Baldwin "DRS-6-6-1500" Locomotives

The DRS-6-6-1500 was the final road switcher model to carry Baldwin's early and complicated designation system.  In 1950 it released its new Standard line, a fitting name since it did away with the confusing numbers, dashes, and letters.  

This last design was a six-axle locomotive, C-C version of the DRS-6-4-1500 built during the late 1940s and well suited for branch line operations (although few ultimately sold). 

The DRS-6-6-1500 found buyers among a scattering of railroads and private companies but in the end could not reach the century mark in sales. 

Many buyers were large Class I's or those which handled dense products like the Bessemer & Lake Erie (iron ore); Chicago & North Western; Chesapeake & Ohio; Tennessee Coal & Iron (coal); Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic (iron ore); and Southern Pacific.

Today, there are at least two examples known preserved; McCloud River Railroad #29 (preserved as Magma Arizona #10) at the Arizona Railway Museum and Southern Pacific #5208 preserved in its original colors and number at the California Stat Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

Erie Lackawanna DRS-6-6-1500 #1153 is seen here in Hornell, New York during the summer of 1971. This unit began its career as Erie #1153 in 1950.

The Baldwin DRS-6-6-1500 began production in 1948 offering a high, continuous tractive effort of 78,750 pounds thanks to its six powered axles. 

This was a considerable selling point as the locomotive not only provided the highest such rating for any road switcher Baldwin offered up to that time but also any model then in production. 

Nothing then offered by Alco or EMD came close to matching such tractive ability.  During the late 1940s the only manufacturer to have even manufactured a C-C road switcher was Alco's RSD1. 

However, it was primarily a specialized model built only for the U.S. Army during World War II and had ended production in 1946.

The DRS-6-6-1500 could produce 1,500 horsepower using Baldwin's turbocharged 608 SC prime mover, the same as the earlier DRS-6-4-1500 and DRS-4-4-1500.

Baldwin's Other Road-Switcher Models

Baldwin's First Road-Switcher, The Unpopular DRS-4-4-1500 

Another Poor Seller, The A1A-A1A, DRS-6-4-1500 

Introducing The New "Standard" Line, The AS16 

The Unsuccessful A1A-A1A, AS416 

Baldwin's Top-Selling Road-Switcher, The AS616 

Baldwin's Light Road-Switcher Model, The RS12 

Southern Pacific DRS-6-6-1500, #5245, mingles with other power at the in Cotton Avenue terminal in El Paso, Texas on March 21, 1967. Roger Puta photo.

While the DRS-6-6-1500 did not sell particularly well several Class I railroads around the country purchased at least a few units such as:

  • Bessemer & Lake Erie

  • Duluth South Shore & Atlantic

  • Union Pacific

  • Southern Pacific

  • Erie

  • Chicago & North Western

  • McCloud River Railroad

  • Northern Pacific

  • Union Railroad

  • Minneapolis Northfield & Southern

  • Tennessee Coal & Iron

  • Chesapeake & Ohio

Additionally, private companies like Kaiser Steel and Tennessee Coal & Iron Railroad also acquired a few examples. 

By the time production had ended in 1950 just 83 units had been sold, which included one B-unit that the Southern Pacific had requested, #5227. 

Buyers of the model found the locomotive useful despite its troublesome prime mover.  The curious lack of dynamic braking also likely hurt sales, a feature then standard on Electro-Motive and Alco products.

The Union Railroad of Pennsylvania acquired a small fleet of DRS-6-6-1500's and later re-engined them with EMD 567 prime movers (giving them the nickname as "Buffalos"). Two are seen here behind an NW2 near Hall on July 11, 1974. Doug Kroll photo.

The DRS-6-6-1500 saw only a two year run as Baldwin wrapped up production on the unit in September of 1950.

It was soon after replaced by the AS616, which featured an upgraded prime mover and used the company's more straightforward classification system. 

The new series sold much better for the builder seeing several hundred examples outshopped amongst the three primary models (AS16, AS416, and the AS616). 

To decipher the meaning of the DRS-6-6-1500's letters and numbers the DRS referred to Diesel Road Switcher unit; the first number, 6, designated its six powered axles; the second 6 meant that it featured six traction motors; and 1500 stood for the horsepower rating.

Baldwin DRS-6-6-1500 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Baldwin (Demo)150011950
Bessemer & Lake Erie401-40771949-1950
Chesapeake & Ohio5530-553231949
Chicago & North Western1500–1502, 1505–150981948-1949
Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic (Soo)200-20231949
Erie Railroad1150-1161121950
Kaiser Steel Corporation1010A, 1010B21948-1949
McCloud River Railroad28-2921948-1950
Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern1511950
Northern Pacific17711948
Southern Pacific5203-5226 (As), 5527 (B)251949-1950
Tennessee Coal & Iron Railroad1500-150121948
Texas & New Orleans (SP)187-19041949
Union Railroad613-624101949

A Baldwin Locomotive Works builder's photo of new Chicago & North Western DRS-6-6-1500 #1500 circa 1948.

Once the system is presented it is fairly easy to understand but anyone looking at it for the first time would likely be quite confused at what everything stood for.  

It should be noted that the Baldwin models illustrated on this page are, indeed, DRS-6-6-1500s owned by the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern.

The company did not purchase any units directly from Baldwin but were acquired secondhand from the Bessemer & Lake Erie, numbers 401 and 402 (renumbered by the EJ&E as 501 and 502).  

For more information about the DRS-6-6-1500s please refer to the chart above which provides a complete production roster.

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Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

Wes Barris's is simply the best web resource in the study of steam locomotives. 

The amount of information found there is quite staggering; historical backgrounds of wheel arrangements, types used by virtually every railroad, preserved and operational examples, and even those used in other countries (North America and beyond). 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website.  It is a must visit!

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!