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The Ultimate Survivor

October 29, 2010

My previous post showed MKT GP40 171 leading a southbound manifest into Dallas in 1972.

In preparing that post I came across this slide of the same unit leading another southbound manifest, but in Fort Worth, and 15 years later.

MKT 171 leads a southbound across the Tower 55 interlocking in Fort Worth on Feb. 11, 1987

The  Katy’s GP40’s became an endangered species as a result of the UP acquisition of the Katy in late 1988. Understandably so, as they were over 20 years old, with pre-Dash-2 electrical systems, and had never been overhauled by the Katy.  It lasted on the UP for right at one year. It was then leased to Nacionales de Mexico from October 1989 to May 1990.

Upon its return from Mexico, it was sold to Morrison Knudsen in May of 1990. MK needed cores to fill an order for 65 GP40M-2 re-builds from the Southern Pacific. MKT 171 served as the core for  SP GP40M 7297 which was completed on Feb. 9, 1991.

In addition to a complete mechanical and electrical re-build, the 65 units received the Positive Traction Control wheel-slip control system, along with Southern Pacific standard features: roof-mounted beacon lights, air conditioning, ditch lights, and snowplows. Dynamic brakes were added to the 171, one of nine core units (eight former MKT units and one former Rock Island unit) not originally equipped with them.

"New and improved" MKT 171 is assigned to the Ski Train, shown in Denver on March 14, 1993

Can you guess the next step in the career of this locomotive?  If you answered “it was acquired by the UP as a result of the UP-SP merger”, you are correct. SP 7297 remained in SP red & gray until 2004, when it received UP colors and was re-numbered UP 1532.

UP 1532 is switching cars at Alorton, IL on July 23, 2009

So what’s up with this locomotive today? The GP40 that I first saw behind the old Dr. Pepper plant in North Dallas in 1972, was hauling freight through the hills of Missouri for its fifth operator, the Union Pacific.

As of this writing at 2300 on Oct. 30, 2010, UP 1532 had just passed through Gads Hill, Missouri en route to Poplar Bluff, Missouri with an ETA of 0405.

Not too shabby for a nearly 45-year-old locomotive that was “retired” over 20 years ago…

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