The EMD SD9, also referred to as a "Cadillac" for the smooth, soft ride, was the builder's second model in its six-axle series and
looked virtually identical to the SD7. Slightly more powerful than its
predecessor and using an updated version of General Motors' proven prime mover
of the time, the model 567, the SD9 was the most successful
first-generation six-axle locomotive EMD produced, selling more than 500
examples (which included sales to foreign railroads). Apparently, the
bump up in horsepower convinced more lines to try the locomotive.
Still, the Electro-Motive Division found sales difficult with numerous
future six-axle models. Until the SD40 was released in 1966 only the
SD24 and SD35 sold more than 100 units for the company. As with many
early model EMDs the SD9 soldiers on today, finding use in regular
service on shortlines and industrial settings. There are also several
units officially preserved including Colorado & Southern #839 and
Southern Pacific #5428, #5363, #5468, and #5472.
Soo Line SD9 #2381, the only such unit the road ever owned, runs light through the neighborhood in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin as a crewman rides along on August 23, 1966.
The EMD SD9 began production in early 1954, soon after the SD7 line was closed. The model used GM's latest prime mover
of the time, the 16-cylinder model 567C which provided the SD9 a 1,750
horsepower rating, 250 more horsepower than the earlier SD7. Also,
using GM's model D47 traction motors
the C-C truck setup provided for a continuous tractive effort of 75,000
pounds (its starting tractive effort was nearly 91,000 pounds), which
also closely mirrored the SD7. While the locomotive had the option of
an added steam boiler for use in
passenger service only two railroads would include the feature with
their SD9s and included the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railroad
and Southern Pacific had part of their fleet fitted with such.
A pair of Southern Pacific SD9s #4371 and #4350 grind upgrade through the desert near Luning, Nevada with the westbound Mina Turn during August of 1984. The author notes that this branch was built by the narrow-gauge Carson & Colorado Railway in the 1880s and abandoned by the SP a year after this photo was taken in 1985.
The Southern Pacific was one of the first railroads to take notice of
the extra tractive effort EMD's Special Duty line provided, especially
in mountainous operations, and purchased the most SD7s by a single
company. They likewise purchased the most SD9s, buying 150 of the 471
total sold to domestic railroads (another 44 were purchased by foreign
lines). While the 515 SD9s ultimately sold paled in comparison to the
more than 4,000 four-axle GP9s outshopped, more railroads took notice of
the latest six-axle design with more than a dozen Class Is purchasing
the model. Many of the companies that purchased the SD9 had also bought or tested
at least one SD7.
An uncommon event today, washing locomotives; Missabe Road SD9 #159 and SD38-2 #209 take a turn through the wash rack at the terminal in Proctor, Minnesota during August of 1976.
In any event, buyers included the Atlanta & St.
Andrews Bay Railroad (3, numbered 503–505), Baltimore & Ohio (10,
numbered 765–774), Burlington (80, numbered 325–374, 430–459), Colorado
& Southern/CB&Q (23, numbered 820–842), Central of Georgia (6,
numbered 202–207), Chicago & Illinois Midland (5, numbered 50–54),
Chicago & North Western (14, numbered 1701–1710, 1721–1724),
Milwaukee Road (14, numbered 2224–2237), DM&IR (73, numbered
101–109, 111–174 although just two came equipped with steam generators),
Rio Grande (10, numbered 5305–5314), Elgin, Joliet & Eastern (3,
numbered 600–602), Great Northern (27, numbered 573–599), Nickel Plate Road
(20, numbered 340–359), Pennsylvania Railroad (25, numbered 7600–7624),
Reserve Mining (6, numbered 1220–1225), Soo Line #2381, and SP's 150
(numbered 5340–5444, 5449–5493).
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern SD9 #600 is seen here in Gary, Indiana on August 25, 1977.
Foreign lines to purchase the SD9 included Orinoco Mining of Venezuela,
Korail of Korea, and Chile Exploration. Additionally, EMD demonstrator
#5591 went to the Missabe Road. You can still find SD9s in service on
the Algers, Winslow & Western, Nevada Northern Railway, South Branch
Valley Railroad, Montana Rail Link, Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad,
Black River & Western, Squaw Creek Southern Railroad, Escanaba &
Lake Superior Railroad, Portland & Western, Dakota Southern,
Independent Locomotive Service, Indiana Eastern Railroad, Trona
Railroad, and even BNSF Railway still operates a few.