EMD "SW9" Locomotives

The EMD SW9 was the fifth in the builder's SW series and once again Electro-Motive hit a home run. The switcher would go on to become one of EMD's most successful small switcher lines. Once again this model was virtually identical to others in the series up to that time including the SW8's 567B prime mover and a horsepower rating that exceeded 1,000. Apparently railroads liked EMD's higher-horsepower small switchers as they seemed to sell better. In any event, as with virtually every other small switcher model EMD produced, the SW9's reliability and versatility has become legendary with many remaining in operation on short lines, industrial settings, and excursion trains. 

To date there are four examples known to be preserved; Conemaugh & Black Lick #121 at the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona (presented in its original number and colors; manufactured in June, 1956), Seaboard Coast Line #167 at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Florida (built as Atlantic Coast Line #685 in the fall of 1951), and Erie Railroad #436 at the United Railroad Historical Museum of New Jersey (out-shopped in April, 1952).

Chicago, West Pullman & Southern SW9 #51 has a cut of cars at the 104th Street & Torrence Avenue Yard in Chicago on March 31, 1964. The CWP&S was a switching road originally put together by Cyrus McCormick to transport steel from the Wisconsin Steel Corporation plant in South Chicago he had acquired to his International Harvester Company production plant, which produced farming equipment. This SW9 was built as Mississippi Central #210 in March, 1953. Roger Puta photo.

The EMD SW9 began production in December, 1950 and was built during the same time period as the SW8. The design carried the typical EMC/EMD carbody with a short hood, tapered towards the end-cab. A design that was common before the SW8, EMD went back to its standard two conical, exhaust stacks and the SW9 remained very short at just over 44-feet in length (up to this time EMD's switchers remained all the same length built from the same frame). EMD stepped up the weight on the SW9, back to 124-tons, which was the same weight as the SW7. The model used General Motors' model D37 traction motors and could produce a respectable 43,000 pounds of continuous tractive effort, and 62,000 pounds of starting effort, for a locomotive of its small size. 

Soo Line SW9 #2118 lays over at Schiller Park, Illinois (Chicago) on September 10, 1967. This unit was built for subsidiary Wisconsin Central in late 1952. Roger Puta photo.

Additionally, the EMD SW9 featured the tried and proven 567B prime mover (also used in the SW8), which produce a healthy 1,200 horsepower.  Many roads tended to like the higher horsepower switcher models since they were more ideal for use in many different applications (such as the ability to pull heavier freight trains on light branch lines), which is a significant reason why small road-switchers like Alco's RS series sold so well (while the RS series was technically a road switcher, they were so light they could be used on branch lines and perform typical switcher duties while producing better than 1,000 horsepower). By the time the SW9 was cataloged EMD was fast becoming the dominant locomotive builder having just released the GP7 in 1949.

Jersey Central SW9 #1093 and a caboose are tied down for the weekend at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania on Sunday, July 12, 1970. By this era CNJ's western lines were showing considerable deferred maintenance. Roger Puta photo.

The EMD SW9 had a three year production period, through December 1953. By the end of its production the model had sold some 815 units (including those built by General Motors Diesel of Ontario, Canada, which sold 29 examples to the Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, C&O, Great Northern, Steel Company of Canada, and Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway) along with an additional 22 cow-calf TR5s (this sold only to Union Pacific and the Union Railroad). As with previous SW models the SW9 was well-liked for its versatility, reliability, ease of maintenance, and cheap price tag which allowed short lines and industries to purchase the model right along with the Class Is (the Atlantic Coast Line would come to own the most, 65).

Wabash SW9 #369 (built in February, 1952) carries out switching work in front of the station at Decatur, Illinois on May 7, 1966. Roger Puta photo.

EMD SW9 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Aliquippa & Southern Railroad120011953
Apalachicola Northern Railroad705-71171952-1953
Arkansas & Louisiana Missouri Railway1211952
Ashley, Drew & Northern Railway17411952
Atlantic Coast Line652-716651951-1952
Baltimore & Ohio598-60361953
Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal (B&OCT)590-59781952
Bauxite & Northern Railway1011952
Bellefonte Central Railroad532311953
Belt Railway Of Chicago520-52341951
Boston & Maine1220-1231121952-1953
Burlington9269-927021951
Campbell's Creek Railroad1311953
Cambria & Indiana Railroad30-3781951-1952
Charleston & Western Carolina Railway802-80321952
Central Of Georgia301-310101952-1953
Central Railroad Of New Jersey1084-1094111951-1952
Chattanooga Traction Company511950
Chesapeake & Ohio5080-5099, 5090-5093 (2nd), 5245-5265451951-1953
Chicago & Illinois Western10411951
Chicago & North Western1101-1105, 1122-112591952-1953
Chicago, West Pullman & Southern47-4821952
Conemaugh & Black Lick Railroad118-11921952
Detroit & Toledo Shore Line Railroad119-12131951-1952
Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range11-25151953
Erie Railroad434-43851951-1952
Florida East Coast221-22881952-1953
Georgia Railroad906-90721951
Grand Trunk Western7010-701671952-1953
Great Lakes Steel Corporation27-2931951-1952
Great Northern17-2371951
Great Western Railway121-12221951
Houston Belt & Terminal Railway22-31101951
Illinois Central9430-9484, 9320-9334701951-1952
Indiana Harbor Belt9002-900871953
Inspiration Consolidated Copper Company22-2321951
Kansas City Southern130411953
Kirby Lumber Company100011953
Kosmos Timber Company10011953
Lackawanna551-560101951-1953
Lehigh Valley286-29271951
Louisville & Nashville2277-2296201951-1953
Maine Central334-33521951-193
Maryland & Pennsylvania Railway (Ma & Pa)8211951
Milwaukee Road1643-164531951
Mississippi Central Railroad201-210101953
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (Katy)1226-1235101952
Missouri Pacific9170-9191221951
Monessen Southwestern Railway23-25, 2741951-1953
Montour Railroad73-84121952-1953
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis34-3851951
New York Central8941-8951, 8962-9001511952-1953
Nickel Plate Road233-244121951-1952
Northern Pacific115-11841952-1953
Oliver Iron Mining Company934-93961951-1953
Philadelphia, Bethlehem & New England Railroad35-3621951
Pennsylvania8513-8544, 8859-8860, 8869-8870361951-1953
Peoria & Pekin Union Railroad411-41221951
Philadelphia, Bethlehem & New England Railroad37-3821951
Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad231-23991953
Pittsburgh & Lake Erie (NYC)8931-8940, 8952-8961201951-1952
Pittsburgh Chartiers & Youghiogheny Railroad2-541951-1953
Republic Steel Corporation34411951
Reserve Mining Company121111953
Rock Island775-77951953
Spokane, Portland & Seattle43-4531951
Santa Fe2420-2433141953
St. Louis San Francisco Railway (Frisco)305-314101952
St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt/SP)1058-106141951-1952
Steelton & Highspire Railroad40-4341951-1952
Terminal Railroad Association Of St. Louis (TRRA)1206-1218131952
Texas & New Orleans (SP)108-11251953
Texas & Pacific Railway (MP)1024-1036131951
Union Pacific1825-1866421953
Union Railroad575-588141951-1952
Wabash Railroad363-374121951-1953
Western Pacific601-60661952
Weyerhaeuser Timber Company302-30321951
Wheeling Steel Corporation305, 1252-125331953
Wisconsin Central (Soo)2111-2115, 2117-211981952-1953


Illinois Central SW9 #1234 rattles across the Baltimore & Ohio/Chicago & Eastern Illinois diamonds at Tuscola, Illinois with a northbound cut of cars on May 7, 1966. The tower was controlled by the C&EI. Roger Puta photo.

Because of this reliability and versatility SW9s continue to perform admirably in all types of settings from shortlines to excursion trains, more than a half-century since the last unit rolled out of LaGrange, Illinois and London, Ontario. Today, you can find examples in service with the Huntsville & Madison County, Simpson Railroad (the famed logging line), Independent Locomotive Service, Locomotive Specialists, Cenex Harvest States, Conrad Yelvington, Vandalia Railroad, Wimpey Minerals USA Inc., Juniata Valley, St. Louis Car Company, ArcelorMittal, Big South Fork Scenic Railway, York Railway, Baltimore & Annapolis, Coopersville & Marne, Tulsa & Sapulpa Union Railway, Lycoming Valley, and United States Steel. 




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Header Photo: Drew Jacksich




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