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The Oldest Currently Operating Diesel?

September 11, 2011

Passing through Texas City recently, I saw an EMD switcher working along the fence of Oiltanking Texas City, a petrochemical storage facility.  As I had a few moments to spare, I pulled off the road to see if I could get a shot or two of the operation.

ECRX reporting marks on the locomotive tell me that EconoRail is the switching contractor for this industry. I was able to get a little closer for a slightly obstructed roster view of the locomotive.

Other than being an 567 series EMD switcher, ECRX 886 seemed quite unremarkable.  Photos in the bag, I got back on the road and didn’t give it any more thought.

Upon processing the images the next day, I became curious about the provenance of ECRX 886. Nothing that a quick search can’t answer.

ECRX 886. EMD NW2 Description: #886 is the serial; the order is E256-4, built 6/39 as Phelps Dodge Copper 4.

Holy Cow! This little switcher is over 72 years-old! I’m not an expert on the oldest operating diesels in the U.S., but I’d venture to say that this just might be the oldest one!

Upon closer inspection of the engine, there are a few clues to its vintage. No louvers along the hood and the windshield being curved along the top are features of very old EMD switchers.

To be technically correct, this engine is not an EMD product.  It was built by Electro-Motive Corporation, a small division of GM. It was two years before General Motors merged EMC and Winton Engine to create the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) on January 1, 1941.

PS- A very classy move by the EconoRail folks to re-number this engine as 886 when they acquired it, 886 being its original serial number.  It’s among the first 300 or so of more than 50,000 locomotives produced by EMC/EMD over the years.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Aaron permalink
    July 1, 2012 10:42 pm

    Nice catch! I know Texas city and Galveston both have some antiques still in use.

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