in Greenville, Ms -- so I was not certain what to expect at IRM. Streaked in rust, the carbody certainly bears the marks of two decades in the elements. Her cab windows are boarded over, the underbody fuel tank is missing, and the strange gash in the long hood near the generator -- first discovered in Greenville in '89 -- still remains. Otherwise, the old Baldwin is holding her own in retirement up north. Still marked "City of Moorhead," I chuckled at the oddity of this Mississippi machine rusting away on the outskirts of Chicago. Parked next to Burlington Northern F-units and in the shadow of Union Pacific's massive gas turbine set, #606 seems like an odd choice for a midwestern museum. Even so, I'm not complaining. A little eccentricity beats the scrapper's torch any day. (I wonder: Does anyone in Illinois even know about the Yellow Dog diamond?)

    all #606 images above from Union, Il / Sep 2009 / RWH

    Lagniappe

    Links / Sources

    This page was updated on 2017-07-13