EMD "NW2" Locomotives

The EMD NW2 actually began production a few years before the Electro-Motive Corporation (EMC) became an official division of General Motors. At the time of the switcher's construction, then-EMC was fast becoming the industrial leader of diesel locomotive manufacturing having released its popular FT cab model that same year. That particular locomotive would silence steam power in main line service nearly single-handedly.  For Electro-Motive, it seemed every model it marketed throughout the 1940's and 1950's proved successful, thanks predominantly to its 567 prime mover.  The NW2 would go down as one of EMD's most popular line of small switchers.  Overall, more than fifty Class I railroads would purchase more than 1,100 NW2's by the time its ten-year production was concluded in the late 1940s! 

Today, several of these resilient switchers carry on and can still be seen in industrial applications, small short lines, and tourist lines. Its rugged design is a testament to the engineers and the folks at EMD involved in the model's creation.  It is likely you will still be able to find them in operation in another 25+ years.

Burlington Northern NW2 #565 (built as Chicago, Burlington & Quincy TR2B #9409-B in 1949) performs switching work on Amtrak's train #5, the "San Francisco Zephyr," at Denver Union Station in April of 1975. Drew Jacksich photo.

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. 

Milwaukee Road NW2 #670 is tied down at 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 several of its lines in the Hawkeye State. Rob Kitchen photo.

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.

Elgin, Joliet & Eastern 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. Rob Kitchen photo.

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.

Baltimore & Ohio NW2 #9563 (built as Chesapeake & Ohio #1855 in 1948) passes HX tower in Halethorpe, Maryland with a northbound/eastbound string of cars on the Washington Subdivision in December, 1980. Roger Puta photo.

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. Rob Kitchen photo.

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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Header Photo: Drew Jacksich




Researching Rights-Of-Way

A popular pastime for many is studying and/or exploring abandoned rights-of-way.  Today, there are tens of thousands of miles scattered throughout the country.  Many were pulled up in the 1970's and 1980's although others were removed long before that.  If you are researching active or abandoned corridors you might want to check out the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Historical Topographic Map Explorer.  It is an excellent resource with thousands of historic maps on file throughout the country.  Just type in a town or city and click on the timeline of maps at the bottom of the page!



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You will be hard pressed at finding a better online resource regarding diesel locomotives than Craig Rutherford's TheDieselShop.us.  The website contains everything from historic (fallen flags) to contemporary (Class I's, regionals, short lines, and even some museums/tourist lines) rosters, locomotive production information, technical data, all notable models cataloged by the five major builders (American Locomotive, Electro-Motive, General Electric, Fairbanks-Morse, and Baldwin), and much more.  A highly recommended database!



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In 1998 a gentleman by the name of Andre Kristopans put together a web page highlighting virtually every unit every out-shopped by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division.  Alas, in 2013 the site closed by thankfully Don Strack rescued the data and transferred it over to his UtahRails.net site (another fine resource).  If you are researching anything EMD related please visit this page first.  The information includes original numbers, serials, and order numbers.