The EMD NW2

The EMD NW2 actually began production a few years before the Electro-Motive Corporation became an official division of General Motors. At the time of the switcher's construction, EMD was fast becoming the industry leader of diesel locomotive manufacturing having released its popular FT cab model that same year. This locomotive, almost by itself, spelled the end of steam. In any event, however, the model would go on to be EMD's most successful small switcher line although future NW designs were not nearly as successful. Overall, more than fifty Class I railroads would purchase over 1,100 EMD NW2s by the time its ten-year production was concluded in the late 1940s! Today, several of these resilient diesel switcher locomotives carry on and can still be seen in industrial applications, small shortlines, and tourist lines. This rugged design is a testament to the engineers and the folks at EMD involved in the model's creation.

Milwaukee NW2 #670 kicks cars around the weed-choked yard in downtown Davenport, Iowa during April of 1980. In just a few years the company will be gone and so too will most of its lines in the Hawkeye State.

Another of EMC's original models was the NW, with the "N" originally referring to nine-hundred horsepower and "W" standing for welded frame. However, by the time the NW2 model was developed its letter designation reference was dropped and simply referred to the model's name, as it could produce 1,000 horsepower using the company's new 12-cylinder, 567A model prime mover. The EMD NW2 featured the same, sloped frame near the cab and was just as short at only 44-feet in length. It came equipped with the standard B-B truck arrangement although now EMC/EMD switchers used GM-produced traction motors (model D37) and not those from General Electric, which could produce 31,000 pounds of continuous tractive effort and 62,500 pounds starting.

For a locomotive that only weighed 124 tons and was just over 44 feet in length, this was quite powerful. Likely due to successful testing with early EMC switcher locomotives like the original NW or SC/SW models, and now with the backing of General Motors, sales for the EMD NW2 quickly took off. Not only were the little switchers ideal for any setting and application (industrial, yard duty, light branch work, etc.) but they were also inexpensive allowing both small and large roads to purchase them. EMD also offered a cow-calf version of the NW2 known as the TR, TR2, and TR3. The first and final models (TR, TR3) sold only to the Illinois Central (3 sets) and Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (2 sets). However, the TR2 was fairly successful selling 36 sets amongst the Belt Railway of Chicago, Milwaukee Road, Burlington, Chicago & North Western, Chicago Great Western, Illinois Central, and Southern. The "B" unit was simply a cabless NW2 offering extra horsepower and tractive effort.

EJ&E NW2 #452 works the yard in Joliet, Illinois as a caboose tags along and the crew are all piled in the cab during August of 1978.

Production on the EMD NW2 began in late winter, 1939 and by the end of its production run in December, 1949 some 1,145 units had been built (including "calf," or B, units) for over fifty Class Is and more than eighty railroads in all! It should be noted that the NW2 was popular with industries as companies like Wheeling Steel, Republic Steel Corporation, and especially the Phelps Dodge Corporation all purchased the locomotive. Additionally, it attracted interest from the U.S. Navy, which purchased five for various applications. Two years after the NW2 was developed EMC and the Winton Engine Company became an official division of General Motors on January 1, 1941.

EMD NW2 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Apalachicola Northern Railroad701-70441947
Arkansas & Louisiana Missouri Railway1011949
Atlantic Coast Line601-605 (Odds), 611-615 (Odds)61940-1942
Baltimore & Ohio400-408, 550-589491940-1949
Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal (B&OCT)409-41131943
Bangor & Aroostook800-80341949
Boston & Maine1200-1213141941-1949
Burlington9203-9248461940-1949
Central Of Georgia20, 2521941-1942
Central Railroad Of New Jersey (CNJ)1060-106121942
Chesapeake & Ohio1850-1856, 5066-5079, 5200-5213351948-1949
Chicago & Eastern Illinois119-12461949
Chicago & Western Indiana250-25121947
Chicago Great Western16-31, 42171948-1949
Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha (C&NW)7011940
Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific (Southern)6050-605671941-1942
Colorado & Southern Railway (CB&Q)150-15341947-1948
Conemaugh & Black Lick Railroad100-10231949
Denver & Rio Grande Western700011941
Detroit Terminal Railroad104-112, 114-115111947-1949
Detroit, Toledo & Ironton910-91671948
Electro-Motive (Demo)889 (To Union Pacific, 1000)11939
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern403-407, 409-443401940-1949
Erie Railroad401-427271939-1949
Fort Worth & Denver City Railway (CB&Q)603, 605-60631941-1946
Fort Worth Belt Railway211946
Georgia Railroad901-90551948-1949
Grand Trunk Western7900-7914, 7966-7974241941-1948
Great Northern145-162, 302-5331, 5334-5336511939-1949
Illinois Central9150-9166171939-1945
Indiana Harbor Belt8715-8739, 8774-8802, 8811-8834781948-1949
Indiana Northern Railroad10011948
Jacksonville Terminal30-3671947-1949
Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf Railway100111949
Kansas City Southern1100-1102, 1200-1211, 1222-1226201939-1949
Lackawanna461-46551945
Lake Champlain & Moriah Railroad1911940
Lake Superior Terminal & Transfer Railway (GN)103-10421949
Lake Terminal Railroad1001-1020201947-1949
Lehigh Valley180-18671949
Louisiana & Arkansas Railway (KCS)1125-1126, 1212-1221121942-1948
Louisville & Nashville2240-224451949
Manistee & North Eastern Railroad2-321948
Maryland & Pennsylvania (Ma & Pa)80-8121946
Milwaukee Road1647-165481939-1947
Minneapolis & St. LouisD-139, D-74021939-1940
Missouri Pacific9104-910631939-1941
Missouri-Illinois Railroad5111949
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (Katy)1026-103051947
Monon Railroad1-3, 14-1771942-1947
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis20-23, 2551941-1949
Nickel Plate Road7-22161942-1948
New Orleans & Northeastern Railroad (Southern)6850-685121941
New York, Ontario & Western115-131171948
New York Central8700-8704, 8750-8773, 8803-8810371946-1949
Northern Pacific101-10661940-1941
Pennsylvania3909, 5921-5925, 9155-9176, 9247-9250321941-1948
Peoria & Pekin Union Railway400-40551948-1949
Pere Marquette51-64141942-1945
Phelps Dodge Corporation1-8, 1-5 (2nd)91939-1949
Philadelphia, Bethlehem & New England26-28, 219, 222-22581941-1948
Pittsburgh & Lake Erie (NYC)8705-8714, 8740-8749201947-1949
Reading90-92, 100-10481940-1947
Republic Steel CorporationD-81511942
River Terminal Railway6011949
Rock Island765-774101948-1949
Santa Fe2353-2367151939-1943
Seaboard Air Line1406-141271942
Soo Line300-30121939
Southern Pacific1310-1319, 1403-1425331941-1949
Southern Railway2200-2204, 2206-2207, 2233-2248, 2249-2284571940-1947
Spokane, Portland & Seattle40-4231948
St. Johns River Terminal Company (Southern)856011940
St. Louis San Francisco Railway (Frisco)250-265161948-1949
St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt/SP)1050-105341949
Tennessee Coal & Iron Railroad900-90231947-1948
Terminal Railroad Association Of St. Louis (TRRA)551-567171939-1949
Texas & New Olreans (SP)72-88171949
Texas & Pacific Railway (MP)1001-1019191946-1949
Tucson, Cornelia & Gila Bend Railroad5211947
U.S. Navy1-4, 4451942-1943
Union Pacific1000-1095961939-1948
Union Railroad536-555201948-1949
Wabash Railroad350-35231946-1949
West Virginia Northern Railroad50-5121946-1947
Wheeling & Lake ErieD-1 - D-441940-1941
Wheeling Steel Corporation125111948
Wisconsin Central (Soo)210811948


Lake Superior Terminal & Transfer NW2 #100 stops for a moment from its switching chores at Burlington Northern's yard in Superior, Wisconsin as the crew receives further instructions during August of 1976.

Today, the versatility and reliability of these small switchers speaks for itself as many NW2s remain in use in all types of applications. Those that are officially preserved include (listed are original railroad and number) AT&SF #2404, Frisco #261, CN #7944, C&O #5208, CB&Q #9227, GTW #7914, GN #5336, LST&T #101, Ma & Pa #81, Milwaukee Road #1649, Katy #1029, Indiana Northern #100, NYO&W #116, Reading #103, Espee #1905 and #1951, TH&B #51, UP #1011/#DS-1000/#DS-1001/#DS-1011, and W&LE #D3.  For information about EMC's various switchers please refer to the chart below.

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